Steps to Conduct a Carbon Footprint
The first step to conducting a carbon footprint for an organisation is to define the organisation boundary. For smaller organisations this is usually straight forward but things quickly gets complicated if the company has joint ventures, complex ownership structures, multiple business activity types and a multitude of sites.
Once the boundary has been defined the next step is to determine which sources of emissions are relevant to the organisation. This is a quick and easy for scopes 1 & 2 but more complex for scope 3 where up to fifty four individual sources of emissions in twenty two categories can be defined for a service business alone. In addition to this, emissions related to the particular nature of the organisation’s activities should be considered. The bulk of emissions are usually attributable to five or six sources but a comprehensive footprint should include all sources which are material to the report total, which usually requires including a minimum of ten scope 3 emission categories to ensure all relevant and significant emission sources are captured.
For the each of the sources of emissions to be included or checked for materiality, activity data must be collected. Various types of information can be used including invoices, activity reports and expenditure data. For each emission source the best available data must be determined and then the relevant information compiled accordingly. At first instance this is usually done in a spreadsheet but some organisations then streamline this into other software such as Enterprise Resource Management solutions or into dedicated carbon accounting software.
Measures of activity under each emission source are then multiplied by the relevant emissions factor for that activity. Information on scopes 1 & 2 emissions is published but the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency but generally they do not publish emission factors for scope 3 emission sources so this information must be obtained elsewhere and can be extremely difficult to find or to understand the veracity of what is able to be obtained.
With so many areas of complexity and difficulty in obtaining information it is not surprising that this has become a specialist field. Carbon Coach exists to simplify this minefield of information and ensure organisations can quickly begin and move forward with confidence. Firstly in assessing their emissions and then moving on to addressing opportunities for emission reduction.