If you try to live or run your business sustainably, you may have heard of a carbon footprint. You may even be wondering how to reduce yours. But what is a carbon footprint exactly? Where does it come from? And how do you calculate it?
Understanding your carbon footprint, how to reduce it and what role electric vehicle (EV) charging stations can play in it can help you achieve your organization’s goals for sustainability. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for your future, and it happens to be good for your brand’s bottom line, too.
What Is a Carbon Footprint?
Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, produced by your daily activities. It’s typically measured in tons of gases produced annually and the average carbon footprint for a single person in the United States is 16 tons a year. It takes into account any travel by people in your household — from daily commutes by car to longer trips by plane — the size and energy efficiency of your house, the food you eat and the types of items you purchase.
For example, a family with two EVs, where both adults work from home and prefer “staycations” to long trips, would have a smaller carbon footprint than a family with two large SUVs who drives to Disneyland from Arizona annually and commutes 20 miles per day for work, round trip. Of course, these are extreme examples, but it’s easy to get the idea.
A carbon footprint is typically measured in tons of gases produced annually. Nature.org says the average carbon footprint for a single person in the United States is 16 tons a year.
Where Do Greenhouse Gases Come From?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analyzed greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S. in 2019 and found that 23% came from industries, 29% from transportation, 25% from electricity, 13% from commercial and residential buildings, and just 10% from agricultural activities.
When a company calculates its carbon footprint, it considers emissions from three categories:
Emissions produced on-site or by vehicles or power sources your company owns
Emissions from electricity you purchase
Emissions occurring as a result of your business but not from sources you own or control
For instance, carbon emissions created by your customers driving to your restaurant or retail store would fall into the third category, since customers wouldn’t drive to your establishment if it didn’t exist.
What Is Your Company’s Carbon Footprint?
Your business’s carbon footprint is the total greenhouse-gas emissions created as a result of your overall operations. As you can imagine, if the average person has a carbon footprint of 16 tons, this number is much larger for businesses. That means businesses and organizations can make the largest impact when it comes to reaching the president’s goals.
Like for an individual, your company’s carbon footprint takes into account:
It also factors in manufacturing methods and the gases produced by them, as well as transportation and shipping of goods and materials. It may factor in greenhouse gases produced by advertising methods (such as mass mailings or electronic billboards).
How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Through EV Use
Since vehicles that your company owns and uses can account for a large portion of your carbon footprint, switching to EVs for company use can make a substantial reduction in your overall carbon footprint.
Plus, the U.S. government is offering incentives in the form of tax credits for businesses that adopt EVs. You may also qualify for state and local incentives that can further reduce the cost of transitioning your fleet to EVs, which companies ranging from Amazon to Ikea are taking steps to do.
Own the Means To Charge Your EV Fleet
If you’re switching to EVs, it makes sense to install EV charging stations near your facility. Much like bus depots have their own gas stations, you can reduce fuel costs for your fleet by owning the means to produce and distribute that fuel. And when you’re implementing clean alternative energy — such as using solar energy to power your EV charging stations — you can reduce costs (and your carbon footprint) even further.
As with switching to EVs, you can earn tax incentives for installing EV charging stations, as well as for installing solar arrays to power those stations. If you’re looking to reduce your company’s tax liability along with your carbon footprint, EVs, EV charging stations and solar panels are three great ways to do so.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With an In-Demand Service
If you run a public-facing business, such as a multi-dwelling housing unit, retail operation, restaurant or hotel, you can reduce your carbon footprint by attracting eco-conscious customers and tenants to your business by installing EV charging stations. While the greenhouse gases that customers may emit to visit your business contribute only a fraction to your overall carbon footprint, reducing them by encouraging EV use can make a difference in the world’s overall carbon footprint.
Considering that 29% of greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S. come from transportation, any positive strides we can make to reduce the carbon footprint of both commercial and consumer vehicles can help stop climate change. There are also many additional benefits to installing EV charging stations at your business, including keeping people in your store or restaurant longer, attracting a higher quality of tenant and even serving as a revenue stream.
When you’re ready to get started, EV Connect can help with turnkey systems. Connect with us here.
The Nature Conservancy – Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks