Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Applying the Project Management Cost Estimating Standard to Carbon Footprinting

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Applying the Project Management Cost Estimating Standard to Carbon Footprinting

Article excerpt

Abstract

Anthropogenic emissions have a significant effect on Earth's atmosphere and contribute to changes in the global climate. These emissions and their impacts need to be tracked in order to understand their potential consequences and to be able to determine how these impacts can be eliminated or reduced by changes in methods, behaviors, and tools. A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions generated by an entity over a specific time period or lifecycle. Developing a consistent and clear approach to determining the sources and quantities of these emissions is important due to the emerging demand to account for carbon impacts. Unfortunately there are very few approaches that can accurately estimate and track carbon to determine the climate change impacts of organizations, businesses, and activities. In this paper we propose an approach to carbon footprinting in which the amount of one or more types of carbon gas emissions can be estimated. We propose that by adapting cost estimation standards to carbon footprinting practices, a standard approach can be developed, thus providing a clearer and more focused approach to carbon footprinting. In this study, we have adapted the cost estimation standard of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). This adaptation results in a new methodology for carbon footprint quantification that provides more clarification and robustness to carbon footprinting processes. By breaking down the whole process into three key steps, i.e., inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs, and by introducing relevant steps to take, the methodology can function as a guideline for carbon footprinting studies.

Keywords: carbon footprinting, carbon emissions, climate change, carbon dioxide, cost estimation

1. Introduction

As climate change is gaining increasing priority on the list of challenges being faced by humans, more attention is being given by decision-makers to the factors that adversely affect the planet. Although there are numerous contributors to these problems, some have significant destructive consequences and therefore require more attention and action. Gaseous carbon emissions can be regarded as one of the top challenges for current and future generations, and they will continue to increase unless firm steps are taken to develop environmentally friendly solutions for global energy systems. Indeed, according to the International Energy Agency, a record 30.6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases were emitted in 2010, the most recent full year for which data is available (IEA, 2011).

Despite the threat posed by these emissions, there has not been any deceleration in the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. It is clear that appropriate decisions are badly needed to address these difficult emissions problems and sound approaches, procedures, and tools are needed by policymakers to be able to reverse course and put the world on a path that does not threaten both human and non-human inhabitants of the planet.

In parallel with the movement toward development of proper environmental performance measures, carbon footprinting is gaining more attention and popularity. A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions generated by an entity over a specific time period or lifecycle. At present there are only a few standard approaches (i.e. PAS2050, ISO 14021, or ISO 14044:2006) to determining the carbon emissions of a person, a product, a specific service, or an organization.

As part of any carbon footprint reduction plan, decision makers should determine how reduction goals are going to be achieved. A carbon footprint reduction plan can include a detailed action list along with information about the contribution of each element of the plan to meeting carbon emission reduction goals. In order to determine whether any carbon emission reduction plan has been successfully implemented, a vigorous performance monitoring and control process should be implemented. …

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