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Calculate and Control Your Carbon Footprint

You’ve probably heard people talk about a business’ carbon footprint. You even might think you have a good idea of what your business’ footprint is. With global climate change evident by the rising temperature of the planet, having an idea of what effect your business’ environmental impact has is not only good for the planet, it can help avoid risk or even save you money. There are a lot of factors that go into determining your carbon footprint and many of them you may not consider. Today, we will go through how to calculate your business’ carbon footprint and what you can do to reduce it.

What is a Carbon Footprint?

A business’ carbon footprint is basically the grand total of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are produced as a result of their operations. In calculating the GHG emissions, you will invariably come across numbers that you can focus on to reduce the organizational carbon footprint. The lower the GHG emissions your organization has, the more environmentally sustainable your business is.

Before we get into how to calculate your business’ carbon footprint, let’s go over the greenhouse gas emissions you will be looking at:

  • Carbon dioxide – CO₂ – The most frequently produced GHG. Will make up for most of your business’ carbon footprint. 
  • Methane – CH4 – Methane makes up for 10 percent or so of GHG emissions. It naturally occurs from livestock and organic decay, but is also emitted during the transport and production of natural gas, coal, and oil. 
  • Nitrous Oxide – N2O – Emitted from combustion of fossil fuels and the treatment of wastewater.

There are others, such as fluorinated gasses, but for the most part when you consider your carbon footprint you will be measuring these three emissions. 

How to Calculate Yours

You have to consider that the standards for measuring carbon footprint are extremely new and governed by the International Organization for Standardization out of Geneva, Switzerland. Not all nations recognize these standards, but for our purposes the ISO is the predominant organization dealing with the global impact of business GHG emissions. They suggest taking a three part approach. 

Part One – Measuring direct emissions produced by company-owned vehicles and properties used for business. This also includes refrigerant gasses (air conditioning and refrigeration), and any emissions created for the production of industrial processes. 

Part Two  – Measuring indirect emissions, usually from your business purchasing energy. Typically, this comes in the form of electricity, steam, or heat of some type. 

Part Three – Measuring indirect emissions that are caused by your business. This typically comes in the form of GHG waste, emissions put off by products or services, and workforce commute. 

While the first two should be pretty simple to measure by looking at invoices from your fuel expenses and utility bills, part three is more difficult to pin down. The ISO even suggests that it is really concerned with the first two parts as part three could be costly to figure out. The more you know, the more you can do to curtail your business’ environmental impact.  

Changes You Can Make

There are some simple changes you can make, but most of the changes will require a change in strategy. Top of the list is always to use less energy. Energy use is about half of most businesses’ total carbon footprint and if you can find ways to use less energy, you can make a difference in your GHG emissions. You can install energy-efficient lights or appliances to make a small difference. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, if every office purchased ENERGY STAR-certified products, it would produce more than 1.5 billion pounds less per year. 

Some other changes involve improving your organization’s IT. By tracking your supply chain’s efficiency, you can go a long way toward reducing your business’ carbon footprint. It’s difficult to guarantee your vendors are environmentally conscious, but when you vet new businesses to partner with, asking if they have quantifiable measures in place to limit GHG emissions, can go a long way toward reducing your indirect contribution. Major retailers are beginning to collect data from suppliers to cut their environmental risk, so if you can, doing the same will help you reduce your exposure to companies who operate with no regard to the environment. 

Finally, your employees play a role. Businesses can reduce emissions by offering flexible work schedules that include remote work and coordinated times for people to carpool. 76 percent of American workers drive themselves to work every day. Obviously, the more employees you have the more emissions are pumped into the atmosphere. Educating your employees about the dangers that are just around the corner from increased climate change and how reducing carbon emissions can help quell those terrible circumstances for generations, should be enough for them to do what they can. 

If you would like to talk to one of our IT professionals about the technology used to help reduce carbon emissions, give us a call today at (505)242-5683.