Carbon accounting in CarbonHub vs Excel

A comparative analysis for sustainably-minded SMBs

Until recently, the tools available for carbon accounting for small to medium businesses in New Zealand has been limited; there have been a few bespoke options and Excel. That is, until CarbonHub.

ESP have brought their experience of delivering enterprise scale carbon emission reduction and cost savings to help make carbon accounting more accessible to businesses of all sizes. CarbonHub is an affordable carbon accounting tool that can help SMBs accurately report on their C02 emissions to provide greater transparency and appeal to conscious consumers, corporate client reporting demands, and investors.

CarbonHub is purpose built for the job, but you might be asking if it is the right tool and investment for your business right now?

There is a use case for both Excel and CarbonHub, and they both come with their pros and cons. In this blog, we analyse the advantages and disadvantages of each to help you decide if the modest subscription is a worthwhile investment for your SMB.

Getting started with carbon accounting 

To understand whether Excel or CarbonHub is the right tool for your business you need to understand your motive, your ‘why’ for carbon accounting. Once you’ve got a clear picture of that, deliberating on the advantages and disadvantages of each application and it’s use case in your business will be a breeze.

Ask yourself:

  • Who are your clients and what are their client requirements? Since emission reporting requirements are increasing –accurate reporting that complies with an ISO or GHG Protocol standard is crucial.
  • Have you completed a Carbon baseline or is this the first time for you and the team? Would guidance and reliability help or are you different to other businesses and need the flexibility and the DIY nature inherent in excel?
  • What resources does your business have available? How often do you want to report? Once a year will provide you with an annual result, but is that frequent enough to manage improvement? Do you have time to collect and validate the emission sources yourself?
  • What’s the value-add of carbon accounting for your business? Is carbon accounting going to improve your bottom line?

The advantages of using Excel for carbon accounting 

Excel’s key drawcard is that it’s a widely used and accessible tool. For businesses looking to engage in carbon accounting this means that straight off the bat, it scores highly in usability and accessibility — as chances are, it’s already in use across your business.

Because of its manual data entry it is also heavily customisable. While this can boast negative implications (we’ll get to that later) it has its positives for businesses looking to measure obscure and unique C02 emissions.

In all, Excel is a usable and accessible tool for businesses. It’s a great place to start if carbon accounting is a nice-to-have and not something that will boast a large return for your business.

The disadvantages of using Excel for carbon accounting

Because its manual, Excel is extremely customisable; both a positive and negative. Here’s why — while you can set up your spreadsheets for the exact data input you need, it’s time consuming and the manual data entry can leave your spreadsheets open to human error, mistakes which can drain resources and impact the overall quality and accuracy of your C02 reports. Even if you have an abundance of time (which we’re guessing is unlikely) resolving data issues and mistakes in a spreadsheet is never fun.

Its manual design also means that users need a clear understanding of what data to input and report on. Unless you spend resources researching online or hiring a third-party consultant, you open yourself up to more human error and wasted resource.

Despite the latest Excel program being hosted on the cloud, the collaborative functionality still pales in comparison to other applications. A disadvantage worth considering if you lack the patience and time for file management and V-Lookups.

The advantages of using CarbonHub for carbon accounting 

The benefits of CarbonHub lie in its automation and accuracy. It brings enterprise technology and a great user experience to carbon accounting, helping to get small businesses started on their sustainability journey. It’s the smarter path to Net Zero that can help your business efficiently calculate its carbon footprint, set targets and report progress.

Its purpose-built design includes:

  • Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions
  • Periodic updates at regular intervals
  • Report monthly, quarterly or annually and compare across multiple reporting periods
  • Transaction tracing by recording source documents and notes all in one place
  • Accepted Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting standards

It has been designed to make achieving Net Zero simple regardless of business size and with subscription packages available its functionality is affordable and scalable no matter where you need to start.

Disadvantages of using CarbonHub for carbon accounting

Due to its purpose-built design there are aspects of CarbonHub worth considering. CarbonHub guides you through the process, however this means if you have a large or complex business the initial start plan may not capture all of your specific emission sources.

It’s also an additional cost, and although prices start at just $30 NZD a month it’s a cost worth considering.

What should your SMB use for carbon accounting?  

Depending on your carbon accounting requirements there is use case for either Excel or CarbonHub in your business. And while both come with their pros and cons, it really comes down to where you want to spend resource and what resource you have to spare.

If you’ve got an abundance of time available and know that Net Zero won’t directly impact your business’ bottom line then perhaps Excel is the right tool for you, but if you know that showcasing your sustainability efforts will help your business grow sales and attract investors, CarbonHub is available and ready to help.

For a summary on the differences in Excel and CarbonHub in carbon accounting check out the table below.

Benefit/Feature   Excel CarbonHub

It’s multi-purpose use case makes it an affordable tool for SMBs looking for a way to start carbon accounting.

CarbonHub subscriptions start at as little as 30 NZD a month.


Create and design templates as you need to manage your carbon accounting.

Its purpose built so little customisation is needed.


Most users are familiar with Excel.

Easy to learn and designed using best-practise UX design.

Cloud-based and secure

Boasts basic cloud hosted functionality.

Boasts heightened and secure cloud functionality.


Requires a variety of documents and sheets to report business C02 data accurately. No streamlined feature to correlate and analysis data.

Boasts a range of custom-built features to make understanding, analysing and reporting on business C02 emissions simple.


Doesn’t track different users as accurately as other platforms.

Incorporates varying user subscription prices to match business user scale.

Includes Scope 1,2 and 3 emission features

Not designed for carbon accounting specifically.

Designed to make carbon accounting, reporting and action simple for businesses.

Periodic and standardised reporting

Not designed for carbon accounting and recurring reporting specifically.

Designed to make carbon accounting, reporting and action simple for businesses.

Purpose built for Kiwi SMBs

Not designed for carbon accounting specifically.

Designed to make carbon accounting, reporting and action simple for businesses.