Unlocking sustainability with transparency

Illustration by Esther Punny

TalTech’s open-source GHG tool developed in collaboration with Avoin ry

Businesses are increasingly recognizing the importance of sustainability and the need to reduce their carbon footprint. While larger corporations often have the resources to invest in understanding and calculating their net impact, it’s equally vital for small and mid-sized companies to take meaningful steps toward emission calculation.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the Corporate GHG Calculator, an innovative tool that’s poised to revolutionize how companies of all sizes measure and mitigate their environmental impact. We’ll explore three key aspects of this calculator: transparency and open data, usability with an easy-to-use UX design, and the benefits it offers to small and mid-sized companies.

Shining a light on emissions – transparency and open data

When it comes to tackling greenhouse gas emissions, transparency is paramount. To shed light on the collaborative effort behind the GHG Corporate Greenhouse Gas Calculator, we spoke with Kimmo Lylykangas, an architect and professor at TalTech University in Estonia, where the tool was developed in partnership with Avoin ry. Kimmo’s background in sustainable construction planning and his passion for systemic issues made him the driving force behind this tool’s creation.

Kimmo emphasizes the need for greater transparency in greenhouse gas quantification, pointing out that traditional numeric models present real phenomena, not just the results, he explains. For instance, a carbon footprint figure of 286 may seem meaningless without knowing what’s causing the result. This lack of transparency can hinder informed decision-making.

The GHG.ee tool is designed to change this by offering transparency and open-source functionality. This transparency aligns with the principles set forth by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Users can access the code, ensuring the tool’s inner workings are visible and verifiable. The tool incorporates both Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and environmentally extended input-output methods into a single platform.

The tool allows for the emissions of most companies to be accounted for using financial data. To give an example, a company can input the number and duration of flights into the GHG.ee tool to estimate emissions. To reduce emissions, the company can replace unnecessary travel with online meetings, opt for direct flights, and compensate in other ways.

Utilizing the GHG.ee tool, companies can accurately calculate and transparently communicate the climate impact of their work in the information industry and digital product maintenance to customers and employees. The transparent and open tool is adaptable to various sectors, extending to manufacturing and the food industry. In the future, open calculations may also assess environmental, water, and social impacts comprehensively.

In an age when data is abundant but not always transparent, the GHG.ee calculator sets itself apart. It aims to provide reliable emission factors and data sets, fostering trust in its results. Kimmo and his team are committed to maintaining this transparency and providing free access to a database of emission factors.

Navigating the green path – easy-to-use UX design

Traditionally, emission factors and calculator logic were stored in Excel files or other human-readable formats, making data entry a manual and time-consuming task. However, this GHG.ee tool automates this process, transforming data that would typically require manual input into a streamlined, web-based format.

A standout feature of this calculator is its remarkable efficiency, explain Vera Onunda (TalTech) and Lara Jasim (Avoin) from the development team. Nothing is hard-coded. Instead, the tool allows even non-technical individuals to effortlessly update the numbers. This means that staying up-to-date with the latest data and emission factors is no longer a cumbersome task. The GHG.ee calculator streamlines quantification, ensuring accessibility to a wider audience through a visually appealing, user-friendly interface that offers clear step-by-step guidance.

The calculator also offers a login system with different levels of access. Users can add information, but administrators have the ability to configure the tool according to their specific needs. This behind-the-scenes configurability offers a level of transparency that is often missing in other tools. Many calculators keep their methodology hidden, leaving users in the dark about how their emissions are being calculated. In contrast, this tool provides a comprehensive list of emissions, empowering users with insights into every aspect of the process.

For small and mid-sized companies, this ease of use is a game-changer. It allows them to take meaningful steps towards sustainability without the need for specialized expertise or extensive resources. By providing user-friendly tools, the GHG.ee calculator ensures that sustainability isn’t reserved for the corporate giants—it’s an option for all.

Seizing the competitive edge – benefits for small and mid-size companies

Small and mid-sized companies may wonder why they should invest time in the GHG.ee tool. The answer lies in both necessity and opportunity. Kimmo explains that as larger corporations are compelled to account for their scope 3 emissions, they will demand similar transparency from their subcontractors.

This demand creates a competitive advantage for smaller companies that can provide emission data. In some cases, not having this data could mean being left out of lucrative contracts. Furthermore, as green financing gains traction, banks and financial institutions are keen to support environmentally responsible businesses. By quantifying and reducing their carbon footprint, smaller companies can access financing and new opportunities.

In the context of green financing, businesses are increasingly asked not only about their emissions but also about their sustainability actions. This transparency and accountability extend beyond just measuring emissions; companies must demonstrate their commitment to sustainable practices. Understanding a company’s net impact is a crucial first step.

To succeed in this changing landscape, small and mid-sized enterprises must adopt tools like the GHG.ee tool. Its user-friendly approach and comprehensive data collection capabilities ensure that even businesses with limited resources can participate in the sustainability revolution.

Conclusion: paving the way to a greener future

The GHG.ee tool is more than just a tool; it’s a catalyst for change. It champions transparency, offers an intuitive user experience, and provides small and mid-sized companies with a competitive edge in the growing field of sustainability.

As the world shifts towards a more eco-conscious future, businesses that embrace sustainability will thrive. With the GHG.ee calculator in their toolkit, companies can quantify their environmental impact themselves, make informed decisions, and contribute to a greener, more sustainable world.

In collaboration with visionaries like Kimmo Lylykangas and his team, and organizations like Avoin, the GHG Corporate Greenhouse Gas Calculator represents a significant step toward a more sustainable and transparent future for businesses of all sizes.

So, whether you’re a small startup or an established corporation, it’s time to calculate your carbon footprint, reduce your emissions, and pave the way to a brighter, greener future.

For the article, GHG.ee team members Joonas Nuutinen, Yhoan Garcia and Mervi Kemppainen were also interviewed.