Why Measure Carbon?


October 25, 2013 - 00:00

This is a question I often run into when discussing sustainability with companies or individuals concerned with their environmental impact.

“We can just measure how much energy we save, or track how much waste we divert” is often one of their follow-up statements when discussing carbon management. They’re certainly not wrong – you absolutely can track those details… But why not measure the traditional environmental metrics, be it energy or waste diversion, and link it with something real – something we can understand.

At the end of the day, what does a savings of 100,000 kilowatt hours over the course of a year really mean? What is the actual benefit of diverting 3 tonnes of waste from your community’s landfill? Well… it’s good, right?

Of course it’s good, and I would say it’s even great. But that’s all we can conclude without attaching carbon to the traditional metrics we’ve become far too familiar with. Wouldn’t you rather know what the saving 100,000 kilowatt hours means relative to driving a car or heating your home? Wouldn’t you rather communicate to your clients and business partners the real reductions you’re making in a way that they can understand?

“The energy efficiency project at our headquarters in Halifax reduced our electricity demand by 100,000 kWh.”

“The energy efficiency project at our headquarters in Halifax reduced our electricity demand by 100,000 kWh. This reduction reduced our company’s carbon footprint by more than 70 tonnes of CO2-equivalents. That reduction is equal to taking 15 cars off the road for an entire year.”

Ask yourself what the more appealing statement is to your stakeholders.

Give these points some thought, and how they relate to your own sustainability plan. Maybe the question will quickly become, “why aren’t we measuring carbon?”

Feel free to continue the discussion on our LinkedIn Group, our Twitter feed or just send us an message if you’re not the social media type.


Liam Conway, Technical Analyst