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Calculating Carbon Footprint

Published: 10th June 2024

Firstly, what is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases produced by carbon dioxide via organisations, individuals, or wider communities.  It is determined by daily lifestyle and activities including travel, electricity usage, and food.

Human activities are one of the leading causes of climate change, primarily due to burning fossil fuels.  National Academies state that ‘carbon dioxide has increased from a pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million to more than 410 parts per million today.’

How to measure carbon footprint?

Carbon footprint is typically measured in tonnes, kilograms or grams, and calculating it can sometimes be complex.  First, consider the following scopes when measuring your carbon footprint:

Scope 1: Emissions created by your organisation through actions such as running heat systems.

Scope 2: Indirect emissions, such as energy bought from external sources.

Scope 3: Indirect emissions that occur because of business work, such as travel.

How to calculate your scope 1 and 2 carbon footprint:

To calculate your carbon footprint, you need to have your records pertaining to energy consumption over a year span. These records must then be converted into compatible units.  Once you have the compatible units, these figures need to be entered into a carbon calculator to find your scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions.

To calculate your GHG emissions, use this calculation.

Data x Emission Factor= greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing carbon footprint

There are a number of ways to reduce carbon footprint both personally and within your business, however, it is best practice to start with the basics first, these include:

Turning off lights and appliances

When not in use, and where applicable, lights and appliances should be turned off at the plug and not left on standby mode. If possible, swap to LED bulbs and more energy efficient appliances to help lower emissions. ‘Energy Saving Trust states that by replacing traditional light bulbs with LED ones, carbon emissions can be reduced by up to 40kg a year.

Insulate your building

One of the easiest steps is ensuring buildings or structures are as thermally efficient as possible. This can be achieved by insulating your home or building using curtains or blinds and by using heating controls that effectively adjust temperature.  Even adjusting by 1°C lower can make a huge difference within a building, and by using a correctly installed thermostat carbon dioxide can be reduced by up to 320 kg per year.

Low carbon travel

Transport is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions within the UK, with 34% of carbon emissions being accounted for by transport in 2019. By cycling or walking just one mile it can save 27 kg of carbon emissions annually.  Consider using public transport more often or altering your driving style to become more eco-friendly and therefore use less fuel.  If possible, also consider switching to an electric car instead of a petrol or diesel car.

Recycle

Recycling plays a big part in the reduction of carbon footprint and minimise the effects of climate change on the planet. Preventing waste through recycling saves energy and helps to reduce the need for materials to end up in landfill and incinerators.

When recycling within business it is important not to only think of recycling paper, but also electronic items.  In 2019, electronic waste accounted for 53.6 million tonnes of waste, so in order to help reduce carbon emissions, think about how to recycle any electrical equipment within your business correctly.

Final Thoughts

By focussing on the above, there will be a significant reduction in the amount of carbon emissions emitted within a business and will subsequently lower its carbon footprint.  Most of the ways to reduce carbon emissions are very simple steps and aren’t overly costly, but the difference they will make could reduce emissions by almost 400 kg each year.

BEM Services provides expert knowledge and advice across all sectors of the construction industry, alongside mechanical and electrical engineering expertise. To find out more, contact us today.