5 min read

A Carbon Neutral, Nature Positive Praecipio Consulting

By Christopher Pepe on May 4, 2021 11:09:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Praecipios green pathIn 2019 the Praecipio Consulting Green Team was given the goal of creating a carbon neutral future for the company as part of our Climate Action Plan. The Green team had already set its focus on Carbon, Human Health, and Sustainability. The net zero challenge was taken up with the goal of promoting those pillars. Praecipio Consulting has determined that the climate stabilization wedge of Proforestation best meets the company's environmental and human health goals. Our value "Maximize mutual benefit" is exemplified by the parcels that Praecipio Consulting has contributed to protecting. 

Finding our path

Praecipio Consulting initially rolled out a generous Green Stipend program to incentivize change in employees daily lives, and encourage others to do so as well. Through education and incentive we aimed to amplify the good that we could do. To reach carbon neutrality we would credit Praecipio Consulting for the carbon emissions that where eliminated by positive changes in behavior. Many employees improved insulation, installed new efficient windows, etc. Ultimately that program proved ineffective, however, it laid the groundwork for our future. The main issue was that the Green Stipend encouraged a holistic lifestyle change whose benefits were multifaceted, but the success of the program was only measured by the reduction in one's carbon emissions. The cost per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e, a standard measure used to model carbon footprint) was too high for the program to reach carbon neutrality on budget.

The Green team wished to retain the behavioral incentive component of the Green Stipend. Since inception, the Green team has delivered presentations via a monthly all hands State of the Business, on how we arrived at a climate crises, and more importantly, how individuals can change their behavior for a future that is reintegrated with the natural world.

Praecipio Consulting also needed to achieve its publicly stated goal of being carbon neutral in 2020 and beyond. One obvious solution was to buy carbon offsets from any number of sources. There are publicly available volunteer markets (also regulated markets for carbon intensive regulated industry but that does not apply to this type of business), as well as many afforestation companies that are replanting forests all over the world. Digging into each of these options ultimately made us feel that while we could check the carbon neutral box, it wasn't maximizing mutual benefit. Carbon exchanges offer very cheap credits with little insight into their source. Credits may come from a forest, or they may come from any number of other sources, some of which are of questionable utility to addressing climate change. Afforestation is a noble cause, and we support organizations involved in those activities like TreeFolks. However, a 1" sapling planted today will take decades to sequester any amount of carbon and we simply don't have that much time. We applaud these organizations, and will continue to fund them because we will need those trees in the future, however we felt we needed to do more now.

Proforestation

Since the 1600s the United States has cut most of its forests. Estimates vary, but it likely that at most 10% of our old growth forests remain and even in heavily forested areas there are surprisingly few undisturbed forests. Europe has achieved some of its carbon goals by purchasing wood pellets from the United States to power electric generation plants. Far too much of these wood pellets are made from clear cutting forests which removes carbon sinks and increases atmospheric carbon. This practice is considered carbon neutral largely due to an accounting error that there is little incentive in acknowledging.

Simply put, proforestation is a management practice where a mature forest is allowed to self-regulate. This is contrasted with active management for timber, biomass fuel, or other disruptive uses. The benefits of mature forest are many including habitat for native species, clean water, and obviously carbon storage. An important finding is that while a mature tree has a slower metabolism than a young tree, it still adds more biomass (mostly atmospheric carbon) than the younger, more vigorous whippersapling.

Because existing trees are already growing, storing carbon, and sequestering more carbon more rapidly than newly planted and young trees (Harmon et al., 1990; Stephenson et al., 2014; Law et al., 2018; Leverett and Moomaw, in preparation), proforestation is a near-term approach to sequestering additional atmospheric carbon: a significant increase in “negative emissions” is urgently needed to meet temperature limitation goals.

Each year a single tree that is 100 cm in diameter adds the equivalent biomass of an entire 10–20 cm diameter tree, further underscoring the role of large trees (Stephenson et al., 2014)

Human Health

Like all humans, Praecipians tend to find comfort, rest, and restoration when in the natural world. The human world is an amazing place filled with bright lights, sounds, and smells, that are largely ours (tho you are really Never Home Alone). The high intensity of the human world is especially draining. We can turn to meditative practices like church, yoga, and other mindful experiences to recharge, however, these are amplified when they occur in a natural setting.

