At Supercool we've been focused on reducing our negative impact on the planet for a while. It's one of the reasons we all started working from home in 2017, why we became a Climate Positive Workforce in 2021, and why we plant/protect trees all over the UK for every new website we launch.
Understanding our impact
I've just re-calculated Supercool's carbon footprint forecast for the coming year. It's something I do at least once a year; more if there's a significant change to the business that may alter our impact.
Why is it important to know our carbon footprint?
Because it helps
us to monitor the impact we’re having on
the environment. It means we can measure
progress, it pushes us to make improvements, and
means we know how much we need to off-set by in order to have a positive impact on the planet.
In the past, we’ve worked out our carbon footprint by adding some pretty basic data into a clever spreadsheet that calculated our ballpark estimate.
This year, we're getting more accurate …
Improved understanding of 'Goods & Services' data
As a service company, we don’t run any carbon-intensive manufacturing processes. As a remote team, we don't have a central office or daily commutes contributing to our carbon footprint.
So it's the Goods & Services we use that are the biggest contributors to our environmental impact.
‘Good & Services’ encompasses very varied stuff – from computer equipment to public transport, from hotel stays to cloud software, from website hosting to accountancy services.
Each one contributes wildly different levels of carbon emissions to our overall impact as a business.
For the past few years we’ve only been able to take a rough guess at the impact of all this – based purely on our total annual spend on Goods & Services.
This year, however, we’re using Ecologi Zero – a tool that allows us to match every single bank transaction to a specific industry. From that information, the tool works out each individual transaction's carbon impact based on detailed industry data.
So, we now have a more accurate picture of our carbon emissions through Goods & Services.
Why is this data helpful?
1) The more accurate our baseline, the better
It helps us monitor how effective (or not!) our actions are, and make adjustments accordingly. And we know how much we need to off-set by in order to have a positive impact on the planet.
2) It shows us the ‘biggest offenders’ in terms of our carbon footprint
Having a list of each supplier – and their carbon impact – is brilliant! We can now be very targeted in our efforts to reduce our combined negative impact, by focusing on the Good & Services that contribute the most towards our carbon emissions. This is stuff we didn't know before.
To calculate our overall carbon footprint then, I combined that Goods & Services data with other areas of the business – e.g. the team’s energy use – which was calculated in the same way as previous years. I then did the usual 'round it up, and add a bit'!
(I do this in an attempt to cover-off any inaccuracies and omissions. And to account for expected growth in client hosting as we launch more new websites throughout 2023. I'd rather we over-egg than under-estimate.)
Carbon Footprint Forecast 2023 🥁🥁🥁
Total carbon emissions per year: 30 tonnes
Emissions per person, per day: 10.5kg
For context, this is considered ‘low’ – verging on ‘very low’. Our Climate Positive Workforce impact alone amounts to carbon reductions of 108 tonnes every year. And on top of that, we're planting/protecting trees for every new website we launch.
Which is great – but this is an increase on our 2022 carbon footprint of 4 tonnes a year!
Not unexpected, as we’re a growing company. And we now have more accurate data to work from.
But it is pretty disheartening and worrying and frustrating and … uuurrgggh!
It highlights for me that supporting climate positive projects, and planting/protecting trees is just not enough. We need to continue working hard – and fast – to reduce our collective impact.
So, Supercool remains committed to:
- Investigating ways we can reduce our emissions – in our client work and how we run the business
- Encouraging (existing and potential) suppliers and partners to improve sustainability
- Publishing freely-available articles and resources to help our clients – and the wider sector – understand what they can do to reduce the environmental impact of digital tech
And we also remain committed to ‘fessing up to how we’re doing.
We'll never be perfect – but focusing on both our achievements and where we've not succeeded is super-useful for making the most meaningful progress.
We’ll be reviewing our sustainability goals in detail next month. After that, we'll publish how we’ve done with last year’s pledges – and reveal what actions we’ll be taking over the next 12 months.
In the meantime:
For tips, resources and links about reducing your digital carbon footprint – Supercool + Sustainability 🌳🧡