4 of the Best Ways to Share Your Carbon Footprint Results

Enjoy this article from the SSC blog archives:

Once you've gone through the trouble of gathering all of your data and crunching the numbers, many companies get stuck on how to most effectively communicate their carbon footprint results. Should you do a press release? Put it on the company website? Participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Report process?

There are lots of ways to share the results of your carbon footprint. But before you jump into particular communication channels, it's essential to decide what aspects of the data you want to highlight. Here's our take on the four most critical elements to share:

1. Your absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

This is the total metric tons of CO2-e that your company is responsible for over a given time period (usually a year). Be sure to divide it up between Scope 1 (direct emissions -- like natural gas), Scope 2 (indirect emissions – like electricity), and Scope 3 (indirect emissions -- value chain activities such as employee commuting, business travel, and waste).

2. Your adjusted GHG emissions. 

Absolute emissions are important, but they lack context. You should also choose a relevant way to adjust for your company's specific operations. This might mean looking at carbon-per-employee, carbon-per-revenue, carbon-per-sales, or carbon-per-production-unit. 

3. Emissions over time. 

For both absolute and adjusted emissions, it's helpful to show a track record -- three years is considered the minimum, while five years or more is considered the “best practice.” (Of course, if you've just started calculating your annual carbon footprint, you won't have a 3-year track record yet!). By showing how your carbon profile changes over time, you'll give stakeholders an idea of your future trajectory.

4. Your carbon footprint story.

Don't just put up the numbers…explain them. What boundary did you draw around your footprint (e.g. what operations and activities were included)? Why are your numbers going up (or down)? How have changes to your business operations (like acquisitions, mergers, divestments, layoffs, expansions, etc.) affected your emissions profile? What are you expecting to see in the future? A few paragraphs of explanation will make a world of difference in your communications.

Once you have the pieces in place, what are the best vehicles for sharing your carbon footprint information? We've listed our favorite options below -- and we'd love to hear your opinions in the comments section!

  • Website -- great as an all-purpose communications vehicle, for internal and external stakeholders. Example: Nestle
  • Visual infographic -- more interesting than a simple chart (when done correctly). Example: Microsoft
  • Press release -- a traditional way to announce timely news and to drive readers to your website, your sustainability report, and other communications. Example: Green Century Funds
  • Employee all-hands meeting -- a personal touch can go a long way in generating enthusiasm and buy-in among all levels of staff. Example: Megamas Training Company 
  • Sustainability report -- the standard “best-practice” way to share not just your carbon footprint, but also other social and environmental performance. Example: Coca Cola (and note their disclosure about carbon recalculation at the bottom!) 
  • Social media – by making the dialogue related to carbon calculations more social, companies can take their disclosure to the next level. Example: SAP 

Find out how you can become a better sustainability leader in one of our latest blogs.

Do Sustainability Consultants Need to Blog?

We like to update the SSC website twice a week with blog posts, and these are some of the reasons why. Enjoy this post from the SSC archives:

Short Answer: YES! 

Read on for the long answer…

Last week we established the fact that every sustainability consultant needs to have a website. Let's take that thinking a step further and talk about adding a blog to that website. Here are three reasons why sustainability consultants should have a blog.

1. Blogging keeps your content fresh.

We did a survey last year that collected information on more than 75 sustainability consultancies in the United States. All of these companies had websites (and so we're sure that there are dozens more that haven't gotten around to creating a website yet). As we delved deeper, trying to identify the "real players" in the industry, we discovered that many of the websites were static. It was hard to tell if these were actively practicing sustainability consultants—or if they had thrown in the towel (as many did in 2010 and 2011) and just had another year or two on the domain before the website expired. Blogging is one of the easiest and fastest ways to continuously add information to your website—making it clear to prospective clients, partners, and colleagues that you are still in the game.

2. Blogging gives you a chance establish thought leadership.

It's pretty easy to throw up a sustainability consulting website—and a quick Google search will reveal that many of the sustainability consulting websites are using the same language and offering the same services (sustainability gap assessment, anyone?). It can be really hard to tell the differences between boutique consultancies—especially those that are relatively new and haven't put a lot of effort into developing their website. Blogging is a great way to quickly build out the breadth and depth of your sustainability services. It allows you to demonstrate that you are more than the bland service descriptions you provide. You have ideas! You have suggestions! You have great case studies! You have resources to share! All of this information can easily and effectively be disseminated via a blog—and it will keep people coming back for more.

3. Blogging allows you to express personality.

Other areas of your website may be pretty standard and straightforward, but a blog allows you to talk directly to your readers in a natural voice. You can be controversial, you can be funny, and you can be inspirational — just be authentic. Prospective clients and partners reading your blog can get a sense of what it will be like to work with you — and that can be incredibly helpful in advancing your business development goals.

Wondering what are some of the skills all sustainability consultants should have? Read more here.