Centre for Sustainability Accounting
Search | Home  
 About CenSA
 > People @ CenSA
 > Partners
 > Contact
 Scope 3 factors
 > Papers
 > Reports

Reports from the Centre for Sustainability Accounting  > go to

Reports on Sustainability Accounting from other Institutes  > go to

Carbon Footprint Analysis of UK Central Government
Defra released a major report documenting research undertaken by CenSA on scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions. CenSA's scope 3 input-output model was used to understand the complete supply chain impacts of all goods and services purchased by UK Central Government for the last 19 years. This report sets a high standard in carbon accounting and its universal adoption by Central Government demonstrates the robustness of the methodology and its unquestionable application to calculating scope 3 emissions. For the first time a detailed carbon footprint analysis of Central Government is presented for a 19-year time series (1990 to 2008). The report covers scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions of the six major greenhouse gases as outlined in the GHG Protocol. In 2008, the carbon footprint of central Government was 64.7 million tonnes of GHG and supply chain emissions were responsible for 77 per cent of this. Central Government accounts for six to seven per cent of the total UK carbon footprint. The report has been made available on the
Defra project website.
Defra Report
Defra Report

Frequently Asked Questions about Input-Output Analysis
This Special Report tries to answer some of the questions that have been posed repeatedly by practitioners and decision-makers who might have heard about IOA but are doubtful about its usefulness for environmental analysis. Triggered by the need to achieve consistency in carbon footprint standards, there has been much debate recently about the contributions that IOA can make to carbon footprint analysis. The answers in this Special Report are kept short and in plain language. A glossary of terms commonly used in carbon footprint and input-output analysis and suggested further reading are provided at the end.
Special Report
Special Report

Carbon Footprint of Northern Rail
A greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint has been calculated for Northern Rail, including both the direct GHG emissions generated by Northern Rail’s trains and premises and those that are generated elsewhere in the production of energy, infrastructure, goods or services purchased by Northern Rail (supply chain emissions). This joint CenSA/GHD report provides an analysis of the total GHG footprint, and has helped Northern Rail understand the structure of its footprint and develop improvement measures. With this analysis, Northern Rail meets its commitment to understand both the direct and indirect carbon emissions of the company, expressed in its Environmental Sustainability Strategy published in 2008.
Research Report 09/04
Research Report 09/04

Companies on the Scale - 2nd Edition
The second edition of our popular report "Companies on the Scale" is about comparing and benchmarking the sustainability performance of businesses based on a consistent accounting and reporting scheme using environmental input-output analysis and data from all three dimensions of sustainability. We introduce such a triple bottom line accounting framework and software tool and apply it in a case study of a small company in the UK. Results include absolute impacts and relative intensities of indicators and are put into perspective by a benchmark comparison with the economic sector to which the company belongs. Production layer decomposition and structural path analysis provide further valuable detail, identifying the amount and location of triple bottom line impacts in individual upstream supply chains. The concept of shared responsibility has been applied to avoid double-counting and non-comparability of results.
Research Report 09/03
Research Report 09/03

A Triple Bottom Line and Footprint Analysis of WWF-UK
A comprehensive Triple Bottom Line analysis of all operations of WWF-UK's headquarters in Godalming (Panda House) for the financial year 2007/08 was carried out by CenSA, using the Bottomline3 software. The analysis includes a quantification of Panda House's annual Ecological Footprint, carbon footprint, climate footprint and other economic, social and environmental indicators. In total, 30 indicators were analysed including a large number of air pollutants. The study provides a boundary-free analysis of all indicators, based on environmental input-output analysis, ensuring that the results are comprehensive, comparable and complete. About 97% of the carbon footprint and 95% of the Ecological Footprint come from indirect sources along WWF-UK's supply chain. Direct GHG emissions are low, reflecting good in-house management of energy. However, an increase in WWF-UK's expenditure on 'printing and publishing' between 2005 and 2007 has increased the impacts from 'paper products', 'forest footprint', and 'volatile organic compounds'.
Research Report 09/02
Research Report 09/02

Carbon and Climate Footprint of HIE 2007/08
This is the second assessment of the carbon footprint and climate footprint of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Expenditure data and on-site emissions for the Financial Year 2007/08 have been evaluated and compared to the previous year. Internal activities and external regional investment activities have been distinguished. The biggest contribution to HIE's internal carbon footprint comes from business travel. Emissions from flights have decreased from the previous year, but business travel by car has increased at the same time. HIE is performing very well in terms of their relative impact per £ spent. This is a result of the nature of the organisation’s business and the use of electricity from renewable sources. The combined footprint of all greenhouse gases triggered by HIE's regional investment activities is almost nine times higher than HIE's internal footprint and can mainly be attributed to miscellaneous manufacturing, fishing and agriculture. The results will help HIE to set up a Climate Change Action Plan, and an ongoing, quarterly monitoring of HIE's carbon footprint is being considered.
Research Report 09/01
Research Report 09/01

