What is a Business Carbon Footprint?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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A business carbon footprint is an evaluation of the impact that a business operation has on the environment. In its broadest sense, this evaluation includes consideration of actions that have both a direct and indirect impact on the ecological balance in both the areas where the business operates, and areas where the products produced by the company are used. However, most attempts to assess business carbon footprints are limited to the business facilities themselves and the surrounding area.

At the root of any attempt to measure a business carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by the operation of the company. Those emissions may be caused by the use of fossil fuels to operate machinery, heating and cooling functions within the buildings owned and operated by the company, and any residue or waste that is created as a result of the manufacturing process. In order to calculate a carbon footprint, the total emissions created and the frequency of their release into the local ecological system must be determined.

Once a business carbon footprint is successfully calculated, it is possible to measure the impact of that footprint on the environment. This is often accomplished by implementing changes in the function of the company that help to reduce emissions. This process of reducing the emissions is known as carbon offsetting.


There are a number of ways that a company can help to reduce its business carbon footprint. One is to make use of alternative forms of energy production instead of fossil fuels to maintain the operation. Another approach is to adapt existing heating and cooling systems to make use of solar or wind energy, rather than relying on electricity supplied by a local power grid. Recycling of waste created in the manufacturing process can also help to reduce the damage done to the environment and possibly reduce the cost of operating the company over the long-term.

Companies of all sizes and types can benefit from undergoing a business carbon footprint evaluation. There are a number of non-profit agencies that can assist in this type of evaluation, as well as professional services that can help businesses identify strategies to reduce that footprint and remain profitable. In some cases, helping with the initial calculation does not involve any out of pocket expenses. While there is usually some expense involved with implementing various methods to reduce the footprint, proponents state that those measures ultimately are offset by the enhanced reputation of the company and the continued financial success of the business operation.


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