Carbon Accounting Essentials
Inventory Boundaries

Operational Boundary

May 28, 2024
[Read Time]


Operational Boundary


Now that we understand organizational boundaries let's look at operational boundaries.

The  operational boundaries are set only after the organizational boundaries have been determined.

Setting operational boundaries involves three steps:

  1. Identify all material sources of emissions within the defined organizational boundary.
  2. Categorize these emission sources into direct or indirect.
  3. Further categorize the emission sources into scopes 1, 2, or 3.

Where the organizational boundary defines what parts of a business to include, the operational boundary goes a layer deeper and defines what activities within those operations generate emissions.

Step One

Identify all material sources of emissions within the defined organizational boundary.

Think about all the potential activities that could result in GHG emissions throughout your business operations.

A few common emission generating activities include:

  • Business travel
  • Office utilities
  • Corporate purchasing
  • Transportation of goods sold

It is important to determine all the potentially relevant sources of emissions that fit within the defined boundary.

From here, the emissions can be categorized based on the type of emission: direct or indirect

Step Two

There are two types of emission sources:

  • Direct:
  • Indirect:

Next, the emissions will be further categorized into scope 1, 2, and 3.

Step Three

Categorize the direct and indirect emissions sources into scope 1, 2, and 3.

Scope 1

Scope 1 emissions include direct emissions from sources owned or controlled by the company. As a result, organizations have full transparency and access to track down emissions sources and their related data.

Scope 2

Scope 2 emissions are the indirect emissions generated from purchased energy. Purchased energy is defined as its own category, due to the relative degree of control companies have over their energy use despite the emissions being indirect. Scope 1 and 2 emissions are often simpler to measure than scope 3.

Scope 3

Scope 3 emissions is a catchall category that includes all other indirect emissions (that are not included in scope 2) that occur throughout the value chain of the reporting company. Scope 3 emissions are especially difficult to measure due to challenges in obtaining activity data from complex supply chains. For example, there may be multiple tiers of suppliers upstream and customer use-patterns for products can be difficult to predict.

To learn more about scopes 1, 2, and 3 — check out the next module in this series.

Up Next
Final Thoughts
Discover how Persefoni's software streamlines the definition of organizational and operational boundaries, facilitating emission calculations and transparent data sharing with authorities, stakeholders, and investors.