Calculating climate footprints
with Automated Modeling

Automated modeling is CarbonCloud’s product climate footprint calculation engine that automatically generates the climate footprint and digital twin for every product based on standard product information and the bill of materials.

This input is sent through our modeling pipeline. The engine compares it to other similar products, matches it to different product properties and models an appropriate production process. The modeling engine consists of two main parts:

  • CarbonCloud’s product classifier analyzes product properties to categorize them into our product category tree.
  • CarbonCloud’s modeling engine builds production models with the matched category.

Read more about how Automated Modeling works here →

All calculations generated with Automated Modeling apply the methodological choices, system boundaries, and emission factors as described in the Methodology and the other calculation explainers. The descriptions below cover the explanation of the automation and how the data input is used to calculate the final climate footprints.

Johan Winther
Johan Winther
Scientist, CarbonCloud

Data input

Data input

All information used as data input in Automated modeling is not shared with anyone and is exclusively used for computational purposes within CarbonCloud’s platform. The user company can choose to publicize the final calculation of the climate footprint only or keep it private within their CarbonCloud account. This applies to any supplier invited by the user company.

Required data input

The following information is requested used to classify the product correctly and present the climate footprint of every product in the user company’s interface. The following fields are required (marked with an asterisk) and are critical for a vetted minimum level of data definition for a point of accuracy that CarbonCloud can substantiate. 

    • Product name*
    • Market*
      The producing company provides an extensive list of the countries the product is sold, e.g. USA, Canada, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal.
    • Production volume*
      Production volume refers to the total weight of the units of the specified product produced annually, e.g 460 tonnes of ACME tomato sauce for 1,000,000 cans produced
    • Unit weight*
      The production company provides the weight of the final product per unit, e.g. 0.46 kg per can of ACME tomato pulp.

    Optional data input

  • Inputting optional data points from the bill of materials increases data definition and makes the final calculations increasingly comprehensive within the scope of information owned by the user company. For maximum data definition, the user company can request suppliers throughout every supplier tier to input the data listed below that is owned by them. To protect trade secrets, the supplier data input is not shared with the vendors – only the increased-definition climate footprint of the intermediary product is shared with clients.

    Optional input that increases the definition of the climate footprint calculations with Automated Modeling includes:

    • Ingredients
    • Mode of transport to the factory
    • Country of ingredient production
    • Weight purchased per unit
    • Weight used per unit
    • Factory location
    • Energy type used in production
    • Energy usage per unit
    • Energy type of packaging
    • Energy usage of packaging per unit

The market-based method reflects the emissions associated with a specific electricity supplier, and the electricity contract it offers. This could be “green” electricity, but also non-renewable energy that a specific supplier offers. Consumers who do not make specific purchases or who do not have access to supplier data use the residual mix emission factor to calculate their market-based emissions. Simply put, the residual mix is what is left on the market when renewable electricity, or other tracked supplier-specific electricity, is deducted.

Ingredients & packaging

Emissions from ingredients & packaging

All emissions from the ingredients of the product are added from the bill of material.

❗️Please note

The information in a bill of materials does not refer to an extensive list of every raw material used in the final product as usually listed in the ingredient list. The bill of materials is the list of goods -raw or intermediary- purchased for the production of the specified product in the form they were purchased, e.g. raw tomatoes, sunflower oil, dried oregano. Information from the bill of material is optional but is usually easily accessible and within the control of the user company. When provided, it makes a large difference in the data definition compared to only ingredient lists.

Bill of materials

If the bill of materials is not provided, the Automated Modeling engine matches the final product to the nearest most specified category of the 2,000+ available categories and calculates the climate footprint from the representative model of the category.

Country of production per purchased good

This information refers to the country the ingredient is produced in the final form it is used in the production process, e.g. the user company does not need to know where the oregano plant was grown but which country it buys the dried oregano from.

Weight of purchased good per unit of final product
& Weight of purchased good used per unit of final product

Weight of purchased good per unit of final product refers to the amount (in kg) of a purchased good bought to produce each unit of the final product,
e.g. 0.5 kg of raw tomatoes bought per unit of ACME tomato sauce.
Weight of purchased good used per unit of the final product refers to the amount (in kg) of the purchased good that ends up in the final product,
e.g. 0.40 kg of raw tomatoes per unit of ACME tomato sauce. With both these numbers provided, Automated Modeling can account for the emissions from waste with higher definition.

Packaging material

Read more about how CarbonCloud calculates emissions from packaging here →

This information refers to all the types of packaging material used for the final product, e.g. aluminum sheet, plastic film, cardboard.

Energy used for packaging

Automated modeling assigns natural gas for the refinement of packaging material to its final form, unless the use of another type of energy is presented with a valid certificate.

Emissions from the production process

Factory location

Factory location is the location (country, region, town, or address) in which the final product is manufactured.

Energy used in the production facility

Automated Modeling assigns the national average mix of electricity for the factory location and natural gas for heating.

Emissions from transportation

Emissions from transportation in Automated Modeling are calculated accounting for the energy used per vehicle type per kilometer as described in the sections Energy and Transportation.

The distances are considered based on the user company’s input.

  • For the distribution of the purchased goods (ingredients and packaging material) to the production facility, Automated Modeling accounts for the distance between the location of the production facility and the country of production of the purchased goods.
  • For the final distribution, Automated modeling accounts for the distance between the location of the production and the markets (the countries) the product is sold.

For transport between two different countries, the model adds up 3 transport nodes:

1) internal transport within the country of purchased good production,

2) the distance between country A and country B, and

3) internal transport within the country of production of the final product.

Automated modeling also assigns the type of vehicle depending on the location and distance. For internal transport, transportation by truck is assigned. For transportation between countries, the vehicle type is selected based on primarily the access of said country to maritime routes and secondarily the distance. If the country has access to a maritime route, the engine compares the distances from country A to country B by sea and by land, and assigns the shortest one.

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