Categories
Purchases

This feature helps you calculate the supply chain emissions for the goods and services you purchase, including capital goods and production-related purchases.

Updated: August 2023


Table of contents


Overview

How-to-guide

Preparing your file

Using the template

Criteria mapping

Emissions overrides

FAQs

Methodology

 


  

Overview

This feature helps you calculate the supply chain emissions for the goods and services you purchase, including capital goods and production-related purchases. Capital goods consist of the factories, tools, and equipment used to produce your finished goods or services while production-related goods include materials, components, or ingredients that go into your products.

As a category, purchased goods and services (PGS) is often one of the largest emissions sources for organizations. To calculate these emissions, Sustain.Life uses data from models that estimate the flow of goods and services throughout the economy—also known as environmentally-extended input output (EEIO) models. These models estimate the emissions per revenue for a range of commodities and industries by multiplying your spend to calculate emissions (Emissions factor x $ spent = MT CO2e). A critical step is mapping your spend data to the commodities/industries in these models. This process is manual and can be time-consuming at first, but Sustain.Life saves your selections for future data uploads. When you return to calculate next year’s emissions, the process will be much faster, if not automatic.

Once you're familiar with your internal accounting categories, you can break out the mapping task over several days. We'll save your progress.

 

 How-to guide

 

Preparing your file for bulk upload

Most accounting platforms allow you to export transaction data into a .csv or .xlsx file—this is the easiest way to generate the file you’ll need to upload to your Sustain.Life account. 1. Specify a date range (e.g., your fiscal year) before you export. 2. Identify the required columns and rename them (if needed) to Date, Amount, Category, Vendor, and Emissions (MT CO2e) for Sustain.Life to recognize them. 3. Include additional columns that can help you identify transactions (e.g., department, notes, etc.), but note, these will not impact your emissions calculations.

 

  

Using the template

If you would rather use our template, click “Download a template” on the upload screen. Add data manually or copy and paste into the template from another source.

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Define the columns:

  • Date: Transaction date
  • Amount: Monetary amount of transaction
  • Category: Internal category name as set in your accounting platform. Pick the most granular one to increase the accuracy of your results in Sustain.Life.
  • Vendor: Name of vendor associated with transaction. May also be called "Supplier" in your accounting system. This does not impact calculations but allows Sustain.Life to report emissions results by top vendors. Mark "unknown" or leave blank if you don't have access to vendor name.
  • Currency: Currency code. Currently supported currencies are listed here.
  • Emissions (MT CO2e): Use this optional column to upload known emissions data. This will override any backend emissions calculations.

Formatting guidelines

  • File type: .xlsx only
  • File size: 100 MB max
  • Date format: Ex. 2021-01-01, 1/1/2021
  • Amount format: Decimal
  • Category format: String
  • Vendor format: String
  • Currency format: String (see here for options)
  • Emissions (MT CO2e): Decimal, Optional

Note: Your Excel inputs cannot contain formulas. If your cells reference other cells or files with a formula, please copy and paste values before you upload.

Tip: Remove unnecessary columns to improve processing speed. Start by uploading your purchased goods and services data.

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Upload a spreadsheet with the column headers: Date, Category, VendorAmount, Currency, and Emissions (MT CO2e). Your spreadsheet can have more columns, but at minimum it must have these five columns. Alternatively, you can download a template (see further instructions below) to input and upload your data. Next, you’ll get a preview of your data to confirm it has been imported correctly. The bulk of your effort happens on the Match Categories page.

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Criteria mapping – How to match your categories

The data you provide Sustain.Life should include your spend categories that often come from an accounting system (and may even be your chart of accounts, if granular enough) and should define what you purchased since Sustain.Life’s factors are based on the commodity purchased. You can also classify your data by vendor to receive vendor-specific emissions at the end of the process, but this is optional. Your spending categories should be as granular as possible.

However, we understand that they often will not represent a single, discrete commodity (e.g., IT may include both computer products and IT services). In such cases, categorize by the predominant good or service in the category.

