If your company is just starting down the road of sustainability, and you’d like to get a sense of just how much your carbon emissions contribute to the CO2 on the planet, then taking advantage of one of the free internet carbon calculators for businesses is your ticket. This is quick (typically under an hour of time) and relatively painless method of getting a snapshot view of your company’s annual emissions.
In all cases, it is very beneficial to have several recent months of utility bills (or total amounts) handy, as well as an idea of annual totals. You will also need good estimates of miles travelled in all forms – company cars and delivery trucks; business travel by rail/plane; and average commuting miles per employee. Paper usage by type and amount (weight) should also be estimated since it is a significant impact of many office environments. Once you’ve tracked down these numbers – or made educated estimates – the actual entering of data should only take a few minutes.
The four calculators detailed here are in no particular ranking. More detailed information comparing the calculators will be available shortly on the Eco-Coach website.
TerraPass Business Carbon Footprint Calculator
TerraPass offers carbon offset management services for individuals/families and businesses. This business calculator evaluates emissions in 5 areas: building/site; server/data center; vehicle fleet; additional business travel and commuting. Results are shown in bar graph form and can be downloaded in PDF form for future reference. Their Carbon Balanced Business Advisors are available by email or phone to offer guidance. TerraPass was voted best carbon offset provider by TreeHugger in 2010 & 2011.
CoolClimate Network Small Business Carbon Footprint Calculator
This calculator was developed by researchers at the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at the University of California, Berkeley. Although it is labeled for small business, it is applicable for most sized businesses. Data is entered under three main categories: facilities, transportation and procurement (which includes 20+ subcategories – each with default values available— to help companies track their impact through the supply chain). This calculator requires a bit more effort in tracking down a variety of input data and doing some pre-calculations.
The summary of results compares your company to averages for your industry. Your company’s results can be saved to an online profile. Finally, “Take Action” steps are suggested as ways to pledge to reduce your company’s carbon impact. This calculator was reviewed in the May, 2011 issue of Environmental Science & Technology journal.
Carbon Footprint Business Calculator
Carbon Footprint is a UK-based carbon management services company. This business calculator is more suited for small businesses and is available in 13 languages with metric and American measurement options. It assesses emissions on energy use of the office building and transportation (divided into 3 sections – fleet mileage, flight travel and public transit). Consultants are available by email or phone (remember the time difference – they are based in the UK) for additional guidance. A PDF emissions report by source, ideas for carbon reduction and management planning guidance is available for purchase ($20-30).
Carbonfund.org Business Carbon Calculator
Carbonfund.org is a nonprofit that provides carbon offset solutions for individuals and businesses. This business calculator is comprehensive and evaluates emissions in 7 areas: office site; vehicle fleet; additional business travel; commuting; special events; paper usage and shipping. The amount of data considered will require more time commitment in collecting or estimating numbers. There is no option for exporting a final summary report or viewing a graphical representation of your company’s performance. They do offer you options to select from (renewable energy, energy efficiency or forestation) to immediately offset your carbon contributions. Carbonfund.org was the Reader’s Choice for best carbon offset provider by TreeHugger in 2010 & 2011.
For the carbon calculators that don’t include calculations for office paper usage, there is a supplemental calculator provided by the Environmental Paper Network . It calculates carbon impacts for many different types of paper and paperboard based on weight (tons) and percent recycled content. This can then be added to the results from one of the business footprint calculators.