In a time of dynamic change, where sustainability is not just a trend but an essential foundation for the future, companies are challenged to fundamentally rethink their business practices and act proactively. Fokus Zukunft is leading the way in this crucial era by raising awareness of the importance of sustainable business practices and supporting every company to be able to take action and make its contribution.

Our FAQs provide clear answers on various topics such as sustainability strategy, sustainability management, reporting, climate strategy and CSRD requirements.


CSR is the acronym for corporate social responsibility. It refers to the social responsibility that companies have to run their business along sustainable lines. Corporate responsibility (CR) has been an established term for some years now.

CSR addresses all three dimensions of sustainability, so ecological, economic and social sustainability. This includes the responsibility of companies to use resources carefully and to protect economic stability in the long term, as well as to their willingness to make a positive contribution to society and the lives of their own employees.

The topic of corporate social responsibility can be overwhelming for small and medium-sized enterprises, initially at least – especially if the company is lacking the necessary capacities to develop corporate sustainability. In this case it is vital to set priorities and define feasible goals. We would be delighted to guide you and help reduce the complexity of this topic.


Sustainability reports address all issues relating to sustainability, so ecological, economic and social sustainability. The report provides information about your company’s current impact on the environment and people and shows the goals for sustainable development.

The specific contents depend strongly on the referenced standard and the prescribed performance indicators.

It is already mandatory for listed companies to prepare annual sustainability reports. The European Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) stipulates that companies with more than 250 employees, a balance sheet total of over €20 million or a turnover in excess of €40 million must publish a sustainability report if two of the three criteria are exceeded. When reporting on a voluntary basis, we recommend preparing a report every two years in order to monitor and evaluate the success of their sustainability strategy and management.

In our experience, you should schedule at least six months to prepare your sustainability report, including status quo analysis and preparation of the necessary information.

Quite apart from the various standards, a good sustainability report will achieve one thing before anything else: to communicate hard facts in a simple and comprehensible manner. The report reflects your corporate identity? Even better!

Are you keen to communicate to partners, customers and employees how your company is addressing the issue of sustainability, but are not obliged to file a full report according to official reporting standards? If so, a sustainability brochure is definitely the right medium for you. Just get in touch.


The circular economy is an economic system that aims to circulate products and materials in cycles modelled on nature, use resources responsibly and avoid waste. Instead of linear “make-use-dispose”, the circular economy aims to reuse, repair or recycle products in order to promote a more sustainable and environmentally friendly economy. The circular economy is an essential approach to tackling climate change and other global challenges such as biodiversity loss, waste and pollution.

The new Circular Economy Action Plan is a strategic framework and catalogue of measures as part of the European Green Deal and aims to achieve climate neutrality in the EU by 2050, decouple economic growth from resource use and secure the EU’s long-term competitiveness. The plan includes various regulatory measures, initiatives & proposals as well as guidelines and recommendations. The following topics take centre stage:

  • Design of sustainable products
  • Limitation of single use and measures against premature obsolescence
  • Digitalisation of product information
  • Promotion of sectors with a high environmental impact and circular potential, such as electronics, ICT, textiles, furniture and intermediate products such as steel, cement and chemicals
  • Initiative for circular electronics

The circular economy is a pioneering economic model that focuses on the integration of technical and biological cycles. In the technical cycles, products and materials are designed in such a way that they retain their usefulness over time through reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling. These measures are aimed at extending the life of products and utilising resources more efficiently or not exhausting them.

At the same time, the biological cycle plays a crucial role by returning organic materials and waste to ecological systems. Through composting or other biological utilisation processes, nutrients are reintroduced into the environment to support the natural cycle and regenerate ecological resources.

The integration of technical and biological cycles thus creates a holistic approach to resource utilisation. It aims not only to minimise waste and reduce environmental impact, but also to protect the diversity and functionality of natural resources. The circular economy strives to create both economic and ecological benefits by combining the principles of sustainability, longevity and resource efficiency.

Cradle-to-cradle and circular economy are both related topics that have different focal points of application and have grown historically in their concepts. A clear definition is not possible or useful in all areas.

