How to focus on Carbon Footprinting within your C(S)R strategy

Most companies today try to put every effort they make around corporate responsibility in every information and report they generate to show that they act sustainable. Most of the time it happens that they mix up everything they do when they want to communicate their carbon-footprint approach. They should focus on these points:

1 – focus on one topic
If you want to talk about carbon footprint only put elements of a particular carbon footprint into your work. Don’t mix it up with your efforts eg. the in-house kindergarten. This is also somehting worth to talk about, but shows that you’re not able to seperate climate protection and social responsibiltiy.

2 – communicate clear strategy
Show the “why” and “how” to your stakeholders. Embed your carbon-footprint-project in your company goals. People want to understand if you are just one of the followers which only change their company logo into green or if you really understood sustainability as an option to drive your business.

3 – show transparency
The worst calculations I can imagine are numbers like “in 2007 our emissions were around 2,700 tons of carbon dioxide” – without any details like:
– what was measured
– what was not measured
– which methodology (see next point) was used
– how big is the failure or the uncertainty in the calculations
– was this critically reviewed
– what were the balance boundaries
– ……
Such numbers rise much more questions than answers and casts a damning light on the company.

4- rely on an established methodology
As mentioned before the methodology is beside the proper transperancy the key for carbon-footprint calculation. Only a good methodology makes the findings traceable, reliable and comparable. Otherwise the calculation just shows that you only calculated the parts which are good for you and neglected the other effects. This is typcial for most life cycle assessments (LCA) in this context. The “good” companies will show the impacts on the whole life-cylce of products – bad ones only show you one slice of it.

5 – show that ecology and economy isn’t a conflict
Talking to the responsible persons of the quality management or sustainability in companies shows clearly that there is no discrepancy between doing something good for the envirionment AND making more money. In the ideal case you always will get both. Or the other way round – in my eyes it is not so clever for a company to have only costs for their sustainable approach. Smart companies will get more revenue or cost-savings out of their efforts.

6 – integrate it in your processes
Don’t see sustainability, voluntary carbon calculations or footprinting as alien. In most cases companies already have proper systems and processes reflecting also the needs of such new requirements. It’s just a question of how to adjust them to come to an good output.

7 – define your balance boundaries
Be honest – tell the people what you measured and what not. Give reasons why! Your stakeholders will not interfere with you if they have the good feeling that you have an holistic approach. But believe me – they will ask you the dumbest questions if they recognize that you only took the most obvious parts.

8 – make smaller steps rather than the big shot
Do not try to make the perfect solution right from the start. Take you time to learn how the new requirements influence you current business processes. Also communicate this learning process.

9 – work on constant improvement
Rome was not built in one day – and nor will your system for sustainability. Make your long term goals but try to innovate individual solutions on this journey. Every industry sector has own requirements and chances.


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