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Progressive AE Is 1st Architecture/Engineering Firm in North America to Earn CarbonNeutral® Status

15 October 2009 |

Grand Rapids, MI – Progressive AE has earned CarbonNeutral® company status and is the first architecture/engineering firm in North America to make this tangible commitment to reduce carbon emissions and help slow climate change. This is the most recent step on the firm’s authentic journey to sustainability.

To earn this certification, the firm measured its corporate carbon foot print using an independent third party, quantifying all six Kyoto greenhouse gases and measured in units of Carbon Dioxide equivalent, or CO2e. The finding was that Progressive AE produces 626 metric tonnes of CO2e – most of it from the operations of buildings. Those emissions were reduced to net zero through a combination of internal reductions (e.g. improving operational efficiencies) and external reductions in the form of high quality carbon offsets.

“West Michigan businesses have consistently been on the forefront of the sustainability movement with initiatives that have put us on the map, proving that being responsible for your carbon emissions is good for the environment and for business. By being the first architecture and engineering firm in North America to be awarded CarbonNeutral® status, Progressive AE has not only set the bar for other businesses across the country but also provides a low carbon alternative for clients looking for an architectural solution,” said Grand Rapids’ Mayor George Heartwell.

Internal reductions include:
• Installing new building HVAC controls and monitoring;
• Recommissioning lighting, HVAC systems, domestic hot water systems, and all associated controls;
• Creating a list of recommended efficiency improvements with associated Return on Investment (ROI) estimates;
• Discontinuing mechanical snowmelt systems except for special circumstances;
• Upgrading lighting replacement fixtures, lamps, and ballasts;
• Increasing materials recycled to include plastics, metals, glass, and other operational incidentals;
• Replacing old two-stroke boat motors for the water resources department with low emission four-stroke motors; and
• Selling and not replacing inefficient cargo van.

Carbon offsets were accomplished in accordance with The CarbonNeutral Company’s CarbonNeutral Protocol, an industry leading standard which guarantees all The CarbonNeutral Company programmes deliver robust, high quality, credible emissions reductions. The CarbonNeutral Protocol is reviewed by an Independent Advisory Group of academics, scientists and businesses and covers the entire carbon chain – from measurement to communication, including, for example, clear parameters for carbon footprints and CarbonNeutral® certifications. The projects chosen for investment align with Progressive AE’s corporate vision and applicable industries. They are:

• Conservation-based forest management project in the Big River/Salmon Creek Forests in Northern California verified and certified to the Climate Action Reserve.
• Wind power generated from three new wind turbines in the Dhule district of Maharashtra India verified and certified to the Voluntary Carbon Standard.
• Small scale hydro power in Guizhou Province China verified and certified to the Voluntary Carbon Standard.

Progressive AE worked with The CarbonNeutral Company (, a world-leading carbon offset and carbon management business, working with over 300 major businesses and thousands of small- and medium-sized companies. Over the last ten years, they have purchased carbon credits from over 200 projects spread over six continents. They have two regional operating headquarters in New York and London, as well as offices in Grand Rapids and Singapore as well as a network of affiliates in Japan, Canada, France and UAE.

“Progressive AE becoming CarbonNeutral® is an important step not only for their business, but for the architectural, design and engineering industry as a whole. By committing to reduce emissions to net zero, Progressive AE has set the benchmark. Progressive AE clearly recognizes that the built environment represents a critical bridge to a low carbon future and the firm is now demonstrating leadership to their clients by taking responsibility for the emissions associated with their businesses,” said The CarbonNeutral Company CEO, Neil Braun.

Progressive AE has a history of being “first” in many initiatives including being first outstate firm to earn the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Michigan chapter award for Firm of the Year; the first firm to win the AIA Grand Valley chapter’s award for Firm Achievement; and being the highest ranked architecture/engineering firm on the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s first list of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-accredited professionals.

“Progressive AE is proud to again be on the cutting edge of new business strategies and technologies. Now that we have gone through this process ourselves, we can better use our team of architects, engineers and consulting experts to perform this innovative service for our clients,” said Bradley Thomas, P.E., Progressive AE’s President and CEO. “If we can help them manage their carbon, we help them manage their costs.”

Progressive AE is a 45-year old, 100-member, full-service architecture, engineering and consulting firm dedicated to the sustainability of the natural and built environment.