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What is a business’s carbon footprint and how can it be reduced?

The carbon footprint of a business, SME, family or individual is marked by air travel, the plastic bags we use to when shopping or our imported meat and fruit consumption. How can it be measured and reduced?

In Spain alone, each household emits around 12 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. For this reason, we present some ways to reduce this footprint.

 

What is the carbon footprint?

The carbon footprint is the impact that we, as human beings, have on the environment. It is determined based on the greenhouse gases we generate. It is measured in units of CO2.

This concept directly or indirectly calculates greenhouse gas emissions. As a result of this, we can quantify people's impact and be aware of how to reduce costs and emissions.

The world of business has always been of greatest importance in the greenhouse gas effect and, for this reason, many prioritise sustainability and reduce the energy they use. This is due to the fact that businesspeople have become aware of the importance of managing sources of energy and the consequences that this may entail.

“A normal family emits around 12 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere per year.”

How to neutralise an SME's carbon footprint

At Endesa, with the partnership of Club de Excelencia en Sostenibilidad, we have produced a guide of good practices for managing CO2 in businesses.

A smooth transition towards decarbonisation can be achieved, averting new investments in fossil fuels and ensuring the security of supplies. Therefore, we intend to use electricity as a source of energy.

Spain has a strong European commitment to achieve a carbon-neutral economy before 2050. To achieve this, various rules have been applied in terms of public policies or business initiatives.

Committing to energies that guarantee greater sustainability enables their appropriate management by the businesses that use them, given that they thoroughly examine the impact of their carbon footprint and this enables them to reduce it.

The guidelines developed help to manage the opportunities and risks of the greenhouse effect, given that they cover the emissions of the business value chain. Thus, carbon becomes part of the decision-making process.

“Spain’s commitment to Europe is firm: a decarbonised economy before 2050.”

How to measure the carbon footprint

In order to be able to reduce the carbon footprint, adequate measurements need to be taken. These measurements need to be based on a good methodology, must define its scope, collect and analyse both direct and indirect data. As a result of this data, final reports and certifications will be prepared and, of course, an effective action plan can be established detailing the reduction targets via specific actions.

Some of the measures with which the footprint is to be reduced may entail changes in workers’ habits, reorganising spaces and adjusting to new efficiency measures and technologies.

 

Examples of measures that can be taken to reduce it:

Algunas empresas muy concienciadas se preocupan de abordar esta situación:

  • Ecological and forest restoration in degraded lands in the national geography is one of the best practices. This is carried out by Endesa.
  • Companies such as Seat have developed one of the most significant and largest photovoltaic plants in the world. They have managed to generate 17 million kW/h per year. This amount of energy is equivalent to that required for 20% of the production of its León model.
  • In turn, the building materials company CEMEX is committed to reducing its emissions by 25% over the coming year and developing more sustainable and energy-efficient construction solutions.

In addition to companies as significant as these, workers can contribute if the management of organisations implement, amongst them, the 3 'Rs': reuse, reduce and recycle. These precepts are basic, given that there are elements that we can undertake in a few minutes, but which will affect the planet for millions of years. It must be considered whether items can be used elsewhere before throwing them away.

Flights can be reduced and videoconferences can be encouraged, public transport and bicycles can be used instead of constantly using a private vehicle. If we need to change a vehicle, we can opt for one that generates fewer emissions.

In offices, the consumption of paper can be reduced, given that it is third largest greenhouse gas emitter. Mobile devices and cloud storage systems enable all documentation to be accessed at any time and place with an Internet connection, without having to print tonnes of paper.

Another appropriate action that can be carried out within businesses is changing their lighting and opting for ecological bulbs, which have the capacity of saving two thirds of the amount of energy consumed. We can also make sure that fluorescent bulbs have a low mercury content.

In short, the carbon footprint is everyone’s problem, but if companies commit to being sustainable, they will transmit that value to their customers and their impact will be reduced.

“Fewer trips and more videoconferences; less paper and more cloud storage.”
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