Understanding our impact on the environment is essential in the world of business today. It is important not only to ensure that you are doing what you can to reduce the amount of damage that we are doing to the earth but also to ensure that you have a good reputation and that you are keeping your costs as low as possible. With a low carbon footprint, you are also better placed for the future, when it is possible that governments may bring in levies for businesses that are damaging to the environment.
A great way to start to measure the impact that you are having on the environment is through getting a commercial EPC assessment as well as calculating your business’s carbon footprint.
Carbon Footprint and Its Impact on the Environment
The earth’s natural balance is regulated in an atmosphere that can help to keep the temperature of the planet optimal. All businesses emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and this carbon dioxide is known as a greenhouse gas, due to the fact that it can trap the heat from the sun and prevent it from escaping. The result is that the earth heats up – known as global warming.
Your carbon footprint is a representation of the amount of greenhouse gases that you are emitting into the atmosphere.
Achieving Net Carbon Zero
Net carbon zero is the aim for the government to achieve before 2050. The ideal is for businesses to emit no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but this is also highly unachievable. Instead, businesses should be looking at reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that they are emitting, whilst also acting to offset the carbon that they are producing.
Carbon offsetting can involve processes such as planting trees to re-balance the gases that are produced.
Calculating your Carbon Footprint
Calculating your carbon footprint is not necessarily easy and straightforward. This is because there can be implications on the environment for everything that you do within your business – from the way that you heat your premises to where you are sourcing your raw materials from, or your business’s energy efficiency. It is important that these are all considered to get an accurate representation.
The rules relating to calculating your business’s carbon footprint are set out by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which splits your emissions into three categories – scope 1, scope 2, and scope 3.
Scope 1 – the “direct emissions caused by any process or activity by the company that causes greenhouse gas emission” – such as company-owned vehicles and fuels that are burned on-site, any emissions due to refrigeration, and emissions from industrial processes.
Scope 2 – the “indirect emissions caused by your company purchasing energy (from sources you do not own or control)” – such as your business’s heat and electricity that are used.
Scope 3 – the “emissions are all the indirect emissions that occur because of your business activity.” – such as employees travelling to and from work, the waste that is produced, and the emissions that are linked to the purchase of goods and materials (including their transport to you).
It can be very difficult to calculate your Scope 3 and it often relies on you getting more information from other people. It is also often optional for businesses, but it can be very useful, and it is usually looked upon very favourably.
It is often the case that you will need to have at least Scopes 1 and 2 to enable you to put in tenders to the government and some large businesses.
What to Look For When Calculating Your Businesses Carbon Footprint
When you are calculating your business’s carbon footprint, there is a lot of information that you need to gather. During the 12-month period, you will need to gather information such as:
- Total kilowatt-hours of electrical use
- Total kilowatt-hours of gas use
- The total amount of water used in m3
- The total amount of water that has been treated in m3
- Total litres of fuel used by company vehicles
- Air, rail, and road travel by employees
- Waste disposal and recycling information
To then be able to calculate your carbon footprint, you will need to multiply the data by an emission factor:
Carbon footprint = data x emission factor
The emission factor is set out and updated by the government, and you should check online for the latest figures.
One of the greatest benefits to knowing your carbon footprint is that you can then make moves to improve it and reduce your impact on the environment. This can save you money, boost your reputation, ensure that you are within government regulations, and, ultimately, help to save the planet.