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Assessing the quality of your Bilan Carbone® report

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In a context of ecological and energy transition, reducing environmental and climatic impact is becoming strategic for companies. In particular, they must become resilient in the face of global warming and its consequences on the environment and energy. Many, for example, are setting themselves the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 or 2050, in line with the target set by France and many other countries.

To achieve carbon neutrality, we need to reduce our carbon footprint, and therefore first measure our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A GHG balance sheet, or Bilan Carbone®, enables an organization to systematically assess these emissions over a one-year period. Once the main items have been identified, the company can then embark on an effective and relevant transition plan.

A number of questions arise when it comes to carrying out an assessment, such as its price and quality. Assessments can be carried out in 15 minutes on online simulators, but their quality cannot compare with that of an assessment carried out with the guidance of an expert. There is also a wide choice of online platforms, for both companies and individuals, and the quality of the balance sheet produced can vary according to the platform chosen.

In this article, we'll look at the criteria you need to take into account to assess the quality of your carbon footprint, as well as choosing a platform to carry out your carbon footprint.

1. Bilan Carbone® quality criteria.

1.1 Emission factors used

1.2 Quality of data collected

1.3. Uncertainty

1.4. Compliance

2. How to choose a platform

2.1. Choosing a compliant platform

2.2 Choosing a specific platform

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Bilan Carbone® quality criteria.

☁️Facteurs emissions used

 

One of the first criteria for a quality Bilan Carbone® is the use of physical factors, not monetary ones.

First of all, let's go back to the concept of the emissions factor. When carrying out a Bilan Carbone®, the calculation comes down to this formula:

Activity data x Emissions factor

The data can be, for example, electricity consumption in kWh, fuel consumption on the road in liters, or euros spent on a given company purchase. The unit depends on the category under study.

This data is then multiplied by an emissions factor, i.e. a coefficient that relates the data to actual greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the emissions factor for a diesel-powered car manufactured in France in 2024 is 0.2g eq.CO2/km, according to the Empreinte database. So, if this car is driven 100 km, it will emit O.2*100 = 10geq.CO2.

This is a physical factor. It is used to calculate the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions sought from the quantity of a good.

It is to be distinguished from a monetary factor, which calculates the desired quantity of GHG emissions from the price of the good concerned. The quantity of emissions is then expressed in kgCO2/k€, and not per unit. This is a major methodological difference, and implies a difference in the quality of the balance sheet.

Monetary factors are less precise than physical factors, and inherently involve a high degree of uncertainty, which varies according to the category of purchases under consideration. There is no rigorous method for determining the uncertainty of these factors.

These emission factors can be used when the physical data physical data cannot be obtained, and for certain categories of emissions (e.g. purchases of services).

Depending on the emission factors used, the quality of the work carried out will therefore vary.

✅Quality of data collected

 

Another criterion for assessing the quality of a Bilan Carbone® is the quality of the data collected.
As we saw earlier, greenhouse gas emissions are calculated by multiplying data by the corresponding emissions factor. Depending on the quality of the data, the result will be more or less accurate.

ADEME has 4 types of data:

  • Primary data : observed, taken from information systems.
  • Secondary data: generic or average, from published sources.
  • Extrapolated data: primary or secondary data linked to a similar activity that is adapted or customized to a new situation.
  • Approximate data: primary or secondary data related to a similar activity that can be used in place of representative data. There is no adaptation of the data.

The more verifiable and accurate the data, the more accurate, usable and high-quality the calculation will be.

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    ❓Uncertainty

    The uncertainty of a greenhouse gas emissions balance refers to the possible difference between the value assigned to the quantified quantity and the actual value. It is expressed either as a fixed value (5%, 15%, 30%...), or as an interval (between 10 and 15% imprecision, for example) for a given level of confidence. If the confidence level is 95%, then there is a 95% chance of finding the right value within the given interval.

    Uncertainty can be found in both terms of the formula mentioned above: the data and the emissions factors chosen.

    As explained above, the better the quality of the data, the lower the uncertainty.

    With regard to emission factors, the existing uncertainties are linked to the determining the factor (calculation or measurement method), either directly (by a supplier, for example), or through published references (Base Empreinte, for example).

    By combining these two uncertainties in the calculation, we obtain the overall uncertainty of the balance. The lower the uncertainty, the more accurate and higher-quality the result, and vice versa.

    📃Conformity

    The final criterion for judging the quality of a balance sheet is its conformity with current methods.

    There are several:

    • The GHG Protocol, which defines the 3 scopes.
    • ISO 14061-1, which divides these scopes into 6 categories.
    • The BEGES regulatory method (French territory only).
    • ADEME's Bilan Carbone® method, supported by ABC (France only).

    Depending on the needs of the company concerned, different methods can be chosen. For example, in France, it is mandatory for companies with over 500 employees to carry out their BEGES according to the regulatory method every 4 years. Other methods are more optional. International companies often choose the GHG Protocol or ISO 14061-1, to comply with international standards.

    Whatever the case, it's important to carry out your balance sheet in full compliance with one of these recognized, tested and expert-approved methods to ensure its quality.

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    How do I choose a platform?

     

    We have defined the criteria for assessing the quality of your greenhouse gas emissions balance. Now, how do you choose the right platform to produce a quality balance sheet?

    📑Choosing a compliant platform

     

    Choosing a platform that complies with the methods mentioned above (GHG Protocol, ISO 14061-1...) is essential for a quality assessment.

    For example, a company can choose according to the tool's references and the number of methods it complies with, depending on its needs.

    A company requiring the Bilan Carbone® method will therefore choose a platform referenced to ABC, while a company requiring an international method will choose a platform compliant with the GHG Protocol or ISO 14061-1.

    🔎Choose a specific platform

    We have seen just how important the quality of the data collected and the type of factors used are. One criterion for choosing a platform may be its degree of precision. How far can the tool go in collecting data, and what emissions factors can it use?

    For example, does the tool use physical or monetary factors? What databases does it access? Does it allow the use of emission factors obtained directly from suppliers, thus reducing their uncertainty and increasing the accuracy of the balance sheet? Does it enable the carbon weight of purchased products and services to be calculated accurately, based on a life-cycle analysis for example?

    When collecting data, is there any support or questionnaires distributed for certain types of data?

    Finally, the question is not only how accurate the platform should be, but also how collaborative it should be. The more collaborative it is, and the more it enables dialogue between a client and its suppliers, and their in-house teams, the more accurate and high-quality the data and emission factors used will be.

    Finally, it should be noted that the quality of the Bilan Carbone® has an impact on the quality of the company's communication. A false or inaccurate inventory can lead the company to communicate inaccurately, or even to engage in misleading advertising. This is known as greenwashing.

     

    Evaluating the quality of your Bilan Carbone®, and choosing a platform that provides a quality assessment, is essential to properly assess your impact, your carbon footprint, and thus initiate a relevant and effective ecological transition, to reduce your impact on the environment and the climate. It's also an approach that fits in perfectly with our CSR approach.

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