Mature forests are magical and restorative places for humans to spend time. The practice of Forest Bathing has gained popularity, and the recent pandemic-induced shortage of any and all outdoor sports equipment has highlighted how people feel when they are in the natural world. Praecipio Consulting has focused on supporting forests in places that employees can enjoy and recharge. While the goal of keeping these forests wild and productive (with respect to ecological services, and not timber) they will be a refuge to Praecipians for many years to come.

Existing projects as of 2021 Q1

The following are significant proforestation and/or preservation projects that Praecipio Consulting has or continues to support. All are important ecological service providers with wild recreation opportunities. All had the potential to be used in an environmentally non-beneficial way and are now protected to continue to provide those services. The forests store 3 to 5 years of carbon emissions based on Praecipio Consulting's current operational model. Travel to customers was our largest segment of carbon emissions and the pandemic has eliminated that. If the post pandemic world is half as video-conference friendly that will greatly aid in our effort to reduce our carbon footprint.

Praecipios green path-table

Protecting existing forests is a powerful way to maximize the mutual benefit for all living things and promote a resilient and stable environment for life to thrive. At Praecipio Consulting, we pride ourselves of being a people-centered company, and we strive to do business while staying true to our values. Taking care of our planet is centered at the core of who we are.

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog culture environment corporate-responsibility green-team
3 min read

Going Green at Atlassian Summit 2020

By Christopher Pepe on Jan 21, 2020 1:00:00 PM

Being a Green Business

In many of my previous posts, I've noted that Praecipio Consulting has always taken corporate responsibility seriously and has always been a green company focused on preserving the human experience for generations to come. For years, we've had a similar reputation to Atlassian in that we are a t-shirt company that provides process solutions. Our t-shirts were not only clever in design, but also soft as a cloud – and because of that, they have been highly sought out. However, it comes with a downside -- Worldwide, the textile industry comes at a pretty heavy cost, our human's desire to consume new clothing means that it heavily impacts the environment.

An estimated 20 new garments are created per person per year worldwide1, and that volume is growing. Overall, the textile industry comes in at a whooping 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2e per year. Additionally, as we wear clothes, filaments abrade and litter our environment which contributes to micro-plastics being found literally everywhere (even in that water you're drinking right now).

In 2019, Praecipio Consulting changed our approach to conferences to benefit everyone. We did this through our Pledge 1% efforts. Instead of handing out conference t-shirts to be mindlessly collected, we decided to let booth visitors donate our money to non-profit organizations. Conference attendees channeled some $5000 to TreeFolks, Colorado River Alliance, Flatwater Foundation, and SAFE Austin. It was a great "warm and fuzzy" for us as well as the partnered organizations.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

By not purchasing and handing out underutilized t-shirts (do you really use conference swag to its fullest?), Praecipio Consulting also kept 1 metric tonne of fossil fuel based CO2 out of the atmosphere. While we could purchase a modest number of trees to accomplish the same balance on paper, in practice, we do not believe that does the most good. Humans have already added too much carbon into the carbon cycle to keep the world's climate in a similar state that we are used to. Offsetting fossil fuels with trees does not seem like a net zero proposition to us.

This doesn't mean we don't support offsetting fossil fuels with trees. Just a couple of months ago, we funded and planted trees with TreeFolks. Our goal is to minimize our fossil fuel usage, however, it is impossible today to be modern humans with no fossil fuel usage. Where we cannot cut out usage, we intend to offset that impact in the way we feel does the most good - more on that later.

We were surprised that such a small act, donating to nonprofits that aligned with our goals, made such a big impact. 

Green at Atlassian Summit 2020 

Because of the successful impact, Praecipio Consulting is doing it again – As proud Gold Sponsors of Atlassian Summit 2020, we're giving conference attendees (that stop by our booth) the chance to choose which nonprofit organization will receive our $10 donation (the cost of a t-shirt). Here are the amazing nonprofit organizations we're contributing to: 

Tree Folks is a local organization out of our hometown in Austin, TX that is committed to creating a healthier environment through community building, reforestation, education and growing the urban forest. Their mission is to empower Central Texans to build stronger communities through planting and caring for trees.  

