Contribution Of Carbon Footprint Or Organizations Operations Environmental Sciences

Essay add: 14-11-2017, 14:42   /   Views: 2

The objective of this paper is to critically analyse the contribution of carbon footprint by the organizations operations by directly and indirectly. Followed by explores the reasons for the organizations to reduce in carbon foot print and options of renewable energy with consideration of feasibility and adaptability. The key findings on this paper are that it is essential to reduce carbon footprint for environment sustainability and recent threat on human safety. The extensive study is done to understand the topic on carbon footprint contribution, source and reduction by various technologies.

Wiedmann& Minx (2008) explores the definition of carbon footprint through an extensive brief literature review on both public and academic perspective. The final scientific definition asserts that measuring of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission which is caused by all necessary activities involved in development of the product/service directly or indirectly. Similarly Grubb & Ellis (2007) definition also remarks that carbon footprint carbon footprint is measure of amount CO2 in day to day operation by business organization.

The major hazard of CO2is climate change which is caused by thickening of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere layer. The climate change refers to the increase of temperature of 2°C and it is expected rise up to 4 % by year 2100.The primary source of this emission is due to burning of oil, gasoline, coal, deforestation and farming methods and natural deposits of carbon. The current study indicated that CO2 concentration level is 430ppm and it is rising 2 ppm per annum. The climate change also includes the sea level rise, floods, droughts, and Polar Regions. (Houstan , 2009).

The important source can be categorized into primary and secondary carbon footprint. Firstly, primary carbon foot print which includes all direct emission of CO2 due to burning of fossil fuels for purpose of transportation and generating energy for our daily purpose such as for lights, electricity and cars etc. for home and office. These primary carbon foot prints can be controllable by many means like driving less, using energy efficient appliances and buying local and so on. Secondly, secondary carbon footprint which includes all indirect emission of CO2 in the process of making product or service. It is the CO2 emission from life cycle of product and cause behalf of product life cycle like manufacturing or other activities associated with it for instance in material procurement, procure from domestic instead of overseas. This is referred to uncontrollable carbon footprint emission, for instance greenhouse gas emitted by generating energy for the transport the water, products with packing (Kenny & Gray, 2009).

In 1988, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created by the world metrological and United Nationals Environment Programme (UNEP). The IPCC will review the worldwide research, issues regular assessment reports and complies special reports and technical papers. IPCC plays important role in Kyoto Protocol an international treaty on climate change initialted with six countries European Union, china, Russia, India and japan which has been effectively measure enmission reduction targets for industrialized countries. In 2009 Copenhagen accord which is continuation of Kyoto protocol was drafted by the countries overcome the great challenge of temperature increase 2°C (Houstan , 2009). The IPCC research shows that 82% of gases in GHG is CO2 that too from fossil fuel combustion. Other gasses are relatively very less % compare to CO2.

The chosen organisation for this report is Global School of Technology and Management (GSTM). The GSTM organization is a small and medium enterprise (SME) school which conducts higher level education programs such as diploma, specialist diploma and advance diploma programmes. My current employment with this organisation motivates me to choose this company and analyse the carbon footprint contribution. The GSTM is situated in Bestway buildings and bestway building is the landlord of the commercial building where majority of tenants are operating education institutes. This report further focuses on GSTM carbon contributing directly and indirectly and critical activities influence carbon emission. Furthermore discusses on the suitable renewable resource for GSTM and recommendation for future practice.

Source of Carbon Footprint

The sources of carbon foot print are from various sector starting from individual human, companies, industries, organizations, product and agriculture. As an individual the contribution of carbon foot print is in our daily activities such as commuting, consuming electricity, transportation, food, temperature, leisure, drinks, heating, water, travelling, tour etc. The highest contribution of carbon foot print by individuals is from consuming electricity and transportation which is referred as primary carbon foot print (Controllable). The secondary are clothes, food, diet, personal product that is consumed by individual as fundamental needs which has less control on avoiding emission while its life cycle.

The most significant source of greenhouse emission is the heavy industries such as power plants, oil and petroleum industry, nuclear power plant, chemical plant etc. However other sectors of the economy including, corporate, companies, factories, restaurants, hotels, banks, retailers, manufacturers, logistics, construction industry and service sector are in second level of emitting carbon dioxide (GHG).