Ecological Footprint Analysis of Waverley Borough Council
This report provides an Ecological Footprint (EF) analysis of all operations of Waverley Borough Council for the financial year 2007/08. The total EF of Waverley Borough Council is calculated to be 2,853 global hectares (gha), of which 54% can be attributed to direct and indirect energy consumption. Under current supply, WBC’s main buildings receive their electricity from renewable energy sources reducing the EF from 131 gha to 13 gha. If all other buildings operated by WBC were also to switch to truly carbon free sources there would be a further large EF reduction of some 400 gha. The remaining 46% of the impact results from the consumption of all other goods and services. Such impacts are notoriously difficult to address and will require the implementation of a green procurement policy within WBC as well as collaboration with companies who supply such goods and services.
Research Report 08/03
Research Report 08/03

Carbon and Climate Footprint of HIE 2006/07
This report presents an analysis of the carbon footprint and climate footprint of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). Internal activities and external regional investment activities are distinguished by assessing expenditure for the financial year 2006/07 as well as on-site emissions. Archie Prentice, Sustainability and Environment Manager at HIE, said the report provided a comprehensive review of how Highlands and Islands Enterprise generated emissions: "Identifying the footprint generated by how we run the organisation, as well as the footprint of how we engage with customers is a pioneering approach that lets us see where to improve emissions performance of our operations and products".
Research Report 08/02
Research Report 08/02

The Scottish Parliament's Footprint
The carbon footprint and Ecological Footprint of the Scottish Parliament in the three areas energy, paper and waste was calculated for the financial years 2005/06 and 2006/07, as well as for targets set until 2008/09. A novel Hybrid Life-Cycle-Analysis approach has been employed which is described in the Methodology section of the report. The carbon footprint includes direct (on-site) as well as indirect (from suppliers and other sectors in the economy) emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The Ecological Footprint includes direct and indirect impacts for seven land types. This short report presents the footprint results for energy consumption (electricity and natural gas), paper consumption and waste.
Research Report 08/01
Research Report 08/01

A Comparative Carbon Footprint Analysis of On-Site Construction and an Off-Site Manufactured House
This report explores one of the key issues related to climate change: achieving low greenhouse gas emissions in the housing sector. The report provides an understanding of the carbon footprint from house building (the production of materials used in construction) and the direct energy requirements of housing. This is calculated for an average house in the UK. A scenario is presented that documents the future greenhouse gas emissions of the housing sector for both traditional construction techniques (on-site) and the "Off-Site Manufacturing" (OSM) of a house.
Research Report 07/04
Research Report 07/04

Companies on the Scale: Ecological Footprint of Businesses
Calculating the Ecological Footprint of a company ought to fulfil certain requirements. It has to take into account the direct Footprint impacts such as direct land appropriation and emissions from vehicles and premises. And it also must take account of indirect impacts that are embodied in all the purchases the company makes. As companies and individual (final) consumers are not at the same place in the life-cycle of production and consumption, different calculations and conversion factors have to be applied, otherwise there would be double-counting and non-comparability of Footprints. This report presents an extended input-output approach to calculate Footprints of companies that are truly comparable and discusses the implications for sustainable chain management and sector sustainability.
Research Report 07/03
Research Report 07/03

Unravelling the Impacts of Supply Chains
The research question of this report is "How can corporate sustainability performance be quantified and compared in practice, whilst taking into account the responsibility sharing nature of trading and avoiding double-counting of impacts?". The report a) describes the analytical approach to measure the indirect impacts of a comprehensive Triple Bottom Line account of a producing entity, b) presents a quantitative concept of shared responsibility as a solution to assigning responsibility to both producers and consumers, in a mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive way, and c) demonstrates practical applications in examples of quantification of indirect impacts, supply chain contributions and shared responsibility.
Research Report 07/02
Research Report 07/02

A definition of 'carbon footprint'
The term ‘carbon footprint’ has become very popular over the last few years and is now in widespread public use. With climate change high up on the political and corporate agenda, carbon footprint assessments are in strong demand. Despite its ubiquitous public use however, the scientific literature is surprisingly void of clarifications, let alone definitions of the term 'carbon footprint'. This report explores the apparent discrepancy between public and academic use of the term ‘carbon footprint’ and suggests a scientific definition based on commonly accepted accounting principles and modelling approaches. It addresses methodological questions such as system boundaries, completeness, comprehensiveness, units and robustness of the indicator.
Research Report 07/01
Research Report 07/01

  Reports on Sustainability Accounting from other Institutes

Pain-free Scope 3

Pain-free Scope 3 Carbon Accounting
This report presents a simple and useful approach for the screening of an organisation's scope 3 emissions. A full scope 3 analysis was carried out by using input-output analysis, covering 12 industrial sectors from the chemical, oil and gas, publishing and electronics industries. The method used in this work (input-output analysis and structural path analysis) allows a company to gain a broad understanding of complete upstream scope 3 emissions sources, providing the ability to prioritise or rank, in terms of their significance, the items that make up the complete footprint. This knowledge can inform decision makers about where to expend effort in gaining progressively greater accuracy for informed purchasing, investing, claiming carbon credits, and policy-making. The report is an input into GHG Protocol Technical Working Group discussions on sectoral value chain mapping of emissions by purchased categories.

