Tracking greenhouse gases can save money and prepare for future regulation
Date Posted: 03/29/2021
Between the always increasing conversation around greenhouse gases (GHG) and the rapidly approaching March 31 deadline for federal GHG facility reporting, it seems impossible to ignore the topic. Today mandatory reporting at the federal level (many states also have reporting rules) applies only to large GHG emission sources, fuel and industrial gas suppliers, and carbon dioxide injection sites. However, that doesn’t mean smaller emitters and other industries couldn’t benefit from tracking and reducing GHG emissions. In fact, quite the opposite - beyond improving air quality, there are several reasons it makes sense for all businesses to evaluate their GHG profile.
First, it makes financial sense; GHG reductions often connect to decreased costs for electricity, fuel, packaging and other business expenses. Improving efficiencies and implementing GHG reduction efforts help the bottom line. Second, GHG accounting creates a positive reputation with shareholders, customers and community. As a result, accounting for real GHG reductions builds value and grows business. Last, proactively tracking GHG prepares a business for any future regulatory programs that could be developed. If current trends hold true, requirements to track and reduce GHG emissions will certainly continue to increase.
Once you choose to track GHG emissions, you will need to develop an approach that works for your business and can be consistently repeated. To do this, consider the following 4 steps:
- Choose which GHGs are relevant for your business to inventory. Create a policy that clearly outlines which GHG “scopes” you have the ability to reduce and therefore should track. GHGs are typically categorized into 3 groups; scope 1 emissions are direct from the business’ activities and vehicles, scope 2 are indirectly generated from purchased electricity and steam, and scope 3 are generated indirectly from the upstream and downstream activities associated with the business.
- Set a base year to use as the reference point for measuring GHG inventory data. A base year is key in setting meaningful reduction goals and reporting progress over time.
- Identify the GHG inventory data sources you will use. Scope 1 and 2 data is often taken from monthly utility bills, fuel purchase records, and runtime logs. Scope 3 data tends to come from a more diverse range of places. Finding and documenting where the data comes from will streamline the tracking process.
- Find a GHG emission calculator that coverts your source data into metric tons of CO2, this allows standardized emission tacking over a given period of time. Many GHG calculators are out there, some of the most widely used are tools in the EPA mandatory reporting program and through their Center for Corporate Climate Leadership.
Establishing a process to account for GHG emissions, empowers your organization. It puts you in the driver’s seat to find reductions that make business sense and it allows you to quickly respond when new regulatory GHG programs are created.
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