10 December 2010
A survey of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on the impact of a carbon price and the challenges of operating in a carbon constrained economy identified that two-thirds of the businesses had not measured their carbon footprint. They highlighted “lack of skills and knowledge on how to identify and measure greenhouse gas emissions” as the primary barrier. “Lack of time and resources” was the second largest contributing factor.
The same study also revealed that of the one-third of businesses who had measured their carbon footprint, 71% identified opportunities for cost savings. This clearly highlights that there is much to be gained from understanding where you stand as a business in relation to your carbon footprint. This can include anything from your exposure to a carbon price down to your reputational impact as a contributor to climate change. However it also highlights that there are barriers that businesses need to overcome to tap into these benefits.
For a company that has never considered the concept of greenhouse gas emissions or a carbon footprint, the whole idea can be understandably daunting. Where do you start, what data is required, how do you know where emissions even come from; this all the while trying to run and operate a successful business that probably has nothing to do with the environment.
Fortunately there are some very good tools for businesses to use at no cost and once you give it a try, you’ll find it’s easier than you think. Carbon Neutral provides a comprehensive Excel Spreadsheet calculator for organisations to help you measure emissions from: electricity, gas and other energy use such as diesel in generators; vehicles / fleets or other fuel using machinery; staff travel including public transport; airline flights; waste – all types; paper and ink; business travel including hotel accommodation and food; freight – sea, rail, road, air; and special events.
You will obviously need to collect data relating to use of resources in your business such as units of electricity (kWh) and fuel use (L) or kilometres travelled for vehicles, however this can simply be entered into the tabs in the spreadsheet and it will do all the calculations for you. The whole process of collecting the data in the first place can be a valuable learning experience - after all, if you don’t know how much electricity you use, you are probably wasting a lot! Calculating your carbon footprint for the first time gives you a baseline carbon footprint for your company. This can be recorded and as you implement actions to reduce waste and become more efficient you can measure the reductions in your GHG emissions over time.
The spreadsheet provides the flexibility to send copies to different departments in the business or allocate responsibility to certain staff. It also allows you to make copies for yourself and enter new data on a fortnightly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis to track any changes. Once you know what the emissions are for your company you can choose whether or not to offset part of or your entire carbon footprint. Carbon Neutral provides this tool at no cost for businesses anywhere in Australia and will be sent by email on request.