Cradle to Cradle according to Braungart & Mcdonough is primarily concerned with the topic of material health and the principle of eco-effectiveness. It goes beyond the mere minimisation of environmental damage and aims to create positive ecological effects. Products and processes should therefore be designed in such a way that they are both economically advantageous and environmentally friendly or healthy for people. The idea is to create systems and products that are not only less harmful, but actually beneficial for the environment and society. To this end, there is a separate certification process for companies to design their products according to Cradle to Cradle.

The circular economy according to the Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation is a concept based on the cradle-to-cradle principle. They focus on creating closed systems in which resources are used, reused, repaired and recycled for as long as possible with the aim of avoiding or minimising waste and regenerating ecosystems. While cradle to cradle plays an important role in the circular economy, the circular economy also includes other aspects such as business models, consumer behaviour, logistics and policy.

The central concept of cradle-to-cradle is eco-efficiency and aims to create products and systems that are not only less harmful, but actively good for the environment and society. It promotes a rethink in product design and business models towards a regenerative and sustainable economy. In detail, the cradle-to-cradle principle strives for a sustainable transformation of products in the following areas:

  • Safe and reusable materials: products are made from materials that are safe for people and the environment and can be fully recycled or degraded in natural systems at the end of their useful life.
  • Use of renewable energies: Renewable energy sources are used as much as possible in the manufacture of products to minimise the environmental footprint.
  • Water stewardship: Efficient and environmentally friendly water utilisation and treatment are important in order to protect water resources and support natural water cycles.
  • Social responsibility: The cradle-to-cradle approach also emphasises the importance of corporate social responsibility, including fair working conditions and community involvement.
  • Continuous improvement: Companies that apply cradle-to-cradle principles strive to continuously improve their products and processes to achieve greater eco-effectiveness.

The implementation of the circular economy is possible in various areas and ambition levels. The following list are examples of possible developments:

  1. Decoupling from fossil or toxic raw materials or use of secondary materials:
    – Identification and reduction of dependence on fossil or toxic raw materials.
    – Integration of secondary materials in production in order to minimise the use of primary resources.
  2. Transparency and reduction of leakages in the current value chain. Increasing eco-efficiency:
    – Introduction of transparency measures along the value chain to identify and reduce leakages.
    – Implementation of strategies to increase eco-efficiency, including efficient resource utilisation and waste reduction.
  3. Design and validation of circular product & business model:
    Development of circular products targeting desirability (attractiveness to customers), viability (economic viability), feasibility (practicability) and impact (environmental and social impact).
  4. Development of a prototype and cooperation with partnerships / enablers as well as integration in the entire value chain:
    – Creation of prototypes for circular products.
    – Cooperation with partners and enablers (companies, organisations) for holistic integration into the entire value chain.
  5. After-use efficiency within new value creation systems:
    – Implementation of business models that take into account the economic value after use of products, such as resale, repair services or recycling.
  6. Positive impact for the environment / society through transparent network-based value creation systems
    – Implementation of eco-effectiveness instead of a pure focus on eco-efficiency



Target definition
Before calculating your corporate carbon footprint, we first define the project goal. This involves finding answers to the following questions: what are the exact motivations for preparing the CO₂ balance sheet and which requirements must be taken into account?

Definition of the accounting scope
The system boundaries and therefore the accounting scope are defined as soon as the initial situation has been established. This involves determining the temporal, operational and organisational scope of the balance sheet. To do this, we work with you to define the fiscal year, the business activities and the companies or locations for which the CCF will be prepared. The balance sheet can be drafted for your entire company or initially for individual companies or locations.

Data collection and calculation
Data collection begins once the system boundaries have been defined. We provide a data collection screen that requests all necessary data for this purpose. The previously defined emission sources are recorded according to Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3. Our experts are available to advise you on the data collection process. We also check the plausibility of your data, as it is used as the basis for calculating your greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the GHG Protocol.

Evaluation and results report
When data collection is complete, we use emission factors from public and licensed emission databases to start the evaluation and convert the data into CO₂ equivalents. You receive the detailed results of your CO₂ balance sheet in the emissions report.

Finally, we present you with the results, which provide all the relevant information you need to initiate appropriate measures for CO₂ reduction and offsetting. We would also be delighted to offer advice on additional measures.

