The world of carbon footprinting – event highlights

Events – Thursday, July 21st, 2016

The world of carbon footprinting – event report

14 July saw businesses attend our Advanced Carbon Footprinting Workshop kindly hosted by CCCA member the Welcome Trust. Carbon footprinting expert Chris Havers, Principal Carbon Consultant at the Alliance, facilitated the workshop covering the basics to the intricacies of scope 2 and 3.

Greenhouse gas accounting

With the recent setting of the 5th carbon budget by the UK Government last month (see our article here) Chris opened with a look back at the basics – greenhouse gases, climate change, impacts and sources of emissions. It was reminded that emissions from homes, commercial and public buildings account for 17% of the UK’s direct GHG emissions with heating of space and water the 4th largest out of 9 sources.

Steps to take

Chris discussed the steps to take in undertaking a carbon footprint:

  • Secure your organisations support
  • Plan your inventory
  • Gather your data
  • Calculate your emissions
  • Reduce your emissions

Knowing who is taking responsibility is key (e.g. will it be champions and/or part of job role) along with budget and the organisational commitment signed off.

Case study on Scope 2

The group were guided through a case study which covered the key aspects of selecting the correct emissions factors based on the units of the activity data. We saw how different fuels release different quantities of GHGs when burnt for example:

Fuel kgCO2e per KWh burnt Reduction in carbon intensity from coal
Coal 0.34051 Baseline
Oil 0.25965 24%
Gas 0.20444 40%
Wood pellets 0.01307 96%
Biogas / bio methane 0.0002 / 0.00532 98%
Solar, Wind… and Nuclear 0 100%

This gave us an introduction to how average UK electricity factors are created for us to calculate our scope 2 emissions. The origins of the Defra emissions factors (here) were discussed in terms of the energy mix.

We explored the new methods introduced for how corporations can portray their emissions if they either generate or purchase renewable energy through their current electricity suppliers. This allows them to show a reduction in emissions, while being transparent about the reason for the sudden drop. The different methods for carbon accounting were given as:

  1. A location-based method reflects the average emissions intensity of grids on which energy consumption occurs (using mostly grid-average emission factor data).
  2. A market-based method reflects emissions from electricity that companies have purposefully chosen

Scope 3

The world of scope 3 can be daunting and very hard work, so we tried to break down where to start and how to assess the best aspects of scope 3 that will benefit your business. According to the GHG Protocol, there are 15 categories in the spectrum of scope 3 management, so assessing each, and understanding your exposure to each is the first step. As a group we assessed the different categories, and then focussed in on some more classic options that many companies take – waste, business travel, commuting. We assessed the detailed emissions factors, and gave the members an appreciation of what kind of data to collect, and importantly, how to collect them.

Thank you to all those who attended. If you have any questions please ask and also see our member’s library which has a carbon tracker and detailed guide.