What is World Horti Center's footprint?

Greenhouse Marketeers have been based at World Horti Center since January. One of this organisation’s activities is to map companies’ environmental impact. They are going to carry out a footprint calculation for World Horti Center.

The experts from Greenhouse Marketeers will draw up an improvement plan based on the environmental impact. The most sustainable applications were already incorporated when World Horti Center was constructed, but we still think is important to obtain an insight. That is why Greenhouse Marketeers are calculating World Horti Center’s footprint, and we will offset this by planting bamboo through Bamboo Village Uganda on the basis of the results. That sounds very laudable, but what does it actually mean? We talked to Greenhouse Marketeers, who explained that it’s important to understand a couple of things. 

Firstly, the term ‘footprint’. A footprint is a measure of how much impact something has on something else. The most commonly used footprint is the carbon footprint, which shows how much impact something has on global warming, expressed in CO2 equivalents. This means that there needs to be a calculation of how much greenhouse gas is emitted, after which this is converted to CO2. Methane, for example, is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2: for every kilogram of methane emissions a figure of 25 kg of CO2 is calculated.

We are calculating the carbon footprint for World Horti Center: we are therefore calculating how much CO2 World Horti Center emits, i.e. how much impact World Horti Center has on global warming. We also need to define this first: what is the aim, the scope and the functional unit? 

The aim is to gain insight into the building's carbon impact so that this can be reduced as much as possible. With that aim we must in this case examine what is required every year to keep the building running. The functional unit is then ‘One year of general operation’. We can then also determine the scope: we look at aspects such as energy consumption and facility staff’s transport.

In order to ultimately calculate World Horti Center’s footprint, we have to calculate the footprint per element, such as the consumption of a kWh of electricity or travelling 1 km in a petrol car, and add them together. Ultimately we can then see what causes the most impact, the ‘hotspots’, in order to achieve sustainability effectively. This result also tells us how much CO2 we have to offset.

A footprint calculation therefore always starts by determining the aim, from which the rest follows. A grower who needs to choose whether to build a greenhouse or buy an existing greenhouse needs to make a different assessment. Is building a new, energy-efficient greenhouse better for the footprint of a plant or kilogram of vegetables than re-using a less energy-efficient greenhouse?

Want more information? Please do not hesitate to contact Greenhouse Marketeers, or pop into our office at World Horti Center.