Explainer: How superseding conversion factors with primary data vastly improves emissions reporting accuracy & value to business.

by the Spherics Team
by
Conrad Langridge
16
May
2022

Current industry best practice

The current best practice for calculating emissions has high accuracy for scope 1 and 2 calculations. Businesses tend to have the primary data they need for these calculations, making them more accurate. With this high accuracy, businesses can easily make decisions to reduce their carbon impact. 

In contrast, scope 3 emissions calculations are almost exclusively calculated using conversion factors (secondary data). This is by no means a bad starting point, as it can highlight emissions hotspots, which in turn can affect topline business strategy, but it does have drawbacks. 

As most emissions are in scope 3, using a conversion factor based footprint only tells you roughly what these emissions are: you cannot then do anything about it (beyond hotspots analysis). 

To decarbonise a supply chain, businesses need to capture primary emissions data from their suppliers, and ideally their decarbonisation trajectory. This allows businesses to shift purchasing to those with lower carbon intensity and forecast supply chain decarbonisation bottlenecks.

Or put more simply, without primary data, there is no answer to the question everyone asks when they first see their carbon footprint, which is "so what?"

Conversion factor based calculation example:

Company Ltd. buys £1m worth of services from Haulage ABC.
The calculation is £1m x Carbon intensity per £ (Generic Haulage Company).

Conversion factor based emission calculation equation
Conversion factor based calculation equation

Primary data (Supplier data) - Emissions data recorded directly, e.g. by yourself or a supplier - tend to be more accurate

Secondary data (Conversion Factor) - Emission data recorded and aggregated from elsewhere, e.g. national statistical data by sector - tend to be less accurate

Stepping up a level with Spherics  - Superseding secondary data with primary data

To jump to the next level of reporting accuracy, Spherics work with our enterprise customers to onboard their value chain partners' data into our calculation engine. The onboarding approach is dependent on the relationship with the value chain partner*, but the outcome is the ability to replace conversion factors with primary data from the supplier. 

*For mature value chain partners with an existing carbon footprint we absorb the primary data directly into our engine, if there is no footprint OR the quality of that information is low, our customers offer the Spherics tool to the partner and the data syncs directly into the central customer account. 

Primary data based calculation example:

Company Ltd. buys £1m worth of services from Haulage ABC.

Calculation changes to £1m x Carbon intensity per £ calculated direct from Haulage ABC footprint.

Primary data based emissions calculation equation
Primary data based calculation equation

The dual power of primary data 

Not only do reports become far more accurate with primary data, they become far more useful to procurement teams. With such data, a business can start to factor emissions into wider buying decisions. 

Business case for primary data 

Company Ltd. currently spends £1m with Haulage ABC and £1m with EcoHaulage. 

Haulage ABC uses 18th century coal fired steam engines to transport your goods and is 1 hour drive from your depot. EcoHaulage has a fleet of BEV’s and operates from the building next door to your depot. Haulage ABC emits 1.2kg CO2e per £ of turnover; EcoHaulage emits 0.4.

With a carbon factor approach, you will see that in fact there are lots of emissions coming from haulage, which is useful to know. But it doesn’t tell you which supplier is best to use. Drawing primary data into the calculation and you can quickly see the impact switching to EcoHaulage could have on your business.

Contact

References

Explainer: How superseding conversion factors with primary data vastly improves emissions reporting accuracy & value to business.

by the Spherics Team

Current industry best practice

The current best practice for calculating emissions has high accuracy for scope 1 and 2 calculations. Businesses tend to have the primary data they need for these calculations, making them more accurate. With this high accuracy, businesses can easily make decisions to reduce their carbon impact. 

In contrast, scope 3 emissions calculations are almost exclusively calculated using conversion factors (secondary data). This is by no means a bad starting point, as it can highlight emissions hotspots, which in turn can affect topline business strategy, but it does have drawbacks. 

As most emissions are in scope 3, using a conversion factor based footprint only tells you roughly what these emissions are: you cannot then do anything about it (beyond hotspots analysis). 

To decarbonise a supply chain, businesses need to capture primary emissions data from their suppliers, and ideally their decarbonisation trajectory. This allows businesses to shift purchasing to those with lower carbon intensity and forecast supply chain decarbonisation bottlenecks.

Or put more simply, without primary data, there is no answer to the question everyone asks when they first see their carbon footprint, which is "so what?"

