CO2 equivalents and global warming potential

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The 2030 Agenda

The UN’s 2030 Agenda is a compilation of 17 goals for a better world. Its purpose is to promote social, environmental, and economic sustainability (United Nations, 2015). The goals were adopted in 2015 and have since then served as the foundation of sustainability initiatives all over the world. Governments and corporations alike have been engaged in such initiatives.
Uppsala municipality has created the Uppsala Climate Protocol as a path to reach the goals of the 2030 Agenda (Uppsala Climate Protocol, n.d.). As of today, 40 members participates in the network from both the private and public sector. The protocol’s goal is a fossil-free Uppsala in 2030 and a climate positive Uppsala in 2050. Ihus is a part of the network and plans to become climate-neutral by 2030 or sooner (Rushdi Al-Sálehi, 2020). Out of the 17 goals, Ihus has primarily focused on those which strongly emphasise a sustainable environment. These include sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and climate action.

CO2 equivalents and global warming potential

Carbon dioxide equivalents, shortened CO2e, is a standardised unit measuring greenhouse gasses (GHG), and the impact these have on the environment (Ecometrica, 2012). It is part of a standard called global warming potential, or GWP. The unit makes it possible to understand what impact different greenhouse gasses have on the climate. It is then possible to compare or sum different greenhouse gasses. GWP aims to compare the results over different periods of time such as 20 or 100 years (IPCC, 2013). While 1 kg of carbon dioxide emits 1 kg CO2e, 1 kg of methane emits 25 kg CO2e since it causes 25 times more global warming over 100 years than CO2 (Ecometrica, 2012). CO2e can be calculated for many different aspects and present comparable effects on the environment and global warming. This unit will be used further on in this report when referring to greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate neutrality

This study is one step taken by Ihus to become climate neutral by 2030. Climate neutrality means that the net effect on the climate is zero (Klimatordlista, 2010). A company which strives to be climate neutral have to make sure no emissions affecting the climate are released in their business unless they are compensated for through carbon offsets.
Carbon offsets are a tool to compensate the emissions of CO2e from a company, government or organisation (Carlén, 2007). Different markets exist for this where one is based on the EU emission trading scheme and is strictly regulated, and another one is less regulated and more on an individual basis. The EU emission trading scheme uses assigned amount units where one unit represents a metric tonne of CO2. The more flexible market is open for both organisations and individuals (Cames, et al., 2016). An individual can for instance purchase offsets (certified emission reductions, CER:s) to plant trees or support a solar park to compensate for their air travel. Some criticism of the offsets market has emerged regarding the credibility and effectiveness of the purchases. One example is that companies often overestimate the reduction of emissions. Another example is that some projects are not economically viable which means that the CER:s will not have the promised effect (Gibbens, 2019).

Greenhouse gas protocol

The greenhouse gas protocol (GHG protocol) was developed to standardise the measuring of greenhouse gas emissions that affect the climate, and guide businesses and governments to manage their emissions (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2004). The GHG protocol provides standards for actors, ranging from cities and communities to corporations and countries. Two of these standards are the product standard and the corporate value chain standard. The product standard is used to understand a product’s whole life cycle, whereas the corporate value chain standard is used to find the climate impact of a company’s entire value chain’s emissions (The Greenhouse Gas Protocol, 2004) (The Greenhouse Gas protocol, 2011).
The GHG protocol uses three different scopes to categorise where emissions take place in a company (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2004). Scope 1 is direct emissions caused by sources owned by the company, including the company’s own electricity generation, cement production, and transports. Scope 2 includes all CO2e associated with the usage of electricity in the company, but the emissions in scope 2 are generated at the scene where the electricity is produced, not within the company. Scope 3 is by far the most difficult to calculate and is the only one that is not mandatory for companies to determine when using the standards from the GHG protocol. It includes transports by external actors, emissions from suppliers, and waste disposal and covers the emissions not covered by scope 1 and 2. The scopes are designed so that one company cannot report the same emission in two scopes, but two different companies can report the same emission in different scopes. The GHG protocol is used in many of the sustainability reports this study is based on.

