What is a carbon handprint

The science-based calculation methodology of carbon handprint has been developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and LUT University. 

Carbon handprint is a positive climate impact indicator. In contrast to carbon footprint, which refers to the negative environmental impact caused by greenhouse gas emissions throughout the lifecycle of a product, the term carbon handprint refers to the positive environmental impact of a product throughout its lifecycle.

Carbon handprint helps a company to develop products and services that allow its customers to reduce their carbon footprint. Carbon handprint is first and foremost a concept for companies but there are several other organisations that can support its development. However, also a city can help companies, residents and other stakeholders to reduce their own footprint with handprints through the actions taken by a city, thus attracting more taxpayers promoting economic growth. Another example is the retail sector, which can prioritise high carbon handprint products and services, and help their customers to make climate friendly choices.

A number of different mechanisms can contribute to a handprint. For a carbon handprint, these contributors typically use materials and energy more efficiently, replacing or avoiding unwanted materials, reducing waste, extending service life and reuse – or any combination of these. Carbon capture and storage may also be of growing importance as a carbon handprint contributor.

The scientific method of calculating carbon handprint

Carbon handprint quantification is based on carbon footprint calculations complying with lifecycle assessment (LCA) methodology.

More information and step-by-step guidelines on how to calculating the carbon handprint can be found in the Carbon Handprint Guide (2.0) written by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and LUT University.

Benefits of using carbon handprint

Carbon handprint helps to turn the focus on climate issues towards the possibilities it offers to companies and cities. By systematically increasing their handprint, companies can maximise the climate benefits their products are able to create. Also, guiding a city to systematically grow its handprint will help the city to attract more green business. Using the method gives fact-based information about the climate benefits of a product, which can be communicated to the public. Counting the carbon handprint also supports the company’s decision-making and communication, as well as gives a better understanding of the markets and competitors. Using the method also supports the innovation process and the development of new, climate-friendlier solutions. Carbon handprint creates credibility for the company among the investors.

Carbon handprint is highly beneficial to businesses, although its concept and potential are still largely unknown to businesses and public actors. Carbon handprint has enormous potential locally and internationally, and it will benefit both private and public actors to better understand this potential and to adopt the carbon handprint.