Conversion factor based calculation example:

Company Ltd. buys £1m worth of services from Haulage ABC.
The calculation is £1m x Carbon intensity per £ (Generic Haulage Company).

Conversion factor based emission calculation equation
Conversion factor based calculation equation

Primary data (Supplier data) - Emissions data recorded directly, e.g. by yourself or a supplier - tend to be more accurate

Secondary data (Conversion Factor) - Emission data recorded and aggregated from elsewhere, e.g. national statistical data by sector - tend to be less accurate

Stepping up a level with Spherics  - Superseding secondary data with primary data

To jump to the next level of reporting accuracy, Spherics work with our enterprise customers to onboard their value chain partners' data into our calculation engine. The onboarding approach is dependent on the relationship with the value chain partner*, but the outcome is the ability to replace conversion factors with primary data from the supplier. 

*For mature value chain partners with an existing carbon footprint we absorb the primary data directly into our engine, if there is no footprint OR the quality of that information is low, our customers offer the Spherics tool to the partner and the data syncs directly into the central customer account. 

Primary data based calculation example:

Company Ltd. buys £1m worth of services from Haulage ABC.

Calculation changes to £1m x Carbon intensity per £ calculated direct from Haulage ABC footprint.

Primary data based emissions calculation equation
Primary data based calculation equation

The dual power of primary data 

Not only do reports become far more accurate with primary data, they become far more useful to procurement teams. With such data, a business can start to factor emissions into wider buying decisions. 

Business case for primary data 

Company Ltd. currently spends £1m with Haulage ABC and £1m with EcoHaulage. 

Haulage ABC uses 18th century coal fired steam engines to transport your goods and is 1 hour drive from your depot. EcoHaulage has a fleet of BEV’s and operates from the building next door to your depot. Haulage ABC emits 1.2kg CO2e per £ of turnover; EcoHaulage emits 0.4.

With a carbon factor approach, you will see that in fact there are lots of emissions coming from haulage, which is useful to know. But it doesn’t tell you which supplier is best to use. Drawing primary data into the calculation and you can quickly see the impact switching to EcoHaulage could have on your business.

References

Explainer: How superseding conversion factors with primary data vastly improves emissions reporting accuracy & value to business.

by the Spherics Team
by
Conrad Langridge
16
May
2022

Current industry best practice

The current best practice for calculating emissions has high accuracy for scope 1 and 2 calculations. Businesses tend to have the primary data they need for these calculations, making them more accurate. With this high accuracy, businesses can easily make decisions to reduce their carbon impact. 

In contrast, scope 3 emissions calculations are almost exclusively calculated using conversion factors (secondary data). This is by no means a bad starting point, as it can highlight emissions hotspots, which in turn can affect topline business strategy, but it does have drawbacks. 

As most emissions are in scope 3, using a conversion factor based footprint only tells you roughly what these emissions are: you cannot then do anything about it (beyond hotspots analysis). 

To decarbonise a supply chain, businesses need to capture primary emissions data from their suppliers, and ideally their decarbonisation trajectory. This allows businesses to shift purchasing to those with lower carbon intensity and forecast supply chain decarbonisation bottlenecks.

Or put more simply, without primary data, there is no answer to the question everyone asks when they first see their carbon footprint, which is "so what?"

Conversion factor based calculation example:

Company Ltd. buys £1m worth of services from Haulage ABC.
The calculation is £1m x Carbon intensity per £ (Generic Haulage Company).

Conversion factor based emission calculation equation
Conversion factor based calculation equation

Primary data (Supplier data) - Emissions data recorded directly, e.g. by yourself or a supplier - tend to be more accurate

Secondary data (Conversion Factor) - Emission data recorded and aggregated from elsewhere, e.g. national statistical data by sector - tend to be less accurate

Stepping up a level with Spherics  - Superseding secondary data with primary data

To jump to the next level of reporting accuracy, Spherics work with our enterprise customers to onboard their value chain partners' data into our calculation engine. The onboarding approach is dependent on the relationship with the value chain partner*, but the outcome is the ability to replace conversion factors with primary data from the supplier. 

*For mature value chain partners with an existing carbon footprint we absorb the primary data directly into our engine, if there is no footprint OR the quality of that information is low, our customers offer the Spherics tool to the partner and the data syncs directly into the central customer account. 