The time required to produce the calculation depends largely on the previously agreed balance sheet scope. The calculation will take longer if the scope is more extensive. You should expect data collection to be the most time-consuming task. On average, we estimate that projects will to take approximately two to three months.

We arrange an initial non-binding meeting to provide some preliminary guidance. The calculation is based on the agreed system boundaries as well as the required complexity of the accounting process. For example, we generally charge less for an office location than for a production location, as data collection is more complex in the latter case. We are always determined to offer our clients fair value for money.

Preparing the balance sheet gives you a clear impression of your company’s CO₂ emissions. This helps you to identify the most significant CO₂ drivers and to develop measures for their sustainable reduction.

Companies that regularly draft CCF balance sheets will continuously improve their datasets, pursue ambitious reduction targets, improve their operational energy management, cut costs in the long term and use credible climate management as a competitive edge.
And what is particularly important: they adopt a proactive approach and are ideally prepared for any future legislative changes.


As a rule, we consider the entire product life cycle in order to determine the product carbon footprint. This includes the raw materials, transport, production, delivery, use and disposal. It is also possible and sometimes useful to consider only part of the life cycle, for example if no primary data is available or if a particular phase in the life cycle has virtually no impact on your company’s emissions.

We sit down with you at the beginning of the project to specify a precise scope of investigation. This phase is followed by the collection and analysis of all relevant data. Once all data is available, we then calculate the greenhouse gas emissions as part of the impact assessment. Finally, we evaluate the results and discuss the conclusions and next steps with you.

Calculating the product carbon footprint creates clarity as to the CO2 emissions generated by your product in its various life cycle phases. This enables you to identify reduction potential in product development, procurement and transport and to offset any unavoidable emissions. You also create transparency in dealings with your business partners and customers as a means of building trust in your collaboration.

The corporate carbon footprint (CCF) considers the total greenhouse gases emitted by a company’s business units over the course of a year. It is used to obtain reduction targets as part of the company’s own climate strategy.

The product carbon footprint (PCF) delivers information about a product’s greenhouse gas emissions over the entire life cycle. It helps in the transparent presentation of a product’s CO2 emissions and can be used to strengthen the product image or to set it apart from competitors.


Building accounts usually includes all phases in their life cycle and investigate the following aspects: the production of building products and the building’s use phase, as well as its demolishing and disposal. Individual phases in the life cycle can also be examined in more detail, depending on the objective and data availability.

We also address your individual questions and aspects of the investigation when calculating the emissions. Would you like to explore the use of alternative building materials or compare different energy levels? Gladly!

Date obtained from the construction documents and the component specifications is used to calculate the carbon footprint.
Our experts will gladly accompany you in the process of data collection.

An important objective of sustainable construction is to keep CO₂ emissions as low as possible over the entire life cycle of a building. When constructing a new build – or refurbishing an older one – it is important to use only materials with the lowest possible emissions. The type of heating system and electricity consumption are other major contributors to the carbon footprint during the period when the building is in use.
For instance, a building supplied with gas heating may have a higher carbon footprint than one powered by an electric heat pump.

Anyone planning to build according to sustainable principles should always aim to prevent high emissions in order to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible. As a rule, reduction measures in both new and current buildings are important tools to protect the climate. Emissions that cannot be avoided, even with attentive and sustainable construction methods, can be offset by funding internationally recognised emission-reduction projects. Offsetting unavoidable emissions by purchasing emission-reduction certificates has been an internationally recognised method of achieving ‘climate-neutral’ status since the Clean Development Mechanism was introduced under the Kyoto Protocol.
Fokus Zukunft offers a large portfolio of high-quality carbon credits for this purpose. We would be delighted to assist you in selecting suitable projects.


Current legislation does not include any specific requirements or regulations on the extent to which companies should reduce their emissions. Companies that have committed themselves to the 1.5-degree target do so voluntarily and can therefore be considered important pioneers.

Not only do these companies take responsibility for climate protection, they also use active climate management to secure their continuing viability and increase their attractiveness as employers among younger generations.