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Sustainability reports

Since the financial year 2017, sustainability reports are demanded from businesses of a certain size according to Swedish law (Bolagsverket, 2019). The companies that are required to provide such a report are those that fulfil at least two of the following three criteria: 250 or more employees, total assets of 175 MSEK, or sales over 350 MSEK. The reports are a part of the work to reach the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the Swedish environmental goals (Effort, n.d.). In the sustainability report, the companies need to disclose information and an understanding of the consequences of their work concerning the environment, social factors, the personnel, human rights, and corruption. The sustainability report can be a part of their annual report or a separate report referenced in their annual report. The companies are required to send them to Bolagsverket or publish it on their website within six months of the end of their financial year (Bolagsverket, 2019).

Sustainable public procurement

Sweden has a national agency for public procurement that work with sustainable public procurement (The National Agency for Public Procurement, 2017). They act as a support for contracting between governments, authorities, entities and suppliers. Their aim and responsibility are that public funds are used in the best possible way. The frameworks in which the contracts are developed are based on several principles, including the principle of non-discrimination and the principle of transparency. The latter means that the contracts must be clear and distinct for all actors involved and with all requirements specified.
Sustainable public procurement refers to requirements concerning social, economic, and environmental sustainability (The National Agency for Public Procurement, 2016). The purchaser can form proposals with criteria that require certain levels of environmental sustainability from the supplier to secure transparency.

Environmental standards and measurement tools

The CDP (previously Carbon Disclosure Project) works to disclose the environmental impact from companies and cities worldwide (CDP, n.d.). With the disclosure of the environmental impact, the aim is to engage in change for a better environment. The CDP collects data from companies and helps them and other actors with long-term sustainability for both the economy and the environment. The information about companies and corporations that exist in the CDP database can be used for multiple purposes, such as deciding whom to work with.
An environmental product declaration (EPD) is a document that gives transparent and comparable information about a product from an independent source (IVL Svenska Miljöinstitutet, n.d.). An EPD is used as a tool to determine the environmental impact of a product or service for its entire lifecycle. It has several uses but one of them is as a requirement in sustainable procurement. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a method for calculating products or services’ effect on the climate and environment (Sustainable Facilities Tool, n.d.). The goal is to calculate the total impact something has, not only the effects when it is in use. An LCA is performed on products or projects and can begin when the materials it is made of is taken from the ground and end when the materials go back in the ground. This is called a “cradle to grave” perspective. Important factors are emissions, water consumption, and chemicals and raw material used. The LCA method is standardised with the international standard ISO 14040, where ISO 14041-9 specifies requirements.
An LCA on a building’s lifespan is divided into different categories. These include the production and construction stage A1-A5, the use stage B1-B7, and the end-of-life stage C1-C4 (Gervasio & Dimova, 2018). The production and construction stage cover everything that has to do with the actual making of the building while the use stage is for everything that comes after the building is finished, including repairs, renovations and use of energy. The end-of-life stage consists of dismantling and disposal of waste from the building. Both the production and the end-of-life stage includes transports, which is not included in the use stage. The stage B1-B7 is the most interesting stage for this report. An illustration of the life cycle is shown in figure 1 below.

Table of contents :

1. Introduction
1.1 Aim and research questions
1.2 Limitations and delimitations
1.3 Overview of methodology and data
1.4 Structure of the report
2. Background
2.1 Ihus
2.2 The 2030 Agenda
2.3 CO2 equivalents and global warming potential
2.4 Climate neutrality
2.5 Greenhouse gas protocol
2.6 Sustainability reports
2.7 Sustainable public procurement
2.8 Environmental standards and measurement tools
3. Methodology
3.1 Sustainability spend analysis
3.2 Procedure
4. Data processing
4.1 Painting
4.2 Gardening
4.3 Cleaning and facility work
4.4 Ventilation and installation
4.5 Renovations
4.6 Materials and products
5. Results
5.1 Sensitivity analysis
5.1.1 Painting
5.1.2 Gardening
5.1.3 Cleaning and facility work
5.1.4 Ventilation and installation
5.1.5 Renovations
5.1.6 Materials and products
6. Discussion
6.1 Uncertainties in the calculations
6.2 Emission intensities
6.3 Ihus’ road towards climate neutrality
7. Conclusion


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