Ecochain's environmental impact

Just because we don’t sell physical goods doesn’t mean we don’t have an environmental impact. Here is our analysis for 2021, how we got to our number, and how we plan to improve it.

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Our carbon footprint 2021

Our carbon footprint in 2021 was 70 metric tons of CO₂ equivalent. Using our Carbon Translator, we can see that this is equivalent to the impact of 13.000 steaks, or the yearly emissions of 7,4 people (in the Netherlands).

Because few other software companies publish their impact, it is difficult for us to compare ourselves to others. 

Per employee, we have an impact of roughly 2 metric tons of CO₂. This is comparable to the impact per employee at the British bank HSBC, .

However, carbon footprints cannot be compared 1 to 1 without adhering to Product Category Rules (PCR) or well-defined standards.

Methodology

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

To calculate our carbon footprint, we performed a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of our company. An LCA calculates a full ‘environmental’ footprint. It consists of a wide spectrum of environmental impact category outcomes, that also includes carbon emissions expressed in kg CO₂-eq. We focus on our carbon footprint outcome, as this is our biggest impact category.

Our carbon footprint consists of three main drivers:

  • Our offices, office utilities, and hardware
  • Our Software-as-a-service (SaaS) related cloud-services and web-apps
  • Travel and commuting

Data sources

For the input data we relied on our spending and travel expenses, delivered by the Finance department, a survey for the usage of (public) transport, as most of our staff commutes by train or bike, and, for the usage of office utilities, estimations.

To model our data, we relied on the databases Ecoinvent 3.6, and Exiobase, which supplemented our data for cloud-related products.

We used the Environmental Footprint 3.0 method.

Software

We measured our carbon footprint in our own software, Ecochain Mobius. Technically, Ecochain Helix would be better suited for company footprints, but because we do not manufacture physical products and the model was fairly simple, we used Ecochain Mobius for this project.

The calculation was conducted by our Environmental Specialist Anna Kövér. 

Impact Hotspots

The analysis shows that the majority of our impact – 59% – stems from our workplace.

1. Computer usage

The by far biggest driver of impact here is the usage of computers at the office, and the linked electric usage, which alone accounts for 47% of our impact.

2. Server & SaaS usage

But also our server and SaaS usage isn’t negligible: They account for 25% of our CO₂ emissions.

3. Travel

Travel is the third big bucket of emissions, and accounts for 16% of emissions. However, cars account for the biggest impact within those 16% (56% of travel emissions come from car usage) – despite only a small minority commuting by car (no fingerpointing here! 😉 )

Limitations
During our analysis, we realized that the impact of server usage is still very hard to quantify. One of our goals is to get better insights into the server impact.

Conclusions and next steps

Overall, our environmental impact is of course lower than that of a business that produces goods (like most of our clients). However, we just started to analyse our own footprint – so improving over time needs to be our goal as well.

The areas that we are now looking at to improve is our energy efficiency, and energy use in the office. Concrete actions here are computer usage guidelines, reducing unnecessary trave, and switch to renewable energy (something we would have to discuss with ScaleHub, where we rent our offices).

This page will be updated with the current status of our efforts – to create accountability, but also to show best practices of how measuring, improving, and reporting on your impact can look like.

Offsetting 2021

Sumting - logo

We offset all our emissions for 2021 with Sumting.
Sumting is a results-based platform for environmental action, that provides real-life proof of the impact made with each contribution. As Ecochain, we are making a traceable net-positive impact on the environment through Sumting, and encourages other businesses to do the same.