June 14th 2021. Posted by Tom Kiss.
A look back at our first year, our business footprint and efforts to create a positive impact.
A year unlike most others
What a time to start a new company! Dodeca Studio started out around the same time as the pandemic hit the UK, so it's been a rollercoaster of a year. Navigating starting a new business between working at home, with no childcare and homeschooling has certainly been a new experience. Nonetheless, it's been a productive year with lots learnt.
It felt important to get our footprint monitoring right in the first full year. We started by using Carbon Analytics (previously reviewed on our blog), but unfortunately, we had problems with it throughout the year and when it came to producing an annual report, we were unable to fix errors matching bank transactions to incorrect industry sectors and the report it produced was not reliably accurate. So, we then tried using Compare Your Footprint, and although it did not match every item of expenditure to a corresponding emissions category, it did allow us to match groups of transactions using Xero account codes. The report it produced then allowed us to see directly the footprint of our business.
With no travel and a home office, most expenditure was on computing and furniture, expected first-year costs for setting up a business.
To reduce our overall impact and invest back in to the planet, we chose Ecologi as our partner for Carbon Offsetting. Through Ecologi we have been able to support a wide range of carbon removal and mitigation projects around the world, including:
- Wind Energy in Andhra Pradesh, India
- Preserving prime Brazilian rainforest
- Providing clean energy through hydropower in Kanungu, Uganda
- Onshore wind energy generation in Taiwan
- Turning waste biogas into electricity in Thailand
- Fuel-efficient cookstoves in Honduras
All of the projects funded through Ecologi come with Carbon credit certificates that are certified at the very highest level by Gold Standard and equivalent. It is these carbon credits that have helped us to offset the impact of our business and the projects on which we work on.
As well as offsetting our business impact significantly, all the web projects completed in our first year made strong considerations towards low-carbon technology stacks with front-ends which were performant and efficient. Double Fine's website made use of 100% renewable technology across its asset CDN, image transform servers, compute clusters and database backup engines. Likewise, Electric Brighton is hosted on servers supplied with 100% renewable electricity, along with the CDN it uses. Both projects score high Lighthouse performance scores, in turn helping to ensure fast performance for users.
The technology choices made were critical in ensuring the environmental impact of these projects was kept to a minimum.
Reuse & Recycle
One of our pledges is to avoid purchasing new equipment whenever possible and aim to use refurbished or second-hand. We're pleased to look back and see that 67% of IT purchases were second-hand, plus another 4% were replacement parts to repair damages.
All waste, mostly from packaging, was recycled wherever possible - including plastic PET 1 to 5 and printer cartridges.
Force for Good
Creating positive impact has been a key part of Dodeca Studio's first year. We achieved our goal of becoming a certified member of One Percent for the Planet, managing to give back over 2% of revenue to environmental causes during the year. We've made donations in due course throughout the year, but also to celebrate each project we've completed - something we're now highlighting on our project case study pages.
Alongside our carbon offsetting investments to Ecologi, we've also made donations to Trees for Life and their incredible work closer to home, in rewilding the Scottish Highlands.
This last year has been quite a learning experience and we've been really pleased with our achievements, but there are some areas for improvement:
- Ensure all charitable donations are made at times where match-funding is available to effectively double the donations.
- Improve proportions of expenditure on second-hand equipment.
- Find new ways to create wider benefit through the work we do.
A special thanks to the great companies we've been able to work with during this past year. Here's to this new year, and to making a bigger impact than we have in our first.
- Joining One Percent for the Planet has been a great way to find like-minded businesses and their Slack community is excellent.
- The B-Corp Directory is an excellent resource for finding inspirational businesses doing great things - helpful for both business and personal life.
- With some reading, Carbon Accounting can be done yourself. But we wanted a long-term solution that integrated with accounting and took away some of the overheads of doing it in-house. Compare Your Footprint is still in active development but shows some great potential with Xero integration, which is still evolving.
- Whole Grain Digital are veterans in the area of sustainable web design and have published many helpful tools on the topic, including the Website Carbon Calculator, the Sustainable Web Manifesto and the recently published Sustainable Website Design, by Whole Grain Digital co-founder Tom Greenwood.