Primary data based calculation example:

Company Ltd. buys £1m worth of services from Haulage ABC.

Calculation changes to £1m x Carbon intensity per £ calculated direct from Haulage ABC footprint.

Primary data based emissions calculation equation
Primary data based calculation equation

The dual power of primary data 

Not only do reports become far more accurate with primary data, they become far more useful to procurement teams. With such data, a business can start to factor emissions into wider buying decisions. 

Business case for primary data 

Company Ltd. currently spends £1m with Haulage ABC and £1m with EcoHaulage. 

Haulage ABC uses 18th century coal fired steam engines to transport your goods and is 1 hour drive from your depot. EcoHaulage has a fleet of BEV’s and operates from the building next door to your depot. Haulage ABC emits 1.2kg CO2e per £ of turnover; EcoHaulage emits 0.4.

With a carbon factor approach, you will see that in fact there are lots of emissions coming from haulage, which is useful to know. But it doesn’t tell you which supplier is best to use. Drawing primary data into the calculation and you can quickly see the impact switching to EcoHaulage could have on your business.

Contact

References

Explainer: How superseding conversion factors with primary data vastly improves emissions reporting accuracy & value to business.

06 JULY 2021
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Current industry best practice

The current best practice for calculating emissions has high accuracy for scope 1 and 2 calculations. Businesses tend to have the primary data they need for these calculations, making them more accurate. With this high accuracy, businesses can easily make decisions to reduce their carbon impact. 

In contrast, scope 3 emissions calculations are almost exclusively calculated using conversion factors (secondary data). This is by no means a bad starting point, as it can highlight emissions hotspots, which in turn can affect topline business strategy, but it does have drawbacks. 

As most emissions are in scope 3, using a conversion factor based footprint only tells you roughly what these emissions are: you cannot then do anything about it (beyond hotspots analysis). 

To decarbonise a supply chain, businesses need to capture primary emissions data from their suppliers, and ideally their decarbonisation trajectory. This allows businesses to shift purchasing to those with lower carbon intensity and forecast supply chain decarbonisation bottlenecks.

Or put more simply, without primary data, there is no answer to the question everyone asks when they first see their carbon footprint, which is "so what?"

Conversion factor based calculation example:

Company Ltd. buys £1m worth of services from Haulage ABC.
The calculation is £1m x Carbon intensity per £ (Generic Haulage Company).

Conversion factor based emission calculation equation
Conversion factor based calculation equation

Primary data (Supplier data) - Emissions data recorded directly, e.g. by yourself or a supplier - tend to be more accurate

Secondary data (Conversion Factor) - Emission data recorded and aggregated from elsewhere, e.g. national statistical data by sector - tend to be less accurate

Stepping up a level with Spherics  - Superseding secondary data with primary data

To jump to the next level of reporting accuracy, Spherics work with our enterprise customers to onboard their value chain partners' data into our calculation engine. The onboarding approach is dependent on the relationship with the value chain partner*, but the outcome is the ability to replace conversion factors with primary data from the supplier. 

*For mature value chain partners with an existing carbon footprint we absorb the primary data directly into our engine, if there is no footprint OR the quality of that information is low, our customers offer the Spherics tool to the partner and the data syncs directly into the central customer account. 

Primary data based calculation example:

Company Ltd. buys £1m worth of services from Haulage ABC.

Calculation changes to £1m x Carbon intensity per £ calculated direct from Haulage ABC footprint.

Primary data based emissions calculation equation
Primary data based calculation equation

The dual power of primary data 

Not only do reports become far more accurate with primary data, they become far more useful to procurement teams. With such data, a business can start to factor emissions into wider buying decisions. 

Business case for primary data 

Company Ltd. currently spends £1m with Haulage ABC and £1m with EcoHaulage. 

Haulage ABC uses 18th century coal fired steam engines to transport your goods and is 1 hour drive from your depot. EcoHaulage has a fleet of BEV’s and operates from the building next door to your depot. Haulage ABC emits 1.2kg CO2e per £ of turnover; EcoHaulage emits 0.4.

With a carbon factor approach, you will see that in fact there are lots of emissions coming from haulage, which is useful to know. But it doesn’t tell you which supplier is best to use. Drawing primary data into the calculation and you can quickly see the impact switching to EcoHaulage could have on your business.