For years environmental management for businesses has been focused on the task of ensuring compliance with environmental regulations. Traditional business and financial analysis was not a critical component of their decision-making as much as simply ensuring that the organization was maintaining compliance status. Paper-based systems, Excel spreadsheets, and Access databases often satisfied the needs of most environmental professionals.
GHG management is most often still the domain of environmental professionals, but because GHG emissions may be viewed as potential liabilities, and present financial opportunities for some, in the near future, company executives are increasingly looking for greater visibility into the data.
Due to the increased scrutiny of this information and the need for timely and accurate data analysis, environmental professionals are finding that their existing tools are not adequate to properly collect, analyze and provide the appropriate information to support executive decision-making about managing greenhouse gas emissions.
Web-based GHG Information Management Systems (GHG IMS) and their easy-to-use data entry screens for manual data, ability to integrate with existing business systems, and strong analytical and reporting capabilities are often what is required to manage GHG emissions for an organization with more than a handful of facilities. A GHG IMS is a way for GHG data and information to be collected and stored in a centralized location and used for making business decisions.
There are several high-level benefits of using a GHG IMS.
* Reduced cost and staff burden
o Centralized system for data entry streamlines data collection process
o Integration with existing systems, such as fuel use and energy management systems, reduces data collection and entry demands
o Consistent data collection and calculation methodologies improves internal quality management and facilitates verification
* Institutionalization of GHG inventory process
o Reduces risk of data management and calculations residing on the computers or spreadsheets of only a few staff
o Ensure consistency and transparency of data collection and calculation methodologies across the entire organization
o Track actual GHG emissions vs. internal, voluntary, and regulatory targets
o Utilize other data inputs such as energy consumption for tracking of intensity performance (e.g., emissions per unit of product output)
o Track performance of emission reduction projects
* Analysing return on investment and ‚Äòwhat if’ scenarios (e.g. emission reductions if fuel source of a boiler was switched from coal to natural gas)
o Produces reports relevant to particular stakeholders
-Internal: Facility managers, corporate EHS, project managers, executive management
-Externally: Voluntary and regulatory GHG programs, non-profit organizations, and sustainability reporting programs.
o Provides the transparency required by voluntary and regulatory GHG programs
o Transparent audit trail will reduce the time and cost for a 3rd party verifier to audit the system
It is important to recognize that not every company will need a GHG IMS. And if you find that your organization will need a GHG IMS, they are not a one-size fits all proposition. There are a variety of solutions available on the market or a customized one can be built to match specific organizational needs. The key is to identify your organization’s needs and to ensure they are addressed.
In a later instalment, we will discuss some criteria to determine if a GHG IMS is appropriate for your organization.