After weeks of tests, tweaks, and twiddles, CALC Consultant Karen Schlesinger has completed construction of a sustainability monitoring tool for use by CALC member businesses. The tool is a critical contribution to CALC’s mission of metric-driven internal sustainability programs. Our internal sustainability program seeks to give our Climate Action Liaisons (known as CALs) the tools necessary to reduce a business’s environmental impact while still maintaining a healthy bottom line. It will help our member businesses and CALs monitor changes in carbon emissions based on energy consumption, waste disposal, water consumption, and transportation methods. It will also enable CALC to aggregate the sustainability performance of all its member businesses and create a compelling narrative about the collective power of small businesses to make meaningful impacts in the fight against climate change. The tool comes with the following pre-built set of metrics, to ensure that all member businesses are measuring and tracking their performance in the same way:
- Percent reduction in emissions intensity
- Percent reduction in energy intensity
- Percent of total renewable energy in energy mix
- Percent of total waste recycled
- Percent reduction in water consumption
The tool’s final output measures changes in absolute carbon emissions from year to year, as well as energy intensity (units of energy per unit of revenue) changes. First, companies complete a basic profile by selecting years for baseline measurement, outlining the types of vehicles the company actively uses, outlining the number and sizes of facilities, and reporting revenue per fiscal year. In addition, users have the opportunity to record goals and highlight the associated metrics involved with that goal. The tool then provides fields to report data on resource use. Users would start by entering data from their energy bills, reporting the amount of energy used and the source of the energy (e.g. fuel oil, natural gas, grid-purchased renewable energy, etc.). Next, users provide a detailed breakdown of the types/quantities of wastes sent to landfill, recycled or composted . Businesses then provide a breakdown of water consumption, and finally the distance travelled and fuel used for several different modes of transportation, including the use of company vehicles, transportation for business purposes, and employee commuting.
After collecting, organizing, and recording all of this data, the tool then provides a performance review for each individual impact category. Naturally, the reporting varies between the categories, but the tool provides useful data to demonstrate changes in costs, efficiency, and consumption. Ultimately, the tool can highlight what a specific user company is doing well, and what areas require further improvement. The final goal of this tool is to quantify a company’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. Based on all of the data provided, the final result is a breakdown of carbon emissions by scope. The EPA classifies emissions in 3 scopes: direct emissions by sources owned by the company, indirect emissions resulting from purchased power, and emissions from sources not owned by the company (scope one, two, and three, respectively).
Although this may sound like a lot of information, the tool itself is remarkably user-friendly and provides an intuitive interface for compiling and recording all of the necessary data. This sustainability data tool provides CALC with an absolutely critical tool to truly provide a method of recording progress in internal sustainability operations. We look forward to implementing this tool within our member businesses so we can really demonstrate their sustainability accomplishments with more tangible data.