Greenwashing or a good start? Picking the brain of a sustainable options CEO
Houston, Texas - Taking climate action can be tricky, but one Texas company has a whole menu of options for businesses to try to fight climate change.
Houston-based GetChoice! is a sustainable solutions company, and, in an exclusive interview with TAG24 NEWS, its CEO Kiki Dikmen explained just what it means when companies try to become greener.
GetChoice! has been advising companies on ways to reduce their impact on the environment for years, and only recently rebranded from Choice Energy Management.
Dikmen said that his company often has to clue in corporate sustainability managers on how to do their job.
But the recent wave of corporate actions to appear "green" and sustainable isn't always clearly understood.
"The concept of green is a convoluted topic, and not everything that looks green is essentially green, and some of the actions that we're actually taking are unfortunately literally check the box," Dikmen said.
"But there are also a lot of things that we can actually do that are truly green. And some of the impacts that we actually have, if companies put their dollars behind it with a commitment, that doesn't necessarily make them green, but it makes the world greener."
Even though Dikmen insists that these companies are investing in renewable energy, critics say that they are just using the "greening" to avoid massive changes, and continue with business as usual.
Big tech companies like Apple or Facebook/Meta claim 100% renewable electricity use, yet continue to rely on fossil fuel-heavy electricity grids in most of their locations.
Fossil fuel bigs like Exxon, BP, and Shell have changed their tune in recent years, and a recent study accused the big oil companies of changing their words, but not their deeds.
For many, this is greenwashing – but not for Dikmen.
"I wouldn't call it greenwashing, I would call it a good start."
Companies that work with GetChoice! have a range of ways to invest in green action.
You could get a contract that puts a wind farm on your company's property and gives you direct access to renewable power, or pay to plant enough trees to offset some of your greenhouse gas emissions.
Other approaches are less direct, but hugely popular because of how simple they are, like paying a power company to generate renewable energy that equals what you use.
"When you're buying electricity, the easiest way for companies to raise their hands and say, 'We're doing everything we can to be green' is [to buy] renewable energy credits."
However, Dikmen addressed the elephant in the room: there is no way that buying Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) guarantees you access to renewable energy.
"So, when you buy a renewable energy credit, that does not mean that your facility is actually receiving green energy," he admitted.
"It's a financial transaction that basically is asking the supplier that you're contracting with to purchase the equivalent of use in green energy."
Buying RECs is essentially a way of shuffling around funds and contracts, but these offsets, when properly regulated, are a direct investment in green energy.
Dikmen proudly declared that his clients have bought 1.25 million megawatt hours of renewable energy by purchasing RECs.
To put that in perspective, the US Energy Information Administration says that the average household uses about 11 MWh of electricity per year, so GetChoice! has already sold RECs that invested in enough renewable energy generation to cover one year of electricity for over 110,000 homes.
The CEO sees the growing popularity of offsets like RECs as progress, and crucial to solving the climate crisis.
"Climate change has unfortunately become a political issue. I am personally a believer in the fact that there is very imminent climate change around us," Dikmen told TAG24.
"I also feel that it is my personal duty and responsibility to leave a better world to the next generation, because I think that scope changes for everyone once you have a kid of your own."
Cover photo: GetChoice!