Stakeholders for corporate emissions reporting have traditionally focused on carbon footprints, which estimate the detrimental impact on the climate that is inherent to a product, service, or organization over its lifetime. We argue that today’s businesses should expand their focus to carbon handprints, which estimate the potential decrease (or increase) in emissions that a product, service, or organization may enable in another process, business, or industry. We discuss carbon handprints as they pertain to information and communication technologies (ICT), focusing on network technologies as an example. Our analysis of approximately 6 million homes in Texas for the year 2028 demonstrates that the handprint of network-enabled smart thermostats could range from 0.52 to 1.35 million metric tons (6.5–17%) of emissions avoided in 2028, the equivalent of the emissions from electricity to power 100,000–260,000 homes in 2022. The ICT industry can be a key player in delivering smart solutions that help mitigate the impacts of climate change. Carbon handprinting will help motivate business decisions that prioritize products and services that avoid emissions, showcasing businesses’ ability to innovate and drive solutions for the benefit of all.
Fadali, L., J. Eisen, and N. W. Esram. 2023. Estimating the Handprints of Network Technologies to Make Informed Business Decisions. Washington, DC: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. aceee.org/research-report/b2302.