Owner carbon emissions survey FAQ

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Ruth Richardson

Sawday's Expert

5 min read

What is CO2e? 
Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) is the common unit in which various greenhouse gases which are harmful to the environment, not just carbon dioxide, are measured. It’s the easiest way to understand your total emissions.  


What is a carbon footprint? 
Carbon footprint is the term used to cover the total emissions of a business. It’s the impact you have on the planet. Your footprint is composed of the energy you use as a household, as well as anything involved in food production, travel etc. Generally, a footprint is talked about in annual terms – the total usage/emissions over a whole year. For some companies like the impressively transparent Oatly, it’s easier to talk about the footprint of a product during its lifespan. 


Are carbon neutral, climate positive and net zero different?
Yes, they are, and one of them is much more of a statement than the other two. Here’s how we see it:

  •  Carbon neutral is mostly used by companies who pay to offset their emissions, of which they often don’t have an in-depth view
  • Climate positive tends to be mean a slightly more expensive version of the above, going beyond offsetting the bare minimum to a positive contribution
  • Net zero is the one we’re aiming for and hope you will too. It implies reduction of emissions – the treatment of the causes, not the symptoms. Behind it is investment in projects that change the way a company is run and help to sequester carbon directly, not through nebulous offsetting initiatives. 


Where did your figures come from? 
The factors we included were largely from DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), with some additional stats specific to ecollective. All the data used is open to you and we welcome investigation and challenge of our metrics and methodology.  


How accurate is the data?
The methods by which emissions are measured and tracked is still in its infancy and we have no doubt that it will develop rapidly, but ecollective’s current system is at the highest industry standard. We had to make some compromises in terms of how much time our owners had to commit to a survey. To get the most accurate calculations would have involved many more questions than we asked. We’ll be working on improving our data capture but for now, we believe that the results obtained are a valid measure and a good starting point for work on emissions reduction. 


Why does my score look wrong?
This could be down to a couple of things. You may have completed a section incorrectly or entered, for example, fuel usage for your entire site. Also, the score given is per bedroom per night, which may look strange at first glance, but is the best way to get an accurate comparison between businesses that differ wildly by both type and scale. 

We have been in touch with some owners whose scores seemed incorrect to us, but if you think yours may also be wrong, please get in touch: tessa.holmes@canopyandstars.co.uk 


How do I know if my carbon footprint is good or bad?  
To give you a frame of reference, the national average for UK hotels is 13.9kg CO2e per bedroom per night. Obviously, the ideal score would be zero, but we know that’s untenable for 99% of accommodation providers. What we want to encourage is reduction year on year, as part of a long-term commitment. We can all always be doing more. 


What is Sawday’s going to do with these scores?
Our top priority is to inform and guide where we can, in order to see a significant reduction across our collection as a whole. We’re using lowering the combined score of all our owners as an internal business goal. 


Will you introduce carbon labelling?
While there is much talk about carbon labelling, which involves emissions being displayed for all products, being introduced and even mandated in many industries, it is not yet standard in travel, although some travel companies do use it. It’s something we’re considering for the future but which we have no plans to implement until we’ve thought more about how it would affect all our owners. 


Do you consider the footprint of travelling guests?
It’s much harder to tackle, but yes. We’re doing our best to encourage responsible travel and help our owners to provide more information about public transport, EV charge points and other options. We’re looking for ways to have a bigger impact on this important factor in our overall emissions.  


When will I get a new score? 
We’ll be sending the same survey in 2023, probably late in the year, to see how people have been getting on. We know some things might take time to build, refit, or even to have an impact once in place, but we’re hoping to see things moving in the right direction. We’ll also be working on our methods of data capture and analysis, hopefully creating an even more accurate, useful and comprehensive assessment. 

Ruth Richardson

Sawday's Expert

Ruth loves a good story. Following a decade living in London and working in publishing, her ears are always pricked for a spicy plot twist or unforgettable character. She delights in meeting hosts and discovering the history that brought saffron to her spaghetti, the hiking detours that will lead to temple ruins, and why someone cares so passionately about their special corner of the world. She loves that as a marketer for Sawday’s she can share these stories with others too.
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