Carbon methodology

Our greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint is calculated using a detailed and documented methodology. We use the following standards in calculating emissions, as relevant:

  • GHG Protocol
  • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards
  • US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS)
  • Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator
  • UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) standards

These standards include assumptions about the composition of GHGs in various kinds of emissions. While the vast majority of our GHG emissions are CO2, our calculation also includes other GHGs, for example, CH4 and N2O from car and bus exhaust fumes. We report in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which accounts for these other GHGs.

The baseline year for our GHG footprint is FY07 (July 1, 2006–June 30, 2007). Our emissions calculation is based on operational control within the US. Our GHG footprint calculation includes the World Resources Institute/World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WRI/WBCSD) Scopes 1, 2, and 3 as described below. Our GHG intensity ratio calculation includes Scopes 1, 2, and 3. The denominator is full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, a measure of the number of people we employ. As a professional services firm, our emissions are driven by the activities of our employees in the delivery of their professional duties, so this is the most relevant factor by which to normalize our emissions.

Scope 1

We have very limited direct (Scope 1) emissions, which are primarily related to the use of diesel fuel for backup generators and the consumption of natural gas and fuel oil in our workspaces. Where we do not have actual activity data, we use EIA’s 2012 CBECS to estimate our natural gas and fuel oil consumption.1

Scope 2

Our Scope 2 emissions are the result of the use of purchased electricity and heat in our workspaces. We currently include all US-based operations. We lease nearly all our workspaces and are working to determine the effective mix of submetering solutions and lease provisions we can employ to generate data more useful to our efficiency efforts. In the interim, where we do not have actual activity data, we use EIA’s 2012 CBECS to estimate our indirect electricity and heat consumption.

The emission factors for our workspace emissions are sourced from the following: US EPA’s Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) with respect to purchased electricity and US EPA’s Emission Factors for Greenhouse Gas Inventories (April 2014) with respect to other fuels.

As part of our strategy to reduce GHG emissions, we invest in renewable energy and carbon offset projects. In FY16, we purchased renewable energy certificates (REC) to match our total electricity usage with the equivalent number of RECs in megawatt hours (MWh). The RECs, from wind energy projects across the country, are certified by Green-e Energy. In addition, we invested in forest conservation projects in Virginia and Belize, which lowered our overall GHG emissions by 30,000 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).

Scope 3

Our estimate encompasses the following:

  • Air travel: Carbon emissions from fuel consumption related to commercial airline flights, including domestic travel and international travel to move PwC US employees point-to-point. Total carbon emissions for each flight are calculated based on the aircraft type, fuel burn rates, and total flight mileage. The flight’s total carbon emissions are then divided between passengers and cargo and allocated to each seat using the seating configuration of the flight. First and business class seats are allocated a higher proportion of the emissions to reflect the increased seat size.

  • Employee commuting from personal cars and mass transit: Fuel consumption used by PwC US employees traveling from home to our offices, based on responses to a voluntary survey of PwC employees every other year. We collected and refreshed commuting data in FY15 from 21% of our partners and staff and then extrapolated that out to our FY16 headcount to calculate FY16 commuting emissions.

  • Reimbursed miles: Carbon emissions from fuel consumed by PwC US employees traveling for business purposes using personal cars.

  • Paper in workspace: Carbon emissions from energy consumed in manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal of paper used in PwC US offices and data centers.

  • Other: Carbon emissions of PwC US employees associated with categories that are tied to the number of FTE employees. This category includes the following activity types:

    • Auto travel: Rental cars
    • Auto travel: Black/Town cars
    • Hotels: Transient
    • Hotels: Group
    • Meetings: Hotels
    • Meetings: Alternate venues
    • Meetings: Transportation
    • Paper: Printed materials
    • Mass transit: Buses
    • Mass transit: Taxis
    • Mass transit: Trains

In FY11, we reviewed the first four years of results and concluded that the items we calculate in “Other” had a cumulative impact of less than 10% of our footprint. We therefore decided not to calculate an actual footprint for these items every year, but rather estimate them based on past actual measurements. Every four years (last done in FY15), we recalculate a footprint for these items based on new data when available, at which point we will determine whether there has been a change in their relative impacts and therefore a need to weight or refocus our strategy. This approach allows us to direct our efforts to the most significant drivers of our footprint.

GRI reporting

For our FY16 report, we followed the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Guidelines at the core level. However, because of a small number of partial responses, we do not claim to be reporting “in accordance” with G4. More information on the GRI Guidelines is available on the Global Reporting Initiative’s website.

  1. For FY16, our energy intensity factors are based on the 2012 CBECS survey data, newly available in FY16. For FY15 and prior years, our energy intensity factors are based on the 2003 CBECS survey data.