Sound Carbon Accounting in Scotland Report

Sound Carbon Accounting in Scotland
This report informs about the GHG emissions released throughout the world during the production of goods and services consumed in Scotland. This form of consumer based GHG emission accounting has been prominently discussed under the notion of “carbon footprinting”. It is vital to consider this approach alongside the territorial emissions when looking at Scotland’s GHG emission trajectories. The carbon footprint in Scotland is increasingly driven by emissions from production processes abroad. Between 1995 and 2004, territorial emissions in Scotland reduced by 13%, while consumer emissions grew by 11% over the same time period. The difference between territorial emissions and consumer emissions grew from 10.6 Mt CO2e in 1995 to 28 Mt CO2e over this time period. Three key areas of consumption make up household carbon impacts: housing (33%), transport (26%) and food and drink (19%).

Carbon Footprint Performance of Key Sectors in South West England

Carbon Footprint Performance of Key Sectors in South West
This report investigates the resource productivity of five key economic sectors in the South West region of England. It was commissioned by SCPnet to inform the regional debate in the South West on Environmental Limits.The study is a first attempt to estimate the environmental pressures from five key economic sectors in the South West using the carbon footprint as a main indicator. Methane and nitrous oxide emissions were included for Hotels and Catering services, and Food and Drink production. The study identified potentials for improving resource efficiency in the chosen sectors, and also benchmarked the region’s sectors against their UK averages. Better on-site and supply chain management is a prerequisite for increasing resource efficiency; in turn, this can strengthen a region’s competitiveness. In addition, improved resource productivity can reduce the sectors’ carbon footprint.

Carbon Neutral study

Carbon neutral - sense and sensibility
Businesses offering to make you or your company carbon neutral are proliferating on the internet. The term carbon neutral is being defined by common usage. There are no standard ways of measuring your carbon emissions. This report examines eleven websites offering carbon neutrality. It compares online calculators, their results and the costs of offsetting calculated on the strength of those results. It traces two offset projects from the online carbon offset retailer to the actual project on the ground in order to compare the online rhetoric with the time consuming and difficult work of developing community based projects in Third World countries. The report offers a definition of carbon neutral based on the ways in which the term is being used. It also uncovers a range of issues for further discussion.

Norfolk study

Sustainable island businesses: a case study of Norfolk Island
The case studies from Norfolk Island presented in this work show that conservation, efficiency and reductions of the overall material metabolism of economic activity can be as effective as purely technologically-driven changes. The case studies demonstrate exceptional sustainability performance in terms of material flow, and greenhouse gas emissions. The income growth scenarios show that - from a sustainability point of view - increasing tourist yield rather than tourist numbers is preferable for coping with price hikes and a finite resource base, and is also more likely to keep within bounds the strain on the island’s people and infrastructure.

Bread study

Assessing the impacts of a loaf of bread
This paper provides detailed information about on-site and supply chain ‘costs’ of producing a loaf of bread, in terms of indicators across the social, economic and environmental bottom lines. Both on-site and supply-chain viewpoints help to tell a story. Both are necessary components of ‘the true cost of a loaf of bread’. But the real decision about what to do with this information ultimately rests with people. What an integrated sustainability analysis of bread can offer are metrics and results, underpinned by a transparent philosophy, that can lay bare the intricacies of an interdependent and infinite supply chain.

Sydney Water Footprint

Sydney Water and the Ecological Footprint
Sydney Water is Australia's largest water and wastewater service provider. Sydney Water has developed 29 ESD indicators to assist in identifying overall cumulative environmental and social impacts and is moving towards integrated ecological, social and financial reporting (triple-bottom-line reporting). Measuring performance against the ESD indicators assists the Corporation in assessing whether strategies and plans are effective and provides feedback to decision-making processes. A pilot Ecological Footprint calculation using input-output analysis was undertaken to establish its suitability of report combined progress towards sustainability. The results of the pilot Sydney Water Ecological Footprint were reported in the Corporation’s 2001 Towards Sustainability Report.

carbon accounting

Scope 3 emissions

Scope 3 accounting

supply chain accounting

carbon in the supply chain

carbon emissions

emissions accounting

environmental accounting

supply chain carbon emissions

scope 3 carbon emissions

greenhouse gas emissions

Integrated Sustainability Analysis

sustainability research

sustainability accounting


triple bottom line

corporate sustainability

sustainability reporting

corporate responsibility

Ecological Footprint

carbon footprint


sustainable companies


ISA consultancy

ISA consulting


The Centre for Sustainability Accounting is a limited company registered in England and Wales with company number 06548519.
Registered office: Innovation Centre, University of York, York Science Park, Innovation Way, Heslington, York, YO10 5DG
Copyright © 2011 - Centre for Sustainability Accounting, York, UK