How Do We Measure Our Carbon Footprint?


Measuring the carbon footprint of an organisation involves several steps essential to the understanding, management and reduction of your organisation’s environmental impacts.

Guidelines to help you make a start:

1. Identify Emission Sources: Determine activities that emit greenhouse gases. These can be classified into three scopes.

Scope 1 Direct emissions from sources controlled or owned by your organization (e.g. vehicles, furnaces, boilers, equipment).

Scope 2 Indirect emissions from energy bought by your organisation (e.g. electricity, heat, cooling).

Scope 3 All other indirect emissions (e.g. material use, waste, business travel, staff commuting with vehicles not owned or controlled by your organisation).

2. Collect Data: Gather energy consumption data, fuel use, travel, and volumes of waste. Source information taken from utility bills, travel records, and waste disposal records.

3. Calculate Emissions: Convert the collected data into carbon dioxide equivalents using government approved emission factors. This will provide performance data covering total co2 emissions for each emission source and ultimately when added together your carbon footprint.

4. Set Reduction Targets: With the carbon footprint calculated, set objectives and targets for co2 emission reduction aligned with Net Zero commitments. Consider setting target levels as part of your ISO 14001 environmental objective planning.

5. Implement Reduction Strategies: Develop strategies to reduce emission reduction emissions including energy efficiency measures, renewable energy investments, waste reduction programs, and changes in transportation policy and operations.

6. Monitor and Report: Regularly monitor emissions and reporting progress to all interested parties. This can help with transparency and can also inform the organisation of further improvement actions.

7. Verify and Assure: Consider independent carbon footprint verification to ensure accuracy and fact based credibility.

ISO 14001 is a globally recognised standard for environmental management systems. It specifies requirements for organisations that aim to improve their environmental performance and increase their operational efficiency. It provides guidelines on how to establish policies and procedures which will help organisations in maintaining and controlling environmental impacts and legal compliance.

ISO 14001 contains 10 sections which are based on a Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. While the first three are introductory, the other ones are as follows:

Clause 4: Context of the organisation – This section covers the requirements for understanding and identifying the internal and external context of the organisation, defining the scope of the EMS, identifying the needed processes for it, and identifying interested parties.
Clause 5: Leadership – The requirements included in this section highlight the importance of the top management in the implementation of the EMS.
Clause 6: Planning – According to this section, the top management is required to plan the ongoing process of the EMS, assess risks and opportunities, identify environmental objectives, and plan how to achieve these objectives.
Clause 7: Support – This section is about the implementation of plans and processes that enable an organisation to meet its EMS. Clause 7 covers resources, competence, awareness, communication, and documented information.
Clause 8: Operation – Based on this section, organisations are required to assess the environmental impact of their activities and establish written processes for the activities that fall under the EMS scope. It can cover manufacturing, transportation, etc.
Clause 9: Performance evaluation – It is required to outline how will the EMS be monitored, measured, analysed, and evaluated.
Clause 10: Improvement – As ISO 14001 promotes continual improvement, section 10 focuses on assessing nonconformities over time, correcting them, and improving the EMS.

Organisations can integrate ISO 14001 and reduce their carbon footprint by:

Developing a carbon footprint reduction strategy that aligns with the organisation’s overall sustainability goals and its environmental management system.
Conduct a carbon footprint assessment, measure emissions from all sources, and identify areas of high emission.
Establish targets for reducing carbon emissions and measure the progress regularly.
Implement energy-efficient practices and improve resource efficiency.
Benefits of ISO 14001
By providing a structured framework to establish, implement, maintain, and continually improve the EMS, ISO 14001’s implementation helps organisations:

Identify and manage their environmental risks and opportunities
Implement energy-efficient practices
Reduce waste generation and emissions
It enables organisations to set objectives and targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and track their progress over time to ensure that they are reducing their carbon footprint and are contributing to the war toward a healthier planet.

Furthermore, ISO 14001 requires organisations to engage and collaborate with their stakeholders and to understand more about their concerns related to the environment. This can help organizations to identify new environmental improvement opportunities and build partnerships to address climate change.

Overall, we can conclude that EMS is an important and effective tool for making organizations more proactive and efficient when it comes to the environment. ISO 14001 provides organisations with many benefits, such as:

Shows commitment to environmental improvement and sustainability
Improves environmental performance
Ensures compliance with environmental regulations and laws
Increases reputation
Provides competitive and financial advantage
Reduces costs
Reduces environmental risks
Contributes to achieving net zero carbon
About the Author


Measuring the carbon footprint of your organisation as part of an environmental management system is not just about compliance; it’s a step towards sustainability, cost savings and improved business reputation.

Read our blogs  for our ISO 14001 environmental management consultancy services

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