Business Carbon Footprint Calculator: Find Your Company’s Eco Footprint

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Carbon Offsets Credits | April 14, 2022

If you want to reduce the impact your company has on the environment and its contribution to climate change, using a business carbon footprint calculator is the first step.

In fact, finding your company’s Eco footprint has never been easier! Try it here:

Business Carbon Footprint Calculator

Just like individuals, businesses produce a carbon footprint from the greenhouse gases they generate through facilities operations, employee travel, supply chain activities and more.

By using a business carbon footprint calculator, you can identify the major carbon emitters that are generated by your operation, and then work to decrease the environmental damage by either reducing emissions or offsetting them through carbon credits.

Business Actions that Generate Carbon Emissions

There are many areas of operation that contribute to your business’ carbon footprint, regardless of whether you offer services, goods, or products, or build houses or drive a taxi. The major emitters of most businesses are:

  • Energy: Energy is the largest emitter of greenhouse gas for businesses.
  • Office Facilities: This refers to all of the structural space used by your business including warehouses, public-facing offices, labs, etc. These structures tend to account for most of a business’ carbon emissions because they require energy, water, and gas to function. For instance, a business with 25,000 square feet of facilities will, on average, produce almost 250 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year (including employees, energy costs, etc.). Sustainable architecture designs are growing in popularity, but most buildings and facilities still generate a large amount of emissions.
  • Employee Travel and Product Shipping: This includes any travel that is done for business purposes (commuting to work) as well as the carbon emissions produced by affiliate distribution companies if your business produces a product. Air travel for business meetings and purposes is another component of a business’ carbon footprint, and land or sea-based transport of goods and products can be similarly taxing on the environment.
  • Capital Expenditures: Like all spending, purchasing computers, company vehicles, equipment, and other long term materials that will be used for the business each generate their own eco-footprint.
  • Operational Expenses and Supply Chain Activities: The materials used in the business, labor costs, and all other operational expenses are included in the business carbon footprint as well.
Chart of global greenhouse emissions by indsutry sector.

Pie chart shows breakdown of global business carbon emissions. (Image Source: Our World In Data)

All businesses have these carbon costs associated with them (even those that are remote based services), but by using a free business carbon footprint calculator, you can determine the emissions generated by your company, and gain the knowledge necessary to make meaningful advancements towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly business model.

Using a Free Carbon Footprint Calculator for Business to Measure the Footprint of Your Company

The best way to begin to reduce your company’s emissions is by measuring the carbon footprint of your company. This can easily be accomplished by inputting data from your company into a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions calculator, like the one above. Because the information is calibrated using various sources, it will provide you with an estimation of your business’ GHG emissions. But, the more data you enter increases the accuracy.

Using a free carbon footprint calculator for business emissions indicate high amounts of waste.

Retail emissions compared between brick and mortar establishments and online stores are charted in this free carbon footprint calculator for business.

To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Begin by entering the type of business you operate, and the industry sector.
  2. Include the number of employees as well as how many facilities are included in the business. Facilities and employees play a large role in the accuracy of a business carbon footprint calculator.
  3. Collect and enter data about travel activities and the square footage (or square meters) included in your facilities. Don’t forget to indicate whether the building is LEED certified.
  4. Enter your capital and operating expenditures. Many calculators will provide an average cost option for most OPEX costs, however, you should also have the ability to enter exact amounts of labor, materials, supply chain activities and other operational expenses.
  5. Make sure to include your electricity and other energy costs. The easiest way to do this is by checking electricity and gas bills from the past year.
  6. Don’t forget to measure your recycling amounts and waste. Waste generates greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane.
  7. Organize all of this data before getting started so you can quickly refer to it while inputting information into a business carbon footprint calculator.1

Once you have all the necessary data, you should select a business footprint calculator. There are many carbon footprint calculators on the internet, but most are designed to calculate the footprint of an individual. A company’s carbon footprint, however, requires a different sort of calculator.

