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This episode is the second of our 7-part mini-series explaining our Carbonology service, a 7 step methodology to help companies become Carbon Neutral.

We’re joined by our resident Carbonologist David Algar to talk through the second step of the Carbonology process, Quantify.

What does the Quantify Step entail?

Calculating your emissions : This will be carried out for Scope 1 2 and 3 emissions.

  • Scope 1 refers to sources you own, and are direct emissions from combustion or fugitive emissions from systems that contain GHGs, so gases that have escaped from somewhere they shouldn’t have such as an AC system.
  • Scope 2 are emissions from imported energy, this refers to electricity for most organisations but can also include steam, heating and cooling. For ISO 14064 and PAS 2060 you’ll need to quantify 100% of the Scope 1 and 2 emissions within boundaries
  • Scope 3 refers to all other indirect emissions from sources you don’t own or necessarily have control over. For example business travel in vehicles your staff own. Scope 3 makes up the majority of emissions for most organisations and is generally more complex to gather data for.

What information do you need to quantify your emissions?

You’ll need to collect and process data. This can be:

  • Activity or financial data on a specific source. Common examples include utilities bills, meter readings and expense reports for business travel or fright
  • Interviews and surveys. For instance a survey to better understand how staff commute to work, or the proportion of staff that work from home.

Why is Transparency so important?

There are 6 key principles of ISO 14064, but one David is particularly mindful of is Transparency.

  • Ultimately your work will be made publicly available, and not everyone may agree with your methods, but you’ll need to record all estimates, assumptions, exclusions, and uncertainties associated with your methods. As well as generally being good practice, being transparent allows the end user of the work you produce to make informed decisions with a reasonable degree of confidence.

So what’s the purpose of quantification?

As well as giving you a total footprint for a specific time period, calculating your carbon footprint will enable you to do a few things:

  • Firstly you’ll be able to see what are the most emission-intense areas of your organisation, i.e. where the emissions are coming from, whether this is a specific location, or activity or even department
  • Secondly, by using this information you will be able to prioritise the areas that need to have their emissions reduced. This will form the basis of your Carbon Footprint Management Plan which we will go into more detail on in the next few episodes.

What are the Outcome and Deliverables?

One outcome of this exercise is a GHG Inventory. This is a requirement of ISO 14064 and put simply, is a big list of categorised emission sources, and the specific GHGs they produce. Here you’ll also list all emission conversion factors you used to turn activity data into tonnes of specific GHGs.

Another useful outcome is that you’ll be able to instantly and credibly respond to any tenders that require you present green credentials. As we’ve mentioned in previous podcasts, in the UK it is now a requirement for most large public sector contracts for the tendering organisation to outline its emissions.

Being able to easily present your carbon footprint to a potential tender could help in winning new business, particularly if you’ve completed this in line with an international recognised standard

Join us next week as we move onto the next step, Commit.

If you need assistance with implementing ISO 14064, PAS 2060, or another standard – Contact us!

David Algar is also available for a free Carbonology consultation until the end of March – Book your slot Here

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One of the first steps towards becoming more sustainable is knowing where you currently stand in terms of your emissions. Calculating this may seem like a mammoth task, especially if you have multiple sites or assets such as company vehicles to keep track of.

David Algar joins Mel today to discuss how to calculate your Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, starting from Establishing boundaries through to number crunching and quantification.

What is the first step when embarking on quantifying your GHG emissions?

  • One of the first steps is getting leadership commitment – This allows for quicker decision making and the allocation of roles and responsibilities, which really helps with the data collection
  • Once you have this leadership commitment, the next steps is to start establishing boundaries.

So how do you define your boundaries?

  • There are 2 ways you define your boundaries as specified in ISO 14064-1:
  • The first are your organisational boundaries, you’ll need to outline which facilities are included within the quantification. It is not as simple as just saying ‘everything’, you’ll need to specify which sites, buildings, factories etc
  • You can define your organisational boundaries via the control approach, so what facilities do you have financial or operation control over? Or the equity share approach, where you account for your portion of emissions and removals from facilities
  • The next step is defining your reporting boundaries. This refers to activities and specific sources of GHGs.
  • Emission sources are split up into 3 categories; Scope 1 – direct emissions from combustion, or leaks, normally at sources you own , Scope 2 – indirect emissions from imported energy, and Scope 3 – all other indirect emissions, these will be from sources you don’t necessarily own or have much control over such as staff commuting, supply chains or emissions from the use of products you manufacture
  • Depending on your organisation, Scope 3 will account for somewhere between 60-80% of your total emissions.

