Corporate Carbon Footprint: How to use it

Corporate Carbon Footprint: How to use it

What is a carbon footprint? Why is it important to do it? How to do a carbon footprint for your company?

Astrid Serre

Astrid Serre

Climate consultant

Update :

Don't have time to read? We've got a recap for you right below. 😊

  • A carbon footprint is the tool that will allow to measure the greenhouse gas emissions of a company over a period of one year.
  • The carbon footprint will become more and more essential due to regulatory changes.
  • It is a tool based on 3 perimeters of action: the company's direct emissions (e.g. fuel consumption), indirect emissions linked to energy consumption (e.g. electricity) and other indirect emissions (purchases, waste, etc.).
  • A carbon footprint is tailor-made and must correspond to your expectations and your CSR plan.
  • A carbon footprint can be a competitive advantage. In particular, it is increasingly requested in the context of calls for tender.
  • A carbon footprint can save money.
  • A carbon footprint is a first step to respect the planet.

Corporate Carbon Footprint: How to Use 📖

With global warming on the rise and new heat records being set almost every year, it is often said that it is essential for companies to reduce their CO2 emissions by adopting an appropriate CSR strategy. This will generally involve a carbon assessment carried out by an external party who will propose an action plan.

Want to know everything about the Carbon Footprint? We explain it all here! 👇 

The definition of carbon footprint 🍃

The carbon footprint or GHG footprint has been defined by the French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) as a tool that allows the evaluation of the quantity of greenhouse gases captured in the atmosphere on a given territory. This assessment will then be expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

The steps of a carbon assessment 🧐

There are two main stages in carrying out a GHG assessment. Firstly, the greenhouse gases to be accounted for must be defined, and then the scope of the action to be taken into account must be defined.

1/ The different types of gases in the carbon balance

The different types of gases that will be included in the calculation of a carbon footprint for a company are the following:

- Carbon dioxide: CO2

- Nitrous oxide: N2O

- Methane: CH4

- Sulphur hexafluoride: SF6

- Hydrofluorocarbons: HFVs

- Perfluorocarbons: PFCs

These different emissions will then be converted into CO2 in order to achieve a very simple formula: CO2 emissions = quantity consumed x emission factor.

An emission factor is the ratio between the quantity of greenhouse gases emitted by a product or material and the characteristic value of the object measured in CO2 (according to the unit that best corresponds to it, such as grams or kilograms of CO2).

2/ The 3 scopes of a carbon assessment

This is the most complex step of your carbon footprint. A scope designates a perimeter in which the greenhouse gas emissions of the organization or product will be analyzed. The scopes range from the most reduced with scope 1 to the most general with scope 3.

Scope1 or direct emissions

These are CO2 emissions that are directly linked to your company's activity, such as the consumption and use of fuels and all emissions from so-called fixed sources (your equipment, your buildings, etc.), non-energy processes and biomass. If your company has used oil during the manufacturing process of your product, these greenhouse gas emissions will be accounted for in this scope.

Scope2 or indirect emissions from energy consumption

This scope will take into account your greenhouse gas emissions which will be linked to the energy consumption during your production process whether in the form of heat or cold and electricity. 

Scope3 or other indirect emissions

When we talk about Scope 3, we are thinking of CO2 emissions that are not part of the production process of the product or service, but of other stages in its life cycle, such as manufacturing, transport, final use of the product by customers, and also its management when the product is at the end of its life (recycling, storage, etc.). For example, we can find your purchases of products and services, but also the business travel of your employees.
Scope 3 is the most "general" in terms of scope, and will often be the source of the largest quantity of greenhouse gases emitted by your company.


Ex: Carbon footprint of a company operating in the food industry


Your company's carbon footprint should therefore meet the following criteria:

- It must cover the first two Scopes, Scope 3 being optional to date.

- It should give you a detailed view of your company's greenhouse gas emissions.

- It must cover a maximum of greenhouse gas emissions to allow you to identify a maximum of reduction levers.

- It must succeed in implementing a long-term low-carbon strategy 

A carbon footprint, just to have a good conscience or competitive advantage?

Finally, after reading this article you may ask yourself "But why do a carbon footprint if I don't have to do it and at first sight it doesn't bring any return on investment? »

Well, because carbon footprint is proving to be an increasingly key competitive advantage, for the reasons described below:

Meet your customers' expectations

Having a company that respects its environment is an excellent way for it to stand out from its competitors and generate a positive image. Communicating about its CSR policy is an option to attract new customers, who are increasingly concerned about the ecological footprint of companies.

Attracting investors

We now find CSR labels that can be obtained in relation to the conduct of a good CSR project. Transparency with your investors is essential to have their confidence (nobody invests in a company that goes against global warming). Finally, an ambitious CSR strategy will also give you a competitive advantage over your competitors in the long term.

To reduce your energy consumption and optimize your costs

Carrying out a carbon footprint assessment helps you understand where you can make savings and consume less gas, electricity or heating. It can also help you optimise your transport costs!

For our planet

Indeed, if the consumption of fossil fuels is not reduced by 5% every year and we do not respect the Paris Agreement, the rise in temperature of the planet will be higher than 2°C and the consequences would be potentially dramatic: more and more climate refugees, animal species that would disappear.

Great! But how much does it cost? 💸

This question is so vast that we thought it deserved a little explanatory article 👇

Thanks to you if you have read this article to the end! It means we're not the only ones trying to do the right thing. 😏

Very nice day, low in carbon.

The Traace team

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