For an organisation, the term carbon footprint or greenhouse gas inventory includes the carbon emissions and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated directly from the organisation’s activities or use of fuels, and also indirectly from the use of electricity and from the use and disposal of materials, products and services.
By measuring its carbon footprint or GHG inventory, the organisation can manage and reduce emissions over time, and also use it for disclosure to stakeholders or for marketing and corporate social responsibility (CSR) purposes.
After calculating the carbon footprint, it is then possible for the organisation to take active steps to manage the emissions. The organisation can:
- Set emissions reduction targets
- Identify opportunities for energy efficiency and reduction of emissions
- Take action to implement emissions reduction projects
- Monitor the performance of the projects and improve accordingly
The approach to an organisation’s carbon footprint usually involves five steps:
- Define a consistent methodology
- Specify the boundary and scope involved
- Obtain the emissions data and calculate the carbon footprint
- Verify the results with a third party
- Disclose the carbon footprint in a report and to stakeholders
If your organisation wishes to calculate your carbon footprint or GHG inventory, you can follow the GHG Protocol produced by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD):
The GHG Protocol Corporate Standard 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).
You can also follow the ISO 14064 from the International Organization for Standardization, which comprises three standards on specifications and guidance for the organisational and project levels, and for validation and verification. Read more about the standard here.
Carbon Footprint Calculators
Or you can use these online carbon footprint calculators to estimate your carbon emissions:
Some of the above websites provide carbon offsets to help your organisation become carbon neutral.
Carbon Disclosure Project
If you wish to study how companies disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, visit the Carbon Disclosure Project website:
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an independent not-for-profit organisation which holds the largest database of corporate climate change information in the world. The data is obtained from responses to CDP’s annual Information Requests, issued on behalf of institutional investors, purchasing organisations and government bodies. Since its formation in 2000, CDP has become the gold standard for carbon disclosure methodology and process, providing primary climate change data to the global market place.
An energy survey is a simple assessment of the energy use in your organisation and the aim is to identify and correct bad energy habits and practices. Start by forming a small team to conduct the energy survey, appointing an energy manager as the team leader and recruiting staff from different departments as team members.
The team will conduct the energy survey by taking a walk around the offices, building and facilities to observe what is happening on the ground, identify bad and wasteful energy use and habits, and identify opportunities for energy saving.
The survey should be conducted at different timings so as to find out the different energy usage throughout the day and at different periods. Surveys can be carried out:
- At a normal weekday during office hours
- At busy and peak hours
- At lunchtime
- After office hours
- During weekends
Use past and current utility bills, meter data, maintenance records and other energy information to help keep track of the energy usage in your organisation.
Here are some areas to take note of during the energy survey:
- Are office equipment left on standby after office hours and during weekends? Can we switch them off easily?
- Does the computers, printers, photocopiers and other equipment have built-in energy saving features? Are we using these features and do we know how to use them?
- Can we use software to switch equipment off after office hours?
- Are vending machines and water coolers left on at night? Can we use timers to switch them off after office hours?
- Are lights switched off in unoccupied areas or if there is sufficient daylight? Can we reduce unnecessary lighting?
- Can we use motion sensors for the stairs and carpark?
- Are lights switched off when no one is in the room or office? Who is responsible to switch off the lights after office hours?
- Are external and facade lighting switched off during the day? Can we adjust the timers to switch off the lighting earlier?
- Are light fittings arranged strategically and light switches labelled properly?
- Are we still using inefficient lighting? Can we change to energy efficient light bulbs and tubes?
Air-Conditioning and Ventilation
- Is the office too warm or cold? Can we adjust the air-conditioning temperature up to about 25 degree Celsius or at a comfortable high temperature?
- When is the air conditioning switched off and on during the day?
- Are the windows and doors open when the air-conditioning is on?
- Are the air-conditioning and ventilation system maintained and serviced regularly? Are the settings optimised and correct?
- Are there obstructions at air inlets and outlets?
- Do boilers, pumps, fans and other equipment have the correct and optimised settings?
