Center for Corporate Climate Leadership
How to Calculate your Carbon Footprint
Developing an Organization-Wide GHG Inventory for a Low Emitter
What is your carbon footprint?
For most low emitters — including office-based organizations, small businesses, and public institutions — the majority of their GHG emissions will come from their purchased electricity and vehicles. For others, especially small manufacturers, additional emissions will result from use of refrigerants, waste gases, or onsite combustion. An organization's carbon footprint has three components for purposes of developing a GHG inventory:
- Direct emissions (known as Scope 1): from onsite combustion and mobile sources
- Indirect emissions (Scope 2): from purchased electricity and steam
- Optional emissions (Scope 3): Examples include product transport, employee business travel and employee commuting.
Below are three tools designed to help low emitters develop an organization-wide inventory and establish a plan to ensure GHG data consistency as they track progress towards reaching an emissions reduction goal.
Step 1: Select an operational or financial approach to define your organizational boundaries.
The Small Business and Low Emitter Guide to Greenhouse Gas Management (PDF) (22 pp, 1.7M, About PDF) explains how to approach measuring GHG emissions, instructions for using the GHG Calculator and how to complete the Inventory Management Plan.
- Glossary of Terms (PDF) (6 pp, 76K): further explanation of important terms when developing a GHG inventory.
Step 2: Calculate GHG emissions using the Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator (XLS) (2.2 MB) (This version updated November 2011). Additional guidance is available for measuring emissions from onsite combustion, purchased electricity, refrigeration, and air conditioning.
- Tips for Developing a GHG Inventory (PDF) (2 pp, 77K)
Step 3: Document development of a GHG inventory to ensure consistency as your organization collects data each year to track progress toward reaching an emissions reduction goal using the Simplified Inventory Management Plan (IMP) (DOC) (14 pp, 305K)
- Review free training webinars on developing an inventory and reducing GHG emissions.
What Do I Do Next?
The Center for Corporate Climate Leadership concluded its support for the Federal Supplier Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Pilot with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to assist small federal contractors with measuring and reducing their GHG emissions. Resources from this pilot are available.