GHG Protocol - CCDC Factsheet

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Please note that the factsheet below was developed based on a draft version of the GHG Protocol ICT Sector Guidance. The factsheet will be soon updated based on the final version of the Guidance (published in July 2017) to integrate any changes

GHG Protocol Product Standard – Cloud Computing and Data Centre Services
Name of Initiative/Methodology

GHG Protocol Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard ICT Sector Guidance – Chapter 5 – Guide for assessing GHG emissions of Cloud Computing and Data Centre Services

Link to the latest published version

GHG Protocol ICT Sector Guidance (01/2013): Draft version 2.6

Developed by

Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative
History and Status
  • Work started in 2011
  • Issued as a draft for public comment in January 2013
Involved companies / parties

Convening Secretariat: WRI, WBCSD, GeSI, Carbon Trust


Organisation env. accounting

 Scope 1  
 Scope 2  
 Scope 3

Product env. assessment 

 Life cycle approach  

 Use phase only


 Energy (focus on secondary energy)

 Other environmental impacts


System(s) covered by the methodology
  • Cloud Computing Services and Data Centre Services, which comprise:
    • E-mail, calendar, document and other business applications
    • Consumer photo, video and music and other data storage applications
    • Search, social networking and database applications
    • Application hosting in the cloud
  • Quantifying the energy and GHG emissions associated with the delivery of cloud services, focusing on the “user” perspective
  • Providing with standard and repeatable methods for a better understanding of the energy and GHG impacts of alternative ICT service delivery solutions
  • Assessing GHG emissions of a cloud service provided by or associated with the use of data centres
  • Comparing GHG emissions of a cloud service with those from an equivalent non-cloud service
Generic features
  • All stages other than the use stage may be grouped together (embodied emissions)
  • Primary data should be collected for processes under the ownership or control of the cloud service provider
  • Critical review by a first or third party is required
  • Offsets, avoided and delayed emissions are not to be included in the inventory results
  • Functional unit:
    • For all final products, the unit of analysis is defined as a functional unit
    • For intermediate products where the eventual function is unknown, the unit of analysis is defined as the reference flow
  • Cradle-to-gate and gate-to-gate inventory results should be reported separately (if not limited by confidentiality)
  • Companies shall disclose and justify any exclusions of attributable processes in the inventory report
  • Companies shall collect primary data for all processes under their ownership / control
  • Companies shall assess the data quality of activity data, emission factors, and/or direct emissions data
ICT-specific features
  • Cloud services create emissions through data centres, network, and end-user devices. Depending on the specificity of cloud applications, certain aspects may to be included.
  • The functional unit should clearly describe:
    • The quantity of the service (e.g. number of users, size of storage capacity)
    • The duration of the service (e.g. per year, for the contract duration)
    • The quality of the service (e.g. in terms of recovery/availability)
  • The following processes are not attributable to the GHG impact of cloud services:
    • Energy consumed during software development
    • Material and energy flows not directly related to equipment for hosting and fulfilment of the service
    • Maintenance of capital equipment
  • Cloud services must include:
    • Hosting and fulfilment of cloud applications (e.g. servers, storage devices)
    • Internet transfer and user access
    • Energy, water and other materials consumed by the above processes
  • Guidance is provided on allocation methods of emissions and ICT devices of the data centre; the method should seek to separate fixed vs. variable emissions of the site. The document indicates specific data required for the allocation.
  • Refer to [GHG Protocol – Hardware] and [GHG Protocol – TNS] for the calculation of GHG impacts of the component parts of the infrastructure that support a cloud service
Examples of implementation / experience feedback

None identified – to be filled later

Interaction with other methodologies
  • [IEC TR 62725] Analysis of quantification methodologies of greenhouse gas emissions for electrical and electronic products and systems
  • [IEC 62430] Environmentally conscious design for electrical and electronic products
  • [IEC 62474] Material declaration for products of and for the electrotechnical industry
  • [IEC 62623] Desktop and notebook computers - Measurement of energy consumption
  • [IEC TR 62635] Guidelines for end-of-life information provided by manufacturers and recyclers and for recyclability rate calculation of electrical and electronic equipment
  • [ISO 14064-1] Greenhouse gases - Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals
  • [ISO/TS 14067] Greenhouse gases -- Carbon footprint of products -- Requirements and guidelines for quantification and communication
  • [ISO 14040] Environmental management - Life cycle assessment - Principles and framework
  • [ISO 14044] Environmental management - Life cycle assessment – Requirements and guidelines
  • [GHG Protocol] Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard
  • [ETSI TS 103 199] Environmental Engineering (EE); Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of ICT equipment, networks and services; General methodology and common requirements
  • [ITU-T L.1410] Methodology for environmental life cycle assessments of information and communication technology goods, networks and services
  • [EU Energy Star]

How do I use this methodology? Ask for support!

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