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Company Footprint Image

Our 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 2022, how we got to our number, and how we plan to improve it.

Ecochain Company Footprint 2022

Our carbon footprint in 2022 was 36.1 metric tons of CO₂ equivalent. Using our Carbon Translator, we see that this is equivalent to the impact of 6685.2 steaks. Or the 21.9 flights from New York City to Amsterdam.

Last year, our greatest contribution to our company footprint was our SaaS emissions and that led us to choose for AWS Frankfurt branch specifically because they use 100% renewable energy. Compared to last year, we have reduced 33.9 metric tons of CO₂ equivalent.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

To calculate our carbon footprint, we conducted a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of our company. An LCA provides a comprehensive measure of our environmental impact. It encompasses various environmental impact categories, including carbon emissions measured in kg CO₂-eq. Our main focus is on our carbon footprint, as it represents our largest impact category. When calculating the carbon footprint, we only consider new purchases of capital goods made during the year.

It is important to note that the waste generated by the company is not taken into account. Additionally, the calculation assumes that there are 52 weeks in a year, with 5 weeks of holidays. The calculation was carried out by one of our environmental specialists.

Our carbon footprint has three main drivers:

  • Local train commute
  • Flights for remote workers
  • Office heating

Data sources
For the input data we relied on:

  • A survey for the usage of office utilities, estimations change to first-hand data provided by the building owner regarding electricity usage and gas usage for heating,
  • 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.

To model our data, we relied on the databases Ecoinvent 3.8 and a report from AWS.

Software
We measured our carbon footprint in our 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

71% of our carbon footprint comes from our workplace.

  • Commute: 33.2%
  • Flights for remote workers (around 3 times per year): 25.1%
  • Office heating: 13.4%

Limitations

Since we were unable to find information on the kWh usage of our SaaS, we had to use an alternative approach based on an AWS-commissioned report. By analyzing the energy savings achieved in Europe through the use of AWS, we were able to determine the annual kWh consumption. In 2022, AWS reported a saving of 1.289 MT of CO2 eq. The German country profile in the report was particularly relevant to our calculations, as we specifically chose the Frankfurt brand for its 100% renewable energy advantage over other locations. According to the report, using AWS results in a reduction of 1401 MT of CO2 eq. GHG/MW/year compared to the average European data center. To isolate the MW value from these figures, we divide the 1.289 MT of CO2 eq. by 1401 MT of CO2 eq. GHG/MW/year, resulting in 0.000743 MW. Converting this to kWh, we obtain 6511.9 kWh. This value is then compared to the average EU renewable energy reference on Ecoinvent.

Conclusions & Improvements

Overall, our carbon impact is of course significantly lower than that of a business that produces goods (like all our clients). This year, we have reduced 33.9 metric tons of CO₂ equivalent compared to last year. This is mainly due to the migration of our servers to AWS Frankfurt, which uses 100% renewable energy.

Improvements for the end of 2023:

  • Promote remote work for 50% of the time.
  • Encourage commuting to the office using public transport or bicycles. We offer a bike leasing program from Swapfiets and a standard Free Rail Travel Card.
  • Utilize electric vehicles for other commuting needs.
  • Actively discourage travel to customers or partners, both nationally and internationally, and communicate this as our preferred way of working.
  • If travel is necessary, prioritize the use of electric vehicles or trains, even if it takes longer, and offset our emissions if possible.
  • Avoid purchasing new devices or furniture whenever possible. Instead, focus on repairing or buying second-hand items.
  • Team lunches or dinners will always be vegan.
  • Count on waste generated in the company.

Our Dilemma:

Transparency is crucial in sustainability. There is a dilemma we face in our footprint calculations:

Commute contributes the most to emissions, but we already have a 50% office attendance policy in place. When it comes to remote employees, we only fly them in if they cannot travel by train two to three times a year. Therefore, we must accept these emissions, as having physical contact contributes to our company culture.

Additionally, as we scale up, we will have more employees and business functions to attend to. To improve the quality of office life for our employees, we want to increase the number of days we provide in-office catering. This will require a higher amount of resources. However, we see this as necessary in order to maintain our warm and open office culture, which relies on the physical aspect of office life.

*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.

Giving back to nature & society

We take responsibility for our environmental impacts by applying internal carbon pricing.

This means charging ourselves for the societal cost of a ton of CO2, per the highest benchmarks calculated by the OECD.

With this mechanism, we’re not just giving ourselves an extra incentive to reduce and prevent, we also establish a budget to give back to nature and society at large.

We offset all our emissions with Sumthing. Sumthing is a social enterprise with the goal to restore more nature than is lost every year. With their digital platform, they’re working on nature’s comeback story. With just a few clicks you can help restore nature by contributing to a curated set of projects, and following the progress first-hand with technology such as photos, video, GPS coordinates, and even satellite images. This allows you to see how you make a real difference.

Restore Coral Reefs – Coral Gardeners

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