Before you can reduce your emissions, you need to know where they come from. Once you know what to measure and how to measure, you can get a good picture of the carbon footprint of your business. Then you will be able to see where you can make the most impact.
Use the Climate Action Toolbox
A free and easy way to get started with emissions measurement is to use the Climate Action Toolbox. The carbon emissions calculator is designed specifically for smaller New Zealand businesses.
- Measure your emissions – Provide data on your business activities and get an estimate of your carbon emissions.
- Build your action plan – Learn where you can make impact and create your emissions reduction plan.
What makes up the carbon footprint of a business?
Your carbon footprint is an estimate of the emissions released by your business activities over a year. Greenhouse gas emissions are created through things like energy use and sending waste to landfill.
For example, direct use of fossil fuels such as petrol for vehicles releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Electricity use is linked to emissions because New Zealand’s electricity grid is not yet 100% renewable – around 15-20% of our electricity is generated by burning coal and gas which releases carbon dioxide. And when waste is left to decompose in a landfill, it releases greenhouse gases – predominantly methane.
Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions
You may come across reference to Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. These are from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which has developed internationally recognised standards for emissions measurement.
|Scope 1||Direct GHG emissions from owned or controlled sources||
|Scope 2||Indirect GHG emissions from the generation of purchased energy||
|Scope 3||Other indirect GHG emissions occurring because of the activities of the organisation but generated from sources that it does not own or control||
The Climate Action Toolbox helped us understand the key areas where our emissions come from. It's not just with transport as we originally thought. Emission levels from our office energy use were a real surprise.
How carbon footprints are measured
Your carbon footprint is expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) emissions. Measuring your carbon footprint will give you clarity over your organisation’s emissions hotspots and help you identify which areas offer quick wins that are worth targeting first.
Once you have a baseline, you can start to set targets to reduce emissions. Repeating the measurement process every year means you can track your emissions consistently and accurately.
To use a carbon calculator like the Climate Action Toolbox, you’ll need to collect your energy use data. This information can typically be sourced from invoices or directly from your suppliers. The calculator will convert your energy use from litres of fuel or kWh of electricity (for example) into CO2-e emissions.
What to measure and where to find the data
Sustainability actually improves efficiencies. If you can reduce your inputs to achieve the same outputs, you’re reducing your energy costs, the amount of materials you need, and you can improve your return on investment.
Free emissions calculators for New Zealand businesses
There are a range of emissions calculators available that are suitable for New Zealand businesses. The options listed here are free to use and support you through DIY emissions measurement. If you are interested in having your report verified and gaining carbon certification, you may want to consider engaging an agency that offers these services.
Ins and outs of a carbon zero journey
Demand for climate-friendly products and services is growing. No matter what size your business is or what sector it’s in, you can get ahead of the game by taking steps to becoming more carbon conscious.
EECA (the agency that backs Gen Less) has been measuring emissions longer than most. As the government agency charged with promoting energy efficiency and opportunities to reduce emissions, we signed up to a certified emissions reduction scheme in 2007. After whittling away annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 35% since then, EECA earned carbon zero certification in 2019.
Got your carbon footprint sorted? Take the next step
When you know your baseline, the next step is to set some targets and make the changes that will help you reach these goals. And remember to keep measuring! Collecting your data regularly (e.g. monthly rather than annually) will help you stay on track.
You don't have to go it alone when it comes to embarking on, or continuing, your sustainable business journey. Finding the right help can make all the difference.
You can access training and resources through organisations like the Sustainable Business Network. Many New Zealand businesses get support with emissions measurement and management through a certification company such as Toitū or Ekos.