Earlier this year we set an ambitious goal: beating the Paris Agreement and becoming a net-zero impact company. The first step is to calculate your C02 emissions; if you don’t know how much you emit, you’ll stay in the dark about your compensation approach. Let’s take you on our journey of calculating our C02 emissions!
How to calculate your CO2 emissions
Calculating your CO2 emissions sounds easy, right? You just look at…wait, what should you look at? As introduced in the article that describes our first steps there are three different scopes to look at. Which scopes should we include? And for each emission in each relevant scope, how much CO2 or CO2 equivalent emissions (CO2eq for short) does it emit? How much CO2 emissions do commutes produce? And water? Paper? Gas? Electricity? Do we include waste and the food we buy for lunch? Those are all good questions and brainteasers and showed me that calculating your carbon footprint is not as straightforward as you think. Hence we hired an expert to help us out. After reviewing different certificate programs and organizations we chose The Climate Neutral Group (CNG).
To get to our CO2 footprint, they follow a four-step process:
- Define the scope and responsibilities that we want to take into consideration
- Gather the raw data on the usage for each responsibility
- Calculate the CO2eq emissions for each
- Tally them all and you have your result.
If you execute the four-step process correctly, then you will have an overview of your emission and you can draft a reduction plan.
Define the scope and responsibilities
We want to take a broad responsibility. To get certified you only have to take into consideration the emissions produced by your energy use. If every company takes responsibility and only uses renewable energy, no C02 emissions will happen in the supply chain. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Until we’re there we take a broader responsibility. We will look at the following:
We want to take a broad responsibility
- Our energy usage (scope 2)
- The commutes of our employees (scope 2)
- The emissions produced by the data centers we use from our hosting and payment service providers. (scope 3)
- Water usage (scope 3)
- Paper usage (scope 3)
- Employees’ business travel (scope 3)
- The emissions produced by working from home (scope 3)
Gather the raw data on the usage for each responsibility
CNG uses a software tool where we can input all our raw data for the defined responsibilities, they will use this data to calculate our footprint. Now, the data hunt starts.
Overview of energy and water usage
The easy part is gathering data from electricity, gas, and water usage. Quite easy, we have meters in our office that provide that information. To prove we buy fully renewable energy we have to obtain the certificate data from our utility company. A couple of emails later, and we have that information. Uploading it to the software is easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Working from home and commuting
Profit! 43% of our employees have a green energy contract.
Moving on to the next responsibility, we needed more insight into the emissions of our employees. We support hybrid working so we have to know how many hours they worked from home and how often they commuted. Luckily our employees’ registration tool provides us with information on the hours worked from home and the number of commutes. Amending this information with the type of commute (car, bike, or train) and type of energy contract our employees have will give us insights into the emissions. Non-electric cars pollute, and the Dutch National Train service runs fully on renewable energy. Profit! 43% of our employees have a green energy contract. For the rest they have little control over their energy contract, it’s included in their rent.
Our service providers for hosting, subscription management, and payments
Gathering insights into the usage of our service providers is a bit more difficult. Our hosting provider Amazon Webservices (AWS) introduced a tool that provides detailed information on the emissions of our hosting services. The same goes for our subscription management tool (Chargebee), which runs on AWS. To calculate our part of the emissions of Chargebee we use economic allocation. We calculate our share of the number of transactions and divide their total emissions by that. Chargebee was so nice to provide us with that information. Our Payment providers Adyen and Paypal both fully certificate carbon neutral. More profit!
Paper and business travel
Paper usage? When Caroline is not in the office we hardly print anything, so the emissions from printing are negligible. We do use recycled paper to reduce the impact. Business travel? We don’t visit our clients, so we don’t have any business travel-related emissions.
Calculate the CO2eq emissions and tally to get our total emissions
After lots of emailing and number crunching, we managed to provide all the data CNG will need to calculate our carbon footprint. Now it’s their turn to process the numbers and come up with our emissions. For example, to calculate the emission produced by our employees working from home they used the number of hours worked from home, multiplied by the average energy consumption for the average Dutch house, multiplied by the average CO2eq of the Dutch national grid.
Our grand total of CO2eq emissions is 8 tonnes. Which is … not a lot
They repeated this exercise for each metric we defined as our responsibility and tallied that to the grand total of 8 tonnes of CO2eq emissions. Which is … not a lot. It’s even less than the average European citizen produces each year. To get certified you have to have a minimum emission of 1000 tonnes and you will have to commit to making a meaningful reduction in your emissions. With our low number that’s not possible. It’s strange, but that’s how the certification process works.
The next step is to reduce our emissions and offset what can’t be reduced. That’s for another blog.