A Guide to Reducing Corporate Carbon Footprints

Manufacturing plant

Info article: 

Energy procurement and sustainability management

May 2nd, 2024

Organisations concerned with corporate sustainability are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of corporate carbon footprints, particularly if working towards carbon neutrality.

A corporate carbon footprint is the combined carbon emission output a business generates during commercial operations – it measures energy produced by factors such as heating, lighting and manufacturing.

Corporate Responsibility: significance and calculation of corporate carbon footprints

Reducing a corporate carbon footprint can help achieve sustainability goals, improve an organisation’s brand image and potentially reduce government-mandated penalties associated with high carbon emissions.

To calculate your corporate carbon footprint, you’ll need to record every business activity that generates carbon emissions – including elements like logistics or the production activities of your suppliers. Next, you’ll use an standard framework such as GHG Protocol or ISO 14064 to help you measure and report your greenhouse gas emissions.

The more accurate you are with the initial recording of each individual business activity, the more accurate your carbon footprint calculation will be.

Steps towards energy efficiency and a sustainable business

Once you’ve calculated your corporate carbon footprint, there are practical steps you can take to increase your business’ overall energy efficiency. Incorporating sustainability into everyday operations is an important step in a organisation’s journey a long-term carbon footprint reduction and can be achieved with small, but relevant changes.

Improving current energy efficiency measures  

Examining the sustainable management of your current energy efficiency measures could have a meaningful impact on your business’ carbon footprint. This could include improved on-site recycling, heating control and insulation of existing or future buildings, energy efficient appliances or even the visibility of environmental policies to employees.

Supplier considerations 

The carbon emission output of suppliers directly affects your own carbon footprint calculation, so consider ending partnerships with high carbon emission producers in favour of suppliers with a lower carbon footprint. Reducing your own carbon footprint in turn could make your business a more desirable supplier to organisations looking to reduce their own carbon footprints.

Logistics and business travel  

Carbon auditing the amount of carbon emissions generated on the road, air and sea can help you to reduce your carbon footprint while reducing logistics costs. Identify meetings that can be done remotely rather than in person, choose to work with suppliers that are more local to your business and reduce the amount of non-business-crucial flights taken for international partnerships.

Carbon reduction tech

A carbon audit of your organisation’s general business operations will go some way to helping reducing your corporate carbon footprint, but there are limitations. Introducing new energy efficient technologies to prevent carbon emissions on a larger scale can move your carbon reduction efforts up a gear, with new technological options becoming increasingly available as the industry continues to develop.

Renewable energy

According to BloombergNEF, corporate clean power buying grew 12% to  a new record in 2023 – this highlights a growing corporate awareness of the importance of energy origins and the switch to energy consumption from greener sources. While larger corporates could implement individual photovoltaic, wind or ground source heat pump generation technology on-site, smaller businesses may not have the resources or space to invest in new renewable energy generation. An alternative is to choose energy suppliers that generate energy from predominantly sustainable sources.


Lighting can be a huge drain on energy resource, particularly in office and manufacturing-led environments. Switching internal and external lighting for LED alternatives cost more at the outset, but costs will be recouped long-term - on average, an LED bulb lasts for 20 years and lighting timers in toilets and office areas could increase this lifetime even further. If you business model allows it, adjusting working hours in line with daylight saving hours so your employees are spending less working hours in the dark can go further to compound the energy savings you make from investing in new lighting technology.

Electric vehicles

If the success of your business relies on your fleet, then you could consider switching to more sustainable methods of transport. While opting for shared public transport such as trains and buses in the first instance might be suitable for certain journeys, travel to more remote areas might still require a car. The electrification of transport is constantly evolving, so aim to switch company cars and vans to electric or hybrid alternatives where possible.

Carbon markets

Less of a technology and more of a technical application platform to enable corporate carbon emissions reduction, carbon markets are trading platforms allowing companies to buy and sell carbon that has already been emitted. The biggest carbon trading application is the Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange based in China. To learn more about carbon markets, refer to the following section of this article ‘Engaging in Carbon Markets: How it can aid in footprint reduction’, or visit our dedicated article Carbon Markets 101: A Beginner's Comprehensive Guide.

Engaging in carbon markets: aiding in footprint reduction

Carbon markets are helping to bolster sustainability efforts within governments, businesses and organisations. One carbon credit represents one prevented metric tonne of carbon, which can be sequestered – or written off – from one producing company and purchased to contribute towards carbon reduction by another.

Businesses calculate the amount of carbon it can avoid or sequester using a carbon calculator. To avoid double-counting of carbon credits, once a credit has been sequestered the original company can no longer count it towards its own carbon reduction targets.

Benefits of engaging in carbon markets include:

Lowering your carbon footprint, as purchasing carbon credits offset an organisation’s overall carbon emissions target

Improve your current sustainability processes and introduce more long-term, sustainable methods into your business operations using the capital generated from sequestering carbon.

Play a wider role and help protect wetlands, forests, and rainforests through reforestation and promotion of biodiversity on a grassroots level with carbon offsets.

Voluntary markets or compliance markets?

Carbon trading is separated into two distinct carbon markets: compliance markets and voluntary. Which market a business will operate within depends on the amount of carbon emissions a business outputs.

Compliance markets: mandatory guidelines set by the government, compliance markets apply to governments and organisations that produce over a set amount of carbon emissions and compliance is legally required.

Voluntary markets: unlike compliance markets, compliance in voluntary markets is not a legal requirement. Businesses and organisations decide how much to reduce carbon emissions by and no penalties are imposed if these targets are not reached.

Burea Veritas: a case study of successful carbon footprint reduction

Burea Veritas, a world leader in inspection, testing and certification, reported itself a Carbon Neutral business in 2022 and 2023. It achieved this through a combination of different carbon reduction efforts.

Reducing time spent on the road

As a predominantly client-based consultancy business, the organisation identified their fleet as a key contributor to its carbon footprint, so took steps to prevent the amount of carbon emissions produced from the outset:

•  A focus on driving efficiency, including lower average speeds and smoother driving

•  Incentivised company-wide schemes to improve sustainable driving techniques, such as the voucher-led, internal competition ‘Fuel your Finances’

•  Reducing milage by 5% while still growing the overall business

•  Diversified its fleet with the introduction of electric and hybrid vehicles

•  Remote monitoring of on-site tasks through RealWear assisted reality

Energy-efficient technology on-site

To help reduce energy output from office-based locations, Burea Veritas implemented new technology and streamlined existing systems:

•  Traditional lighting was switched out for LED lighting in its regional office location

•  The overall efficiency of office-based air conditioning units was improved, achieving site-wide TM44 compliance

Offsetting via a carbon neutral project

Burea Veritas offset emissions to reduce its carbon footprint by offsetting with a nature-based organisation:

•  Offset operational emissions with the Woodland Fund™

•  The Woodland Fund™ operates a number of nature-based projects globally

So whether you are a sustainability manager, responsible for energy procurement or hold an interest in corporate social responsibility, it is clear there are a wide range of steps you can take to help reduce your business' carbon footprint.

See the latest changes in environmental markets