Carbon Trust, a not-for-profit company based in the U.K., has launched a new online guide, The Growing Business’ Guide to Managing Carbon. The guide is aimed at giving small businesses the types of capabilities for measuring (and hypothetically reducing) carbon emissions that previously were only available to larger companies with bigger budgets and dedicated staff.

The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company “providing specialist support to help business and the public sector boost business returns by cutting carbon emissions, saving energy and commercializing low carbon technologies.” Their recent estimate that small business can save $600M annually through carbon footprint reduction and certification may sound hopeful, but just as importantly, is it feasible? And how does a company truly benefit?

The guide indicates that the biggest reasons to measure a company’s carbon footprint are to help manage and reduce emissions and to communicate the results effectively. In addition, there are some mandatory reporting requirements. Wal-Mart’s requirements of their suppliers to disclose carbon emissions led to an entire industry of sustainability consultants catering to exactly this audience, and businesses hoping to sell to the world’s largest retailer have had to jump on board.

In addition, the U.S. Federal government is running a pilot program testing the feasibility of requiring its suppliers to measure their carbon emissions. President Obama signed Executive Order 13514, setting this pilot in motion to test the feasibility of requiring carbon emission measurement and certification from its suppliers, and, according to the U.S. General Services Administration, “using this data as part of the federal procurement process”.

I want to be clear here. There is nothing to say that this pilot will lead directly to preferred purchasing from vendors who have conducted carbon assessments, but the language of the order certainly seems to be pointing in that direction: “GSA’s Section 13 Report concluded that it is feasible to incentivize federal contractors to inventory and disclose their GHG emissions data and then use this data within the federal procurement process.”

With Wal-Mart and the Federal Government’s combined purchasing power, I believe good things are coming for carbon measurement, and reduction, from the small business community.

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About The Author

Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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