Companies cannot directly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions overnight. The primary levers for reducing CO₂ emissions are usually energy and fuel consumption, as well as production and intermediate products in the manufacturing sector.

It is becoming increasingly important for companies to consider their entire supply chain to engage collaboratively with suppliers and customers to work towards a more sustainable future.



Successful reduction in global emissions will largely depend on voluntary and consistent action by the industrial sector in developed countries. This is because the pledges made by individual countries will not be enough to achieve the 1.5 degree target enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement. Companies produce vast quantities of greenhouse gases as they go about their business – for instance in the production and transport of goods and merchandise, business travel, and in electricity and heat consumption. Voluntary offsetting of generated emissions makes an important contribution to achieving the government, EU and United Nations climate goals and raises awareness among employees, suppliers and customers about the consumption of finite resources.

Offsetting means balancing out. In regard to CO₂ or greenhouse gas emissions (so also methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated greenhouse gases, hydrogen-containing fluorocarbons, perfluorinated hydrocarbons, sulphur hexafluoride and nitrogen trifluoride), this is achieved by purchasing and then retiring corresponding carbon credits. These credits are emission credits generated within the framework of an internationally recognised carbon offset project, each of which represents one tonne of additional emissions that have been sequestered or saved. Given that it is the total volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that affects the climate and not where they are produced, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) concept enshrined in the Kyoto Protocol permits the purchase of high-quality carbon credits to offset unavoidable emissions as an additional measure alongside avoidance and reduction.

A carbon credit is an emission credit and confirms that an additional tonne of CO₂e has been certified as saved or sequestered within the framework of an carbon offset project. The number of carbon credits generated within a project is measured using the so-called baseline scenario, which compares the starting situation with the potential CO₂ savings from the proposed project activity.

For an carbon offset project to be officially recognised, it must first be registered according to a set standard. This requires a detailed description of the project in the Product Design Document (PDD) as well as a calculation of the anticipated emission savings according to the baseline scenario. The project is then verified and validated by an independent third-party testing organisation (e.g. TÜV). The actual CO₂ savings and progress are recorded in regular monitoring reports. The credits are then distributed regularly on this basis.

The carbon credits must be retired immediately after their purchase to ensure that they and the associated emission credit of one tonne of CO₂e are only used once. This is significant, as companies and/or products that are marketed as climate neutral must always ensure this retirement. Without retirement, an carbon credit could still be traded on the voluntary market, without achieving any additional reduction in emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol, which is binding under international law, stipulates that carbon offset projects should take place where they are most economical. The majority of carbon offset projects take place in the Global South, as they can be realised comparatively cheaply in developing and emerging countries and the savings potential from new technologies is still very high. The system functions, because it does not matter for the climate where greenhouse gas emissions are generated and saved. Ultimately it is the total volume of emissions in the atmosphere that counts and will decide whether the 1.5-degree target from the Paris Climate Agreement will be achieved.

Emissions trading is a key driver in the transfer of clean technologies for emerging and developing countries. In addition, the projects help to improve the economic, social and ecological circumstances on the ground and in doing so make an important contribution to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Offsetting unavoidable and historical greenhouse gas emissions as a complementary measure to avoidance and reduction is essential in order to achieve the international climate goals. It would of course be better not to produce greenhouse gases in the first place, but a certain residual amount is unavoidable due to our existence, lifestyles and economy. International climate goals would be unreachable without offsetting as an additional measure to avoidance and reduction, which would have immense consequences for life on Earth. So anyone who is serious about climate protection will use the offsetting mechanism as a short-term lever, while at the same time preparing and implementing a long-term and far-reaching climate protection strategy. Carbon offsetting must never be seen as a carte blanche for profligate consumption, as this would degrade the forthright and serious commitment shown by many companies, quite apart from the harm it would cause to the environment.

Climate-neutral basically means that something will have neither a positive nor negative effect on the climate. But this does not automatically imply that there will be no greenhouse gas emissions (at present, it is neither technologically possible nor economically viable to manufacture products without any CO₂ emissions whatsoever). In most cases, therefore, climate-neutral means that emission-reduction certificates have been issued to confirm carbon offsetting. We define climate neutrality as follows: “The ‘climate-neutral’ label confirms that the number of carbon credits needed to offset the identified volume of emissions have been issued from the portfolio of Fokus Zukunft or other sources (1 tonne of CO₂e = 1 carbon credit).”

