Carbon Accounting

User-friendly, transparent and affordable carbon accounting software


So you’re interested in carbon accounting? The good news is you have come to the right place. But don’t just take our word for it, we want you to learn for yourself.
As a business, you have a few choices about how you manage your carbon accounting. So you can make an informed decision we want to tell you about what carbon accounting actually is. That way you can make up your own mind as to what makes sense for your business.


Carbon accounting


Carbon accounting is the term used to quantify greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human initiated activities that result in the release of greenhouse gasses. This may be from the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity, natural gas used to heat your home or office, the burning of fuel to power your car or the decomposition of your waste as it breaks down in landfill.
Carbon dioxide is the most prominent greenhouse gas released from human activities. Other common gasses include nitrous oxide and methane, which are considerably more potent in their warming potential than carbon dioxide but tend to be released in much smaller quantities. In order to account for the total greenhouse gas emissions from an activity, all gasses are converted into a carbon dioxide equivalent so there is a common currency to explain the warming potential of a particular activity. This conversion of all greenhouse gasses into a carbon dioxide equivalent simplifies things for carbon accounting, however it is accounting for much more than just carbon dioxide.


In order to account for the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) for a particular activity, an emission factor must be used and multiplied by the unit of consumption of the particular activity such as kilowatt hours (kWh’s) of electricity or megajoules (MJs) of natural gas. Emission factors vary from activity to activity, country-by-country and even state-by-state in Australia. The reason for this can be explained by considering the use of electricity. In Victoria our electricity is mostly generated from burning brown coal, the dirtiest of energy sources from a CO2-e perspective. Compare this to Tasmania which mostly uses hydro energy and therefore has a much smaller CO2-e impact from their use of electricity. To add an extra layer of complexity, these emission factors change year-on-year, and to reflect any changes in fuel mix used to create electricity in the state. If more renewable energy is used by the state the emissions of using electricity will decrease.


We need to remember that carbon accounting is not like financial accounting where you are calculating something tangible – money. When we calculate carbon we are accounting for gasses, something we cannot see or touch. Carbon accounting is an imperfect science which is built on a number of assumptions that attempt to make sense of, and quantify, an intangible product. There are different methodologies used by different countries of how a company accounts for the CO2-e of a particular activity.


Your options


Now that you have some background, let’s discuss some options for getting your business started with carbon accounting:


Option 1: Pay an expensive consultant to undertake a carbon audit on your business


Here’s how that story goes. Spend a lot of time gathering data and sending it to them with little to no explanation as to how it will be used, then receive a report that tells you your business emits 1,529 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year broken down into specific activities. Essentially you’re left with a number, but no understanding of how it was calculated, or how you’re to tackle the business of reducing it. Any changes you make are left unmeasured or go unnoticed until you pay the consultant to come back and do another audit.


Option 2. Train an employee in carbon accounting


Then…find a spreadsheet whiz in the office, start collating data from different people all over your business, reorganise the data by changing it into the appropriate units, source the correct emission factors for each input, ensure you are using the right calculation methodology; then hope like hell you don’t have issues with version control, data security or that your carbon accounting trained employee or spreadsheet wizard doesn’t leave the business, because you’ll need to start all over again. If all goes well you’ll find out you emit 1,529 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year. Then what next?


Option 3. Sign-up for Impact Sustainability’s cloud-based carbon accounting software package


The most user-friendly, affordable and transparent software available to businesses. Users from all over your business can input data in any unit into the web-based system. The system takes care of unit conversions, and manages the different methodologies across countries and yearly updates in emission factors. With a good system in place, carbon accounting becomes a means to an end. Not only do you learn your emissions are 1,529 tonnes CO2-e per year, you can learn about sustainable business practices and managing your business to reduce this number every year. And when you are ready, you can upgrade and look at measuring the social aspects of sustainability and having a more holistic sustainability approach that isn’t just limited to carbon accounting.


With our prices starting at $145 per month, we don’t believe environmental sustainability should be at the cost of economic sustainability.


The choice is yours.


If you’d like to learn more about our system, click here to visit the systems page or contact us to organise a time for a short demo.