Reducing the carbon footprint of a company isn’t meant to be a thoughtless task, and that’s why many businesses looking to reduce their emissions make it a point to first measure their carbon footprint in order to implement the best reduction strategies possible – with many of theses companies resorting to the use of a free carbon footprint calculator for business.
However, just like any trial version of an app or program, a free carbon footprint calculator for business is bound to have limitations on how effective it will be at calculating and educating businesses on their environmental impact.
👉 What are the limits of free carbon footprint calculators for businesses, and why is it worth the switch to the paid version of carbon footprint calculators for companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and elicit greater environmental change?
What is a carbon footprint calculator?
A carbon footprint calculator is an interactive tool, often found online, to help individuals and businesses alike figure out how large their carbon footprint is so that they can implement the measures necessary to reduce their environmental impact. For instance, a carbon footprint calculator can help to make a rough estimate of the emissions created by a car by dividing the mileage by the fuel efficiency, and after this number is multiplied by the emission factor of the fuel itself – it will result in a carbon dioxide estimate.
Carbon footprint calculators are used by businesses to help them reduce their carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, but many will remain unaware of where to start – and this is when companies will seek the assistance of a carbon footprint calculator. Many businesses will opt for a carbon footprint calculator over more intensive emission evaluations as they are user-friendly and can provide results within minutes.
Carbon footprint calculators will ask businesses or individuals questions about their activities that could create an environmental impact or excess emissions to provide the user with a rough estimate of their carbon footprint. This convenient tool allows companies and individuals who want to reduce their carbon footprint to have a starting point of knowledge. Carbon footprint calculators achieve this by revealing the estimated tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted by the individual or company each year, and share the intended targets needed to reduce emissions and mitigate global warming.
Think of a carbon footprint calculator like a student receiving their test scores back with corrections made so that students can learn and improve from their past mistakes. Carbon footprint calculators work in a similar manner, as they will provide businesses with a ballpark number on the amount of emissions they are producing so they can figure out the best place to start when setting emission reductions.
Are there different types of carbon footprint calculators?
What is a free carbon footprint calculator?
A free carbon footprint calculator, unsurprisingly according to its name, is a free version of a carbon footprint calculator that can usually be found online so that businesses can get an estimate of their carbon footprint free of charge. Therefore, one of the most enticing components to using a free carbon footprint calculator is that it does not cost the business additional money – unlike other carbon calculators or carbon accounting services.
Most often, businesses will make use of a free carbon footprint calculator online to help them discover their current rate of emissions instead of opting for paying for carbon accounting services to do a deep dive on their emissions. Examples of free carbon footprint calculators include the ones from Carbonfootprint.com and Footprintcalculator.org – both of which are short assessments that provide a rough estimate of someone’s carbon footprint.
Some of the questions commonly asked on free carbon footprint calculators for business include the frequency and type of transportation used by your employees, how large your office space is and the energy efficiency of the appliances inside the building, and the types of materials most often used.
Free carbon footprint calculators are convenient for individuals, as they can help people discover where they emit the most carbon dioxide in their daily lives – but not so much for businesses.
What are the limits to using a free carbon footprint calculator for business?
Accuracy is pivotal for businesses seeking to reduce their emissions, as being effective in implementing an emission reduction strategy will require precise details to be successful in reducing emissions. For instance, a free carbon footprint calculator may make an individual user aware of the carbon footprint they create each year due to travel – and make suggestions to either offset the emissions created from flying or suggest switching to public transport. A business, on the other hand, will not necessarily benefit from a ballpark estimate of their largest emissions – as the suggestions made on free carbon footprint calculators for business will be too vague to elicit productive change.
