The carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the activities of individuals, entities (like companies and organizations) and communities. It includes so-called “direct emissions” - those created by combustion of fossil fuels in manufacturing, heating/cooling and transportation - as well as emissions required to produce the electricity associated with goods and services consumed. It derives from the principle of ecological footprint - the total area of land required to sustain an activity or population - and measures environmental impacts, such as water use and the amount of land used for food production.
Many different factors are considered when attempting to measure a company’s carbon footprint, including:
- Whether the company uses fossil-fuel based means of transport for logistical purposes;
- What sources of energy a company uses in heating and cooling offices, plants and other facilities and whether that electricity/energy is generated from renewable energy sources or not;
- Whether energy efficient lights are used in offices and other company facilities;
- The amount of insulation in a company’s buildings.
The “size” of a company’s footprint varies depending on many factors. For example, all other things equal, a company that uses petrol-powered trucks will create a larger carbon footprint than one whose logistics are handled via vehicles powered by batteries and/or green-hydrogen (hydrogen produced using renewable energy).