What is a Carbon Footprint?

A carbon footprint is a measurement of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with an organisation, product or process.  The shorthand term “carbon footprint” originates from the fact that CO2, released mainly during fossil fuel burning, makes up the bulk of most carbon footprints (80% of total EU emissions in 2000[1]) and is the main contributor to global climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions occur during the everyday operations of a GP surgery. Some of these emissions are within the control of the surgery, others it can seek to influence.


  • Energy use (e.g. electricity and gas consumption)
  • Business travel


  • Commuting travel by staff
  • Travel by patients
  • Materials and services procured (the emissions from products, also called embodied carbon, refer to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in the manufacture and supply of the product to the point of use).
GP Footprint Reporter makes it as simple as possible for you to establish a carbon footprint covering both your areas of control and influence. To understand how GP Footprint Reporter can help you measure your Footprint, go to how to use GP Footprint Reporter.

To get started controlling and influencing the emissions associated with your surgery, go to how to reduce your footprint.

[1] http://www.eea.europa.eu/pressroom/newsreleases/greenhouse_gas_emission

The NHS Carbon Footprint

To put the emissions of your GP surgery in some context, a pie chart showing the breakdown of the carbon footprint for the entire NHS is shown below. A total of 60% of all emissions are caused by the materials and services that the NHS procures, with 22% for building energy use, and 18% for travel (including commuting, business travel and patient and visitor travel).

How does this compare to the footprint for your surgery?