Everyone wants to leave their mark on this world, but people are being more selective about what type. Industries have to adapt as regulations tighten around the globe to control businesses carbon footprints. Any business, no matter how small, can start minimizing their carbon footprint. Not only does this help the environment, but it also saves money through lower energy costs.
Calculating Your Carbon Footprint
Trying to cut down on your carbon footprint without first calculating what your current footprint has been in the past will prove ineffective. You should calculate your emissions for the most recent year that you are able, for this will give you the most accurate results to go off of. Calculating your emissions entails taking a detailed inventory of all of your energy using equipment and finding out how much each piece emits. The Environmental Protection Agency has three “Scopes” for determining where different aspects of your business will fall.
Scope 1: Any direct emission that comes from your company is included in this scope. That would include any appliances like air conditioners or gas boilers, vehicles that the company owns, or any manufacturing emissions.
Scope 2: Indirect emissions are included in this scope. Any emissions that are caused by your company but occur at another company fall into this scope. This would include electric, gas, and heating utilities to name a few.
Scope 3: These are any indirect emissions that are not covered in Scope 2 and are considered optional emissions by the EPA. Employee and product transportation are the biggest emissions that fall into this scope.
The EPA offers a free manual and Excel document that helps walk you through calculating your carbon footprint.
The Excel document helps you determine how much methane (〖CH〗_4), nitrous oxide (N_2O), and carbon dioxide (〖CO〗_2) all aspects of your company use by converting their emissions to cubic feet. Detailed records are needed to get an accurate measurement for your company.
Reducing Your Emissions
Once you know where the bulk of your emissions are coming from you can make a goal that you’d like to reach. Rarely, if at all, there is an immediate fix so you should be looking years down the road to reach your goal. Replacing old equipment with Energy Star qualified products is a big step in cutting back on Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Scope 3 emissions can be harder to cut back on, especially if you’re shipping products, but if you have employees driving themselves to work try setting up a commuting plan.
Sometimes it is too impractical from a business sense to make expensive equipment replacements, or replacing equipment just isn’t possible. If that is the case then your company can participate in carbon offset initiatives. Carbon offset is just what it sounds like. Participating in carbon offset directly reduces your emissions elsewhere (on paper of course). This can include investing in renewable energy sources or the destruction of pollutants. Generally, carbon offset strategies are used by large companies who have a very large carbon footprint that cannot be reasonably minimized. Smaller companies can still participate by using renewable resources where they can. This mostly happens with solar panels or geothermal energy in communities where any excess power generated can be sold off.
With the green movement more companies are trying to minimize their carbon footprint not only because they have to, but because they want to. There are real benefits besides keeping the EPA from breathing down their necks. Better public relations, cheaper energy costs, and a warm fuzzy feeling are all side effects of minimizing your carbon footprint.