Do you know how much carbon your business emits?
Whether you’re thinking about cutting your emissions, becoming carbon neutral, or investing in carbon offsets, you first need to measure your carbon footprint.
The starting point for a great sustainability strategy is understanding your impact; however, some things are easier to measure than others. So how do you calculate your business carbon emissions?
Sources of business carbon emissions
The sources of business carbon emissions vary widely according to factors such as which business sector(s) you operate in, where your facilities are located and the lifecycle of your products and services.
Regardless of business type, however, all carbon emissions are categorized as Scope 1, 2 or 3.
- Scope 1 emissions are direct carbon emissions from sources that you own or control. This includes manufacturing and process emissions, onsite fuel combustion and emissions from company vehicles.
- Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of energy that your organisation buys and uses, such as electricity, heat or steam.
- Scope 3 emissions are other indirect emissions from sources outside your direct control. This includes employee commuting and business travel, water consumption, waste disposal, purchased goods and services, and the use and end-of-life treatment of products you sell.
Your carbon footprint measures not only carbon dioxide emissions, but total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions expressed as a carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).
It should include emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2); methane (CH4); nitrous oxide (N2O); hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs); perfluorocarbons (PFCs); and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
If this list looks daunting, don’t worry; online carbon calculator tools can help take the hard work out of calculating your carbon footprint.
How does a carbon offset calculator work?
To calculate the carbon footprint of your organization, a calculator uses standardized emissions factors and protocols set by reputable national and global institutions.
Data from local agencies is also used, since the carbon intensity of electricity generation, for example, varies over time and according to location. But you must provide all the relevant input data.
First, define the boundaries; which parts of the organization will be included in the footprint? Generally, you should account for all Scope 1 and 2 emissions, but you only need to include ‘material’ Scope 3 emissions, according to your environmental and commercial goals.
Collate data from all emissions sources within your defined boundaries. For activities that are hard to measure, it may be necessary to estimate. For example, employee commuting can be established through a survey; not everyone will respond, but you can calculate an average per full time employee from the available data.
When you have all the required numbers, enter them into the calculator to produce your carbon footprint.
How many carbon offsets should I buy?
The carbon offset calculator will estimate how many tons of CO2 your organization emits each year – your carbon footprint.
The footprint can be used as the starting point for reducing your emissions, as a benchmark against which to measure progress. It will help you pinpoint which activities are responsible for the most emissions, so you can focus your resources in the right areas. But first, how can you minimize the impact of your existing carbon footprint?
When you team with NativeEnergy through their HelpBuild projects, you are doing more than just purchasing carbon offsets. You are investing in progressive, long-term carbon reduction projects like the Trellis Biomass Conversion Project, which, after significantly expanding its wood manufacturing and office space, replaced the plant’s old fuel oil heating system with an ideal pellet fuel, water distributed system.
This project reduces approximately 1,350 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year!