Calculating your carbon footprint is one the first step towards climate action. This is what we have done for our business: analyzing major emission sources and identifying steps to reduce them. Get a sneak peek into the process.
Calculating your carbon footprint is one the first step towards climate action – as an individual and as a business, because it enables you to quantify your high impact areas and therefore possible steps for climate action.
As a sustainability consulting and training firm, the topic of climate action and carbon footprint assessments is one of the predominant ones in our work with clients, so we wanted to deep dive into the topic from a “client” perspective.
As a service-based business, we have a minor environmental footprint and the topic being at the heart of what we do, we are already engaged into sustainability. Here are some actions we were taking before our carbon footprint assessment:
- Extend the use of electronics : repairing or buying second hand electronics.
- Limit the use of printing to only essentials
- Limit business travel and if so, use the train and / or public transport (vs car or plane)
- Zero waste approach in the (home) office
- Turn off video on conference calls, when the discussion allows it
- Resize documents to send lighter emails, sharing of links instead of documents
- Regular deletion of trash / spam / unnecessary emails
- Selection of responsible and local suppliers as much as possible
- Creating awareness and providing tools and resources for action on sustainability issues, climate change, biodiversity loss via our consulting work, trainings, newsletters and social media.
However, we decided to take things further assessing our carbon footprint for 2021. The objectives of such an assessment are to:
1️⃣ quantify one’s emissions
2️⃣ identify concrete actions to reduce them
3️⃣ continue to do regular assessments in order to keep reducing impacts on the long term.
In order to establish an initial assessment of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we got help from two consultants – Ophélie LEONART and Sybille HUBERT, who chose the carbon footprint assessment methodology “Bilan Carbone®”.
Quick focus on carbon assessment methodologies
In 2004, ADEME – The French Agency for Ecological Transition – published a methodology for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions for organizations called Bilan Carbone®:
The Bilan Carbone® method takes into account all direct and indirect GHG emissions for all the physical flows of an organization without which it would not be possible to function.
This method is now coordinated and disseminated by the Bilan Carbone® Association.
The method includes direct (scope 1) and indirect GHG emissions (scopes 2 and 3).
- Scope 1: direct emissions
- Scope 2: indirect emissions through type of electricity purchased
- Scope 3: indirect emissions such as suppliers, purchased goods, transport and distribution, travel, product use and end of life, type of clients supported, leased assets…
Other internationally accepted methodologies to calculate an organization’s carbon footprint are ISO 14064, ISO 14069 and the GHG Protocol.
All are voluntary methods. Some countries – such as France – require large organizations to do regular carbon footprint assessments.
Source: French Government.
Using the Bilan Carbone® method enabled us to establish an initial assessment of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As a service-based business, particular focus was placed on IT/digital emissions.
- A 1st meeting with our two consultants enabled us to define the scope of the assessment and establish a list (or map) of emission flows.
- A 2nd step consisted of formalizing the collection method (data collection file) to enable the collection of the various physical and financial data (3rd step).
- A 4th step consisted of our consultants to “translate” these data into GHG emissions and work on suggestions to reduce these emissions.
- In a 5th step we met for the presentation of the assessment and discuss possible steps for teams4purpose to reduce its emissions.
Results for teams4purpose
Our carbon footprint (excluding the impact of our website) was 1.3 tons of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) in 2021. This amount of CO2e is comparable to driving 7,800 km with a diesel car (or 5 round trips Paris-Marseille).
The main impacts come from the services we purchased, such as trainings and communication (impact of our virtual assistant, type of communication materials, type of training providers…). The calculation is made through a monetary ratio for these two activities (communication / training), which holds a significant uncertainty. Food also accounted for a smaller amount of impact, even though its mainly vegan and organic for main team members.
Takeaways and next steps
This exercise helped us to identify clear climate actions, despite the fact that we were not able to fully integrate all our digital impacts, such as email automation tools, social media network use or the impact of our website. We did however include the impact of email, digital storage, video conferencing and printing as well as the hardware used (laptops, phone).
Quick focus – Impact of IT
The quantification of IT emissions is still not very accurate for several reasons for most carbon footprint assessment methodologies:
- It’s still a recent area of focus regarding GHG emissions and there’s not much historic data yet
- There are not many life cycle analyses carried out by research labs or manufacturers on this topic
- It’s a fast paced domain with technologies and usages evolving very rapidly.
Expertise in this area is definitely a plus for aspiring carbon footprint analysts!
These are teams4purpose’s focus areas to reduce emissions:
✅ Green IT: reworking our website to reduce its impact.
✅ Communication: choosing responsible and local suppliers for our marketing support.
✅ Trainings: choose responsible training suppliers.
🙏 … In order to implement these actions, we are looking for support!
- We are currently looking for responsible alternatives to Mailchimp. If you hear anything, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
- We are also hiring a digital marketing assistant, that knows the topic of sustainability and works in a responsible manner at the (home)office.
Last but not least – even if this was not formally quantified in our carbon footprint assessment – our positive impact as a Sustainability advisory firm is worth mentioning. We indirectly contribute positively in our sphere of influence (scope 3) as it’s part of our mission to help our clients reduce their negative impacts, such as GHG emissions.
If you enjoyed this content, you might be interested in these resources:
- Latest IPCC report including solutions for industrial sectors – Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of climate change
- Net Zero for Business Explained – Free guide
- Climate Change: 13 steps to take action as a business and individual
- Become climate savvy and participate in the Climate Fresk serious game
Our mission is to help you take action for Sustainability and positive impact in your job and business.
- We help you co-create your Sustainability strategy and roadmap.
- We provide Sustainability advisory during CSR implementation.
- We offer trainings on Business Sustainability & CSR.
- We support you in creating awareness and engagement among stakeholders via workshops and serious games. We are proud facilitators of the Climate Fresk and the Biodiversity Collage.
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