Achieving ‘climate neutral’ status merely by purchasing carbon credits is not sufficient to demonstrate a serious and sustainable commitment to climate protection. In addition to offsetting, it is important for companies to consistently avoid and reduce their own emissions. It is therefore necessary that they develop and consistently implement a long-term and far-reaching climate protection strategy. Other ecological and social aspects are important here, in addition to the climactic effects. When purchasing carbon credits, it is also important to ensure that the projects generate a positive social impact at their individual locations.


Every product causes CO₂ emissions in its production, use and disposal.
Climate-neutral means that the CO₂ emissions associated with the product have been determined and are offset by investments in internationally recognised carbon offset projects.
In most cases the entire product life cycle is used to calculate the carbon footprint of individual products.

Climate-neutral basically means that something will have neither a positive nor negative effect on the climate. But this does not automatically imply that there will be no greenhouse gas emissions (at present, it is neither technologically possible nor economically viable to manufacture products without any CO₂ emissions whatsoever). In most cases, therefore, climate-neutral means that carbon credits have been issued to confirm carbon offsetting. We define climate neutrality as follows: “The ‘climate-neutral’ label confirms that the number of carbon credits needed to offset the identified volume of emissions have been issued from the portfolio of Fokus Zukunft or other sources (1 tonne of CO₂e = 1 carbon credit).”

Offsetting unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions as a complementary measure to avoidance and reduction is essential in order to achieve the international climate goals. It would of course be better not to produce greenhouse gases in the first place, but a certain residual amount is unavoidable due to our existence, lifestyles and economy. International climate goals would be unreachable without offsetting as an additional measure to avoidance and reduction, which would have immense consequences for life on Earth. So anyone who is serious about climate protection will use the offsetting mechanism as a short-term lever, while at the same time preparing and implementing a long-term and far-reaching climate protection strategy. Carbon offsetting must never be seen as a carte blanche for profligate consumption, as this would degrade the forthright and serious commitment shown by many companies, quite apart from the harm it would cause to the environment.


All processes in the communication of climate neutrality need to be designed in such a way that stakeholders immediately grasp how ‘climate-neutral’ status is obtained and what it actually means. So it is essential to provide transparent and easily understandable background information on climate neutrality in all communication.

Germany’s competition watchdog, the Wettbewerbszentrale, and other organisations like Deutsche Umwelthilfe are currently conducting a series of test cases to clarify the admissibility of the term ‘climate neutral‘ in commercial communication. It is doing so to protect consumers from misleading advertising claims. As things stand, there are no blanket regulations, but initial court rulings have upheld the demands of the Wettbewerbszentrale for greater transparency. In particular, the process by which climate neutrality is obtained must be stated in the immediate proximity of the advertising claim if the ‘climate-neutral’ attribute becomes a criterion that prompts consumers to make a purchase. In the Fokus Zukunft seal of approval, we therefore include the addition “Climate neutral via offsetting” as standard and only provide this in conjunction with a QR code including a link to a landing page with further background information.

Greenwashing basically means communication that presents something as ‘greener’ than it actually is. In regard to climate neutrality, this refers to the accusation that some companies merely exploit the comparatively simple and inexpensive method of offsetting in order to use the ‘climate-neutral’ label in their advertising and accommodate the growing demand for ‘green products’. Critics opine that this does not constitute any earnest undertaking to reduce the carbon footprint in the long term and that the communication is therefore misleading. So in order to prevent accusations of greenwashing, successful communication of climate neutrality must also include information about planned and implemented reduction measures, in addition to explanation of the offsetting efforts.



The Fokus Zukunft label, which we issue as a seal of approval and certificate, serves as a compact communication tool for companies to demonstrate the offsetting of previously balanced emissions with high-quality and internationally recognised climate protection certificates. The official Seal Guidelines describe in detail which requirements companies must fulfil in order to receive the seal.



