Thursday, December 8, 2011

McLaren F1 team goes carbon neutral


Known for its lavish races at exotic locations scattered across the globe, the petrol-fuelled fun of Formula 1 is usually seen as the antithesis of eco-credibility. So eyebrows were raised with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' declaration this week that it is now carbon neutral.

It's a laudable goal, but in the world of Formula 1, doesn't it mean that it's just the best of a bad bunch?
Perhaps. The team has made CO2 savings by implementing a number of state-of-the-art technologies, including programming its factory's air-conditioning system to only function in areas where staff are currently working and developing a new type of low-energy lamp to illuminate car parks and access roads.
Of course, one of the main sources of CO2 emissions from F1 teams is not the race itself but rather the fleet of trucks used to transport the cars, crew and other equipment around the world. Each vehicle in the McLaren fleet has now been fitted with a monitoring device to gather information on driving efficiency. This data is analysed back at McLaren HQ and used to help train crew to drive in a more smooth and efficient manner - basically, a little bit more Jenson Button and a little bit less Lewis Hamilton.
Altogether, these technologies have enabled the team to make annual savings of around 1500 tonnes of CO2. Yet, despite McLaren's claim to be "carbon neutral", these measures alone weren't able to reduce the net emissions to zero. The remaining CO2 has been offset by funding hydro-electric projects in India and Brazil and purchasing carbon credits through the European Trading Scheme.

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