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Catholic Relief Services is poised to prevent as much as 42 million lbs in CO2 emissions after adopt

The global humanitarian organization Catholic Relief Services began implementing a plan to save millions of pounds in carbon dioxide emissions, after adopting a proposal from an award-winning team at Georgia Institute of Technology.

The proposal by Michelle Babcock and Rachel Moore — winners of the Spring 2020 Georgia Tech Carbon Reduction Challenge — projected a reduction of 6.28 to 9.35 million pounds of CO2 per year. In comparison, the average passenger vehicle in America is responsible for about 10,000 pounds of CO2 annually. The Georgia Tech student proposal aims to save more than 600 times that amount annually, at least. Over the course of 4.5 years, the plan will save as much as 42 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

“A changing climate impacts us all, but especially the most vulnerable among us,” said CRS Global Fleet Manager, Michael Bieger. “We’re grateful to Georgia Tech students Michelle Babcock and Rachel Moore for demonstrating that we can accelerate our mission without a cloud of exhaust. Building a more environmental fleet of vehicles will improve the health of the communities we serve and our own bottom line.”

The Georgia Tech team worked with CRS for several months in Spring 2020 to analyze fleet data and develop a plan to reduce carbon emissions and save money.

From modernizing fleet vehicles, to reducing idling, Bieger and the team identified several areas where carbon efficiency could be improved to lower emissions. From there, the team analyzed fleet data and created a final proposal to present to stakeholders. In April, CRS agreed to move forward with the plan and began implementing it soon after.

A member of the NGO Climate Compact since April 2020, a pledge that addresses the ongoing threat of climate change, CRS is now poised to prevent millions of lbs in CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere, after adopting the proposal.

“We are at a pivotal moment in history. If it is possible to glean anything positive from the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be a growing awareness that across the borders of the world, we are one human family,” said Sean Callahan, CRS’ president and CEO, after signing the Climate Compact. “Just like the coronavirus, climate change is a great equalizer, affecting all of us. Environmental degradation leads to mass hunger, joblessness, migration and violent conflict. This is a human and economic catastrophe. The good news is that when we set collective standards, we can expedite action.”

Not only does the plan save a significant amount of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, it’s also projected to save CRS more than $500,000 annually, according to the proposal by Moore and Babcock. “We felt we had a real chance to make a big difference in emissions for a large organization,” Moore said. “And since our stakeholder is a nonprofit, we know that every dollar saved could go towards improving the lives of people in developing countries. So, that made us all the more passionate about our project.”

Among the recommendations made in the proposal were:

  • Vehicle lifecycle – Replace fleet vehicles every 4.5 years rather than the current 8.5 years. The practice will save money since used cars will get a higher resale value, and newer cars get better gas mileage and have lower maintenance costs.

  • Vehicle Powertrain Choices – About 75% of the sedans in CRS’ fleet can potentially be replaced by hybrid models.

  • Vehicle Idling – CRS cars sometimes idle for long periods during project visits or meetings. If 70% of that idling is eliminated, CRS will save in excess of 28,000 gallons, $96,800 and 567,500 pounds of CO2 per year.

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