We built the certification drawing on principles from similar standards and certifications around the world. Our aim is to provide a clear path with technically rigorous underpinnings. We provide you with resources and guidance throughout certification. The typical certification cycle begins in January and takes up to three months to complete.
Small Brands: 1-2 hours
Large Brands: 1-3 months (including data aggregation)
It all starts here: creating a solid estimate of the carbon emissions from making and delivering your products and services. Your footprint for certification includes Scopes 1, 2, and upstream Scope 3 emissions (per the Greenhouse Gas Protocol).
If measurement sounds overwhelming, expensive, and complex, don’t worry. We’ve simplified the process by creating our own software tool, the Brand Emissions Estimator: the “BEE.”
What are Scopes 1, 2, 3 emissions?
Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions represent the entirety of a carbon footprint from a company’s activities.
- Scope 1 are direct emissions that come from controlled facilities. This can include the fuel you burn in company vehicles, the natural gas you use to heat your office, or any direct emissions from owned manufacturing plants.
- Scope 2 are indirect emissions. This is mostly your purchased electricity.
- Scope 3 are indirect emissions from your supply chain – that means emissions released from extracting raw materials used for finished products, corporate business travel, employee commuting, shipping and transporting, and more. In most cases, Scope 3 makes up the majority of a company’s footprint.
What Scope 3 categories do you measure?
Our certification measures Scope 3 Categories 1-7 and 9. Check out our Standards document to learn more about footprint boundary requirements.
InTents is a tents company headquartered in Portland, Oregon, with most of its manufacturing based in China. The company had $80M in revenue in 2019.
The team hops into the BEE, and drops in its headquarters location (United States), annual spending ($50M), and spending broken down by product. The BEE provides the team with a high-level estimate of their carbon footprint of 67,145 tonnes of carbon equivalent.
The team then refines the estimate using operational data. This begins with a data aggregation step that requires the team to track down data on InTents’ operations. Then the InTents team can use the BEE to calculate their 2019 carbon footprint: 67,145 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).
Up to 2 weeks to complete and document your purchase
Once you’ve calculated last year’s emissions, it’s time to purchase carbon credits to remove them from the atmosphere. That’s how you become “neutral”: one carbon credit removes or avoids one tonne of carbon emissions. Projects like reforestation remove carbon from the atmosphere, while renewable energy avoids emissions from traditional fossil fuels.
What is a carbon credit?
How are carbon credits verified?
The market for carbon offsets has a strong system of third-party verification. Climate Neutral relies on this system, with a few of our own modifications to help us feel confident that we’re recognizing quality projects offsets that are generating creditsed using the most trustworthy and rigorous standards.
These are the offset standards that Climate Neutral allows:
- Verified Carbon Standard
- American Carbon Registry
- Gold Standard
- Clean Development Mechanism
- Climate Action Reserve
These groups set the bar for the market by laying out the process which ensures carbon credits meet the ‘big six’ requirements: real, permanent, quantifiable, verifiable, enforceable, and additional. Any project following the standards above must undergo a rigorous independent third-party verification in order to generate credits.
How much does it cost?
Offsetting your company’s entire carbon footprint is currently cheaper than you might think. A good estimate is that it will cost about 0.4% of your annual revenue. So if your revenue for 2020 is projected to be $100M, you can expect to pay about $400,000 to offset your emissions for the year.
What types of carbon credits can be used for the Climate Neutral certification?
To encourage strong and well-rounded portfolios, we developed a set of portfolio requirements for the types of credits that can allowed to be used in our certification. Certain projects, like forestry projects, can make up your entire portfolio, while others, such as energy efficiency, can only make up a portion of your portfolio. Other projects, such as large-scale hydropower, are prohibited because of the unintended consequences they can have on the environment. You can view the full set of eligible projects on page 5 of our Standards document. To make it easy, we've pulled together qualified offset projects into the Climate Neutral Offset Pool, ensuring your credits will count toward certification.
Since InTents’ carbon footprint for 2019 was 67,145 tonnes of carbon, the brand has to purchase at least 67,145 carbon credits to completely offset its footprint.
InTents purchased its credits through the Climate Neutral pool, which included:
- 33,573 credits for a forest conservation project in the Amazon.
- 20,143 credits for a water filtration project in India.
- 13,429 credits for a small-scale hydropower project in China.
The pool’s weighted average cost was $5.00 per credit, meaning InTents spent $335,725 to offset its entire footprint, in line with their cost estimate of 0.4% of annual revenues, which were $80M in 2019.
1 week to develop plan. 1+ years to implement.
We require all brands to develop and implement a reduction action plan (RAP) to chip away at their emissions over the next 12-24 months.
We’ve developed guides to help you determine where, and how, you can reduce your emissions. Our network of 140+ brands is also a great resource for crafting your reduction action plans.
What's a reduction plan?
Do we need quantitative reduction goals?
You do not need to quantify your reduction goals in tonnes of carbon, but we recommend it. For example, saying “We’ll switch our materials to recycled materials” is OK, but “We’ll switch 70% of our aluminum purchases to recycled aluminum” is a better goal. An even better option is to align with Science Based Targets, developing a target like “We’re committing to buying 100% green power in 2021, which will reduce our Scope 2 emissions by 22 tonnes of carbon.”
How are we held accountable for reductions?
You will be required to report on your reduction progress annually. Your progress is included on your brand profile page on our website.
After using the BEE to calculate their footprint, the InTents team noticed a large portion of their emissions were coming from purchased materials.
The BEE uses economic data to produce an estimate of your footprint, which is then refined with your actual operational data. InTents buys a lot of polyester material, aluminum, and packaging paper and cardboard. The team decided to switch 20% of their materials to recycled versions, which are far less carbon-intensive. Another big source of emissions was the amount of corporate air travel, so InTents will rely on video calls to cut down air travel by 20%.