Wood & Dey (2009) study introduces the two phase on CO2 emission by above industries in two phases. The first phase is so called 'production approach' where by GHG is directly produced by the industries for their business. The second phase is so called 'consumption approach' where by embodied GHG emission by the industries such as life cycle GHG emission in the production of good or service for e.g. Electricity consumed in operating the particular plant which is regarded as the phase 2 CO2 emission. The comparison of GHG gas emission directly and indirectly is depicted in the figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Direct Carbon Emission % by the industry (Wood & Dey, 2009)

In worldwide CO2 emission is 77 % in total GHG gas. In 77% of emission of CO2, agriculture and manufacturing sector contributes directly and indirectly. The total 2006 the total emission of CO2 in atmosphere is 7.9 billion gigatones. The growth rate is annually more that 2.5 %.

GSTM organisation has less contribution of GHG on first phase that is in 'production approach'. Since GSTM is service based sector, carbon contribution is more on following factors of business process such as Operation, Student administration, Student support, student service, transportation and machine operation. The second phase of emission is 'consumption approach' which is the major contribution of GSTM. These includes electricity consumption, materials used and employees activities.

These industries business's total carbon foot print is made up in following areas:


The GSTM business activities which contributes carbon footprint are as follows:



Business travel

Company Owned vehicles & Deliveries (Anon., 2008 pp.8-9)


Building service is the major source of the CO2 emission in GSTM business activities. It contributes approximately over 50% of total emission with equivalent of approximately 3000 t/yr. The building activities compromises the electricity used to operate all mechanical and electrical services which include air-condition and its components, lightings, lifts, escalators, back up generators, heating oil, computers, servers, classroom projectors, classroom computer systems, electronic appliances, photocopier machines papers, inks, office stationeries to support day to day business. (Anon., 2008 pp.10).


This activity refers to the daily commuting by the employees of the organization. The commuting level depends on the different level of management hierarchy for instance, most of the top management and middle level staff use petrol cars to drive to work, followed by the low level management choices are motorcycle, train, bus. (Anon., 2008 pp.10). In GSTM, hundred over students and lecturers commuting to their everyday class and employees commuting to everyday work are major factors of GHG emission to the environment.

Business travel

Business travel contributes the second largest emission of CO2. The business travels are the key to business in terms of development, meet clients, globalization and training. As this activities requires a frequent business travels are contribution of CO2 by travelling in petrol car, taxi hiring, air travel, hotel stay, train travel and so on (Anon., 2008 pp.10). For GSTM business travel includes the university meeting, meeting with collaborative schools, visiting lecturers, academic meetings, management training, marketing activities and supplier travels on distribution of printed course materials and so on.

Company owned vehicles & deliveries

On other hand company owned transporting vehicles are also inclusive contribution of CO2 emission, the vehicles such as cars owned by company for personal transportation, van or truck used in material delivery and material procurement, company shuttle bus for employee transportation. Likewise the CO2 emission also due to deliveries from the suppliers or vendors in supply chain process in materials or products from source to destination. (Anon., 2008 pp.10)

The activities above mentioned are combination of controllable and uncontrollable carbon footprint. According to Wood & Dey (2009) suggested study it is combination production and consumption approach in CO2 emission.

Products and Services

As discussed earlier about the Wood & Dey (2009) claims that manufacturing sector of a product appears in both direct and indirect emission in CO2. It remarks the life cycle stage of product manufacturing in terms material chosen for manufacturing the product and its carbon emission rate compare to alternates. Conventionally the manufacturing process and plants utilized, supply chain process which involves third parties that is so called secondary foot print. Other associated factors for the products are energy consumption, transportation and waste. The figure 2 shows the flow diagram of product life cycle contribution of emission of CO2.This product life cycle in figure 2 can be related to GSTM organisation due to higher consumption paper materials in the business process such as several students forms, exam papers, course books, tutorial materials, management forms, student documents and other numerous documents use for operation.

Figure 2. Product (newspaper) life cycle (Anon., 2008 pp.12)

Figure 3. The % of carbon foot print for newspaper business activity (Anon., 2008 pp.13)

4.0 Need for business to reduce their carbon footprint4.1 Corporate social responsibility

The corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the organization responsible of its operation that has impacts towards people and environment (Lloyd, 2009). The organizations are making procurement choice based on CSR reputation and commitment. Work with suppliers and vendors who have same CSR commitment towards reducing carbon foot print. The organization will have a strategy to implement its corporate social responsibility principles or corporate green policy for sustainability. The objective of CSR is to minimise the impact of the business on the environment by reducing CO2 emission operation and energy consumption in its buildings (Anon, 2008, 02-05).

