Know Your Footprint
Image: Time for Change
Know Your Footprint
Calculating your carbon footprint isn't a walk in the park, but it isn't as hard as you think.
Calculate your carbon footprint: Bigger brands with complex, global networks of material sourcing and product manufacturing should consider hiring an expert third-party to sort through some complicated calculations. Brands that are just revving their (electric) engines can get started on understanding their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the EPA’s Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator. Another resource is the Greenhouse Gas Protocol that sets the global standards of carbon emission calculations. Their website has sector guidance, product rules, and tools that inform GHG global accounting standards. Learn more at CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project.
In our experience, the biggest hurdle in calculating GHG emissions is collecting the data! From the air miles employees fly to the monthly electric bill to the raw materials your supplier's source, all business activities contribute to your company’s carbon footprint. Carbon footprint reporting is divided into three areas or Scopes:
Direct emissions generated by resources your organization owns like company facilities and vehicle fleets.
Indirect emissions including purchased electricity, steam, heating or cooling.
Indirect emissions include employee commuting, business travel, and supply chain emissions such as the extraction and production of purchased materials as well as transport and logistics.
Image: GHG Protocol
Commit to reduce your carbon footprint:
It’s not enough to offset your organization’s GHG emissions. Figuring out how to reduce your carbon footprint while growing your business is challenging but not impossible. Setting aspirational reduction targets can spur innovation and help your company manage climate-related business risk. There are two standards to consider:
1. Develop your own target reduction and year (I have to remember what this method is called)
2. Work within the Science Based Targets initiative that 1,000 companies have signed on to support to limit global warming to well below 2(degrees sign) C.
Make smart carbon offset choices:
Finding carbon offset projects that resonate with your brand is more challenging than it appears. The first thing you want to do is make sure the offset project is legit. Check out Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) registry. To be included in this registry, the offset organization has to satisfy stringent reporting requirements that demonstrate how their projects turn their GHG emission reductions and removals into tradable carbon credits. Another certification organization to check out is Gold Standard. There are so many types of carbon offset projects out there, and our favorites include forest and wetland conservation and restoration. For those companies whose mission is tied more closely to coastal ecosystems than land-based conservation activities, there is an emerging field of Blue Carbon Offsets, led by SeaGrass Grow (a program of The Ocean Foundation) that has a fantastic story behind it. Carbon offset credits can range anywhere from $5 to upwards of $50 a tCO2e.
Third-party certification helps consumers easily identify and support companies who are committed to reducing their environmental impacts, and Climate Neutral is a one-stop-shop to support your carbon footprint reduction strategy. They take your GHG emissions data and plug it into their software, generating an estimate of your organization’s tCO2e (tons of carbon dioxide emissions). They challenge their members to develop strategies to reduce their GHG emissions over time. They also connect you with verified carbon offsets and create a portfolio of projects that speak to your brand.
Our team at Planet+Purpose Solutions is dedicated to helping organizations launch their sustainability initiatives and coaching leaders into becoming champions of change. We all need to work together to tackle our collective environmental impact and our team hopes this series of articles will help with those first critical steps of your organization’s journey.