How can you measure and reduce your company’s carbon emissions?
We’re glad you're here because that means you care about your company’s carbon emissions - and you’re in the right place to learn how to reduce them!
Your company’s carbon footprint matters, and it’s your responsibility to measure it so you can reduce it. A company’s carbon emissions are an important factor to you and your team and of course, the planet, too.
Research by the British Chambers of Commerce reveals that half of companies admit that their customers worry about the environment. The same study shows that only one in 10 businesses measure their carbon footprint, something that's essential to make your company stand out in a crowded, competitive hiring landscape.
How to calculate your company’s carbon footprint
There’s no quick fix or magic tool that can whip this up for you in a second. It takes time for a company to accurately measure its carbon emissions, many recommend at least 12 months to get a truly accurate picture. Put the legwork in now and it’ll be worth it in the long run.
To understand how to measure your carbon footprint, first it's worth knowing that there are three different categories here to deal with:
- Scope 1 emissions: Direct emissions from any sources you own or control, like burning fuel when driving a non-electric vehicle
- Scope 2 emissions: Indirect emissions that come from electricity, heating or cooling used by your company
- Scope 3 emissions: All other indirect emissions that aren't produced by the company. This can include buying and getting rid of products from suppliers
Some of these are easier to change than others, but we’re here to help. Let’s see what you need to start measuring.
First, you need to collect data from your employees about their lifestyles to even understand what causes carbon emissions before you can measure the relevant energy output of your company.
To break it down, this might include:
- Fuel used by company-supplied vehicles
- The amount of energy your team uses getting to their workplace
- Electricity, gas and water use at the workplace
- How much waste is recycled and how much goes to landfill
All of that might sound daunting, but your company probably already sits on all that information. Invoices and receipts will show energy consumption and how much fuel your team has used for work purposes. You could also ask your team to keep receipts for travel to the workplace, flights or road distances they’ve covered for work.
The more accurate the energy output information, the better idea you’ll have of how to reduce carbon emissions.
Once you’ve gathered the energy use data, you need to convert it into greenhouse gas emissions using an ‘emission factor’ and there are numerous nifty online calculators that will do this work for you, this one from the well-regarded Carbon Trust and very easy to use.
What can you do to reduce your company’s carbon emissions?
Collecting the data is just the first stage, it’s now time to get into action! Your company might set objectives for the next five or 10 years, while you continue collecting data to be able to gauge success and next steps.
A great starting point is to reduce waste. What products are you buying that can be swapped for reusable or recyclable alternatives? Maybe you don’t need some products at all?
It’s also worth looking at your recycling policy. Can you buy more items that can be recycled? It might be as simple as giving employees glass rather than plastic cups for their water.
Discover green initiatives
Whether you’re considering a paperless office or encouraging your team to work remotely more frequently to reduce commuter emissions, there are a lot of green initiatives around.
You might decide that reducing your carbon emissions could tie in with offering a sustainable employee benefit in the shape of an EV salary sacrifice scheme. This is where the employee gives up a portion of their salary for the company to put towards an electric car.
You won’t pay any Income Tax or National Insurance on the amount you give up to pay for the car. If you bought an EV without salary sacrifice, you’d pay for the EV and full tax on your income. But with salary sacrifice, some of that tax goes towards your new EV instead. Green pennies back into your pocket!
Switch to electric vehicles
If your business is in transport or you need to travel to customers, switching your fleet to electric vehicles is a no brainer. An electric fleet won’t just save on maintenance, you’ll also cut your fuel bills significantly. Running an EV costs about 80% less than the equivalent petrol or diesel car when you compare fuel costs with charging. Zero emissions and savings - a double win.
And as we’ve seen, you can use initiatives such as salary sacrifice to encourage staff to ditch their dirty combustion engine cars in favour of zero emissions electric cars for the commute to work.
Using renewable energy
Don’t be that boss who asks their team to wear an extra jumper when the weather’s cold. Just could switch to a renewable energy provider. Octopus Energy is one such supplier. Check out their best business energy tariffs to find out what’s right for you. If you own your business premises and it has a wide south-facing roof, what about installing solar panels? Or if the site is suitable, you could even think about installing wind turbines.
More sustainable sourcing
It isn’t just how we get around or heat our offices that creates carbon. It’s also where the things we buy come from. UK government figures show the greatest source of greenhouse gases is from imports used by UK business for UK consumption.
Between 1997 and 2018, these decreased by 23%. But UK-produced emissions for UK consumption decreased by 37%. The message is simple: sourcing from closer to home reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
What is a ‘good’ carbon footprint?
The UK has become the first economy in the world to pass laws demanding that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. While no one expects it to be achieved overnight, we all must take our own steps within our own companies now to make sure the 2050 deadline is met.
Defining a ‘good’ carbon footprint for a business is very difficult because it’s dependent on the nature and size of the organisation. And no two businesses are the same.
But a report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) states that car fuel accounts for 8.6% of the UK’s carbon footprint; heating is 9.7% and electricity is 8%. If a company can reduce its emissions below those levels by employees driving electric cars, it’s heading in the right direction.