Does your organisation want to reduce its CO2 footprint? Or perhaps even become CO2 neutral? Then you first need to know where you stand. In other words: measuring the CO2 emissions of your organization. Many organisations struggle with this. Because where do we start? And how do you actually measure the total amount of CO2 that an organisation produces? The short answer: just start. Sustainability is not a matter of thinking, but of doing. And it really is easier than you think. In this article, we give you tools to determine the CO2 footprint of your organisation step by step.
Calculating CO2 footprint: three scopes
To start with, you should know that the globally recognized Greenhouse Gas Protocol distinguishes three levels, or ‘scopes’, at which an organisation emits CO2:
- Scope 1: direct CO2 emissions from sources in the organisation, such as in buildings, factories and vehicles. Think of the use of natural gas to heat a building.
- Scope 2: indirect CO2 emissions from purchased electricity or heat. Think of the CO2 that is emitted when the electricity you use is generated.
- Scope 3: indirect CO2 emissions from business activities of other organisations you work with. Think of suppliers, waste processors and investors.
In this article, we limit ourselves to calculating the emissions in scope 1 and 2. In a subsequent article, we will discuss scope 3. Your emissions in scope 1 and 2 are fairly easy to calculate, and also the easiest to reduce. So, start with this. Incidentally, this does not mean that scope 3 is unimportant. In sectors such as retail and construction, the most reduction can be made here!
Step 1. Identify sources of emissions
The first step in calculating the total emissions is to identify the CO2 sources. This differs per sector and is, of course, dependent on business processes. At factories, the CO2 emissions are often already recorded in an emission plan. For offices and shops, consideration should be given to the consumption of gas and electricity for the business premises, fuel for cars and other vehicles, and coolants for air conditioning.
Step 2. Find usage data
You then check how much of it you use for each CO2 source. This is usually the trickiest step. Organisations are often aware of how much money they spend on heating and fuel, but how many cubic meters of gas or how many litres of petrol are hidden behind them, is more difficult.
Step 3. Estimating missing data
Getting a complete overview of all data will be difficult, especially the first time. In that case, an estimate can be made of missing data. For example, if you do not know exactly the consumption of the heating system, you can use standard data about the consumption per square meter of office. The same applies to the emissions of cars: these can be estimated using the average CO2 emissions per kilometre.
Step 4. Calculate CO2 emissions based on data
Based on the consumer data, you can now calculate the CO2 emissions per source. By possibly supplementing this with estimated data and then adding them up, you arrive at the organisation’s total CO2 emissions in scope 1 and 2. You will find accurate consumption figures per unit for a large number of emission sources on websites such as CO2emissiefactoren.nl. The calculation tools of klimaatplein.com and carbonmanager.nl are also useful tools for this.
Step 5. Report and Visualize
All found data can now be recorded and visualized in a report. That way, you have a tangible and clear document containing your CO2 footprint that is useful for both internal and external communication. By including CO2 emissions in relation to the number of FTEs or annual turnover in the report, you get a good reference point for the future. It is also possible to have this report certified externally. This requires that you report according to the quality guidelines of ISO 14064. Not mandatory for small companies, but it does make your report more credible and convincing!
Step 6. Spot opportunities and get started!
The report, which contains a detailed description of your CO2 emissions, provides a good basis to start with what it is all about: reducing your CO2 footprint. To spot opportunities, you can, for example, compare your CO2 emissions per component with peers. Does it appear that you score poorly on a certain part and can you easily improve this? Then start picking these low-hanging fruits. You can also take a look at the CO2 performance ladder. Here you will find a number of standard steps that every organisation can use almost immediately.
Need help measuring the CO2 emissions of your organisation and optimizing business processes in the field of ESG? Read more about how Empact can help your organisation or contact us directly without obligation.