Sharing Tips on How We Measure and Manage Our Carbon Footprint
Like many people and organisations, we’ve been thinking about how we can reduce our carbon footprint. An article by George Monbiot, an environmental journalist, author and environmentalist quoted that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” and he’s totally right.
As with any project or endeavour, how would you know if any changes you have made have had any impact, if you don’t first establish a baseline?
What is a Carbon Footprint?
Your carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of an individual, organisation or community. Carbon dioxide isn’t the only emission that needs to be considered, but for simplicity, other emissions are usually converted to an equivalent amount of CO2 to produce your carbon footprint. For more information on what makes up your carbon footprint, check out the Energy Saving Trust’s website, (see link below).
Managing Our Carbon Footprint
According to the Carbon Trust:
“Measuring your carbon footprint provides the baseline needed to implement an effective sustainability and carbon reduction strategy to drive urgently needed climate action.”
Put another way, measuring your carbon footprint allows you to create a plan of action to reduce your carbon emissions and potentially save you some money in the process.
How Do We Measure Our Carbon Foorprint?
It can be a little complex at times but luckily there are a many apps and calculators on the internet that can help. Some are free, some are chargeable and come with fancy dashboards, or you could even speak to a sustainability consultancy who could complete this for you (this option however can be expensive). Regardless of which option you choose, find something that you can repeat on an annual basis to ensure maximum consistency for better comparison and ongoing management.
To complete any carbon audit, at the very least you’ll need to know or be able to estimate a few key components:
- Your organisation’s total energy consumption (both electricity and heat source)
- Annual organisational mileage and modes of transport used
- Energy used as a result of working from home
Doing a bit of preparation work first will put you in a far better position to complete your audit.
Active Devon’s Approach – Now and in the Future
After examining all the options, we went rogue – we created our own carbon footprint calculator that measures both our individual and organisational carbon footprint. We designed a staff survey that feeds into a spreadsheet, which then populates a dashboard.
Many assumptions went into the spreadsheet, but these were supported by Government figures on emissions from different modes of transport and this white paper on working from home emissions. We just needed a starting point, and then we could work out where we wanted to be.
Now that we have our baseline carbon figure, over the next few months our internal environment group will create our environmental action plan and we’ll start to make some positive changes. We’ll record and monitor any changes and complete the audit exercise again in 12 months’ time. This exercise has demonstrated where the majority of our emissions come from, which will help us target our efforts at the areas of highest impact.
Environmental sustainability is a new area of focus for us but luckily there is lots of information out there to help us get started. Over the next few months, there will be a concerted effort on improving our knowledge and awareness of our own environmental impact and environmental sustainability more broadly.
Want to Look at Your Carbon Footprint but Not Sure Where to Start?
Remember all of these carbon calculators work on best estimates and are not an exact science. All are based on assumptions and calculations and give you a rough breakdown of your emissions.
Free Carbon Calculators to Explore
Workplace: NatWest Carbon Planner
Workplace: SME Climate Hub
Individual: World Wildlife Fund
Guidance: Energy Saving Trust
George Monbiot Quoted:
George Monbiot, an environmental journalist, author and environmentalist quoted in an article:
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”