Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges faced by the world today. Though there is undoubtedly a level of responsibility on national governments to protect our environment, there is equal if not more responsibility on both citizens and businesses to do their part in living and working sustainably.
So how can a global business that is built on technology such as ours, modify its behaviour and operations to work as sustainably as possible? To answer that question, we analysed the carbon footprint of our whole organization for the first time. Our aim was to measure the volume of greenhouse gases we were producing per year, and then to identify ways to reduce this as much as possible. We hope that by taking a look at what we discovered, you can think of ways you to do the same.
Measuring our footprint
To understand our environmental impact as accurately as possible, we used methods that meet a worldwide standard of Carbon Footprint studies*. This approach uses physical flows of analyzed activities to calculate greenhouse gas emissions. To help us do this, we teamed up with El Cubo Verde, soluciones ambientales S.L, who divided our analysis into three operational scopes, each implemented in offices across our two locations: Madrid and San Francisco.
Scope 1: Direct emissions
This includes all onsite emissions (like fossil fuel combustion), fugitive emissions (including fluorinated gases from air conditioning equipment) and emissions from vehicle fleets.
Scope 2: Internal indirect emissions
This mainly covers electrical consumption across all operational sites.
Scope 3: External indirect emissions
This includes mobility emissions (like business flights) and energy consumption from other parties tied to the business (including suppliers such as data centres).
What we discovered
After an extensive review of internal and external documentation, as well as interviews with key Intelygenz personnel, we were able to see the distribution of emissions across key areas of the business, including a total greenhouse gas output of 81,346.00 kgCO2e.
Since we do not use natural gas to heat our offices, nor do we have vehicle fleets, we recorded low emissions from these sources. While this is a good thing, it does mean that we consume more electricity and have higher mobility emissions, with these two factors making up the majority of our footprint.
46.7% Business air travel
49.4% Electricity consumption
Reducing the impact
To minimize our impact across all three scopes, we’ve outlined some key measures that will reduce our carbon footprint by at least 15%. These include switching all electricity providers to ones that guarantee a 100% renewable energy origin, introducing active light management systems, replacing all air conditioning splits units that emit R22 hydrochlorofluorocarbons and prioritizing video/tele conferencing over taking business trips.
Making the effort to analyze our emissions was an insightful exercise that will help us contribute to a low carbon economy. By better understanding the main sources of our emissions, we’ll be able to make year-on-year improvements and do our part in combating climate change. Looking forward, we will also be extending our carbon footprint calculations to analyze more metrics and improve the quality our data.
If you’re interested in measuring your own carbon footprint, we would recommend working with an independent consultant to ensure you are using the latest standardized methodologies and can gather as much useful data from your business as possible. The higher quality the information used in testing, the more reliable the results will be, revealing the most effective ways you can reduce your impact and work more sustainably.
*Measurement methodologies were conducted using the following sources:
Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard (GHG Protocol): developed by the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the GHG Protocol provides standards and guidance for companies and other organizations preparing a GHG emissions inventory. It covers the accounting and reporting of the six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol — carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). The U.S. EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership’s (The Center). All data collected and analysed within this report has followed the World Resources Institute (WRI) GHG Protocol principles of relevance, completeness, consistency, transparency and accuracy.
GHG guidance based on The Greenhouse Gas Protocol “Direct Fugitive Emissions from Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Fire Suppression, and Industrial Gases” November 2014, developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).