Carbon emissions (or carbon production) is a general measurement of the amount of CO2 generated through direct, indirect, or value-chain emissions. A carbon footprint is an aggregate measure of your organizational impact represented by the total of all carbon emissions. While sometimes used interchangeably, it is important to understand the distinction between these terms. Most relevant to building and facility decision-makers is their total carbon emissions as specific actions at the operational level make a significant impact on carbon footprint.
The most common culprits of carbon emissions in buildings is the use of electricity from carbon-intense electric grids (most often coal-powered), prolific fossil fuel use, and high-GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerants. The EPA has categorized these emissions into three scopes: Scope 1 refers to direct carbon emissions due to on-site building/facility processes. Scope 2 refers to indirect carbon emissions resulting from electricity consumption and Scope 32 refers to value-chain carbon emissions that are related to the upstream and downstream activities of an organization. Only Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are directly correlated with the day-to-day building or facility