Colorado River Alliance is an independent nonprofit that champions a healthy, flowing Colorado River, which is a vital resource to the community and the state of Texas. With programs that reach 14,000 community members annually, the Colorado River Alliance promotes conservation of the river and advocates for the people, ecosystems, communities, and businesses that depend on this natural resource.

Bamberger Ranch Preserve Located in Blanco County, Texas, is a 5,500 acre ranch that has been restored to its original habitat. For more than three decades the ranch has served as a meeting space for environmental groups, hosted school field trips and workshops for thousands of community members. The mission at Bamberger Ranch is to raise awareness about ethical land stewardship through education and outreach.

We look forward to our future efforts and encourage you to make a small change today as well. If you would like to swap notes please reach out to us.

References

Topics: blog atlassian-summit corporate-responsibility do-good green-team social-responsibility
4 min read

Accessibility With Atlassian Products

By Amanda Babb on Dec 10, 2019 10:30:00 AM

Student Diversity is Key for Learning

Over the last two years, I've had the pleasure of partnering with Atlassian University to provide a wide range of training, including in-person courses, virtual courses, and even being the voice of Planning with Portfolio for Jira. If I had to count, I've likely delivered training to close to 1000 students since 2017 as an Atlassian Certified Instructor, but this week was a first – one of my students was blind. 

When teaching an Atlassian University course, we provide students with access to a virtual environment to practice the concepts presented. Each student is also provided soft copies of the slides as well as a lab workbook to guide them step-by-step through the environment. This particular course, Confluence Server Essentials, provides new users the opportunity to learn about the basics of Confluence. Navigation, page creation, blueprint usage, and collaboration features such as @ mentions, comments, and blogs are all covered in the full-day course. 

My blind student had a laptop with accessibility features and used the Jaws Screen Reader to help navigate the different UIs of the applications. He also had a colleague to assist him if needed. As I started the course, he was attentive and eagerly participated in the discussions. However, when it was time for everyone to log in to their environments and start the first set of exercises, I noticed that he was starting to fall behind. 

During the exercises, his assistant had a technical issue with her own laptop and asked if I would step in while she talked to tech support. I sat down and watched as he tried to navigate his screen reader through the Confluence System Dashboard and eventually to the correct Space to continue through the lab. This was my first time working with a screen reader, and I spent quite a bit of time wondering how it chose which parts of the screen to read. However, once we got into a rhythm, I was able to help him navigate to the correct menu. By the end of the time box, we managed to complete two of the four exercises. 

Accessibility in Atlassian Products

Atlassian supports or partially supports accessibility requirements for Jira, Confluence, and Bitbucket Server and Data Center products, in compliance with Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 (AA). At Praecipio Consulting, we developed a custom accessibility app for Jira, at a client's request, to accommodate sighted and non-sighted users. While support and partial support of accessibility are steps in the right direction, I still needed to find a better way to help this student. 

Enter the Atlassian Marketplace. If the functionality doesn't exist in the products themselves, we search the Marketplace for apps to add on to the instance. There are over 2000 apps available for Server, almost 1000 for Cloud, and nearly 700 for Data Center instances of the Atlassian applications, and these apps are generally tagged with additional information to further help you make the right choice. Through a quick search of all compatible apps tagged as Supported, I found two that looked promising: Accessibility for Confluence and Unstoppable for Confluence. Not knowing which one would work best, I tossed a coin. 

Because the Atlassian University lab environments work like a mini Server environment, they function the same as the customer instances of Confluence we work in every day. Following best practices, I wanted to test the installation of the app in a separate environment before installing it for the student. In my Instructor Environment, I found the user with the most administrative rights (as per the lab workbook) and installed the app. A quick check of the documentation told me the additional installation steps needed to activate it. As testing is important as well, I validated functionality myself first, and I was confident this app would provide the student with a better learning experience. 

A Retrospective on the Accessible Experience

Once installed and configured, my student was able to continue forward with the next two labs, including all exercises. Through exercises like creating a blog post, editing a page, and adding attachments, he was starting to understand how Confluence could help him with his daily tasks.

