If businesses aren’t talking about COVID-19, they are discussing how to become carbon neutral.
To show their commitment to protecting the environment, companies are often claiming to be carbon neutral, but the issue is…where is the actual proof? Where is the credible framework to demonstrate that carbon verification?
Introducing ISO 14064…
ISO 14064 is a specification with guidance at the organisational level for the quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and their removals. So, essentially, ISO 14064 is a standard for an organisation of any type, size, quantity, or location globally to quantify its emissions of greenhouse gases, with the end product of this being the creation of a greenhouse gas inventory.
Where do you begin with ISO 14064?
In ISO 14064, the standard begins with defining the organisational boundaries and the reporting boundaries. So essentially what you’re covering in your greenhouse gas inventory and what the reporting boundaries are. So, this will include any exclusions as well that you decide to make.
An organisation embarking on its sustainability roadmap could carve out part of the business. So, for example by year one the UK operations, and then have a roadmap in place so that they include other locations and services as time goes on.
You’ll need to document your emission sources for each location. These are then divided up into scope one, scope two, and scope three sources.
Scope one relate to direct emissions. For example, stationary or mobile combustion, or anything your organisation burns directly.
Scope two relates to your purchased energy. This includes the electricity that you would use in the buildings that you own or lease.
Scope three emissions can be a bit more complicated. These emissions relate to your other indirect sources, upstream and downstream. For example, if you are a manufacturing company, the upstream emissions would be those associated with activities such as the delivery of your products to your manufacturing site or warehouse. This also includes the extraction of raw materials, the processing and packaging, along with the transportation and distribution of goods. The upstream emissions associated with a vehicle could include cargo shipping across the world. Once the goods get to your warehouse or plants, it would then go off to the customer; this is where you are looking at the downstream emissions.
The greenhouse gas inventory does split it up for you, so you don’t have to worry about memorising every single little part of the scopes! It is very useful in that aspect and it lays it out in a list for you.
What are the vertification options for ISO 14064?
If you do decide to go for a third-party verification from a certification board, the chances are that they’re going to ask you questions on why you decided to include and exclude certain aspects within your greenhouse gas inventories. For example, certain operations within your business or why you have made certain exclusions.
Another key element of producing greenhouse gas inventories is that you must use emission factors. These are how you quantify and convert, for example kilowatts, into tonnes of Co2 equivalent. So, the certification body may ask you why you’ve chosen to use a certain metric. That’s why it would always be a very good idea to document these choices, as you may be asked about them. So, in essence, this provides complete transparency on your carbon emissions across the organisation because you’ve justified the reason for including or excluding them.
What are the benefits of ISO 14064?
Because it’s an internationally recognised ISO standard, it provides a reliable and proven framework for quantifying your emissions. So as a result of this, this helps identify individual sources of emissions and enables you to identify the biggest source of emissions, energy usage, and vehicle usage. Therefore, you can use it to identify areas for improvement by setting targets. However, the result of going down this road is that once you’ve implemented those improvements, it can actually save you costs in many instances, for instance through lower energy usage.
Another benefit is that it helps demonstrate your public commitment to environmental protection. This is excellent for your corporate image and CSR. Combined with third-party verification, it really does help to demonstrate your commitment to environmental protection, and you’re not just pursuing this activity for greenwashing purposes.
It can also be a tendering requirement for a lot of new businesses as it can support a lot of governmental requirements. So, it can be a framework to help you support any mandatory reporting of emissions, such as the SECR (Streamline Energy and Carbon Reporting) and ESOS (Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme) which are requirements essentially based on quantifying emissions and energy usage. So, if you’ve implemented ISO 14064, you’ve (almost) already built that framework to help you with the data collection and data presentation that you’ll need for the SECR and ESOS reporting.
One thing which makes ISO 14064 very different from many other ISO standards is the fact that you don’t actually get certification to this standard. It’s classed as a verification, which has options for self-verification and third-party verification.
There are three main tiers to it, let’s find out what they are.
The first tier is the self-verification method, where you essentially pour over the data yourself and decide internally within your company that you’re happy to publish this publicly. Although, this is slightly less credible because your company is essentially verifying itself.
The second tier to that is a second-party verification, where you get an external body (such as Carbonology®) to go over the data and essentially audit you on it.
But what is generally regarded as the most credible is a third-party certification, the third tier. This would be done through a UKAS accredited certification body (such as BSI, or NQA). This method demonstrates confidence to all your stakeholders that the verification has been done properly because an independent third party has approved it.
Unlike certificates to management system standards like ISO 14001 (where they’re valid for three years). This is just valid for the period that you’ve actually defined within the scope. So, that could be a period of 12 months, then you would have to go through the re-verification process.
So that’s a basic run down of ISO 14064!
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