4.2 Environmentally sustainable & Climate Change

Houston (2009) in his book notes that the impact of climate change could be asked to dinosaurs if they weren't extinct if the giant asteroid didn't struck the earth 65 millions years ago, the climate change where spewing so much into the air that sunlight was greatly reduced, temperature plummeted, plant groth stopped and collapse of food chain were the effect. The organization understands the threat to the human beings and environment by climate change which results due to their business activities. The recent severe storms, floods, rise in temperature, seal level rise 10 to 20 cm in 20 h century and expected to increase upto 59 cm by 2100. Besides the business activities are making GHG gas blanket thicker by burning coal, oil and natural gasses as this changes are happening at unprecedented speed.

The decline of winter because of temperature increased upto 3 degrees since 1980s. for instance In the Russian Arctic, buildings are collapsing because permafrost under their foundations has melted (Houston .2009 pp 256- 258.)

The other reason for the business to reduce the carbon foot print is to maintain good public image about the company. Every established organization has the policy to operate on reducing the carbon footprint with complying and attain the award from the nation awarding bodies for instance BCA (Building construction authority) in Singapore have Green mark awards for the buildings. The organization will get better image in the market for development of business with clients and real estate development and building value. Similarly reducing carbon footprint will allows business to qualify for tax rebates and discounts, higher property value, most important is lower running cost, energy efficient buildings attract higher rents and capital values. Improving energy efficiency is a key strategy in making the world's energy system more economically and environmentally sustainable (Shah, 2007),

5.0 Renewable Energy

The necessity in use of renewable energy instead of non renewable energy is due to sustainability. The organisations must adapt to use renewable energy source from sun, wind, heat, water which can be renewed and change these elements into usable energy which organisations require. In order to change the natural renewable fuels to some form of energy the organisations requires technologies (DOE 2001). The renewable energy technologies options for the organization to reduce carbon foot prints are as follows

5.1 Solar Energy

Solar energy from sun to earth is plenty available that is about 2.8 and 6.2 kilowatt hour (kWh) per square meter each day. Solar energy also helps recycle the carbon, oxygen, water, and other chemicals we and other organisms need to stay alive and healthy. This direct input of solar energy also produces several forms of renewable energy: wind, falling and flowing water (hydropower), and biomass (solar energy converted to chemical energy stored in the chemical bonds of organic compounds in trees and other plants).The remaining, the portion we generate to supplement the solar input, is commercial energy sold in the marketplace. Most commercial energy comes from extracting and burning mineral resources obtained from the earth's crust, primarily nonrenewable fossil fuels (DOE 2001 pp. 4-5).

5.1.1 Passive Solar System

This technology is simple set up of using solar energy which does not require any PV cells, pumps, fans or any other mechanical devices in the buildings. The set up is that building façade (Glazing) should be south faced which allows the natural lights to the building. The floors materials should be brick or dark tiles which help to keep warm in winter. In summer, use of window overhung helps to block sunlight and brick floors keeps buildings space cool. For this technology double skin façade are recommended in use of passive solar energy as in figure 4 below.

Figure 4 Double Skin Façade (Houstan , 2009).

The main benefit of double skin facades over traditional ones is their ability to use the sun's ray. In between the two skins there is an area for vertical air circulation. There are different ways in which this air circulation space can be used, but in the simplest analysis, the circulation utilizes the stack effect to draw air into the building, so that the internal space within the building can be naturally ventilated. This means that there is no need for air conditioning or mechanical ventilation within the building which can reduce the servicing and energy costs associated with the use of the finished building. In winter time, the air stored between the glass skins is heated by the suns rays, thus improving both the heat-insulating functions of the facade and its thermal performance, as well as reducing heating costs. With the incorporation of photovoltaic glass, it is possible to utilize the sun's energy to reduce energy consumption and costs. These solar rays also heat the air stored in the corridor between the two glass skins.

5.1.2 Active Solar system

Active solar system is mainly used for heating and power. For this system pump, fan and other mechanical devices are used to generate the energy. The setup for this system is on the roof of the building usually solar collectors are installed where exposed to direct sun light. This energy form can be converted to electric power, heat and light using photovoltaic technology. The photovoltaic (PV) technology is use in two forms which is photovoltaic panels and photovoltaic concentrators. The different ways of using solar power in buildings as in figure 5 a & b below.

Figure 5 a & b: Active solar system (Houstan , 2009).

