EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership

Center for Corporate Climate Leadership GHG Inventory Guidance for Low Emitters

What is your carbon footprint?

For most low emitters — including office-based organizations, small businesses, and public institutions — the majority of their GHG emissions will come from their purchased electricity and vehicles. For others, especially small manufacturers, additional emissions will result from use of refrigerants, waste gases, or onsite combustion. An organization's carbon footprint has three components for purposes of developing a GHG inventory:

1. Direct emissions (known as Scope 1): from onsite combustion and mobile sources
2. Indirect emissions (Scope 2): from purchased electricity and steam
3. Optional emissions (Scope 3): Examples include product transport, employee business travel and employee commuting.

Below are three tools designed to help low emitters develop an organization-wide inventory and establish a plan to ensure GHG data consistency as they track progress towards reaching an emissions reduction goal.

Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator: Updated January 2017

  • Improved Guidance
    • Incorporating the GHG Protocol’s updated guidance on accounting for Scope 2 emissions, including guidance on accounting for green power purchases
    • Providing guidance for companies that rely on EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® to track energy and environmental data
  • Updated Emissions Factors
  • Other Updates and Format Changes for Ease-of-Use
    • Seamless coordination with EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, allowing direct input of certain data

Small Business and Low Emitter Guide to Greenhouse Gas Management coverStep 1: Select an operational or financial approach to define your organizational boundaries. The Small Business and Low Emitter Guide to Greenhouse Gas Management explains how to approach measuring GHG emissions, instructions for using the GHG Calculator and how to complete the Inventory Management Plan.

  • Glossary of Terms: further explanation of important terms when developing a GHG inventory.

Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator thumbnailStep 2: Calculate GHG emissions using the Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator. Additional guidance is available for measuring emissions from onsite combustion, purchased electricity, refrigeration, and air conditioning.

Simplified Inventory Management Plan coverStep 3: Document development of a GHG inventory to ensure consistency as your organization collects data each year to track progress toward reaching an emissions reduction goal using the  Simplified Inventory Management Plan Form(14 pp, 284 K, August 2010) .

What Do I Do Next?

  • Access additional programs to help your company reduce emissions.
  • See the Webinar Slides: Greenhouse Gas Management Resources for Small Businesses. To support small businesses and other low emitters in calculating their carbon footprint, this webinar covered the fundamentals of developing an organization wide greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory and how to ensure GHG data consistency over time to help track progress towards reaching emissions reduction goals.