What is a carbon footprint?
A Carbon footprint measures the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organisation, event or product. Carbon footprinting can be pursued for different purposes, fulfil different needs, and be characterised by very different levels of effort and financial costs.
Different types of carbon footprints include:
- Organisation and Corporate footprints can be customised to the needs of specific circumstance and voluntary footprinting standards.
- Event footprints are usually done in the effort to brand an event as carbon neutral. These often need to include both direct emissions and indirect emissions (eg, supply-chain related emissions, event-related travel emissions, event-related lodging and emissions from waste disposal).
- Product footprinting or GHG life cycle assessment (LCA), is increasingly being required by major retailers as a measure of the GHG-intensity of a product or service. LCA information can be provided to consumers in order to influence their purchasing patterns. (see LCA section)
Why calculate your carbon footprint?
Assessing and knowing your carbon footprint is the first step towards managing your carbon footprint. More and more companies are undertaking a climate change strategy, and corporate or product carbon footprints are a common first step.
Some of the benefits of a carbon footprint assessment are to:
- Identify energy and emission-intensive processes;
- Identify opportunities for energy and emission reductions, which can possibly lead to reduced operational costs or carbon credits;
- Prepare for compliance with regulation;
- Enhance brand image and market advantage; and
- Demonstrate continuous improvement on climate change to stakeholders.
Carbon Footprint Assessment Procedure
Step 1: Set boundary – Define the scope and complexity of the carbon footprint.
Step 2: Gather Data – Gather information from the client to calculate the footprint.
Step 3: Calculate footprint – In-house experts calculate the footprint according to international standards.
Step 4: Offer mitigation options – Present the client with options for reducing the footprint internally.
Step 5: Offset remainder – If the client wishes to become carbon neutral/positive, advice is offered on the quality and purchase of carbon offsets.