This article explains how you can how to calculate your carbon footprint. It includes a straightforward five step plan to measure your carbon footprint, as follows: 1) defining the organisational boundary, 2) the scope of emissions, 3) the time period, 4) the data collection method and 5) the emission factors to use.
After measuring a carbon footprint, most organisations are left with the task of finding practical, cost effective ways to reduce it.
In this article we outline 5 ways to reduce a carbon footprint.
1. Reduce energy use
For most companies, energy use is by far the largest contributor to their carbon footprint, often accounting for up to 50% of a carbon footprint.
To reduce energy usage a company should focus on four key areas:
1. Lighting (actions include: installing energy efficient lighting and making sure lights are switched off when out of use either manually or through automatic sensors)
2. Office equipment (actions include: switching off equipment or automatic power shutdown systems)
3. Heating (actions include: better insulation, regular heating maintenance, investment in energy efficient heating technologies like heat pumps and condensing boilers)
4. Cooling (actions include: regular maintenance of cooling technologies, optimal timing controls)
2. Recycle more and send less waste to landfill
Waste that ends up in landfill produces methane which is a greenhouse gas.
To reduce emissions from waste a company should focus on implementing a comprehensive recycling scheme and potentially exploring the options of incineration through an Energy from Waste plant (EfW).
Although EfW produces GHGs during incineration the production of energy from the waste more than outweighs the emissions compared to other thermal energy sources, such as coal or gas
3. Fly less frequently
Business travel can be a significant portion of an organisational carbon footprint.
Many business trips nowadays don’t need to occur and could quite effectively be replaced with either audio or video conferencing.
To reduce a carbon footprint, organizations should look at their business travel policies and have procedures that ascertain whether all flights are totally necessary.
Good video conferencing technology can now be picked up for a few £1000 – this initial investment will easily be paid back through a reduction in overall travel costs
4. Reduce fuel use
Fuel use for commuter travel, company cars and public transport can be a large contributor to an organization’s carbon footprint.
To reduce fuel use from travel, organizations can promote and encourage more sustainable ways of travelling amongst staff.
Initiatives include car pool schemes, investment in a more sustainable company car fleet, use of green taxis, and the introduction of a cycle to work scheme for staff commuters
5. Sustainable procurement
For some organisations, a large portion of their carbon footprint is as a result of embedded carbon emissions from their supply chain.
Goods that are purchased by an organisation in effect have a carbon emission associated with them – the emissions from the production, transport, use and disposal of the good.
Organisations with large supply chains could try reducing their carbon footprint by adopting sustainable procurement principles, such as purchasing eco-label products.
Effective action to reduce a carbon footprint can save an organisation lots of money.
The trick is to identify and prioritise actions based on the extent to which they impact a carbon footprint and the ease to which solutions can be implemented.
Our staff writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.