What did we do well?

  • Found an accessibility app and installed it
  • Walked the student through how to use it
  • Provided 1:1 instruction during labs to ensure understanding

What could we have done better? 

  • Communicated about the student before class
  • Researched screen readers to understand the best one
  • Asked the students for a solution

Going forward, I want to identify students with accessibility needs beforehand, so that I can prepare accommodations as needed. While I have thought about this as an instructor before, now that I've had the experience and have learned from it, I am better prepared to provide a better learning experience for all of my students moving forward.

We can all do great things if we communicate ahead of time. If you or your organization have accessibility needs, let us know! We can bring solutions and custom solutions as needed. 

Topics: blog confluence culture government corporate-responsibility accessibility atlassian-products social-responsibility
3 min read

Green Team: Praecipio Consulting's Global Climate Crisis Response Plan

By Christian Lane on Oct 25, 2019 10:01:43 AM

Global-Climate-Crisis-Response-Plan

Next April will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but we just couldn't wait six more months to share our company’s exciting news—starting November 1, 2019, Praecipio Consulting's Work from Home policy is changing. Beginning October 14, "Work From Work" is optional with the exception of two important days of the month. In addition, our workspace is transforming into a much smaller, more intentional workspace emphasizing climate responsibility and a more fulfilling and sustainable workstyle. The company will facilitate, enable and encourage more meaningful interactions; going for quality over quantity of face time; reducing the cost to the environment and cost of our team members' time and money. These are major changes due to our choice to operate in a way that supports our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan - all in an effort to reduce our company’s overall carbon footprint. Our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan was shared internally at Praecipio Consulting at the end of October and will be shared more widely shortly thereafter.

Benefits of Teleworking

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 50 percent of the American workforce currently holds telecommute-compatible jobs. If those people worked from home half the time, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million metric tons annually, the equivalent of taking almost 10 million cars off the road. It would also reduce annual oil consumption by 640 million barrels. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. uses approximately 19 million barrels of oil every day. If people worked from home part-time, 1.75 million of those barrels--almost 10 percent--could be eliminated. In addition to reducing oil consumption, other benefits teleworking can gift to the environment are the reduction of air pollution and water pollution (from chemicals spilled into our waterways, rivers, and other water sources).

Our Global Climate Response Plan

As a business and as citizens, we recommitted to our responsibility to not just hear these facts, but to quickly pivot into action and lean-in as much as possible in consensus with the scientific community. While the positive impacts our exclusive teleworking policy will have on the environment are a step in the right direction, and a major part of our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan, we will do more to fulfill our responsibility to our community through exemplary leadership. These facts are all that all of us need to know to “do good.”

Praecipio Consulting has been a member of the Pledge 1% initiative since 2015, and we take our philanthropic commitments seriously. We will continue to make contributions and donations with a tighter focus towards reforestation and restoration of grasslands to sequester more co2 going forward.

Earth Day and the millions of conversations that are on-going about environmental challenges we face, serve as constant reminders of the things we are currently doing and how much more we can do to benefit the future generations that will inhabit the Earth. As members of communities, businesses are in a unique position to help their individual employees make larger, more significant positive impacts.

Commitment to Make an Impact

Teleworking, a smaller office, reduction of corporate travel, encouraging and incentivizing personal impacts, and continued contributions in spirit of Pledge 1% are all commitments Praecipio Consulting is making as part of our Global Climate Crisis Response Plan. It's our sincerest desire and passion to lead the way and reduce our company’s (and our employees’) carbon footprint to zero. Join us. At this very moment, what steps will you take to ensure Earth can sustain humanity?

Topics: blog digital-transformation corporate-responsibility global-climate-crisis green-team social-responsibility remote-work
4 min read

Corporate Social Responsibility: Meet our Green Team

By Christopher Pepe on Aug 23, 2019 7:59:00 PM

In 2008, I began my tenure with Praecipio Consulting recognizing that I had a great deal in common with Christian and Joe. Joe and I have a Lincoln-Kennedy level of coincidental similarities but beyond that we all shared a passion for leaving the world better than we found it.

