How to measure your carbon footprint

A quick-start guide on using the GHG emissions inventory, which is part of The Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, developed by The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Institute.


Compile your information. Start with those fuel, electricity, heating and water bills.

Use the calculation tools and online training available on the website.

Understanding the data: 

“After you map it out, you’ll see hotspots. You may find your carbon emissions come from 12 sources but two of them account for 85 per cent. It will help you direct efforts,” says says David Photiadis, senior director at Delphi Group, a Canadian sustainability consulting firm when interviewed for an article on

Once you have a picture of your carbon footprint, you can benchmark against other companies to see where you are succeeding and how you can do better, says Photiadis. “Lessons from larger companies can be really valuable can be translated even if you’re different scale.”

Using the Scope system:

Developed as part of The GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, the Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions framework is a useful way to strategize and understand your emissions and your ability to influence change and make decisions. 

The Scopes encompass your entire value chain (all the business activities require to create a product). In the foodservice industry, that includes how ingredients are grown, transported and processed, the retail operation and the end consumer.

Here’s how the Scope system breaks down:

Scope 1: Emissions that you can directly control. Examples: gas boilers, fleet vehicles, lighting and refrigeration.

Scope 2: These are emissions related to your organization but are produced elsewhere. You have influence over these aspects, but not direct control. Examples: Electricity and fuel.

Scope 3: All the emissions that occur outside your Scope 1 and 2 emissions and include the Scope the 1 and 2 emissions of your suppliers.  “Your scope 1 is someone else’s scope 3 and vice versa,” says Photiadis. “These aspects are outside of your control, but you can influence them.” Most sustainability programs start by targeting Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

For more information see Measure up: understanding your carbon footprint.