Business activity across the world has a plethora of different effects on the environment, from putting a strain on natural resources to polluting our air and water supplies. With the climate crisis a more imminent issue than ever, business owners need to take responsibility for their actions and mitigate the long-lasting impacts of their activities.
One of the most important areas for any organisation to address is their carbon footprint. Reducing your carbon footprint means that less net carbon emissions are being sent into the atmosphere, which can ultimately help to slow down the effects of climate change. Not only does reducing your footprint help protect the planet, but being an eco-conscious company can reduce your costs, and even enhance consumer loyalty, ultimately increasing your profits.
But before you set about cutting back on carbon, you’ll first need to know how much you’re producing in the first place. So how is a carbon footprint calculated, and what counts towards it? Here are a few things you’ll need to consider.
The on-site emissions produced at your offices, factories, or other business premises are all direct emissions, and will typically be the easiest to calculate since you have control over this category. Any fuel combustion from boilers, company cars or the manufacturing process will count towards your footprint.
It’s important to note that leaks from greenhouse gases (commonly from refrigerators or air conditioning units) also count towards your carbon footprint, and these can be even more dangerous than CO2 emissions.
Your employees’ commutes are an example of an indirect emission, since you typically have no control over how they decide to travel to work. You may have seen a reduction in emissions in this area over the past couple of years, since more people have been working from home. But as some employees move back into the office, there are many ways you can help to keep travel emissions down.
Encourage employees to adopt more sustainable commuting habits, such as cycling, carpooling or driving electric vehicles (EVs). If you’re promoting these eco-friendly methods, be sure to have all the necessary accommodating facilities in and around your office. These could include showers and changing rooms for people who wish to cycle, or EV charging stations close by for those making the switch to electric.
This category will be the most difficult to measure, since it includes all of the third-party emissions that contribute to your business, yet are out of your control. Included within this category will be any impacts of shipping or distribution, customer use of your products, and your supply chain.
Any utility bills will also be included within this category. Whilst you can’t choose where your energy comes from when purchasing from a supplier, you can make your utility bills more eco-friendly by using green energy from renewable sources. Green suppliers typically charge higher prices, but they can go a long way to helping you reduce your carbon footprint.