Communicating Carbon Transparency Through Environmental Business Intelligence

April 26, 2011 No Comments

Organisations are increasingly feeling the pressure to report environmental impact in clear and measurable terms. Regulation means many large organisations are obliged to comply with reporting standards, whether self imposed internal obligations, external voluntary entities or from the government. Meamnwhile, many organisations and industries are seeking to be seen as ‘carbon transparent’ whereby they commit and report to specific environmental goals.

Last year it was reported by industry body, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which includes members such as Coca Cola, Nestle, Kraft and Pepsico, that it had committed a ‘Five-fold Environmental Ambition’ to reduce its carbon emissions by 2020. This commitment incorporates: reducing the impacts of waste and packaging on the environment – including influencing the supply chain to do the same; decreasing water usage; and improving transportation practices.

By moving towards this idea of carbon transparency, organisations recognise they must first measure their output to be able to report on and commit environmental and sustainbility goals. This can be difficult for several reasons.

Calculating and managing a carbon footprint requires the collation of complex and disparate data, often from various sources such as factories or manufacturing sites and can range from electronic to paper to meters depending on the age and sophistication of the facility. It also requires assessing data from internal operations. For example, an IT company must determine its emissions output based on local or offshore servers and storage, PCs and other telecommunications infrastructure. Additionally, estimating this data can tie up internal resources for employees who undertake this task.

Organisations also struggle to know where to start when it comes to calculating their carbon footprint. Many find that capturing data for the first time leads to complex reams of statistics being produced without much practical application. As a result, some organisations are considering turning to environmental outsourcing providers to accurately measure, manage and help with the reporting of emissions. This data, and the process of acting on the insights gleaned from data and making critical business decisions based on this data, is what we like to call ‘environmental business intelligence’.

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