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Carbon footprint guidance notes

Carbon footprint FAQs

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, generated by your actions and activities that contribute to climate change.

It is a method of measuring the impact we make on the planet through releasing greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere.

These gases trap heat, warming the earth and leading to climate change. Our contribution to this effect is called our ‘carbon footprint’.

Every individual, community, organisation, event or product leaves a footprint. Therefore, we all have a collective role to play in halting climate change.

Measuring and understanding the size of our impact – our ‘footprint’ – is an important step within our journey towards greater sustainability. This allow us to take steps to reduce, mitigate or ‘offset’ our impacts.

Our practical, free and easy-to-use online calculator will help you get started today.

Once you have received your estimated footprint, see our sustainability packages to find out how you can make a more serious commitment and step towards greater sustainability.

The main elements measured by the calculator are:

  • Number of employees and size of premises
  • Utilities (electricity, water, and waste)
  • Company travel and transport (including air and ground travel for business purposes, staff commutes, hotel stays and fleet vehicles)

Activities that make up a footprint are measured in everyday, easily understandable units (such as miles travelled by car or kWh of energy used). These units are then multiplied by internationally recognised conversion factors to establish the greenhouse gas emissions for the activity. Emissions are expressed in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), allowing emissions from greenhouse gases with different global warming potentials to be compared.

Our methodology follows the GHG Protocol guidance and uses emission factors from the most recent data sets from DEFRA/BEIS and IEA unless stated otherwise.

Using this tool does not indicate certification or endorsement of your carbon footprint data from mdsustain. The results generated by our carbon calculator are an estimate based on your responses, benchmarked averages, and informed assumptions. While we hope it is an informative insightful tool, it is not intended to replace a comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory using primary data from your operations.

Filling in our calculator is easy. You will need to know:

  • Number of employees
  • Percentage of time staff work from home (e.g. if staff work from home 3 days out of 5, they are 60% working from home)
  • Floorspace of premises (in metres squared)
  • Knowledge of your energy sources, utility usage and waste separation
  • Number of fleet vehicles owned or leased (cars, vans, HGVs)
  • Number of business trips taken per year (by land)
  • Number of flights taken per year (domestic, short-haul, long-haul)
  • Number of hotel stays per year
  • GBP spend on some goods and services (electronic products, furniture, paper, food and professional services)

Anyone from your company can complete this form. Team members who have access to operational data would be best suited to answer the questions. Examples may include staff from your Operations, HR, or Finance team.

If you do not know the data, leave the field blank, and we will use estimates based on benchmarked averages (e.g. annual mileage). You may also skip certain fields or enter a value of ‘0’.

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