In 1998, when Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras, Dee and Richard Lawrence, along with their daughter Skye, headed south, to help with the country's recovery efforts and wound up starting a cookstove project that greatly reduces carbon pollution. Eighteen years later, the Lawrences founded Cool Effect to fund carbon-reducing projects around the world.
Taking a step back, it was during their time in Honduras that 14-year-old Skye made the connection between the respiratory issues Honduran children were facing and their unhealthy living conditions, due to poor ventilation in a family’s home while cooking. This discovery led the Lawrence family to implement a new cooktop stove system; a stove which is more energy efficient, and better for everyone's health. This was the beginning of Proyecto Mirador, a clean cookstove carbon offset initiative, which paved the way for Cool Effect.
Salesforce, the world’s leading cloud provider, is now operating as a net zero company thanks in part to their partnership with Cool Effect and Proyecto Mirador. Sunya Ojure, Senior Manager, Sustainability at Salesforce explained why this partnership works: “Cool Effect shares our core value of innovation and enables our employees and customers to also get involved by making carbon offsets approachable.”
Carbon offset projects like Proyecto Mirador are an opportunity for individuals and companies to help reduce their carbon footprint. Every dollar counts, but it’s comprehensive partnerships like the one Cool Effect has with Salesforce that create an ecosystem that accounts for carbon properly. Purchasing carbon offsets is a key element in Salesforce’s sustainability strategy. Their commitment to offsets allowed the company to become net- zero emissions 33 years ahead of schedule. “Operating as a net-zero company puts an internal price on our greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Ojure. “It creates a financial incentive to support decisions throughout the business that avoid and reduce carbon emissions, from specifying high efficiency IT equipment to bringing about low-carbon, renewable energy to support the business.”
She goes on to say, “achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions was an important milestone in our ongoing sustainability journey and reflects our sense of urgency for addressing climate change and publicly upholding our environmental values.”
Not only does the Salesforce partnership help fund Proyecto Mirador, the Salesforce team is quite proud that the Salesforce platform is also being used to help with the project’s efficiency. Every Proyecto Mirador technician has a smartphone that they use to collect household data on every stove. They know where each of their stoves is located and who’s using them. “Before using the Salesforce platform, Mirador was building fewer than 5,000 stoves per year. After implementing Salesforce, they’ve more than quadrupled their output, building and installing more than 20,000 stoves in 2016 alone. It’s an incredible feeling to know that we are making an environmental impact, while also supporting a project that improves human health and creates local jobs,” explains Ojure.
Organizations like Cool Effect provide companies and individuals alike a way to fight against climate change, they have given companies like Salesforce a tangible way to quantify their impact company-wide, and to truly work in communities around the world. Recognizing their leadership in their industry and in business today, Ojure describes why sustainability is so important to the company:
“Sustainability is important to Salesforce because we consider the environment to be one of our key stakeholders. The cloud runs on electricity, which today relies predominantly on fossil fuels, a major source of global emissions. As a cloud leader, we have a responsibility to act. Moreover, climate change impacts everyone--every individual, company, city, and nation. Its effects are compounded in the world’s poorest regions, amplifying global inequality. Equality is a core value at Salesforce; we’re committed to harnessing our culture of innovation to fight climate change and drive toward equality for all.”It’s innovative organizations like Cool Effect that are creating the opportunity for us all to fight against climate change in a very practical way. Whether large companies are spending thousands of dollars on carbon offsets, or everyday people choose the $10.98 per tonne option, it makes a difference. Although we can’t outrun the next superstorm, we can work to combat the issues that will fuel it.
Laura Wise writes and speaks about business, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility (CSR), technology, and entrepreneurship. You can check out her portfolio here.