How Do You Determine Your Organization's Carbon Footprint?

  January 28, 2011

Today's tip is about how facility managers can determine their organization's carbon footprint. As more and more organizations are making carbon reduction goals, up to and including carbon neutrality, facility managers are often the point person for managing this initiative. This often requires collaboration with several different departments within the organization, as well as outside vendors, to get the data required to make the calculations. But what goes into those calculations? The most widely used resource is the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which breaks emissions into three categories, or scopes. Scope 1 emissions are direct greenhouse gas emissions directly from sources owners control. These include emissions from generation of electricity, heat or steam; physical or chemical processing; transportation of materials, products, waste and employees; and fugitive emissions - or emissions result intentional or unintentional releases. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions. These are directly calculated from an organization's energy use, and are, for most commercial organizations without a manufacturing component, the biggest piece of a carbon footprint. Finally, Scope 3 emissions cover all other indirect emissions, from employee transportation, emissions from leased space, waste disposal and extraction and production of purchase materials, for instance. This is often the toughest one for facility managers to get their arms around, as it requires collecting loads of data from other sources outside the FM department. For more information, tips and advice on how to calculate your organization’s carbon footprint, you can download the Greenhouse Gas Protocol for free at


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