How would you recommend going about collecting to data?

  • ISO 14064-1 wants you to have primary data, i.e. data you have collected yourself.
  • Some of the most common sources of the information you’ll need to quantify your emissions include, utilities bills, expense claim, meter readings.  
  • What some organisations are doing is sending out simple surveys to staff to gather information on commuting habits or the mix of home and office working.
  • In the real world all the information you need isn’t going to be available, or at least it won’t be available in the way you would like.
  • it’s important to have someone dedicated managing data collection as this may involve multiple sites or international locations.
  • Ideally, you’d start setting a framework to use when going forward and to make sure you can collect the relevant data each year.

Selecting a base year

  • If this is the first time you have quantified your emissions, it will automatically become your base year.
  • This will be the year you compare future emissions against, and track reductions against, whether they are absolute, or intensity based, such as tonnes of CO2e per employee or product sold
  • You may have to re-visit your base year calculations if new data or more accurate methods arise. A base year review may also be required if there has been a change in organisational boundaries due to a merger or acquisition.

The Number Crunching

  • At the end of the process, we want to see our levels of emissions for each of the Kyoto gases, this will allow us to see emissions as tonnes of CO2 equivalent when each gases’ global warming potential has been taken into account.
  • Some gases can have global warming potentials 200 times or 1,000 times or even over 20,000 times stronger than CO2 on its own, hence why even the smallest leak of can be important, say, from an air conditioning system.
  • We calculate emission from specific sources by using conversion factors.
  • In the UK we are very lucky to have emission conversion factors published publicly by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy every year going back to 2002
  • Other countries release conversion factors too, so if you have sites round the world, you should be able to find factors that can be applied. This may involve converting some units though.
  • The data isn’t always going to be available in the ideal format, so you’ll need to spend a bit of time on Google identifying rates for specific areas and years if you don’t have anything else to go on.
  • Liaising with landlords and facilities management is always a good idea, not only to collect data, but to help with implementing initiatives that can reduce emissions in the future  

Estimates, Assumptions, Uncertainties and Transparency

  • You’re going to have to make some assumptions as you go.
  • In line with ISO 14064-1 you’ll need to be as accurate as possible even if this means someone going through individual lines of expenses to estimate flight distances based on ticket costs or coming up with a system to represent your supply chain.
  • Another important aspect of ISO 14064-1 is transparency. The best way to manage this is to simply make all your calculations visible, this way they can be reviewed and sense-checked but others.
  • For each emission source you’ll also need to assign it a level of uncertainty. For instance, expense claims are usually highly accurate as they show mileage from one location to another, and sometimes even record the specific vehicle, you could say this has an uncertainty of 2-5% for instance.
  • At the other end of the scale calculating the emission from the life cycle of your products has a high degree of uncertainty as you don’t know how a customer will use it, how long it will last, how it will be disposed of or if it will even be used at all. This could have an uncertainty of 30-40% for instance
  • A positive outcome of managing all these uncertainties is that you will have a framework going forward for calculating specific sources.

Managing your Emissions Going Forward – Applications of Quantification

  • Ironically it is often the biggest emission sources that businesses have the smallest amount of control over, but there will usually be some action that can be taken to reduce them.
  • Quantifying emissions is also one the first, and arguably the most essential steps towards achieving carbon neutrality, as you can’t get very far without knowing your emissions.
  • PAS 2060 is the standard we use at Blackmores as part of our Carbonology service to help businesses achieve carbon neutrality, this is supported by quantifying emissions in line with the ISO 14064 methodologies we’ve mentioned In previous podcasts.
  • Developing and implementing a carbon reduction plan to reduce emissions over subsequent reporting periods is another application of your GHG quantification and is an important part of working towards carbon neutrality.

Further resources:

Free Webinar – Targeting Carbon and Supporting Net Zero – hosted by Alcumus, David Algar will feature as a guest to help you understand your Carbon Footprint and provide a roadmap towards Carbon Neutrality. Register Here.

We also have more information about our Carbonology service available Here.

We’d love to hear your views and comments about the ISO Show, here’s how:

  • Share the ISO Show on Twitter or Linkedin
  • Leave an honest review on iTunes or Soundcloud. Your ratings and reviews really help, and we read each one.
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