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
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.
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, and Vendor 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.
Define the columns:
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.
Upload a spreadsheet with the column headers: Date, Category, Vendor, Amount, and Currency. Your spreadsheet can have more columns, but at minimum it must have these four 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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
|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|
|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|
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.”
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.
We calculate emissions from Purchased Goods & Services using the GHG Protocol spend-based approach. First, we convert the user's spending to 2018 USD using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Then we multiply this converted spending by the summary commodity emissions factor from the U.S. EPA's EEIO model, using the commodity the user has indicated via US Bureau of Economic Analysis Industry Classifications. When the user does not map 100% of their spending, we extrapolate emissions from their existing spending onto unmapped categories.
Emission factors from the EPA EEIO dataset are developed with the following assumptions:
While the spend-based approach is effective for providing an initial estimate for emissions from purchases, because it is based on general commodity emission factors, it cannot provide supplier-specific emissions estimates. For example, switching to a supplier with lower emissions will not be reflected in a spend-based analysis since the EEIO commodity factor would remain the same. Furthermore, because this approach estimates emissions based on $ spent, only reductions in spending will show reductions in emissions. In instances where environmentally preferable products and services are more expensive than their traditional counterparts (which is common), a spend-based approach will estimate higher emissions for the environmentally preferable alternative. Lastly, because the most reliable spend-based emission factors are based on an analysis of the U.S. economy, they may provide less accurate results for spending that occurs outside of the U.S.
Despite these drawbacks, spend-based analyses still provide value in instructing organizations where to start when it comes to gathering more information or implementing policies. Results from this calculator should be used as a springboard for supplier-engagement surveys to collect specific supplier emissions data.
By extrapolating mapped emissions onto unmapped categories (when the used does not map 100% of their spending), we assume that emissions of unmapped categories reflects emissions of the user’s mapped categories. For this reason, we require the user to map a minimum of 75% of their spending so that such extrapolation does not have a large impact on overrall emissions. However, in cases where the user does not map particularly GHG-intensive categories, it could reduce the accuracy of our emissions calculation. To avoid this, users can map 100% of their spending.
U.S. EPA Supply Chain Greenhouse Gas Emission Factors for US Industries and Commodities
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - Consumer Price Index
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis - Industry Classification
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