Climate change: How to track the carbon footprint of your residents

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With more local authorities declaring a climate emergency across the country, one of the main challenges is to determine the link between residents’ actions and their associated carbon footprint. If you are part of a climate change team, you will know how challenging this can be.

In the first in our Tackling Climate Change series, discover three steps you can take to track the carbon footprint of your residents today.

Why understanding how engaged residents are with your climate change content is key

Whichever way you communicate your climate change campaigns, be it via email, digital ads or social media, you should be continuously tracking how engaged residents are with your campaign content. By measuring the direct impact against historical baselines (e.g energy, waste, water etc) you can understand who’s participating, who isn’t and what campaign content is the most effective.

Not only will this allow you to fine tune your content towards specific audiences within your region, but it will also give you the data to be able to deliver tactical messaging by postcode or location to achieve the most impactful and sustained results across a broad range of demographics within any given setting. 

Three steps to link your resident’s engagement and actions with an associated carbon saving

1. Identify and establish baselines, mindful of external influencing factors

Whatever the climate change initiative, where possible you should set baselines to measure resident action, for example: 

  • Waste: a baseline will be defined in collaboration with the local authority either by route, round or day 
  • Water: the amount of water residents use at home based on actual meter readings compared to historical baselines 


With a baseline in place, you can measure and monitor residents’ engagement with campaign content and the direct improvements against the baseline, whist also taking into account other critical or influencing factors. For example, taking into consideration seasonality, extreme weather, lockdowns etc. 

When it’s not possible to get a direct measure, you can apply best estimates to report carbon savings. However it is important to ensure there is rigour behind the claimed savings.

Greenredeem analytics

Resident engagement measured against a baseline – the reporting tool inside our behaviour change platform.

2. Be adaptable when tracking carbon performance whatever the metric

Take a flexible approach to working with the tracking data available. For example, where waste routines don’t already exist, explore solutions which can ingest data to track performance weekly, monthly, or in specified timeframes. A simple internal audit will determine the availability of data, how it can be collated and shared, which will enable you to apply a series of tracking mechanisms.

3. Attribute a carbon saving to the environmental improvements

Sustainable Transport, Energy, Waste and the Built Environment are but a few of the key climate topics for many authorities. Whatever the topic, to measure improvements you will need to track actions taken by residents and calculate their carbon footprint impact. Here we show a basic waste and recycling example (source: Greenhouse gas reporting, conversion factors 2020, which all authorities can apply and attribute the carbon savings.

A scaled graph demonstrating more Net T CO2e equates to more recycling

An example view of tracking recycling improvements which deliver carbon savings.

Our approach to tracking improvements

Through our digital behaviour change platform we gather insights into residents’ actions, which helps us determine the most effective and relevant way to communicate to different audiences. This allows us to deliver tactical messaging by postcode or location to achieve the most impactful and sustained results across a broad range of demographics within any given setting.

  • All touchpoints with residents are recorded and monitored each week. 
  • We take into account key events/factors such as service changes, seasonality, or extreme weather conditions. 
  • We build a greater understanding of your community through their individual actions. 
  • Personalise your communication with residents, building an eco-system that fosters continuous engagement. 
Case Study front cover for insights into engaging your residents to reduce their carbon footprint

Need help motivating your residents to reduce their carbon footprint?

Download our case study:
  • 4 proven insights that yielded results
  • Calculating the average carbon saved per resident

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