A recent study by IBM published in Forbes magazine says that whilst many companies want to reduce their carbon footprint, many do not have the measurement systems in place.
The study says that “Companies aren’t collecting and analyzing the information they really need or aggregating it often enough. Because of that, they can’t implement real changes to fundamentally increase efficiency, lower costs, reduce environmental impact and improve their reputations with key stakeholders.”
“In our survey, only 19% of respondents said they are collecting data on carbon dioxide emissions weekly or more often. Most are collecting it only quarterly. That may be enough to meet government or stakeholder demands for information, but it’s not nearly enough to produce systemic change that can reduce environmental impact.”
The old adage “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” is no less true when it comes to cutting your carbon emissions.
Measuring and tracking your emissions on an ongoing basis:
- Helps you know where to focus your efforts. Its been our experience that the 80/20 rule certainly applies to greenhouse gas emissions. 20% of an organisation’s sites will be responsible for 80% of its emissions. We have worked with many local governments and the 80/20 rule always stands up. Organisations which don’t know where their emissions are coming can easily fall into the trap of not focussing their effort where it will have the greatest impact. On the other hand by applying the 80/20 rule its easy to get some quick wins that build credibility and win valuable support for ongoing carbon reduction. An example of this comes from Darebin City Council in Melbourne. We started off with an 80/20 analysis, then undertook energy audits of their top 13 sites. We were then contracted to project manage energy efficiency works. We did some data logging and identified that the heating was starting up at 1am. So the first thing we did was to get a programmer in for an hour or so to change settings in the Building Management System controlling the heating. By reading the gas meter regularly, and tracking the gas bills, an immediate saving was identified, equating to roughly $10,000 a year and 100 tonnes of greenhouse gas. This quick win, and a dedicated energy efficiency officer (Stuart Nesbitt) employed by the council at the time we started project managing, provided a “kick start” to a program that two years later is still going strong, with net savings to date across the top buildings of 22%. And measurement was a key part of this – the 80/20 analysis followed by targetted data logging to measure in detail major items of plant.
- Alerts you to problems. For example water consumption jumps 100% – usually when this happens there is a leak, often underground where it can’t be seen. If you aren’t measuring and monitoring, or you don’t have a system that raises an alert, you may end up wasting water for many months. Users of our CarbonmetriX system often find problems they would have otherwised missed because of the automatic alerts it raises.
- Engages with stakeholders. When you know where and how your energy is being used, and the trends, its much easier to engage with facility managers and other stakeholders when developing a plan to reduce your emissions.
- Enables comparison. You can pick out those facilities with the highest and lowest carbon emissions per square meter, per widget, or per staff member. Then see what the best facilities are doing and transfer that to your worst facilities.
- Assist you present genuine green credentials, and not just greenwash, when you go to the marketplace and can demonstrate what you have measurably saved.
The Forbes article finishes with the following comment: “The bright spot in these findings comes from companies that outperform their competitors in bottom-line results. Outperformers rank consistently higher in collecting every type of CSR information frequently or in real-time across all major green and sustainability categories, from carbon dioxide emissions and water conservation to ethical labor standards and sustainable procurement. They also rank higher in information collection from suppliers.”