Skip Navigation Links
Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management
António Mendes Lopes (editor), Jiazhong Zhang(editor)
António Mendes Lopes (editor)

University of Porto, Portugal


Jiazhong Zhang (editor)

School of Energy and Power Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province 710049, China

Fax: +86 29 82668723 Email:

Carbon footprint and life cycle assessment of organizations

Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management 1(1) (2013) 55--63 | DOI:10.5890/JEAM.2013.01.005

Matthias Finkbeiner; Paul König

Department of Environmental Technology, Chair of Sustainable Engineering, Technical University Berlin, Office Z1, Strasse des 17. Juni, 10623 Berlin, Germany

Download Full Text PDF



When analyzing the environmental performance of products, it has become standard practice to use a life cycle perspective. For organizations (e.g. companies) such a life cycle or supply chain oriented assessment is not yet established as common practice. The discussions on the carbon footprint of organizations and the development of the so-called ‘supply chain’- or ‘scope 3’-standard of the GHG-Protocol promoted the future use of such an approach. At the level of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) a project has just been launched to develop an LCA standard for Organizations (ISO 14072), which will address the full set of environmental interventions, not only greenhouse gases. This paper proposes a corporate environmental footprint assessment methodology by adapting the mandatory elements (“shalls”) of ISO 14044 from products to organizations. Most requirements are applicable on both the product and organizational level, such as impact assessment, reporting and review requirements. Others were partially adapted from ISO 14044, such as system boundary or allocation procedures. A third group of aspects like e.g. comparisons based on a common function, i.e. product and service portfolio, were identified as methodological challenges. As far as the data demand is concerned, it was interesting to find that even the corporate accounting approach needs product level data and in that respect does not differ from the traditional life cycle approach.


Part of this work was supported by the German Research Foundation as part of the Collaborative Research Center 1026: Sustainable Manufacturing.


  1. [1]  Finkbeiner, M., Wiedemann, W., and Saur, K. (1998), A comprehensive approach towards product and organisation related environmental management tools, The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 3(3), 169-178.
  2. [2]  Downie, J. and Stubbs, W. (2011), Evaluation of Australian companies' scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions assessments, Journal of Cleaner Production, doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2011.09.010.
  3. [3]  Mueller-Wenk, R. and Braunschweig, A. (1993), Ökobilanzen für Unternehmungen: eine Wegleitung für die Praxis, Bern: Paul Haupt.
  4. [4]  Taylor, A.P. and Postlethwaite, D. (1996), Overall Business Impact Assessment (OBIA), Proceedings of the 4th SETAC Case Study Symposium, 03.12.96, Brussels.
  5. [5]  Finkbeiner, M. (2009), Carbon footprinting - opportunities and threats, The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 14(2), 91-94.
  6. [6]  Chomkhamsri, K. and Pelletier, N. (2011), Analysis of Existing Environmental Footprint Methodologies for Products and Organizatinos: Recommendations, Rationale, and Alignment, Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. Accessed 24 May 2012.
  7. [7]  ISO 14040. (2006), Environmental Management - Life Cycle Assessment - Principles and Framework, Switzerland: Geneva,
  8. [8]  ISO 14044. (2006), Environmental Management - Life Cycle Assessment - Requirements and Guidelines, Switzerland: Geneva,
  9. [9]  Finkbeiner, M., Inaba, A., Tan, R.B.H., Christiansen, K., and Klüppel, H.J. (2006), The new international standards for life cycle assessment: ISO 14040 and ISO 14044, The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 11(2), 80-85.
  10. [10]  ISO 14001. (2009), Environmental management systems - Requirements with guidance for use, Switzerland: Geneva,
  11. [11]  GHG Protocol. (2011), GHG Protocol: Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) Accounting and Reporting Standard, [Accessed 17.08.2012].
  12. [12]  EU Commission. (2012), Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) Guide,
  13. [13] [Accessed 17.08.2012].
  14. [14]  Finkbeiner, M. (2013), From the 40s to the 70s〞the future of LCA in the ISO 14000 family, The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 18, 1-4.