running a green office

calculating the duport carbon footprint

Duport put about 26,500 kg of carbon dioxide into the world’s atmosphere in 2006. That may not be a lot in terms of the total UK pollution but it is ours and we are responsible for it. It’s a big number when you see it in black and white, and before we knew about it we didn’t give it much thought.

Duport Associates is similar to many small businesses in the UK. We are primarily involved in the services sector selling information and providing specialist, knowledge-based services. At the outset if somebody had told me we were putting even 1,000 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere every year I would have said they were exaggerating. However, the fact is we do far more damage than that.

We started thinking about the issue as a result of getting involved in recycling in the office. This took us on a very long journey to find and validate published information. We quickly discovered there is a vast amount of information on the internet about environmental issues, but the task of making sense of it and then actually do something practical in our own situation was a major undertaking. In the end we drew together all of what we needed and decided to share our experience on our website and hopefully make it a bit easier for other SMEs to get involved.

Looking at our business process showed us that once we had dealt with the practical, high priority issues of recycling, we needed to identify where we were creating pollution. What we needed was to measure it and then calculate our own carbon footprint. We came to the conclusion that in our case (and probably in the case of most information orientated SMEs) there are only two statistics to measure; energy consumption and travel. This really simplified the problem because all we needed for energy was the total usage of electricity and gas. This left only travel to consider.

In the case of Duport we decided to interpret this as all work travel, including getting to and from work on a daily basis. This was because the only reason this travel is incurred is to allow our business to operate and therefore it becomes, in our view, our responsibility. Having decided this we simply asked all our staff how they travelled to work, created a simple spreadsheet for the year and then added in our business mileage from existing records. To keep it simple we used as our standard a family car up to 1800cc.

  2006 carbon (kg)
gas £2.320 15,100
electricity £1.050 3,900

 

employee travels by mileage
/wk
% travels by mileage
/wk
%
1 car 30 100      
2 car 12 40      
3 car 60 100      
4 car 20 100      
5 car 45 100      
6 bus 40 50 cycle 10 50
7 car 70 100      
8 car 25 80 lift 2.5 20
9 walk 9 100      
10 car 62 100      
11 car 286 40      
12 car 286 40      
13 car 200 20      
             
employee total car total bus total lift total cycle total walk % total carbon
1 1380         5
2 221         1
3 2780         10
4 920         3
5 2070         8
6   920   230   0
7 3220         12
8 920   23     3
9         414 0
10 2852         11
11 5282         20
12 5282         20
13 1840         7
total 28707 920 23 230 414  
share of carbon impact 100% 5% 50% 0% 0%  
  28707 48 11.5 0 0 28785 duport fuel mileage
duport mileage carbon (kg)           7500 duport carbon

In practice it is very easy for many companies to calculate their own carbon footprint. As more businesses get involved there will no doubt be stock models available for more complicated businesses to use simply by putting in their own figures.

Now we have our carbon footprint figure we will continue to measure it annually and work on measures to reduce it as far as we can. We intend to use approved carbon offset programmes to neutralise our impact where after a serious effort we cannot find ways to reduce it ourselves.

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