Lights, heating and cooling, computers, printers, copiers, business travel, and commuting are all ways that your business or office, even if it is small, contributes to global climate change. Usually we think of industry—of factories with smokestacks—when we consider the major sources of the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change. Although that is correct, offices and services based companies account for a surprisingly large part of the climate change problem.
Some statistics provided by the United States Department of Energy back this up:
- Office buildings account for 19 percent of all commercial energy consumption.
- Seventy percent of office building energy consumption is electricity, which is used for lighting, heating, cooling and office equipment.
- More than a quarter of US GHG emissions are from transportation sources. This includes travel by road, rail and air, including the transportation related emissions generated by employees travelling for office-related business and commuting to and from their jobs.
- Eighty percent of transportation-related fossil fuel use comes from road transportation and 13 percent from aviation. Forty-seven percent of passengers on US domestic flights are travelling for business.
A carbon footprint or GHG inventory is the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organisation, usually over a period of 12 months. For simplicity of reporting, it is often expressed in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide, or its equivalent of other GHGs, emitted.
Typical activities or operations that contribute to an organisation’s carbon footprint include fuel burned in company owned assets, purchased electricity, employee commuting and paper use. A company’s carbon footprint can be measured by undertaking a GHG emissions audit to document its inventory.
Once the size of a carbon footprint is known, a strategy can be devised to reduce it, e.g. by technological developments, better process and product management, energy efficiency or offsetting.