The First Step - Measure Your Carbon Footprint

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”  - Laozi

East Devon businesses can take the first positive step towards reducing global warming and stewarding our unique natural environment for future generations by measuring and managing their carbon footprint. As well as helping the environment, this makes good commercial sense.  Over 1/3 of UK consumers now actively seek out sustainable brands and experiences and 81% of visitors want to travel more sustainably, so being able to demonstrate your green credentials is good for business.  Measuring also helps you identify cost savings and future-proof your business against changing regulatory requirements as the UK moves towards its stated goal of reaching net zero by 2050. 

Measuring gives you an accurate picture of how much carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions your business is producing, and what the sources are.  Once you know how much carbon your business produces, you can start to take steps to reduce your emissions, making your business cleaner, greener and more efficient.

So, what is my carbon footprint?

Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere due to your business activities.  The internationally recognised Green House Gas Protocol identifies three categories of emissions, which it calls “scopes”:

  • Scope 1 – emissions created directly by your organisation through actions like heating your premises or cooking food in your restaurant.
  • Scope 2 – indirect emissions caused by your business activities, such as the carbon cost of energy bought from external providers that originate from non-renewable sources.
  • Scope 3 – indirect emissions that occur because of your business activity, such as emissions further up or down your supply chain.

Some businesses choose to measure just the carbon footprint of their own business activities and that of the energy they use to power their business (Scopes 1 and 2).   Others (usually larger enterprises) choose to look at the carbon footprint they create further up and down the supply chain as well (Scope 3).  

Where do I start?

There are lots of online resources that can help you to measure your carbon footprint.  Because it can be hard to choose the right one, we asked The Travel Foundation, a global leader in sustainable tourism, to recommend the best carbon calculators for businesses in East Devon.   

For measuring scope 1 and 2 emissions, the Carbon Trust has a great online resource to support SMEs.  It uses easily accessible data sources such as fuel bills and service sheets to measure what your business emits directly, from its activities and electricity use this one. 

For a calculator that measures indirect emissions coming from your supply chain as well as the direct emissions from your activities and energy use, there’s the SME Climate Hub Guide – “How Your Business Can Start Taking Meaningful Action” 

Weeva, is a paid platform enabling hoteliers to easily measure, track and report on emissions and a range of other sustainability and social metrics. It’s designed to be as easy to use as possible for individual or multiple properties, enabling measurement, target setting, and reporting, and supported by guidance proposing recommended activities to improve progress across 18 areas of sustainability including climate action. The platform has been built with the support of leading sustainability initiative The Long Run and global certification organisation, Preferred by Nature. 

For a more in-depth review of your business activities, you could consider hiring a sustainability consultant, who will help you develop a sustainability strategy to fit with your business goals.  You can find out more about this here.  

I’ve measured my carbon footprint, what’s next?

Now that you’ve measured your carbon footprint, it’s time to think about how you can reduce it.  There are likely lots of measures you can take to make your business greener, so you will probably want to think about setting priorities for your actions and thinking about how you will create positive change. 

We recommend making a Carbon Action Plan as a starting point.  You can find out more about how to do this here.

Get in Touch

If you’ve taken the important first step towards measuring your carbon footprint, we’d love to hear from you and share your experience.  If you’re a Visit member, you can also benefit from additional promotional opportunities for our Changemakers and work towards Changemaker Champion accreditation.

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