Solar energy and wind energy electricity, the implementation of solar and hydro energy electricity by the organization can replace the fossil fuel use and higher efficiency of scale and lower the cost.

Both passive and active solar energy system is easy to install but not economic. Besides have neutral carbon footprint and pollution free. Also minimal land disturbance as passive solar energy system is installed on building structure itself and active system is installed on the building rooftop. But building owners need to consider on the legal right when block of sunlight to adjacent building owners. Other concerns for the building owners is installing solar energy is expensive, maintenance, replace incase of deteriorate and poor aesthetic on building (Houstan , 2009)..

The solar energy can be used in the low rise building where consumes less energy such as water heating and lighting not used frequently.

5.2 Hydro Energy

Hydro electric power is another significant and largest source of renewable energy source. The electricity is drawn from dam on a river by retaining large volumes of water in the reservoirs. And then water is released through a turbine which generates the electric power (DOE 2001 pp. 2).

Hydropower is cheap to produce electricity but expensive to build. Dams supply water for irrigation, flooding can be highly reduced, useful for fishing and recreation; cropland will have advantages of having rich nutrient silts. But there would be enormous losses of water through evaporation due to stagnant of water. Other concerns are danger of collapses and flooding which affects cropland and people in vicinity (Houstan, 2009).

.5.3 Wind Energy

Wind energy is one form of renewable energy where uses windmill or wind turbines to generate electricity. The wind turbines are much more efficient that wind mills where turbines spin due to respective speed of wind and shaft which is connected to turbine hub that converts kinetic energy to electric energy.

As like other renewable energy solar and water, wind also free from nature and neutral carbon footprint on application. The other fact is that installing wind turbines only requires small plot of land and space can be utilized in underneath the tall turbines. There are different sizes of turbines available according to the businesses that use them. But some concerns on using this renewable energy are inconsistent of wind which cannot produce same amount of electricity at all time. Besides wind turbines are noisy and no possibility on installing in urban areas. Although neutral carbon footprint is running wind turbines but there are pollution on manufacturing these big turbines and equal amount of pollution caused during operation.

5.4 Biomass Energy

Biomass energy is second leading renewable resource after hydro energy. Biomass energy is taken from organic matters such as plants, woods, dead trees, and landfills etc. The organic matters are largely available from construction site waste and agriculture process residuals. This coal used to generate electricity greatly can be replaced by the biomass. The process so called Glasification which converts biomass into electricity. Other forms of biomass energy are Biofuels and Biobased products.

The organisations consumes energy are mainly produced from fossil fuels. These fossil fuels can be reduced by using biomass energy for producing electricity, heat and fuels which is largely consumes by organisations businesses process and activities. The recycle of waste into biomass into energy will reduce the space of landfill this also leads to spend money on foreign oil. But main concerns are additional works is required for harvesting methods in agriculture, demands for space in conversion project, inadequate of animal waste and pollution factors.

5.5 Other Renewable Sources

Other renewable resources available are Tidal Energy, Nuclear Energy, Heat pumps, Geothermal Energy, Ocean Energy, Energy from Waste, combined heat and power (CHP) and geothermal heat pumps (GHP).

6.0 Recommendations

Since GSTM is tenant of Bestway Building group where occupying two offices and 3 classrooms, the recommendation is more focused to the Bestway Building. From above discussed variety of renewable energy options, the suitable renewable resource for the Bestway Building premises is Solar Energy. The reason for this choice is due to Location of premises. Bestway Building is located in the center of the Singapore city where other renewable energy is not as feasible except solar energy. The availability of large roof top space and fall of direct sunlight this allows installing either passive or active solar energy system. At present Bestway Buildings every rest rooms are installed with motion sensor due to less occupant at night hours and day time there is adequate natural sun light for restrooms and corridors. So it is recommended to design separate electric power lines form solar power which is installed in building roof top to lightings where minimal use of lights in building such as restroom lights, Car park lights, store room and ramps.

Other renewable energies are not suitable like Hydro Power electricity and Wind energy because building is only six storeys beside no space for the plants. Biomass energy plant also not feasible since waste is less compare to other industries and limits of organic matters. Other suitable renewable energies are CHP and GHP where waste heat and power can be recycle and use for building operation. For e.g. Heat from air-condition chillers, air handler unit, Ducts, generators and etc. Geothermal heat pumps also one of the choices for the building but both CHP and GHP are not economic compare to solar energy.

Article name: Contribution Of Carbon Footprint Or Organizations Operations Environmental Sciences essay, research paper, dissertation