- Are the equipment serviced and maintained regularly?
- Are the equipment misused by operators who are not trained properly?
- Are there any compressed air, refrigerant or steam leaks?
- Are there opportunities to tap waste heat from equipment and exhaust gases?
After the energy survey, look at the findings and decide what actions to take. Implement the no-cost or low-cost actions first, such as educating employees, changing habits and practices, proper maintenance of equipment, changing energy settings and removing unnecessary lighting.
Next, consider the higher-cost actions such as installing new energy efficient lighting and equipment, and using energy saving technologies.
Remember to keep the management and employees informed of the energy survey findings, actions taken and energy savings.
There are several funding and incentive schemes provided by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to help companies reduce their costs in engaging ESCOs or investing in energy saving equipment and technologies.
If companies lack the expertise to manage their energy consumption, they can engage an Energy Services Company (ESCO) to conduct an energy audit for their building or facility, identify energy saving measures and implement projects to reduce energy consumption.
The ESCOs provide a full analysis of the energy flows in and out of a facility, suggest improvements to facility design and operation, and provide financing and implementation of energy saving projects. In Singapore, the ESCOs are accredited under the Energy Services Companies (ESCOs) Accreditation Scheme by the Energy Sustainability Unit (ESU). A list of accredited ESCOs can be found at the ESU website.
Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme (EASe)
The NEA has a co-funding scheme called the Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme (EASe), to help companies in the manufacturing and building sectors engage accredited ESCOs to conduct energy audits and recommend energy saving measures.
Funding is provided up to 50% of the qualifying costs of engaging an ESCO and capped at $200,000 for a single facility or building over a five-year period. Visit the Energy Efficient Singapore website for details on the Energy Efficiency Improvement Assistance Scheme.
Grant for Energy Efficient Technologies (GREET)
The Grant for Energy Efficient Technologies (GREET) provides funding for the Singapore-registered owner or operator of existing or proposed industrial facilities to invest in energy efficient equipment or technologies.
Funding is provided up to 50% of the qualifying costs and capped at $2 million per project. Only projects with a payback of more than 3 years and up to 7 years are eligible for funding. Visit the Energy Efficient Singapore website for details on the Grant for Energy Efficient Technologies (GREET).
Accelerated Depreciation Tax Allowance
This tax allowance scheme encourages companies to replace old inefficient equipment and invest in energy saving equipment. The capital expenditure on the qualifying energy efficient equipment can be written off in one year instead of three. More info about the tax allowance is available here.
Design for Efficiency Scheme (DfE)
The Design for Efficiency Scheme (DfE) aims to encourage new facilities that are large consumers of energy to integrate energy and resource efficiency improvements into their development plans early in the design stage.
Funding is provided up to 80% of the qualifying costs or $600,000, whichever is lower.
With these funding schemes, your organisation would be able to reduce your costs in conducting energy audits and investing in energy saving equipment and technologies. Save money and energy at the same time!
Also check out the Singapore Guide to Government Funding and Incentives for the Environment.
Besides considering the direct energy usage by your business, you should also look at waste, water and transport management as these activities also contribute to carbon emissions. Find out how your business manages waste, water and transport in your daily operations, and take steps to reduce the impact of these activities.
Waste minimisation helps to conserve resources and reduce energy usage in the production, transportation, usage and disposal process. Visit the Zero Waste Singapore website to learn more about how you can Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Here are some tips:
- Design and Make Sustainable Products
- Eliminate the Excessive Use of Paper
- Conduct a Waste Audit
- Start Recycling at Work
The National Environment Agency (NEA) has published a Guidebook on Waste Minimisation for Industries to help companies reduce their waste and practise recycling. The guidebook contains information on how to conduct a waste audit, and also how to introduce a waste minimisation programme through tips and case studies.
Your organisation can also make use of the new 3R Fund by NEA to implement waste minimisation and recycling projects.
Energy is required for potable water and wastewater treatment and transport, so reducing the amount of water consumed and discharged will help to lower the energy needed.
