In recent years, Helvar’s sustainability strategy has adopted a stronger focus on our Carbon Handprint, a relatively new concept that takes a different approach to evaluating the environmental impact of an organisation.

Let’s take a deeper look at the concept of a carbon handprint, and why for Helvar it has become equally important as measuring our carbon footprint. 


What is a carbon handprint and how does it differ from a carbon footprint?

Simply put, a carbon handprint measures the positive impact of a product on the environment, while a carbon footprint measures the negative impact (absolute greenhouse gas emissions) of a product on the environment.

You might think that a carbon handprint is just “the opposite” of a carbon footprint, but their distinction is a bit more complex. One of the core differences is that a carbon footprint focuses on the emissions associated with an organisation’s product or activity, whereas a carbon handprint refers to the positive impact (emission reductions) that said organisation’s product has on the carbon footprint of others.

VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland, defines both handprint and carbon handprint separately:

“A handprint refers to the beneficial environmental impacts that organisations can achieve and communicate by offering products and services that reduce the footprints of others.”

“A carbon handprint is the reduction of the carbon footprint of others.”

It’s also important to note that a carbon handprint is not an absolute value and cannot be directly evaluated against a carbon footprint. A carbon handprint is a relative value measured by comparing the impact of the baseline product to that of a new alternative, i.e. the emissions resulting from the current product or system compared to a different one. Such a comparison tells us how much better one product or service can be for the climate over another.


Why focus on carbon handprint?

Understanding your carbon handprint offers you a different perspective on the environmental impact of your company. For example, while it’s true that electronics manufacturers rely on a complex, resource-intensive supply chain to create their products, it’s also true that many of these companies are creating truly impactful solutions that contribute to sustainable development.

In the case of some industries, understanding the carbon handprint of an offering can provide the company with an additional focus area in its sustainability strategy. Ultimately, measuring carbon handprint can help to answer the question of “How is my company helping society to meet climate targets?”.

The most practical way to improve your carbon handprint is to invest in solutions that improve (energy) efficiency or reduce reliance on unsustainable practices, or, in other words, solutions that can help your end customer to reduce their carbon footprint.

What does carbon handprint mean for Helvar?

Lighting solutions can have a strong carbon handprint by improving the overall energy efficiency of a building. In fact, by combining ultra-efficient lighting components, intelligent controls and a digital services platform into an interconnected ‘end-to-end’ solution, Helvar is in a unique position to impact on the sustainability of buildings around the world.

For the end user, intelligent lighting controls can vastly reduce the amount of energy that is wasted and thus their Scope 2 emissions. In other words, by implementing our solutions and reducing our customers’ energy consumption and resulting carbon footprint, Helvar positively impacts the environment through a growing carbon handprint. As such, Helvar’s carbon handprint is truly a core part of the company!


Calculating carbon handprint

In practice, there is no standardised way to calculate a carbon handprint. In Helvar’s case, to evaluate our carbon handprint in the form of saved electricity, we analysed the annual sales of our dimmable drivers and sensors and the corresponding yearly energy savings at the locations where they are utilised.

It’s good to note that the main energy production methods can vary between specific country or even region, which can impact on both foot- and handprint calculations. However, even in places where a considerable portion of the energy comes from renewable or nuclear sources (like in Finland), a luminaire’s carbon handprint in the use stage is five times greater than its footprint from the manufacturing stage, when it is equipped with a dimmable driver and uses proper lighting controls.

Source: AFRY Study

About Helvar

As a company with Finnish roots and over 100 years of history, we’ve long been investing into the sustainability of our operations. With the launch of our first ever sustainability report, we’re proud to demonstrate an even firmer commitment to improving our environmental and societal impact.