Because business types vary greatly and different industries generate more carbon emissions than others (such as construction versus a web design company), look for a calculator that uses the latest data and includes many industry and business types.

Graphics showing greenhouse emissions by industry, used in a small business carbon footprint calculator.

Industry emissions can be largely divided by four greenhouse gases, with carbon dioxide as the largest.

One carbon footprint calculator for small businesses or low emitter organizations is the Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator published by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It’s readily available on their website and is packaged as an Excel file that you can then input your data into during a specific data session. However, this “simplified” version is a lot like filling out information for the IRS… it can be confusing. The details, once completed, then provide you with an estimation and inventory of your annual GHG emissions and determine the direct and indirect emissions of all sources at a company.

The advantage of using a website calculator is speed with approximate amounts. For example, a retailer that uses the EPA version will have the opportunity to measure emissions all the way down to SKUs, while an online version will likely use averages based on similar retail establishments.

Using a Small Business Carbon Footprint Calculator: Increase Sustainable Operations and Reduce Waste

Calculating your business’ carbon footprint is really just the beginning of the process towards creating a more sustainable future and reducing overall waste (which saves money), but it’s a great start. Once you understand the scope of your company’s emissions, you can get started with charges that can reduce or eliminate it.

The ultimate goal is, of course, to achieve net zero, which can be accomplished using offset programs and energy reduction strategies, which also lower your OPEX Costs.

Some immediate opportunities to reduce your company’s eco footprint include:

  • Changing how you ship your products
  • Using specialized power strips to limit wasted electricity
  • Introducing climate control systems that turn off systems where no one is working
  • Upgrading appliances and equipment, or improving maintenance schedules to prevent power drains
  • Implementing a recycling program and other waste reduction strategies
  • Going the extra mile and using offsets to erase your footprint.2

How a Business Can Offset Its Carbon Footprint Through a Website (Go Net Zero)

Meaningful reductions of your company’s carbon footprint take time, but offset programs, especially those that plant and protect endangered trees, offer a great solution. You just have to be careful to make sure that the tree planting offset program is actually replacing native species and restoring natural ecosystems that will be protected for the long haul, not simply a few decades.

In general, one offset (sometimes known as a carbon credit) is equal to the reduction of one tonne of carbon emissions. With this in mind, you can calculate how many offsets your business would need to purchase to make a difference to its carbon footprint.

Chart showing carbon emissions related to shopping and transport activities.

The way products and goods are shipped and transported impacts a business carbon footprint.

There are many such sustainability projects, but in general they help you calculate your business’ carbon footprint and then lead you through the process of how to reduce and offset it, regardless of the size of your company.

For instance, if you purchase carbon offsets that plant trees (native species that will not be harvested at a later date), the trees erase the emissions you and your business are unable to control. Investigate the offset provider to ensure that the trees are not only placed in their natural habitat, but also will support spontaneous and native planting as well.

There are many alternative projects listed by reputable GHG registries, such as methane capture and other carbon conversion technologies to consider, and they all offer their own unique benefits. However, you should take some time to consider precisely how they intend to offset your business’ carbon emissions to ensure that the projects they are undertaking are actively beneficial and sustainable, because when done right, offsetting is an excellent step towards achieving net zero emissions.

Creating a company that is sustainable and eco friendly isn’t easy, but consumers are responding to and choosing sustainable businesses that protect the environment. Getting started simply requires measuring your company’s emissions with a business carbon footprint calculator and then working to reduce the actions that define your company’s impact on the planet.


References

1Everything You Need to Know About… Calculating Your Carbon Footprint. (2020, September 8). Retrieved November 18, 2021, from Courier: <https://mailchimp.com/courier/article/calculating-your-carbon-footprint/>

2How Carbon Offsets Work. (2021, November 16). Retrieved from Native: <https://native.eco/our-approach/carbon-offsets/>