How to Manage Scope 3 Emissions

Companies are beginning to adapt to the rise of ESG regulations and calls for decarbonization, but Scope 3 emissions remain a difficult category for many organizations to address. While this type of emission may be the most complex to track, successfully managing Scope 3 emissions can create many business benefits.

So, why measure Scope 3 emissions?

  • Customers are increasingly looking towards businesses to lead the charge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Scope 3 makes up a majority of most companies’ emissions, accounting for up to 70% of an organization’s total carbon footprint. (Deloitte) Becoming a climate leader in your industry will help you attract climate-conscious customers and build a brand reputation based on trustworthiness and accountability.
  • Suppliers and business partners are so on a journey to measure and manage their carbon footprints, so working together on sustainable sourcing and identifying inefficiencies across the value chain is valuable to all parties. Taking a proactive approach to managing emissions can help win business with important vendors, suppliers, and partners.
  • Investors are expecting companies to disclose and confirm their environmental impact and the expectations for transparency will likely increase as the planet continues to warm. If your organization can provide an accurate and transparent picture of your environmental impacts, you can more easily build confidence with investors and boost the longevity of your organization.
  • Companies must comply with developing climate disclosure regulations, and while most regulations focus on Scope 1 and 2, Scope 3 regulations are imminent as ESG tracking technology and methodology evolve. Being a leader in measuring Scope 3 emissions wilfl help your organization stay ahead of new regulations and ensure compliance is easier to achieve as the regulatory space progresses.

How to Measure Scope 3 Emissions

No matter what reporting framework your organization follows, it will require classification of emissions in Scopes 1 to 3 as per the greenhouse gas corporate protocol. If you’re unfamiliar with global reporting frameworks, take a look at our ESG Reporting Frameworks Guide. Scope 3 has 15 categories and not all of these may be relevant to your organization, so conducting a materiality assessment to determine which categories apply is a good starting point.

Most organizations will focus on upstream and downstream emissions generated by business partners. Upstream emissions include those created by sourcing, producing, and transporting your organization’s materials. Downstream emissions typically include logistics, use, and product disposal or end of life impacts. Scope 3 also covers emissions from business travel, employee commuting, investments, and leased assets.

The Greenhouse Gas Corporate Protocol outlines three methods to calculate emissions from bought goods or services:

  • Supplier-specific Method: Collect lifecycle assessments (LCAs), emission impacts, and other product-level data from suppliers. You may also use secondary data to calculate upstream emissions wherever supplier data has gaps.
  • Average-data Method: Estimate emissions by collecting data on the mass of purchased goods and multiplying by the relevant industry average emission factor.
  • Spend-based Method: Gather data on the value of purchased goods or services and multiply by the relevant industry average emission factor.

Once you understand which method your organization wants to utilize, you may begin collecting supplier data. As you gather data, it is important to ensure that the data is accurate and complete.

Increase your Understanding of Supplier Data Inputs

Because supplier information will be crucial in your organization’s emissions calculations, engage with suppliers to better understand how they are measuring their emissions. Ask your suppliers questions like:

  • How are suppliers reporting data? What frameworks are being used?
  • Does your supplier’s data reporting timeframe match your own organization’s timeframe? Do you need to fill in gaps or make estimations?
  • Is supplier data complete, accurate, and independently verified?
  • How granular is the data? Do your suppliers have the capability to provide product or material-level data? Can suppliers provide inputs such as mode of transport, mileage, and fuel data?

Another factor to consider is the complexity of your value chain. Efforts to collect data across multiple markets or nations can be slowed by language barriers, different measurement systems, or incompatible reporting software. If possible, reducing the complexity or distance covered in your value chain can aid in both reducing emissions and making the reporting process simpler.

When collecting information from suppliers, companies should ideally rely on measurable data from a primary source such as an invoice or bill. Any data transferred between your organization and business partners should be verified for accuracy and completeness. A Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) is a good resource for certified information on the lifecycle of a product or material. LCAs help assess the environmental impact of the goods or materials and companies frequently perform LCAs on their products, so consider asking your suppliers to share those reports.

In some cases, an organization may need to rely on secondary data to fill in information gaps in their value chain. Secondary data may come from government statistics, recognized databases, industry or national averages, industry associations, or studies. When using secondary data, companies should disclose whether any assumptions were made in the calculations and whether the data is verified.

Employee Commute Emissions

While some Scope 3 emissions require outside collaboration, employee commute emissions is one area your business can directly influence. Scope 3 Category 7 refers to emissions generated by employee commutes and hybrid work. Commuting to an office requires energy and creates emissions. Every employee creates varying levels of emissions based on their commute distance and transportation mode, and it can quickly become complex. Even when working from home, employees use energy to power their computers, lights, and more. This category has gotten more complex with the rise of hybrid work, where commute schedules may vary by month. Many employers struggle to gather data regarding employee commuting, but Green Impact has created a solution.

Hybrid Work Wizard is an application that tracks employee commuting through employee-led surveys and automatically calculates commute emissions in Salesforce Net Zero Cloud. Upon onboarding, employees answer a series of questions about their transportation mode, commute distance, typical commute days, and more. The application then calculates the estimated emissions based on this information, allows the employee to verify it, and then sends the data to Net Zero Cloud to integrate into the company’s total carbon footprint. Hybrid Work Wizard sends reports automatically at a desired cadence and comes with dashboard analytics to help your company leaders understand commute impacts, reasons for commuting, and more. To learn more about Hybrid Work Wizard, check out our product page on our website or the Salesforce App Exchange.

Managing Emissions Over Time

As your organization gains more information about how your value chain affects your environmental impacts, this may also influence your short-term and long-term targets. Set your long-term goals based on what you believe you can achieve. These may be more complex targets or projects that involve multiple parties collaborating. Short-term goals can be either the lowest-hanging fruit that is easily achievable or incremental steps towards longer-term goals. While it can be tempting to set your sights high, it is important to incorporate short-term goals into your strategy to keep morale high and make those loftier aspirations more tangible.

If your organization is looking for professional guidance on ESG data management strategy, partner with Green Impact. Our team of sustainability and software professionals can help you map out and manage a strategy for measuring your business’s emissions. Visit to schedule a free consultation today.


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