What does carbon footprint mean?

Carbon footprint is the total production of greenhouse gases that is caused by our activities. Carbon footprint is usually expressed in tonnes of equivalent of CO2.

What are the reasons for determining the carbon footprint? Why should we address  it?

Reasons for determining the carbon footprint:

  • Cost optimization - the carbon footprint is closely related to the consumption of energy, fuels and materials. By analysing it and then optimizing it, you can reduce the cost of these items.

  • Improving the environment - The primary purpose of carbon footprint management should always remain to improve our environment.

  • Legislative requirements - Legislation is increasing pressure on large companies to report and reduce their carbon footprint. Very soon, banks and financial institutions will also take the environmental impact into account when granting their loans and interest rates.

  • Differentiation from the competition - currently (2020), the issue of the carbon footprint of companies in our region is rather an exception. If you become carbon neutral, you will gain a lead over your competition and thus an advantage in business negotiations with foreign partners.

  • PR and corporate social responsibility - more and more companies perceive the importance of behaving sustainably and are not afraid to present their results publicly.

What are the right questions before starting  a certification or carbon footprint determination?

If you are a company and have your own product, you need to ask what is the purpose of addressing your carbon footprint. Is it your own motivation to behave sustainably? Is this a public tender requirement?  Is it both? Is it more important to determine the carbon footprint of a company or just their products?

According to the you answers of the questions above, it is possible to determine the scope of the calculation of the carbon footprint itself. In practice, we most often encounter the determination of the company's carbon footprint (Scope 2 and Scope 3) and the calculation of the product's carbon footprint.

Which documents are needed to determine the carbon footprint?

The required documents vary according to the company's activities, however, the primary documents are data on energy consumption, energy purchase, data on company activity (eg. information on the number of company vehicles and their use, information on the product and its manufacturing the case of a factory, information on disposal of waste, etc. - the list of necessary documents will be made depending on the type of company always during the initial analysis).

The materials also very much depend on the level of focus that the client chooses. The level of focus is expressed in so-called scopes, see below. For scope 3, which is the most detailed approach, prepare information such as the amount and type of waste, the volume of paper purchased, or the method of transporting employees to work.

A distinction must be made between determining the company's carbon footprint and/or the carbon footprint of a product or service. The above documents concern the company's footprint. In the case of a product, prepare mainly a process diagram of its production with an indication of material and energy flows, as well as information on the materials used and their suppliers, including how they are delivered to the place of manufacture.

What are direct and indirect sources of emissions?

Direct emissions arise directly as a result of the company's activity (eg in the production of electricity or the burning of fossil fuels).

Indirect emissions are not directly generated by the company but they are a consequence of the company's activities (e.g. transport of goods or emissions emitted during the life cycle of a product produced by the company).

What is the difference between Scope 1, 2, 3 in determining the carbon footprint?

For the sake of clarity, the carbon emissions produced by the company are divided into three basic categories related to the company's operation:

SCOPE 1 − direct emissions released into air from activities that are  produced by the company (eg. emissions from boilers, company cars, or emissions from industrial processes and waste disposed of within the company).

SCOPE 2 − indirect emissions from purchased energy, which do not arise directly from the company's operation, but are the result of company activities (eg. purchase of electricity, heat or steam).

SCOPE 3 − other indirect emissions (optional items) that are the result of the company's activities but are not classified as Scope 2 (eg purchased raw materials, services, business trips, waste, etc.).

What time period does the carbon footprint calculation relate to?

Usually a year, ie 12 calendar months.

What are the sources of the carbon footprint?

  • Consumed energy - this is the largest source of carbon footprint. However, it is necessary to take into account the origin of energy (whether it is produced from renewable or non-renewable sources)
  • Transport - specifically means of transport that burn fossil fuels
  • Industry - the machines that burn fossil fuels or  it could be the CO2, which is produced by a manufactured product during its life cycle. However, emissions from chemical reactions used in production are also included in the carbon footprint.
  • Agriculture and forestry - these are emissions from tillage and livestock behavior, but this sector can consume a lot of CO2 thanks to plants, which will have a significant impact on the final carbon footprint.

These are just the main sources of the world's carbon footprint. Of course, there are many other sources, and this also needs to be taken into account when determining the carbon footprint.

For which companies is it worth determining the carbon footprint?

Mainly larger companies whose activities are complex and take place in various industries (the company owns many buildings, its employees often travel, the company produces a product, etc.) and the carbon footprint is not negligible. These companies also benefit the most from the calculated carbon footprint and its possible reduction.

But it also depends on the marketing perspective, where size no longer plays such a role. There are also small companies that want to behave responsibly towards the environment, and we are ready to support them in this endeavour.

What affects the price for determining the carbon footprint?

The price depends primarily on the size of the company, and the availability of data needed to calculate the carbon footprint (eg. energy consumption data etc.).

How to reduce the carbon footprint?

Depending on the industry, the carbon footprint can be reduced, for example, in the following ways:

Energy: The way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by energy consumption is to carry out an energy audit and subsequent energy optimization.

Transport: Conducting some conferences through videoconference calls instead of business trips, enabling employees to work from home (reducing emissions caused by their commute to work) or supporting public transport within the company.

Management: Awareness of employees about the carbon footprint within the company or, for example, changes in the internal functioning of the company - such as the use of digital components instead of paper.

However, it is necessary to realize that for each company the necessary measures are different and it is crucial to perform a detailed analysis in advance in order to prepare a quality package of measures that is beneficial for the company.

What is the current legislation on the carbon footprint?

The carbon footprint legislation in the world varies from country to country. However reducing the carbon footprint and carbon neutrality is generally considered to be the moral responsibility of companies, or as a result of consumer pressure. Moreover, according to experts, in the future, reporting the carbon footprint will become a sure matter, such as paying taxes, and therefore it is in the interest of companies to start addressing their carbon footprint now.

If you are interested in determining the carbon footprint or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at info@enerfis.cz or at 222 766 950.