Think of free carbon footprint calculators for business as a trial version of an app or program, such as a program for photo editing software. The trial version will allow users to access a fraction of what the entire program has to offer free-of-charge, but refrain from sharing the best features available such as precise photoshop or special filters that can only be accessed once the user chooses to subscribe to the full program. The same goes for companies that opt to use a free carbon footprint calculator for business, and while the individual or business will be given an idea of their overall carbon footprint – it won’t provide them with the full-scope or breakdown of their carbon footprint, which is essential for companies serious about reducing their emissions.
For instance, companies that are told to reduce their carbon footprint from emissions created due to their delivery trucks aren't specific enough to guide a company towards what needs to be done to reduce their carbon footprint over time. In the same way a student may receive a corrected test back to improve their grade on the next one, a free carbon footprint calculator for business may not provide companies with the detail or incentive they need to implement the necessary changes.
Companies looking to drastically reduce their carbon footprint and meet their emission reduction goals should opt to upgrade from a free carbon footprint calculator for business.
Are there benefits to upgrading from a free carbon footprint calculator for business?
Similar to the manner in which some people use a trial period of an app or program and see no substantial reason to upgrade, some businesses may be fine making use of the free carbon footprint calculators available for companies to measure their carbon footprints. However, in the same way that a professional music producer or photographer may want to upgrade to better music production or photo editing software – businesses looking to reduce their emissions to the most effective extent possible will want to use more than just a free carbon footprint calculator for business.
For instance, companies that upgrade to more prestigious or paid carbon footprint calculators will be able to be asked more in-depth questions about their industrial activities contributing to excessive emissions, allowing for more precise calculations that can better encourage companies to implement more stringent emissions reduction measures. For example, a free carbon footprint calculator for business may ask how many business flights are taken annually – whereas an upgraded carbon footprint calculator would ask how many miles were traveled, hours flown, and the mitigation measures that were taken following these flights.
However, shelling out hard-earned dollars to pay for an upgrade from a free carbon footprint calculator for business still might not be the most worthwhile purchase for companies seeking to reduce their emissions. Ultimately, companies serious about aligning their business models to adhere to the measures necessary in the midst against climate change should seek the assistance of a carbon accounting company.
Making the leap from the use of a free carbon footprint calculator for business to joining forces with a carbon accounting company allows for an in-depth analysis of a company’s carbon footprint and scope emissions – many of which are infamously difficult to measure and keep track of alone, such as scope 3 emissions which occur outside of a company.
In addition, companies working with carbon accounting platforms can be guided in how to reduce their emissions – which will ultimately be more effective in the fight against climate change.
Just because a company opts to use a free carbon footprint calculator for business to discover their carbon footprint, doesn’t mean they will develop the actions necessary to reduce their emissions.
Carbon accounting platforms can make it easier for companies to excel in their climate journey. For example, carbon accounting platforms can help companies to gather various data that would be difficult to retrieve alone – such as sending out questionnaires to the company’s suppliers to better understand the emissions created by their supply chain. However, companies should only commit to working with carbon accounting softwares when they are ready to take responsibility and express complete transparency regarding their environmental activities moving forward – or else the endeavor will not be effective.
What should be the main goal of using a free carbon footprint calculator for business?
Seeking to use a free carbon footprint calculator for business isn’t a moot point, but it depends where a company is in their climate journey. In fact, if a company has done nothing so far in taking baby steps towards the transition towards sustainability or reducing emissions – a free carbon footprint calculator for business is the perfect place to start.
This is because a free carbon footprint calculator for business acts more like a stepping stone than anything else. The journey in reducing emissions and making the first effort to align a business with the values necessary to fight against climate change is like riding a tricycle – where companies should ultimately plan on eventually removing the training wheels. However, it’s much more difficult to ride a bike without taking up a tricycle first – and that’s the extent that a free carbon footprint calculator for business should continue to be used.
What about Greenly?
If reading this article on the limitations of a free carbon footprint calculator for business has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!
In this article, we'll explore the insights from the Greenly Scientific Council's Annual Review on carbon accounting, sustainability, and ESG strategies, highlighting the evolving trends and practices in sustainable business.