Climate change has occurred naturally throughout Earth's history, influenced by factors like orbital fluctuations, solar activity, volcanic eruptions, and ocean cycles. However, scientific evidence indicates that recent climate changes are primarily driven by human activities, specifically the release of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from burning fossil fuels, industrial processes, transportation, and consumption patterns are the major contributors. It is crucial for companies and nations to take action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and safeguarding the environment to prevent significant consequences for people, ecosystems, and future generations.
The environmental impact of a person, company, or product is measured using the carbon footprint. This footprint represents the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted, including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases, all expressed as CO2 equivalent (CO2e). Different greenhouse gases contribute to global warming differently, and the carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e - ton of carbon dioxide equivalent) allows you to compare the emissions of different gases on a common scale. For example, a ton of methane is equivalent to 28 tons of CO2.
Companies calculate their carbon footprint for various purposes, including raising awareness of their climate change impact, enhancing their corporate image and reputation, complying with legal regulations, and responding to social pressure. Being aware of and reducing the carbon footprint can drive technological innovations and the adoption of new solutions that contribute to CO2 emission reduction. Moreover, companies with a low carbon footprint can gain a competitive edge by attracting environmentally conscious customers and investors who favor sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions. Ultimately, these reasons foster ecological awareness and mitigate the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions.
How to calculate your carbon footprint ?
Calculating environmental impact is not easy because there are various methods to assess the life cycle of a product or organization and determine their carbon and environmental footprint. Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) is about going beyond the traditional product carbon footprint calculation scheme in which environmental impact is considered in the context of the place of production and the production process. LCT is about taking into account the fact that a product also has environmental, social and economic impacts throughout its life cycle right through to disposal.
In the article we will focus on the methodology of calculating the carbon footprint for a product. At the moment, there are two standards for calculating the carbon footprint of a product:
- ISO 14067:2018 Greenhouse gases - Carbon footprint of products - Requirements and guidelines for quantification
- Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard.
The GHG Protocol offers detailed guidelines and methods for calculating emissions, adapted to different sectors, is a much more universal method than ISO, widely accepted around the world and is used by many organizations, governments and other institutions. The GHG method consists in analyzing the entire product life cycle, dividing it into 4 ranges (upstream, energy emissions, direct emissions and downstream) and determining the CO2e equivalent of the produced. The amount of CO2e emitted for the same item can vary significantly depending on which country/region it was produced in, due to different sources of electricity and different levels of technological sophistication. All information can be obtained from free or paid databases available on the GHG Foundation website online.
Production and training processes related to the welding of steel structures also have a significant impact on global warming. During the construction of the structure, huge amounts of steel, fuel related to the transport of elements, technical gases (not necessarily neutral for the environment) and electricity are used. If this energy is generated by burning fossil fuels, it can lead to CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation processes. In addition, the training of novice welders is related to waste material that must be removed and disposed of.
To meet the needs and requirements of customers from the welder training industry, Dig in Vision allows you to learn welding in virtual reality, which reduces CO2e formation by 99%. Realistic representation of the behavior of the virtual weld and the joined material allows for professional learning of welding up to several dozen samples per hour without the need to purchase materials, technical gases, use energy, transport and disposal. Every mistake made in real welding is associated with the waste of material, i.e. unnecessary generation of greenhouse gases. The application allows you to learn from "free" mistakes in the case of a few kilogram basic samples as well as several tons sample personalized for customers.
The Dig in Vision application calculates the CO2e equivalent of the saved environment based on the GHG Protocol, taking into account the full life cycle of the product using the DEFRA databases. in the calculation of CO2e, the following components were taken into account:
- production and utilization of structural steel
- steel transport
- shielding gas consumption
- welding wire wear
Ready for a green revolution in your company?