Emission Factors in carbon footprint calculations

What are those emission factors and which one to use ?

Last time we discussed the what and how of the carbon footprint report, to be able to report on all sorts of emissions that you decided to take into scope for your organization you need to bring them all to the same level to able to sum, compare etc. That’s why today we’d like to focus on the emission factors and give some practical information on what is available as source so you can leverage the one (or ones) that are relevant for your organization and your sector.

Emission factors are used to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with a particular activity or emission source.

They are typically expressed in units of emissions per unit of activity, such as kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per megajoule of energy consumed.

To use emission factors to calculate your organization’s carbon footprint, you will need to identify the scope of the carbon footprint assessment and gather data on the emissions associated with the activities and emissions included in the scope.

This could include energy use data, transportation data, and data on the emissions associated with the procurement of goods and services.

Once you have collected this data, you can use appropriate emission factors to calculate the emissions associated with each activity or emission source.

There are several sources of emission factors that you can use, including:

  1. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol: The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a widely recognized set of standards and tools for measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions. It provides emission factors for a wide range of activities, including energy use, transportation, and the procurement of goods and services.
  2. Government agencies: Many government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States, provide emission factors for a variety of activities.
  3. Industry-specific resources: There may be industry-specific resources that provide emission factors relevant to your organization’s operations. For example, the Cement Sustainability Initiative provides emission factors for the cement industry.

It is important to use the most appropriate and up-to-date emission factors when calculating your organization’s carbon footprint.

This will ensure that your calculations are accurate and reflect the most current understanding of the emissions associated with different activities and emission sources.