Measuring a company’s carbon footprint is becoming increasingly important in the business world and the leaders in many fields are setting a positive example to others. By committing to sustainable methods and measuring its impact, a company proves that it is dedicated to sustainable development in its day-to-day activities and communicates it transparently. This, in turn, increases the trust of stakeholders and supports the positive image of a company.

What is the carbon footprint?

It is the total volume of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions caused by the activities of a person, organisation, or another entity or by a product or service during its life cycle. The carbon footprint is used to estimate the impact of an activity on the environment and climate change. Usually, the carbon footprint of the annual operation of a company, a product, or a future scenario is measured. If a company prioritises taking more responsibility for the environment in its activities, then this kind of mapping helps to understand which developments and improvements would have the biggest impact on the environment. It also helps to avoid PR that reeks of greenwashing, where a very enthusiastic change is made that has a marginal impact compared to other activities.

How is the carbon footprint measured? Where to begin?

As is the case with all measurements, the most important aspect is defining the starting point of what is measured and the reasons for it. Therefore, you should begin by mapping processes in your company, which are important for the environment. You should begin with as broad a view as possible, starting from the acquisition of raw materials and ending with the disposal of waste, and decide whether it is important for the company to map the entire chain or would only production or production and delivery to the consumer be enough.

There are several methods for assessing the carbon footprint. However, if you decide to measure the annual carbon footprint of the company based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, then the process takes place in three stages.

First, impact factors directly under the control of the company are analysed – for example, the footprint of ventilation devices in an office or production building or the impact of the car fleet on the environment.

Second, the footprint of purchased energy is measured. For example, the impact of electricity and heating on the environment. At this point, we should mention that identifying input data is not always easy because CO2 emission factors for consumed electricity and central heating have not been agreed on in Estonia. Third, indirect processes preceding and following the direct activities of the company are mapped, such as the footprint of the purchased products and services, the environmental impact of raw materials and the supply chain of the product, or the effect of processes related to the use and disposal of the product. Scope 3 also includes the impact of transportation used by the employees for commuting to work and the effect of business travel. Often, the largest aspect of the impact becomes apparent during the third stage and provides the company that is mapping its carbon footprint an opportunity to put pressure on its partners to pay more attention to the carbon footprint of their operations.

Therefore, mapping the carbon footprint requires the collection of a large amount of data, which could be a considerable burden on the company, depending on its ability to manage information. Specialists in this field help to interpret the collected data as a carbon footprint by relying on research publications and international databases. During the initial stage of cooperation, it is important to establish the goal for measuring the carbon footprint of the company, because this allows experts to recommend the best solutions and methodologies. If you would like to measure the carbon footprint of your company, the specialists at Forus can help you by calculating the carbon footprint based on consumption data, identifying the biggest sources of impact, and evaluating the decrease in the footprint caused by the planned changes.

Such analyses should not be a one-time endeavour; instead, they should become a natural part of a company’s operations and strategy creation, based on which it sets goals for lessening the impact of its operations and for assessing the effectiveness of the implemented changes.

One possibility for reducing the carbon footprint of impact factors under the direct control of the company is adopting energy-efficient practices when building or renovating offices and production facilities. Modern technological solutions and know-how reduce the energy consumption, environmental impact, and management costs of a building and help to make the indoor climate of a building comfortable for its users, promoting their well-being. In addition, the use of water, energy, and other resources, options for producing renewable energy, recycling, and ease of use are essential aspects of energy-efficient green building practices. The energy efficiency experts of Forus advise companies in all stages of construction and prepare a design for the contractor along with the terms of reference for energy efficiency if necessary.

Forus helps with the carbon footprint calculations. You can read more about carbon footprint calculations here.

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