Measuring company carbon emissions with the GHG Protocol


Measuring Carbon Emissions Using The GHG Protocol: A Quick Guide 

Across Canada and the United States, businesses are being asked to become more sustainable. Sustainability (sometimes referred to as ESG) means tracking and implementing initiatives that reduce a business’ impact on the planet and people. One crucial aspect of sustainability is measuring and reducing a company’s carbon emissions. Carbon emissions specifically come from the exhaust of a car, or the smoke stack of a manufacturing plant. Other emissions come in the form of methane – aka: burping cows. 

Reducing company emissions to meet new customer requirements 

“If we swap 5 of our company trucks to Electric Vehicles (EVs), how do we prove we reduced our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions?” “How do I measure and reduce my organization’s carbon footprint?” 

ThisRock gets a lot of inquiries from manufacturing, chemical, technology, retail and other Ontario businesses around how to start tracking their operational emissions. Even more popular is questions around reducing emissions through electric vehicles or reduction in business travel. 

In order for a business to prove that it has rolled out projects to cut emissions, they first must show their baseline GHG levels from previous years. This is often a scary and burdensome process. It doesn’t have to be. The GHG Protocol is a framework for businesses. They purposely make it as simple as possible to correctly and quickly track Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions. To effectively manage and reduce carbon emissions, many companies turn to the GHG Protocol. 

Meet the GHG Protocol, a way to track your GHG emissions 

The GHG Protocol is a globally recognized standard for measuring and managing greenhouse gas emissions. It is a relatively simple framework to measure your business’ impact on the environment. While there are experts to help your business measure and reduce your impact, it is good for you to understand what it is all about. 

Measuring your company’s carbon emissions 

Are your large customers asking to see that you’re becoming more sustainable? Often the first thing they need is your GHG emissions. Here are the 6 steps business like yours can take to start getting a handle on current carbon, methane and other greenhouse gas emissions from operations, and the value chain. 

1. Gather data

2. Get an emissions inventory

3. Use the tools

4. Set reduction targets

5. Activate measures to reduce

6. Tell the world

Watch our video on measuring your company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using the GHG Protocol. 

Case study: Measuring an industrial cleaning services company’s emissions using the GHG Protocol

Here are five key steps to follow:

  • Data Collection and Inventory: Begin by gathering comprehensive data on your company’s activities and operations. This includes information on fuel consumption, electricity usage, transportation, and any other relevant sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Collect historical data to establish a baseline. Identify all sources of emissions, both direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2 and 3), such as company-owned vehicles, energy consumption, and emissions from subcontracted services.
  • Select the Appropriate GHG Protocol Tools: Choose the specific GHG Protocol tools and standards that are most relevant to your industry and operations. The GHG Protocol offers sector-specific guidance for various industries, so be sure to use the appropriate guidance document.
  • Calculate Emissions: Utilize the GHG Protocol’s guidelines to calculate your company’s greenhouse gas emissions. Follow the recommended methodologies for each emission source, such as fuel combustion, electricity consumption, and fugitive emissions. Ensure that your calculations are accurate and comprehensive, covering all relevant sources of emissions.
  • Verification and Quality Assurance: Consider having your emissions data independently verified by a third-party auditor to ensure its accuracy and reliability. Verification adds credibility to your emissions inventory and helps identify any areas for improvement. Establish a quality assurance process within your company to regularly review and update emissions data as operations change or new information becomes available.
  • Report and Set Reduction Targets: Prepare a comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions report following the GHG Protocol reporting guidelines. This report should include a breakdown of emissions by source, as well as any emissions reductions achieved. Use your emissions data to set realistic reduction targets. Develop a plan to reduce emissions, considering both short-term and long-term goals. Implement energy-efficient practices, consider renewable energy options, and explore ways to minimize emissions from your operations.

What data will your business need to start measuring emissions?

There are many places to source raw data for your GHG emissions review. You’ll need fuel consumption data. Determine how much fuel is used for company vehicles, machinery, and equipment. You’ll also need electricity usage so you can track across your facilities, including lighting, heating, cooling, and equipment operation. Transportation – aka your fleet – needs to be calculated too. This could be around company-owned vehicles used for cleaning services, maintenance, and transportation of equipment and personnel. You’ll also need data on employee commute, and business travel. The list is long but the data is important to have for a thorough GHG emission review for your business.

Where can I learn more about the GHG Protocol?

Visit the GHG Protocol’s website to learn more, and get your hands on calculation tools. Remember that measuring emissions using the GHG Protocol is an ongoing process. Regularly update your emissions inventory, monitor progress toward reduction targets, and continually seek opportunities to minimize your company’s environmental footprint. 

Engaging in this process demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and can lead to cost savings and improved environmental performance. Thanks for reading!