Additionally, you should specify if a category is for capital goods or production-related purchases that are not capital goods (e.g., materials, ingredients, components). This allows us to track them correctly and apply the appropriate emission factors: for general and capital goods, we use emission factors that have been adjusted to include retail margins, for production-related purchases we assume these are made at wholesale prices and, therefore, do not include margin adjustments in the emission factor.

If you’re not a producer, but a reseller of finished goods, categorize them as production-related purchases, too. Any purchases that factor into the cost of goods sold (COGS) should be categorized as production-related purchases. Proceed row by row and fill out the requested information until at least 75% of your spend has been mapped. Going beyond 75% will give you a more accurate emissions output. If you complete less than 100%, we will extrapolate the remaining spending based on the categories you mapped.

If you have known emissions data for certain purchase categories from a supplier, you can add a custom source in the Purchases configurations. You will map purchases to your custom sources during the mapping phase, and the custom emission factor will be applied in the calculations.  

Descriptions of the fields on this page

General area

Goods – a physical good or material that you purchased

Services – acts performed for your organization. Many services may also incorporate physical goods, for example, a photographer may provide physical prints, or an HVAC repair company may provide parts. These should still be categorized as services.

Emissions category - Depending on whether you select good or service, you will receive a different list of commodities. Select the commodity that most closely resembles your spending category. See our list of examples and definitions below.

Type

  • General/unspecified – Purchases that are neither capital goods nor production-related

  • Capital good – Capital-intensive goods that have an extended life and are used to manufacture products, provide services, or sell, store, or deliver merchandise. You can often align this with your accounting team’s definition of a capital good.

  • Production-related – Materials and supplies used in the production of your final goods (e.g., ingredients, components, packaging) or finished goods you purchase for resale.

Finally, the right-hand column has a toggle switch for categories you may want to exclude. For example, the following types of spending should be excluded because they are included in other emissions categories in Sustain.Life:

  • Business travel – Transportation for business needs. This includes flights, train rides, and car rentals. It does not include accommodation, parking fees or meals, which should be included in PGS.

  • Energy utilities – Purchases of fuel, electricity, heating, steam and cooling. Purchases of renewable energy products like RECs should also be excluded.

  • Transportation & distribution – Shipping and warehousing services

  • Waste – Waste hauling services Sustain.Life’s categories align with the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ industry groupings. The table below provides definitions and examples for each category. Categories marked with an asterisk have the potential to overlap with other emissions categories (e.g. purchased electricity) and should be excluded from Purchased goods & services if so.