We provide a communication package to help companies in the successful communication of their climate neutrality and in presenting themselves as responsible enterprises. Among other things, the seal of approval can be used to inform stakeholders about the company’s commitment to climate protection in email signatures, on stationery, websites, flyers, roll-ups or product packaging.


A carbon offset project is an international project recognised under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) that generates carbon credits that can be traded on the voluntary market. The number of carbon offset certificates generated within a project results from a comparison with a ‘baseline scenario’. In the case of a renewable energy project, the amount of carbon offset certificates generated is determined, for example, by comparing it with the construction of a coal-fired power plant instead of the generation of renewable electricity. One carbon offset certificate corresponds to one tonne of saved or sequestered CO₂e.

There is a whole range of carbon offset projects and types. Many renewable energy projects help to promote solar power, wind energy, hydropower and biomass in emerging and developing countries. Other projects, such as cooking stove projects, are aimed at increasing energy efficiency.
Reforestation or forest protection projects are among the other common carbon offset projects and are classified as nature-based solutions (NBS).

‘Ex-post’ certificates are distributed once the emissions have been reduced or avoided. This applies, for instance, to renewable energy projects. By contrast, ‘ex-ante’ certificates are distributed before the emissions have been reduced or avoided, for example in the case of reforestation projects in which the reduction in emissions will only take place over the next few years and decades.

A project must meet certain requirements to be classified as an internationally recognised carbon offset project and hence generate carbon credits to offset unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions: it must be real, measurable, permanent, unique, independently audited and verified. Leakage must also be avoided. ‘Additionality’ is another criterion. Projects are only eligible for official emission offsetting if they save or sequester additional emissions, so if this would not have occurred without incentivisation from carbon funding.

Additionality is an important criterion for the approval of carbon offset projects. This means that a carbon offset project can only acquire international recognition if it was implemented by means of additional funding from the sale of carbon offset certificates and hence led to the saving or sequestration of additional emissions. A carbon offset project’s additionality is assessed according to regulatory and financial aspects and examined as a fixed criterion under the Clean Development Mechanism. The criterion of additionality is described in Article 6.2 of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Internationally recognised carbon offset projects are accredited, approved and monitored according to the Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard (+ Climate, Community & Biodiversity Standard) or the Clean Development Mechanism. These standards guarantee compliance with the strict quality standards for carbon offset projects and that other UN sustainability goals are also promoted in addition to the climate impact. Validation of the project results in regard to the actual CO₂ savings is certified by independent testing bodies such as TÜV. The Fokus Zukunft portfolio only includes projects that adhere to these standards.

The reasons for this are, first and foremost, historical and political: in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol stipulated that developed countries – the Annex I countries – must pursue reduction targets, while emerging and developing countries should receive assistance from the Clean Development Mechanism in their pursuit of clean growth. This ensures that targeted support is provided to carbon offset projects that, for instance, offer climate-friendly solutions to accommodate rising energy demand at local level. One thing is certain: emerging countries such as India, China and Brazil will be crucial to achieve the international climate goals.

Compared to Germany or other countries in the northern hemisphere, the implementation of carbon offset projects in the Global South comes with a large number of benefits: firstly, the conditions for renewable energy plants (solar, wind, water, biomass) are often better and the savings potential with new technologies can be exploited more cost-effectively. Secondly, emissions trading also contributes to economic development based on sustainable principles and hence to achieving the 2030 Agenda.

At present, support for international carbon offset projects is the only way to officially offset greenhouse gas emissions. Anyone keen to get involved at regional level and, for instance, plant trees with our cooperation partners, renaturalise peatlands, sponsor bee populations or promote sustainable agriculture is welcome to do so as an additional measure. Click here for our selection of regional environmental projects.

We recommend that you only purchase certificates from carbon offset projects that are certified according to the Gold Standard, VCS (+ CCBS) or the Clean Development Mechanism in order to offset unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions. It also makes sense to offset your carbon footprint by supporting various types of project in different countries.

Each carbon offset project in our portfolio is accompanied by a project description. It contains information such as the project name and country, standard, validator, number of tonnes of CO₂ saved in the year, total number of tonnes of CO₂ saved and the SDGs it promotes. In addition, the official project ID or embedded link can be used to access the project’s official registration page with more detailed information.