How to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint in 4 Easy Steps

Get started by establishing your baseline and follow our simple 4-step process to calculate your carbon footprint and uncover impactful swaps.

How to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint in 4 Easy Steps
Photo by Hello I'm Nik / Unsplash

Measuring your company's greenhouse gas emissions is essential to sustainable business practices.

Greenhouse gases are the main ingredient in global warming, so reducing them can help protect our environment.

Before you can identify WHAT you want to do, you'll need a baseline reading of where you are now.

Follow this 4-step process to help you calculate your carbon footprint and identify swaps.

Step 1: Collect data

Choose 12 months and collect data from each of your activities that release emissions.

You'll want to measure:

  • Electricity use: Total kilowatt-hours used from electricity bills.
  • Natural gas use: Total kilowatt-hours used from gas bills.
  • Water supply: Total water supplied in cubic metres from water bill.
  • Water treatment: Total water treated in cubic metres from water bill.
  • Fuel used in company-owned vehicles: Litres of fuel purchased from invoices and receipts (more accurate) or vehicle mileage from vehicle logbooks/odometers (less accurate).
  • Employee passenger travel: Employee receipts for details of travel and distance calculation websites to obtain a flight, rail, and road distances.
  • Waste disposal/recycling: Tonnes of waste-to-landfill and recycled from waste collection provider.

The more detailed your emissions data, the better.

The quality of your data will significantly impact how accurate and precise you can be when measuring emissions.

Recording them in an actual spreadsheet will allow you to easily track and update any changes over time - even if it's just one column per month!

You can compare your progress over time by using your first official measurement as the baseline.

As you go through this, be realistic. Direct emissions (e.g. your carbon footprint) are pretty straightforward. It may be trickier, however, to accurately account for indirect emissions (e.g. the carbon footprint of your suppliers) and waste - information on the quantity of waste produced and how it is disposed of.

Step 2: Convert the data

Next, calculate your greenhouse gas emissions by converting the data from Step 1 into an ‘emission factor.' The easiest way to do this is by using a Carbon Calculator.

We use and recommend SageEarth. This allows for easy conversion of activity measurements and gives a single number that can be used in calculating the total global warming impact.

Alternatively, you can use the conversion factor from DECC (Department of Energy & Climate Change) /DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs).

You can find annually updated emission factors here. See the UK Government Conversion Factors for greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting spreadsheet.

Step 3: Identify Swaps

With the knowledge of how much carbon your business generates today on a macro and micro level, start thinking differently and finding swaps.

Low-hanging fruit could include:

If you need inspiration, revisit the CNN Climate Quiz for a visual reminder of what behaviours make the most impact.

While you don't need to report your emissions, you may want to weave this into your small business story.

This will inspire more people to track and prove to your customers that you're serious about sustainability.

Step 4: Set SMART targets

Now you're ready to identify the MISSION CRITICAL changes you can make to reduce your carbon footprint the most.

Consider areas you can invest in to add value to customers, reduce costs and accelerate your adoption of a regenerative business model.

Set one-year, three-year, and five-year targets - you will use these as evidence in your Environmental Policy, Carbon Literacy Accreditation application, and grant funding business cases.


  • Specific - What do you want to reduce and why?
  • Measurable - How much do you want to reduce your footprint?
  • Achievable - How will you accomplish this goal?
  • Realistic - Is this feasible within the reality of your life, business, and resources?
  • Timely - When do you want to achieve this? What will you do over 12 months?

How to use your carbon footprint calculation

Once you’ve calculated your greenhouse gas emissions, use this data to reduce your emissions and save money.

You can set suitable targets achievable over five to 10 years that compare your emissions over time to the first year you have reliable data.

If you have the capacity, you can monitor emissions throughout the year and report monthly or quarterly.

You do not need to report your emissions legally, but you may want to disclose this information if you think it’ll benefit your business.

Working together during our programme co-working sessions, you will find inspiration on swaps you can make to reduce your carbon emissions.