This is a technical unit. It requires maths so that a quantitative answer can be achieved. This unit intends participants do the maths. It is not intended that they simply click on a carbon calculator on the internet. By doing the maths it will also demonstrate they know the components of their carbon footprint.
So, as the title says, it’s about calculating the carbon footprint, which in this context means CO2 equivalent tonnes embodied in the product; and then making some recommendation to reduce that. The carbon footprint is often taken to include every step and process along the supply or value chain. While this might be ideal it is not always possible in practice to identify and measure everything. The unit allows for a defined portion of the value chain to be the focus. Keep in mind this is about the carbon footprint so it differs from a life cycle analysis which might look at carbon but typically includes other aspects of sustainability, such as pollutants.
The unit can be applied using formal enterprise procedures which might form part of a reporting system, for example, to meet National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) or National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) requirements. However, it can also be applied to simple techniques for estimating energy use and calculating carbon emissions based on power bills or the energy consumption rates listed on equipment.
While this unit has been written with manufacturing in mind, services also have CO2 embodied in their product arising from the electricity (in Australia predominantly coal) they use, the paper they use, the transport they use, and so on. It’s there, just not as visible. The calculations should be similar.
As part of an AQF 5 qualification it is assumed that the learner will ‘… apply knowledge and skills to demonstrate autonomy, judgement and defined responsibility in known or changing contexts and within broad but established parameters’. Read more about AQF qualification levels...
1 Map carbon sources and sinks along the value chain
This is about putting boundaries around the analysis; otherwise it can’t be done. It then moves on to identifying the carbon change at each step in the selected process. Typically this will be the consumption of a resource (which will always have a carbon component, even if only from the energy to supply it).
In this context a carbon sink is not necessarily (if ever) a formal sequestration technique. It is any change that captures or uses carbon or reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The map could be drawing or a spreadsheet showing a row of steps in the value chain, with the next row showing the related carbon changes. These must be quantified – so much electricity, so much water, so much paper, and so on.
2 Determine nature and source for carbon emissions
This is a planning step and it may be possible to combine it with Element 1.
Here we start working out what the carbon emissions may be. You will probably identify electricity use in the process, but is it from the grid or is it generated on site? How is it generated? In NSW it is probably from black coal. In Queensland or South Australia it might be from gas.
If this information is available it can form part of the calculations.
One problem here is that typically we measure these things for the entire organisation or plant (e.g. we know the total electricity consumption) but not for each process step, and so we need to either identify some proxy to that measurement, or calculate it somehow.
We need the data for each step to work out which steps have the biggest contribution and therefore which steps we should concentrate on to make an improvement.
3 Quantify carbon
Here we work out how much of each resource is used at each step and calculate this into equivalent tonnes of CO2 (e.g. we know how much electricity is used, we look up how much CO2 is produced for each kWh consumed, and we do the maths).
If we are actually emitting a gas, then we calculate/measure the rate of the emission and then look up the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of that gas and do the maths to turn that into CO2 equivalent tonnes.
The ‘point of obligation’ is the point where the carbon tax for an emission is charged; it may be in your organisation, or a supplier or a customer. If you are burning fuel for transport the point of obligation is the fuel supplier, so saving fuel will reduce your footprint; but may not be reflected in any tax you may pay on other sources of carbon.
Total embodied carbon is then just the sum of equivalent tonnes of CO2.
4 Recommend strategies for reducing carbon footprint
Strategies for reducing carbon footprint begin with a root cause analysis of the higher equivalent CO2 steps that were identified in Element 3. The strategies to reduce of remove equivalent CO2 should target the root cause.
It stops with a recommendation because the approval process may be outside the authority of this person and/or take too long/be too variable to reliably include in a competency assessment.
5 Report carbon footprint
This involves compiling all of the data and turning it into a usable report. Developing a report combines a detailed knowledge of the process (very process specific) with an understanding of the sources of equivalent CO2 – quite generic although with sector-specific emphases.
As an RTO your assessment must cover all of the requirements of the unit of competency, including Elements, Performance Criteria, Range Conditions and the new Assessment Requirements. While the Assessment Requirements can be downloaded (training.gov.au) as a separate document they are part of the complete unit of competency.
The Assessment Requirements comprise Performance Evidence, Knowledge Evidence and Assessment Conditions. The Performance Evidence and Knowledge Evidence sections are self-explanatory and go some way to defining the evidence that you need collect.
However, they do not specify the format or structure that evidence should take. The specific evidence requirements need to be decided by you the RTO, for example, how the carbon emissions should be identified or measured, or the depth to which this should be investigated.
This enables you to identify the sources of information for the business and contextualise your assessment and evidence collection.
Some businesses might have access to detailed information about their sources of energy and the efficiency of transmission and consumption. So it might be possible to calculate carbon emissions based on coal vs gas vs hydro electricity. It might be possible to factor in the efficiency of generation and the efficiency of furnaces, boilers and other equipment. But for some workplaces these will need to be estimated based on research about typical rates and averages.
The Assessment Conditions define the conditions that must apply to the assessment process, for example:
- The collection of performance evidence is best done from a report and/or folio of evidence drawn from:
- a single project which provides sufficient evidence of the requirements of all the elements and performance criteria
- multiple smaller projects which together provide sufficient evidence of the requirements of all the elements and performance criteria.
- A third party report, or similar, may be needed to testify to the work done by the individual, particularly when the project has been done as part of a project team.
- Assessment should use a real project where the determination of the carbon footprint along a value chain or portion of a value chain occurs for an operational workplace.
They also provide outline how the assessor can meet the requirements for vocational competency and currency:
- Technical competence can be demonstrated through:
- relevant VET or other qualification/Statement of Attainment AND/OR
- relevant workplace experience
- Currency can be demonstrated through:
- performing the competency being assessed as part of current employment OR
- having consulted with an organisation providing relevant environmental monitoring, management or technology services about performing the competency being assessed within the last twelve months.
Most units of competency require some skills that are ’embedded’ or assumed. These are required within the unit but are not spelled out in the elements or performance criteria or range statement.
In this unit they include:
- root cause analysis (RCA)
- identifying and working with stakeholders
- calculating and interpreting numeric data.
You need to take these into consideration in planning your resources and delivery. You will need to determine whether your participants already have these skills or whether you need to cover them in your training and skills development activities and your resource materials.
Assessment of the embedded skills is a given; they must be assessed because they form part of the unit. In other words, if the unit is assessed correctly it will automatically include an assessment of these embedded skills.
If the embedded skills can not be demonstrated additional training, mentoring or other skills development activities might be required. In some cases these might align to other units of competency.
In developing a training and assessment strategy you will need to customise the program and decide which units to package into your program and whether to group any units for delivery and assessment. You might want to cluster units, or integrate the content into modules or learning objects.
How (and whether) to group the units will vary depending on the needs of the participant, the needs and goals of the business and how it operates. In some situations it might be useful to group this unit with one or more of:
- MSS015010 Conduct a sustainability water audit
- MSS015011 Conduct a sustainability energy audit
- MSS015012 Conduct an emissions audit
- MSS015013 Conduct a sustainability related transport audit