Evergreen Assessment - What Emissions Categories are Relevant?

Feb. 20, 2024, 8 a.m. • By Adam Forster

Deciphering GHG Protocol Emissions Categories for Your Business

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Navigating the complexities of greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting can be daunting for businesses. The GHG Protocol, a widely adopted international framework, categorises emissions into three scopes, but understanding which of these are pertinent to your organisation is critical. This blog aims to guide businesses, especially those completing the NHS Evergreen assessment, in identifying the relevant GHG Protocol emissions categories.

Understanding the GHG Protocol Categories

The GHG Protocol classifies emissions into three main scopes:

  1. Scope 1 (Direct Emissions): These are emissions from sources that are owned or directly controlled by your company, such as fuel combustion in boilers, furnaces, or company-owned vehicles.
  2. Scope 2 (Indirect Emissions from Electricity and Purchased Energy): This category includes emissions from the generation of purchased electricity that your company consumes. It reflects the indirect nature of your business's contribution to GHG emissions through electricity use.
  3. Scope 3 (Other Indirect Emissions): Perhaps the most complex, this scope encompasses emissions not directly produced by your company but related to your business activities. This includes emissions from business travel, procurement, waste management, and even the use of sold products.

These scopes are then subdivided into the following greenhouse gas protocol categories:

Scope 1 Categories:
  1. Stationary combustion
  2. Mobile combustion
  3. Fugitive emissions
  4. Process emissions
Scope 2 Categories:
  1. Purchased electricity
  2. Purchased heat
  3. Purchased steam
Scope 3 Categories:
  1. Purchased goods and services
  2. Capital goods
  3. Fuel- and energy-related activities not included in scope 1 or scope 2
  4. Upstream transportation and distribution
  5. Waste generated in operations
  6. Business travel
  7. Employee commuting
  8. Upstream leased assets
  9. Downstream transportation and distribution
  10. Processing of sold products
  11. Use of sold products
  12. End-of-life treatment of sold products
  13. Downstream leased assets
  14. Franchises
  15. Investments

For expediency we have not included a full description of each. For more information about them check out the greenhouse gas protocol, for information on how to calculate them check out our methodology document, but the best way to learn more about all this is to jump on a call with one of our experts. It is totally free and will give you invaluable information.

How to Determine Relevant Emissions Categories for Your Business

  1. Conduct an Operational Review: Start by mapping out your business operations. This review will help you identify potential sources of emissions, both direct and indirect.
  2. Categorise Emission Sources: Once you have a clear understanding of your operations, categorise emission sources into direct and indirect. This could include anything from your manufacturing processes to the lifecycle of your products.
  3. Evaluate and Prioritise: Assess the scale and impact of each emission source. Some sources might contribute more significantly to your total emissions, while others might offer more opportunities for reduction.
  4. Set Relevant Targets: Based on your analysis, prioritise the categories that are most significant to your operations. Setting achievable reduction targets for these categories is key to effective GHG management.

Tips for Businesses

  • Start with a Baseline: An emissions audit can provide a baseline, helping you understand your current impact.
  • Engage Across Your Supply Chain: Your Scope 3 emissions, in particular, require you to engage with suppliers and partners to get a complete picture.
  • Get Help: Seek expert advise form the likes of C Free. We offer half hour consultancies totally for free in which we are more than happy to point you in the right direction.
  • Stay Flexible and Informed: As your business grows and evolves, so will your emissions profile. Regular reviews will ensure your GHG reporting remains relevant and accurate.


Identifying the correct GHG Protocol emissions categories is more than a compliance exercise; it's a strategic step towards understanding and reducing your environmental impact. By focusing on the categories most relevant to your business, you not only adhere to frameworks like the NHS Evergreen assessment but also demonstrate a commitment to sustainable and responsible business practices. Organisations that do not engage with this will be left behind so embrace this journey as an integral part of your business growth.

Meet with one of our experts