Years ago, companies used rather simple measures to gauge their environmental impact. But, many of those early metrics have proven too rudimentary, too incomplete, or even just plain wrong.
Today, though, businesses often find themselves facing the opposite problem. Rather than working with data that’s too basic, they’re struggling with reams of facts and figures and data that are often exceedingly complex and unmanageable. Over the past decade, sustainability metrics have evolved tremendously, to the point where many in the business world are left scratching their heads and wondering, “Which of these new indicators are most meaningful for us? And how on Earth am I going to track, manage and analyze all this data?”
Streamlining metrics has become quite challenging, and if you’re looking for a little insight, you should check out Emma Stewart’s blog on “Building Better Sustainability Metrics.”
Ms. Stewart makes the point that companies today need to wade through the pool of available metrics and carefully pick and choose those that are the most suitable for their business. In other words, step one is to use only metrics that are cost-effective and material.
In addition, Ms. Stewart goes on to address the importance of matching the metric to the intended audience/user. Some users, like business unit managers and environmental NGOs, like to see both absolute and intensity metrics. Others, like rating agencies and investors, are likely to focus on how sustainability initiatives affect profitability and risk management. Users like consumers, academia, or government agencies may want to see yet another subset of indicators.
Now, once you have all that figured out, be sure to remember one more thing: stay tuned. Sustainability metrics continue to evolve and change. Just this summer, BT announced a new model that links a company’s CO2 emissions to its financial performance. More on that here . This stuff is all evolving incredibly fast with new models, tools and methods popping up every day…and not a moment too soon.