What is the carbon footprint?
The carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) generated by our individual actions and economic activities, directly or indirectly, whether they are those of a person or a company.
We all leave a carbon footprint in our wake. For example, the amount of natural gas or other fossil fuels we use to heat a home or office, or to run machinery in a factory, warehouse or transport vehicle.
This energy consumption generates emissions that are released into the atmosphere in the form of compounds such as methane (CH4) or carbon dioxide(CO2).
The greenhouse gases usually considered for calculating the ecological footprint are those established by the Kyoto Protocol (1997), which in addition to the two compounds mentioned above, considers gases such as nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorinated hydrocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.
What is the carbon footprint registry in Spain?
In 2011 the Ministry for Ecological Transition (MITECO) of the Government of Spain began calculating the carbon footprint of the Ministry itself and its buildings, breaking down emission sources such as fuel consumption of its vehicles, fuel used in buildings, air conditioning, electricity consumption, purchases for building maintenance, as well as execution of works, transportation and waste management.
Finally, in 2014, the national carbon footprint registry was created. (collected by Royal Decree 163/2014, of March 14), which allows to register the efforts of any Spanish company or organization in the calculation and reduction of its emissions, in addition to offering the possibility of offsetting part of its carbon footprint through reforestation projects that exist throughout the national territory.
All registered footprints must be accompanied by an emission reduction plan, which is previously reviewed before the company is included in the registry.
How is the carbon footprint calculated?
There are different methods for calculating the carbon footprint (UNE-ISO 14064, GHG Protocol, etc.). At ProCycla we help our clients to detect how much and where it is emitted and we support the calculation by certifying the carbon footprint of companies. We also draw up reduction plans that include the measures and points where action is needed to reduce emissions, and we quantify the estimate of these reductions.
To calculate the carbon footprint it is convenient to follow the following steps:
- Choose the year for the calculation
- Identify emitting sources and decide which areas to include
- Collecting consumption data (direct and indirect emissions)
- Multiplying activity data by emission factors
- Create a carbon footprint reduction plan.
Calculation of the water footprint
Water is one of the planet’s most precious natural resources. We all consume a certain amount every day and leave a water footprint, an environmental indicator that refers to the direct freshwater use of an individual, country or organization, as well as the water pollution associated with the goods and services we consume or produce.
Calculation of the water footprint is also very useful for assessing the sustainability of the primary sector, and is especially important in Spain, the second country in Europe in terms of water expenditure, with more than 2,400 cubic meters per inhabitant per year, and in which agriculture is the sector that consumes the most water in its production process.
Thus, when calculating the carbon footprint of a company or a product or service, the water footprint is usually also added, which should include the water consumption of the organization that manufactures the product or provides the service, plus that of all its suppliers. That is, the consumption of water throughout its life cycle, which can be divided into two types: potable and non-potable.
Some examples are water consumption for sanitary use, firefighting, garden irrigation, agricultural irrigation, to avoid dust suspension, and also water consumption in industrial processes.