Developing a GHG Inventory: What’s In It For You?
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by Matt Wood on 06/13/2012
Recently I worked with a supplier who asked me the following, very genuine question:
Why is my buyer asking me to conduct a greenhouse gas inventory? I don’t have any greenhouses!
I repeat this question not to poke fun at this supplier but to highlight the widespread misunderstanding around greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories/carbon accounting and to take the opportunity to discuss the value of a GHG inventory beyond compliance.
For many companies, the easy answer to this question is “because we [i.e. your buyer] asked you to.” While this answer is a truthful one that is often the initial motivation for many of our clients, in my experience it misses the real value of conducting a GHG inventory and may ultimately contradict the primary drivers behind buyers asking suppliers to complete an inventory in the first place.
So – even if you don’t have any greenhouses – what can you hope to get out of developing a GHG inventory for your business?
Many companies have no mechanism in place to track or manage their energy consumption. A GHG inventory conducted using a web-based program like Mosaic™ provides businesses with a simple energy intelligence tool that can help save money through billing error identification, consumption and spike tracking, and identification of efficiency opportunities.
GHG emissions (both corporate and supply chain) can pose significant risks to an organization when left unmanaged. By quantifying and tracking GHG emissions through the inventory process, businesses will have the data necessary to identify and mitigate risks posed by climate legislation, supply chain disruption, and rising fuel prices.
One of the most difficult elements of any goal setting and progress tracking process can be identifying meaningful metrics. A GHG inventory provides businesses with a common metric that can be used to track all energy sources and is universally accepted. Setting an emissions reduction goal and tracking progress facilitates effective communication around sustainability initiatives, motivates stakeholders, and enables recognition.
Fortunately, even companies that start with compliance as the initial motivation for developing a GHG inventory are able to derive value from the exercise. All it takes is an investment of time to ensure data is complete and recorded consistently. Once that is done, the result generally speaks for itself!
If you would find value in a step-by-step guide to conducting a GHG Inventory, I encourage you to download our new brief: 10 Steps to Conducting GHG Inventories.
Matt Wood is Director of Sustainability Services for Renewable Choice.