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What Companies Are Doing
CNBC.com | October 05, 2009 | 11:42 AM EDT

With carbon cap-and-trade legislation before Congress and increasing pressure from shareholders, US companies know they’ll have to deal with their greenhouse gas emissions, or carbon footprint, and many are jumping the gun to change their carbon liability into an asset.

“The best-managed companies are evaluating their carbon footprint,” says R. Paul Herman, founder and CEO of HIP Investor Inc., a Californian investment advisory firm that has created two sustainability indexes tracking the S&P 100 and S&P 500 constituent companies. “And they’re managing it lower to save energy and costs, reduce their future volatility of materials costs, mitigate potential environmental liabilities, and create new competitive advantages.”Getting a handle on these emissions, however, takes work.

Emissions generated in the creation of a company’s principle product or service, whether it’s a megawatt of electricity or a truckload of goods moved 100 miles, can be relatively easy to calculate. But other emissions, like those generated when your employees fly to meetings or when consumers turn on your appliances, are harder to evaluate.

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