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Center for Corporate Climate Leadership

How to Calculate your Carbon Footprint

Developing an Organization-Wide GHG Inventory for a Low Emitter

What is your carbon footprint?

For most low emitters — including office-based organizations, small businesses, and public institutions — the majority of their GHG emissions will come from their purchased electricity and vehicles. For others, especially small manufacturers, additional emissions will result from use of refrigerants, waste gases, or onsite combustion. An organization's carbon footprint has three components for purposes of developing a GHG inventory:

  1. Direct emissions (known as Scope 1): from onsite combustion and mobile sources
  2. Indirect emissions (Scope 2): from purchased electricity and steam
  3. Optional emissions (Scope 3): Examples include product transport, employee business travel and employee commuting.

Below are three tools designed to help low emitters develop an organization-wide inventory and establish a plan to ensure GHG data consistency as they track progress towards reaching an emissions reduction goal.

Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator Updated June 2014! What's New?
  • Updated Emission Factors
  • Improved Guidance
    • Additional guidance regarding vehicles (what vehicles are scope 1 vs. business travel vs. commuting)
    • Inclusion of more guidance around estimates; including an estimation explanation on stationary combustion, electricity, and steam
  • Other Updates and Format Changes for Ease-of-Use
    • Includes fields for entering start and end dates
    • Additional column for entering building area in square feet
    • Links to Summary and Goal Tracking Form on the Summary tab

Small Business and Low Emitter Guide to Greenhouse Gas Management Step 1: Select an operational or financial approach to define your organizational boundaries.
The Small Business and Low Emitter Guide to Greenhouse Gas Management (PDF) (22 pp, 1.7M, About PDF) explains how to approach measuring GHG emissions, instructions for using the GHG Calculator and how to complete the Inventory Management Plan.

SGEC Tool Step 2: Calculate GHG emissions using the Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator (XLS) (2.2 MB) (This version was updated June 2014). Additional guidance is available for measuring emissions from onsite combustion, purchased electricity, refrigeration, and air conditioning.

Inventory Management Plan (IMP) for Low Emitter Step 3: Document development of a GHG inventory to ensure consistency as your organization collects data each year to track progress toward reaching an emissions reduction goal using the Simplified Inventory Management Plan (IMP) (DOC) (14 pp, 305K)

What Do I Do Next?

The Center for Corporate Climate Leadership concluded its support for the Federal Supplier Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Pilot with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to assist small federal contractors with measuring and reducing their GHG emissions. Resources from this pilot are available.

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