Carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas emissions as a result of organizational or individual activities such as transportation, heating, electricity consumption, etc. measured in unit carbon dioxide. A variety of carbon footprint calculation methodologies and standards are developed in the international arena. The methodologies developed by IPCC, GHG Protocol, ISO 14064, CDP, PAS 2050 are the most important standards for calculating carbon footprint for the 6 major greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, PFc, HFc, SF6) assessed under Kyoto Protocol.

A company should go through a 4 step process to calculate its carbon footprint. These steps are;

Step 1 Identify the purpose; Determine the objectives to be achieved by the calculation of carbon footprint. For example, the results of the carbon footprint can be used to identify CO2 reduction targets and measures to achieve those targets.

Step 2 Identify the boundaries: After determining the purpose, the organization has to make some choises to identify its boundaries (the organization has to stay within the limits specified by the standards applied). The most common scope used for corporation reporting is the operational control approach. This means the organization will calculate and take responsibility for the carbon footprint of its daily operations. Some of the emissions outside the activities of the firm will also be considered in this context.

Step 3 Data collecting and application of emission factors: After agreeing on boundaries and scope of the footprint, data on activities can be collected and emission factors and global warming potentials can be applied. The process is called an inventory. Emission factors may differ in different countries and even change during time. There is IPCC guidelines and GHG Protocol 2007 of the WBCSD and many different sources for emission factors.

Step 4 Evaluating the results and reporting: The report should be transparent, the choices and assumptions must be clear. The results of the report should be compared with the selected base year, for example 2010 and the uncertainties of the data and calculations (accuracy) should be stated clearly.

Contact us if you want to calculate, understand and manage your carbon footprint.