Ecochain's Environmental Footprint

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.

Ecochain Icon

Our carbon footprint of 2021

Our carbon footprint in 2021 was 70 metric tons of CO₂ equivalent. Using our Carbon Translator, we 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.

How we Calculate our Footprint

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.

The calculation was conducted by our Environmental Specialist Anna Kövér. We used the Environmental Footprint 3.0 method.

Our carbon footprint has three main drivers:

  1. Our offices, office utilities, and hardware
  2. Our Software-as-a-service (SaaS) related cloud services and web-apps
  3. 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 commute by train or bike,
  • A survey 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.

Software

We measured our carbon footprint in our own software Ecochain Mobius. 

Technically, Ecochain Helix would be better suited for company footprints. Even though both our tools are tailored toward product footprints and companies who produce goods. However, as we do not manufacture physical products and the model was fairly simple, we used Ecochain Mobius for this project.

Our Impact Hotspots

59%

of our carbon footprint comes 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 finger pointing here! 😉 ).

Limitations
During our analysis, we realised 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 & Improvements

Overall, our carbon impact is of course significantly lower than that of a business that produces goods (like all our clients). As we just started to analyse our own footprint mid 2022 – our goal is to improve over time.

Improvements for the end of 2023:

 
1. Computer Usage: Reduce electricity consumption by 10%
We want to improve our energy efficiency and energy use in the office.  Concrete actions here are strict computer usage guidelines, providing new employees with energy-efficient laptops, and switch to renewable energy (something we are discussing with ScaleHub, where we rent our offices). 
 
2. Travel: Reduce travel impact by 20% 
We want to reduce unnecessary travel. Concrete actions here are promoting public transport use and carpooling towards the office, customer meetings, and events. 

3. Company culture:  Sustainable decision-making
For every decision we make – we take the environment into account. For example, the food we offer our employees is vegan/vegetarian. Plastic bottle use is a no. And our office furniture is mostly secondhand. 

Our Dilemma:

Transparency is crucial in sustainability. There is a dilemma we face in our footprint calculations: 
 
Our carbon footprint will most likely increase in our 2023 calculations over 2022. 
 
That’s because:
  • Our team grows rapidly. More people means more energy use, traveling, etc.
  •  As a result of our growth, we moved to a bigger office in 2022. Bigger office means more energy use.
  • Due to covid, most our employees worked from home in 2021. As we slowly leave covid behind us, employees increasingly work at the office again.
 
To ensure our reduction progress is visible, we measure our carbon footprint divided over our number of employees.

*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. We measure our carbon footprint annually. 

Offsetting 2021

Sumting - logo

Every year we offset all the emissions we haven’t reduced yet. 

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.