By Caleb MacIlvaine, senior product marketing manager
Corporate travel customers caring about sustainability is an industry-wide trend. Travel managers are increasingly taking a leadership role in their organizations and setting environmentally conscious travel policies and making vendor and supplier selections based on sustainable practices.
We’re committed to empowering our customers with the resources to track and understand their carbon footprint, which is why we’ve added a workspace for visualizing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from air travel and hotel stays to the Egencia Analytics Studio.
Travel managers can now generate multi-dimensional dashboards about travel-related greenhouse gas emissions. These visual reports give travel managers insights that empower them to support their organization’s and employees’ environmental goals.
While visualizing complex data looks deceptively easy, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.
Measuring carbon footprints
Carbon footprint is a measure of the release of carbon dioxide caused by burning fossil fuels and related processes like manufacturing plastic. Travel managers can generate reports on total carbon emissions for a particular air trip or in aggregate for an entire organization. They can visualize carbon data related to travelers, travel groups, total ticket expense, mileage, and travel segment, or pull reports that compare the carbon footprint between hotels. These insights can help support business’ eco-friendly initiatives or provide support to comply with local regulations.
Figure 1 — Carbon Emissions workspace for Hotel, as shown in Analytics Studio, our platform’s reporting interface.
How Egencia delivers hotel carbon footprint data
How can we calculate your company’s carbon emissions based on air and hotel bookings? We start with a formula developed by the UK’s Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and multiply travel distance and hotel nights by DEFRA-developed coefficients. Why use DEFRA? Government regulators view measurements from DEFRA and allied organizations as the benchmark standards for estimating travel CO2 emissions.
To illustrate the calculations, if you travel one kilometer alone in a small passenger car, each kilometer translates into 0.1276 kilograms of CO2. A thousand-kilometer drive releases 127 kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere. The number is higher for a large car, lower if you share the ride, and so forth. Air travel is calculated in the same way.
Hotel carbon emissions is a bit more complicated to estimate. It’s not like there’s one motor running at a known rate of combustion. A hotel stay comprises a collection of activities, each of which can emit greenhouse gases. These include things like heating or cooling a hotel room, going up and down in an elevator, taking a shower with hot water or eating at the hotel restaurant that uses electricity or natural gas to cook your food. Like the car scenario, the bigger the hotel room, the more CO2 that’s created.
Why CO2 emissions matter
Corporations in the EU are required to report CO2 emissions that result from business travel. This requirement is part of paying carbon-based taxes and complying with EU laws aimed at reducing carbon emissions. The EU’s overall goal, based on the Paris Agreement, is for European companies to reduce emissions 43 percent by 2030. It’s part of a broader European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) that aims to help EU members reduce their carbon footprint in a cost-effective way and Analytics Studio provides companies with the data they need for regulatory reports.
Analytics Studio enables travel managers to devise programs to support corporate travel that produces lower emissions. It can help a travel manager measure and visualize carbon emissions data to introduce innovations like a more environmentally friendly air travel program or a green-preferred hotel policy. For example, reports can highlight top routes flown and carbon emissions by distance and cabin class. Travel managers can identify a company’s largest travel carbon emitters. Alternatively, a travel program could implement in its policy options that could help people select travel with a smaller carbon footprint. Analytics Studio gives travel managers the insights they need to make these types of decisions.
Figure 2 —Top 10 sources of air travel carbon emissions, by department, traveler, and route.
This knowledge is essential in forming creative, business-positive ways of achieving an environmentally friendly travel program.
Making decisions based on sustainable travel principles. Putting environmental principles into action requires accurate data. It’s not effective to cut the carbon footprint by demanding that people take fewer flights. One flight might generate more CO2 than 10 others combined. With the right data, presented in a meaningful format, executives can think about travel and sustainability in terms that make sense to a business’ unique situation and strategy.
We’re excited to make the Carbon Emissions workspace available for Air and Hotel, but this is really only the beginning of our efforts to help our customers in their sustainability strategies.