Consultancy vs. DIY: The Real Cost of Carbon Footprint Calculators

In the era of digital transformation and with the rise of DIY solutions, it can be tempting for businesses to turn to an online carbon footprint calculator for calculating their business carbon footprints. These platforms promise quick results and easy to understand metrics.

However, as convenient as these tools may seem, they often fall short of providing the comprehensive, accurate, and actionable insights businesses need to truly make a difference in their sustainability journey.

In this blog, we will discuss the risks of relying on (often inaccurate!) carbon footprint calculators and why online carbon calculation tools may not be sufficient for your business. Additionally, we will explore why a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work when it comes to carbon calculations.

With future implications such as carbon taxation and legislation on the horizon, we will uncover the value of expert consultancy in greenhouse gas management and showcase why the investment is worthwhile.

Buy Cheap, Buy Twice!

On the surface, an online tool ticks all the boxes. It's cheap, it's convenient, and it doesn't take much time! However, whilst you might not spend much time or money during the calculation process, you might end up kicking yourself in a few months time when you find out how inaccurate the footprint was.

Online tools struggle to capture the nuances of individual businesses and tend to rely on generic, outdated emissions data, which aren’t regularly updated or checked for accuracy and may not consider industry-specific emissions factors, compromising accuracy.

This can lead to substantial assumptions being made about your business's carbon emissions. And with these assumptions comes the risk of inaccurate calculations, potentially skewing your understanding of your company's environmental impact.

A 2021 study by Boston Consulting Group found that on average, executives from global corporations in nine major industries estimated an error rate of around 30-40% in their emissions calculations. A lot of these global corporations have in-house sustainability teams or use highly qualified consultancies, and these errors still exist; carbon calculations are inherently tricky work.

To understand why we get these errors, we can break it into two key reasons:

1. Inaccurate Data: Collecting granular data is a big challenge, especially when every business is different. This can be a time intensive process, but is completely worth the investment for the manufacturer, as the knowledge they gain opens so many doors when it comes to sustainability and efficiency improvements.

2. Inaccurate Emission Factors: In carbon calculations, emission factors are metrics used to indicate how greenhouse gas intensive a particular activity is. These come from various sources, for example the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero here in the UK, and are updated yearly.

Emission calculations can be prone to errors, especially when using non-bespoke calculators. Here's what your footprint may look like with a 40% error, imagine the how different it may look with a free online calculator!

If these errors might exist within some of the biggest, and well equipped companies in the world, imagine the errors that will be hiding under the hood of a generic online carbon footprint calculator!

It's crucial to remember that a business carbon footprint calculation is not a one-size-fits-all process. Each business is unique, with its own operational processes, supply chains, and industry-specific challenges. Carbon calculators need to be able to produce a footprint for any business, which means the majority make broad assumptions that don't take the nuances of your business into account.

Understanding your carbon footprint is only the first step in your sustainability journey. The real challenge lies in navigating internal stakeholders, gathering and interpreting emission data, identifying opportunities for improvement, and implementing effective carbon reduction strategies.

Accurate calculations require businesses to consider the unique operations and activities they undertake, including their use of fossil fuels. One-size-fits-all approaches fall short in capturing specific emissions. Tailoring calculations to each business's nuances yields more precise results and enables targeted sustainability measures.

Ultimately, all of this means that whilst an online carbon footprint calculator may seem to save you time and money in the short-term, they can in fact cost you more in the future when you need to properly correct or calculate your footprint. As the saying goes, buy cheap, buy twice!

Invest in Expertise!

As time goes on, businesses are going to be increasingly reliant on emission reporting to help them make key strategic decisions and navigate future carbon taxation and legislation. A carbon footprint calculation is the start of your carbon journey and the foundation to all of your future sustainability initiatives, so decisions made off the back of shaky DIY calculations are not going to help future proof any business.

Imagine if you use an online carbon footprint calculator to calculate your emissions and publicly report them, only to find that your emissions double when you hire a consultancy to accurately do the work next year, you'd quickly be in a difficult position!

Inaccurate carbon calculations can result in misleading sustainability claims, loss of customer trust, missed cost-saving opportunities, non-compliance with regulations, and unrealistic reduction targets. Using reliable data and recognised methodologies is crucial for accurate carbon calculations.

This is where a consultancy like MyCarbon comes in. Our team of experts uses the latest data and methodologies to provide a comprehensive and accurate assessment of your business carbon footprint. But we don't stop there. We work with you to develop a tailored carbon management strategy that aligns with your business's specific needs and goals.

We understand that sustainability is not just about reducing your environmental impact, but also about improving your operational efficiency, enhancing your reputation, and securing your business's future in a rapidly changing world.

MyCarbon Journey

Calculating your business carbon footprint is a crucial first step towards reducing your impact on the environment. By understanding your emissions, you can develop a targeted approach to cutting your carbon footprint, while also identifying opportunities for cost savings and operational efficiencies.

Choosing a consultancy like MyCarbon means investing in a partner that is committed to making the largest positive environmental impact possible. Whilst it might seem like an upfront cost, the long-term benefits – both for your business and for the planet – make it a worthwhile investment.

So before you fall into the DIY trap, consider the true cost of using an online tool for your carbon footprint calculation. Remember, getting your baseline right the first time is key to effective carbon management. Let MyCarbon guide you through this process, making your journey to sustainability simple and impactful.



Accurate calculations the crucial first step for businesses to understand and address their environmental impact. Whilst an online carbon footprint calculator might look great on the surface, you're likely to miss or overestimate significant chunks of your footprint, leading to long term problems in meeting environmental legislation or developing your emission reduction strategies. One-size-fits-all approaches simply do not work when it comes to building a reliable foundation for reducing your environmental impact.

To truly understand your impact, you're much better off investing in a carbon consultancy like MyCarbon to provide a comprehensive and accurate assessment of your business carbon footprint. By investing in expertise, you are future proofing your business to meeting environmental legislation, improving revenue and helping to contribute to a better future!


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