Visit the following websites for tips to help your organisation conserve water and save money:
- Water Efficient Buildings programme by PUB
- The 10% Challenge by PUB
- Water Efficiency, Green Building Design Guide by BCA
Your organisation can also make use of the Water Efficiency Fund by PUB to explore efficient ways to manage your water consumption.
The organisation’s transport vehicles and the mode of commuting by employees contribute to carbon emissions. Here are some tips to help your organisation reduce transport emissions:
- Encourage or incentivise your employees to take public transport or carpool to work
- Arrange for company transport to ferry employees
- Use more videoconferencing to replace the need for business trips overseas
- Educate company drivers on good driving habits and maintenance of their vehicles
- Plan your transport needs to consolidate delivery orders and reduce delivery frequency
- Plan your driving journey to reduce driving time and distance
- Use more fuel efficient vehicles and green vehicles such as CNG vehicles, or use cleaner fuel such as biodiesel
Green IT or green computing usually refers to making the data centre and other IT system or equipment more energy efficient, and to reduce the environmental impacts associated with IT, such as recycling of computing equipment.
You can adopt the following Green IT practices on energy efficiency in your organisation’s data centre, energy efficient office equipment, energy saving tips and recycling of used electronic equipment.
Energy Efficiency in Data Centre
Your organisation’s data centre uses a substantial amount of energy for power and cooling purposes, especially as computing demand grows in your organisation. It is possible to reduce the energy consumption by optimising the data centre’s performance, efficiency and space through power and cooling analysis, virtualization, and using energy efficient servers. Consult your IT vendor on energy saving solutions for your data centre. You can also visit the Greener Computing website for more news and tips on Green IT.
Here are some Green IT vendors:
In the Sustainable Singapore blueprint report published in April 2009, one of the new initiatives by the government is to promote energy efficiency in data centres:
Data centres, server rooms and IT equipment account for a significant amount of energy use in buildings. The government will work with the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry to develop and promote the adoption of green data centre standards that will reduce the power consumption of IT systems. These standards will take into account the ongoing international efforts in this area as well as guidelines and best practices for data centre design, setup and operations. The public sector will also adopt green data centre practices and promote awareness of green data centre benefits among data centre operators in the public sector, develop training and certification programmes for the public and private sector data centre operators, and promote R&D in energy efficient data centres.
Check with the Energy Efficiency Programme Office on the incentives available for Green IT.
Energy Efficient Office Equipment
In Singapore, computers, printers and photocopiers are not included under the Energy Label scheme. So if you’re looking for energy efficient computing equipment, you can look for ENERGY STAR qualified equipment instead. The ENERGY STAR is a US labeling program to identify and promote energy efficient products. Find a suitable model from this wide range of ENERGY STAR products.
When buying new computers, choose laptops instead of desktops as a laptop uses less energy. If your organisation needs to buy desktops, choose those with flat panel LCD monitors instead of CRT monitors, as a LCD monitor is more energy efficient and lasts longer. Also remember to choose the right-sized monitor to meet the office’s needs. A bigger monitor uses more energy.
Energy Saving Tips
Remember to switch off all the computing equipment when leaving the office or when they are not in use, and don’t leave them on standby mode as the standby mode still consumes energy. Here’s what you can do:
- Connect different equipment to a power strip so that you only need to turn off one switch
- Use plugin timers to switch off equipment after office hours
- Use the power management mode on your computer to turn off the computer after some time of inactivity
- Use the free Auto Shutdown software to schedule Windows shut down
When the computing equipment is in use, here’s what you can do to reduce energy consumption:
- Set photocopiers, printers and other equipment on energy saving mode
- Reduce the brightness of the computers to cut energy consumption as the factory default setting may be brighter than necessary
- Disable the computer’s screen saver as the screen-saving mode uses more energy than in standby mode
- Use the power management mode on your computer and enable the energy saving features
- Use the free Edison software to optimise power settings
You can recycle your used electronic equipment such as computers and printers through your IT vendor who usually can take them back. If they don’t, check out this guide to electrical and electronic waste recycling at Zero Waste Singapore.
Image credit: jodax.