While establishing Praecipio Consulting as a top-tier Atlassian Solution Partner, we launched an ambitious side-project that became in.gredients Grocers. Now closed, in.gredients was an experimental grocery store to minimize waste, build community, be a safe space, and encourage patrons to live a more sustainable life. It is a model whose time has come with several examples having popped up around the world. I'm very proud that the 1,000 sq ft grocery store only landfilled an average of 5 pounds of trash per month! By contrast, the average American generates 4.5 pounds of trash per day. In those days, the Praecipio Consulting office was next door and those ethos heavily influenced both organizations. Although we have moved to a new office on a new hill, we have retained those values. Standard issue employee gear includes high quality, reusable items like HydroFlask water bottles. We encourage people to reduce, then reuse, and finally recycle. We do all that we can to avoid landfilling waste. To this day, its difficult to find a trash can in the office and the overall layout intentionally encourages less impactful behaviors.

Our Corporate Social Responsibility

Partnering with Atlassian has allowed us to double in size many times over. That growth has outpaced our green practices. To address that, we have created a Green Team to continue the mission. We are taking immediate steps to have an impact today, while also working towards goals that will forge a cleaner tomorrow.

CSR Goals

In all things we seek Balance. We believe that by promoting balance, a more stable world will manifest - one that improves life for all living things. Our goal is to encourage behavior that improves the balance of our community and discourages behavior that destabilizes our community. If we do this well then everyone reap the benefits that they seek.

Carbon Environmental Footprint

This is difficult to mention without sparking a debate about carbon dioxide. But, we aren't interested in politics here. There is great value in removing atmospheric carbon independent of a political view of climate change. Building carbon content in the soil is one of our focus areas. There are more benefits than we can list here, but of interest to Texas ranchers is to improve forage, improve soil water holding capacity, and improve livestock performance. As carbon builds up in the soil, biodiversity increases, and the overall system becomes more tolerant to changes in weather patterns (including drought tolerance). This allows the land to be more productive, reduces runoff, and improves the overall health of the ecosystem. All of these benefits occur while producing healthier livestock and reducing operating expenses for ranchers.

We see value in supporting soil building projects to offset the carbon footprint from our consultants' travel. We see value in improving the land while keeping it in its historic and current use.

Remediation through Sustainable Practices

Being a modern human is an expensive existence and much of the cost has been paid by the environment that we live in. Satiating our ever growing use of energy, fossil fuel pollution, electronics, oceanic garbage patches, roadside litter, food waste, and on, and on, and on...has many hidden costs that are not bundled in the purchase price of our stuff.

Waste streams fascinate me and I am passionate about more intelligently cycling resources through the human machine. As an aside, Cradle to Cradle is one of the five most influential books in my life. The focus on improving systems that have been degraded by human activity goes towards the goal of having a cleaner effluent. That which flows out of Praecipio Consulting must be cleaner than that which flowed in. Several of us are known to keep a trash bag handy so that we can make our communities a little nicer when out and about. Today, Praecipio Consulting uses Earth Day to organize trash pickups at local parks and we plan to expand our green-up efforts.

My dream in this pillar is to buy a parking lot and put paradise back up. The Green Team is mostly practiced permaculture gardeners and that knowledge will influence the projects we are personally involved in.

Health and Well-Being

Praecipio Consulting has put a strong focus on personal health and well-being. We have a generous wellness program where employees can earn PTO for making healthy life choices. We encourage spending time outside, eating better, and exercising more. Another unique holiday is "A Day in the Sun" where an employee can take a day off to spend it outside. Folks have participated in events like paddle-a-thons, rock climbing, attended forestry training, or simply lounged on the river.

The Green Team is looking at more ways to empower employees to grow better each day.

How to Get Involved

We'd love to hear what you are doing within your communities, and we'd love to help with our efforts. If nothing else, join Pledge 1% and commit to making a difference in your world.

Topics: blog sustainability corporate-responsibility do-good pledge-1% green-team social-responsibility

Praecipio Consulting is an Atlassian Platinum Partner

This means that we have the most experience working with Atlassian tools and have insight into new products, features, and beta testing. Through our profound knowledge of Atlassian environments and their intricacies, we can guide your organization as you navigate these important changes.

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