Home > 2D and 3D design leader, Autodesk takes leadership role in greenhouse gas reductions

2D and 3D design leader, Autodesk takes leadership role in greenhouse gas reductions

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Autodesk, a leader in 2D and 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, has developed a new and more rigorous methodology for corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) target setting. Autodesk developed the Corporate Finance Approach to Climate-Stabilising Targets (C-FACT) to align its own GHG reduction targets with global scientific and policy climate stabilisation targets.

C-FACT is more science-driven, business-friendly, and transparent than current methodologies being used by most companies. In measuring its GHG emissions, Autodesk aims to lead the field in taking responsibility not just for direct emissions, but also for a wide range of indirect emissions including business travel, leased facilities, employee commuting, major conferences, and data center vendors. Uniquely, these are all included under Autodesk’s new GHG target.

Emma Stewart, senior program lead, Autodesk’s sustainability initiative, said, “Corporate GHG target setting has become a little like the Wild West, with few laws, little scrutiny, and quite a bit of aimless shooting. C-FACT takes a different approach that accommodates the normal changes to our business. And we are challenging other companies to reduce their GHGs in line with scientific and policy climate stabilisation targets of 85 percent by 2050.”

Autodesk’s C-FACT advocates that companies adopt a normalised goal using a more nuanced approach that recognises they are GHG emitters but simultaneously create economic value. It takes the 2008 BT Climate Stabilisation Intensity model a step further by changing the measure of added value to be universally acceptable by any accounting system, and it introduces new mathematical principles that allow it to be:

proportional, replicable and verifiable - corporate commitments should be proportional to the company’s value to the economy, while holding performance accountable with replicable and verifiable information
non-prescriptive, flexible, and predictable - allows individual business units to make decisions and commit to targets to; adapts to short-term deviations from the target trajectory; predictable forecasting incorporated into business planning and optimisation of cost-savings
compatible and fair - compatible with generally accepted corporate finance principles and fair to companies of all sizes, GHG footprints, and growth prospects.

Autodesk has committed to C-FACT through to 2020, as well as performance reports against the stated target at the close of each fiscal year (FY). Using the new methodology calculation to set targets for FY10, Autodesk will aim to reduce its absolute emissions by 4.52 percent compared to FY09, translating to 3,756 metric tons of GHG.

Lynelle Cameron, director of sustainability, Autodesk, said, “This is a major step forward for Autodesk, but also for corporate GHG target setting in general. Businesses increasingly want to set ambitious GHG targets without compromising business growth or compatibility with accounting practices. Like many software makers, Autodesk’s GHG footprint is insignificant, from a climate perspective, compared to a large industrial manufacturer. But C-FACT can now be applied as a best practice by any company – and that is significant.”

Between FY08 and FY09, Autodesk’s total GHG footprint increased by one percent. This absolute increase in emissions was accompanied by a significant increase in contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), so Autodesk’s carbon intensity per unit of added value dropped. Carbon intensity also dropped per employee (by nine percent) and per square foot (by five percent) between those two years.

To further its understanding of indirect emissions upstream and downstream, Autodesk’s Sustainability Initiative recently undertook the first-ever carbon footprint of AutoCAD software. The study examined different phases of the product’s life in the US, including raw material extraction, transportation, product manufacturing, distribution and end of life. The study identified the most carbon-intensive activities in the traditional physical delivery method, and demonstrated that software download is nearly five times more carbon efficient than the distribution of a fully packaged product. Autodesk is using the results of the study to educate its customers about the carbon benefits of software download, as well as to further investigate viability of alternate distribution methods. 

Autodesk is represented in Australia by Autodesk Australia .

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