With the majority of businesses choosing the calendar year as their carbon footprint reporting period, January is often the busiest time of the year for the sustainability team at The Planet Mark. So if you are looking to get your carbon footprint into shape in 2018, follow these top tips from our sustainability consultant and carbon footprinting expert Nadia Karagianni.
1. Get data collection in the work planner for January
For a great carbon footprint make sure you’ve got data collection in the work planner for January. You will need a single person at operational level with enough authority to manage the data collection, liaise between various stakeholders and act as the main point of contact (i.e. someone from FM, accounting or CSR). Confirm who is doing what and make sure project management and/or data collection has senior level buy-in.
2. Decide what to measure
If you’ve not done a carbon footprint before you need to determine your organisational and operational scope, i.e. which sites and which activities you want to include in your carbon footprint. Consider how important various activities are in your organisation and how you can use the information to make reductions and improvements. Most carbon footprint reports include electricity and natural gas consumption, fuel used by company owned vehicles, waste, water and business travel. You should also decide on your reporting period, which we recommend you should try and match with your financial reporting year
3. Embed carbon accounting in your monthly routine
Data collection does not have to be difficult, so long as you create a structured plan to carry out throughout the year ahead:
- For utilities data – take meter readings on the last day of each month and record on a spreadsheet the meter number, the date the reading was taken, the reading and the unit
- For waste data – ask your waste company for a monthly report with the weight of general waste and recycling collected. Alternatively, record on a spreadsheet the size of central waste bins for general waste and for recycling and the dates they are being collected
- For fleet fuel data – issue a fuel card to be used for each refill
- For business travel data – ask your accounts department to categorise monthly travel based on mode of travel (air, rail, hired vehicle) and to calculate distance travelled for each claim.
4. Contact all relevant parties for missing information and set a deadline for data submission
This may include:
- Asking accounts to give you a copy of all 2017 utility bills
- Requesting your travel agent to send you a report of your 2017 travel
- Getting your waste company to prepare an annual summary of waste collected
- Asking the FM team to give you an update on any energy efficiency projects that took place in 2017 and to take meter readings on the end of December.
5. Know what affects your carbon footprint
Keep track of any sustainability activities that took place during your reporting period and of any significant events that affects the organisation, such as new assets, including buildings, major renovations, business growth, etc.
6. Communicate report and next steps
There are a number of ways to report your carbon footprint. Some companies do so as part of their annual report, but you can also do so via a separate corporate responsibility / sustainability report, or simply by publishing it on your website, for example. It is good practice to have your emissions data externally verified in order to ensure accuracy and confidence in your measuring and reporting. Your carbon footrprint report should also include reduction targets. These don’t need to be ambitious, but you should set targets that are going to stretch you beyond the business as usual and it’s a good idea to set new ones on a regular basis. We recommend a 5% reduction on an annual basis as this is in line with the UK Government’s commitment ‘to reduce carbon by 80% by 2050 over a 1990 baseline as set out in the UK Climate Change Act 2008′.
If you are thinking about carbon footprinting and your sustainability agenda for 2019 now is the time to make the most of your year end data. To help you get your data into shape download our Carbon Footprint Data Collection Guide or get in touch if you would like to discuss what The Planet Mark can do for you.