Commodity Examples
Administrative support HR, office administration, facilities maintenance, security, travel arrangement
Air transportation* Passenger or freight transport
Apparel and leather products Clothing
Appliances, electrical equipment and components Light bulbs, motors, batteries
Broadcasting and telecommunications Cable and internet services, wireless or satellite phone and internet services, radio and TV broadcasting
Chemicals and pharmaceuticals Ink and toner, paint, fertilizer, industrial gases, pharmaceutical goods
Computer- and design-related services Computer programming services, network system design, IT management
Computers and electronics Laptops, mobile phones, industrial instruments
Construction Construction, renovation, and maintenance of buildings or structures
Data processing and internet publishing Cloud subscriptions, data hosting
Educational services Professional development courses
Fabricated metal products Metal hardware, piping, fittings
Farms Agricultural commodities including plant and animal products
Federal Reserve banks, credit intermediation, related activities  
Forestry and fishing Raw timber, wild-caught fish
Funds, trusts, and other financial vehicles *  
Furniture Office furniture, shelving
General merchandise and goods  
Healthcare – Hospital services Inpatient medical care
Healthcare – Nursing and residential healthcare Nursing homes, mental health facilities
Healthcare – Outpatient Outpatient services from physicians, dentists, or other healtcare practitioners
Hotels and business accommodations Hotels
Insurance Insurance carriers, agencies, and brokers
Legal  
Machinery HVAC equipment, pumps, printers, material handling equipment, power tools
Management support Real estate management, third-party operation of company-owned enterprises
Mineral products (non-metallic) Cement, concrete, clay, mineral wool, glass
Mining – Support activitiesrt Well drilling
Mining (except oil and gas) Coal, sand, gravel, iron, stone
Motor vehicles, trailers, and parts  
Oil and gas extraction *  
Other – Manufactured goods Medical equipment and supplies, toys, sporting goods, signs, non-paper office supplies
Other – professional, scientific, and technical Architectural, accounting, engineering, research, marketing, advertising services
Other – transportation and support * Couriers and messengers
Other – Transportation equipment Aircraft, boats, bicycles and associated parts
Paper products Cardboard, office paper
Petroleum and coal * Asphalt
Pipeline transportation  
Plastics and rubber Plastic bags, films, tires
Primary metals Raw metal material for manufacturing, such as metal sheeting
Printing Book or marketing material printing
Publishing (except internet, but includes software) Software publishing, magazines, and newspapers
Real estate – Commercial, industrial Leased commercial or industrial properties
Real estate – Housing Residential rental payments
Recreation – Performing arts, sports, museums  
Recreation– Arts, amusements, gambling Theme parks, casinos
Rental and leasing services Equipment rental, electronics rental
Restaurants and bars Restaurants, bars
Retail – Other Hardware stores, personal care, etc.
Securities, commodity contracts, investments Portfolio management
Social assistance Child day care
Stores – Food and beverage (e.g., supermarkets) Supermarkets
Textiles Fabric, carpet, yarn
Transportation – Boat, water * Passenger or freight transport
Transportation – Passenger transit and ground * Passenger or freight transport
Transportation – Rail * Passenger or freight air transport
Transportation – Truck * Passenger or freight transport
Utilities * Utilities not already accounted for under Scope 1 or 2
Video, audio, and film Video and audio production, acting services
Warehousing and storage *  
Waste management * Hazardous waste cleanup
Wholesale – Food, beverage, and tobacco Wholesale food from a distributor or manufacturer
Wood products Lumber, plywood, wooden windows and doors
 

Emissions overrides

If a supplier has shared specific emissions data with you, you can upload it into our system using “Emissions (MT CO2e)” column. Add values in the rows where you have known emissions data - these values will override any emissions calculations done on the back end. You will be able to review these on the pages that follow. Leave this blank for purchases without known emissions data.

 



 

FAQs

How often should I upload PGS data?

Typically, spend-based purchased goods and services emissions are calculated annually and align with your fiscal year.

What are the benefits of a spend-based approach to emissions accounting?

A spend-based approach is the most straightforward—and common—way to create an exhaustive emissions inventory for the goods and services you purchase. We recommend using the tool to get a sense of the magnitude of various spending categories and then use the outputs to prioritize supplier engagement to get more accurate data.

Is there a way to calculate these emissions without using spend data?

Yes, there is. Use the Supplier Assessment to engage with your suppliers and obtain emissions figures for the goods or services you purchased from them. This is one of the most accurate ways to build a PGS inventory, but it can be time-consuming, and suppliers often don’t have the data readily available.

If I have already calculated my emissions, but need to update either raw transaction data or category mappings, how do I do that?

From the Purchases category page, select the three vertical dots on the right of your entry and select “Delete.”

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 Then, start over by re-uploading a new file and updating the category mappings. Note that your category defaults will have been saved from before, but you can adjust them.

If I change the category mapping on a future import, will it update previous entries?

No, changes to category mappings will only apply going forward, not retroactively.

For consultants: If I map categories for one client, will those mappings apply to my other clients?

No, the categories you’ve mapped will apply only to the current client. In order to apply those mappings to all clients, import data and select those mappings for each individual client.

How do I categorize finished goods purchased for resale?

Categorize them as production-related purchases. Any purchases of goods and services that normally factor into your cost of goods sold (COGS) should be categorized this way. This also applies to drop-shipped product purchases.

 

 



 

Methodology


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