Automated Carbon Monitoring Works Best with Close Industry Fit, Integration

In advance of the Rio+20 summit, my Newport Consulting Group colleague Cindy Jennings and I were asked to share our observations regarding the increasing interest and requirements around carbon monitoring.  Two elements of this issue are creating great synergy.  First the increase awareness and need for carbon monitoring as a part of sustainability and regulatory compliance initiatives.  The second is the accelerated development of enterprise solutions that can analyze, manage, report and monitor the intensity of this information.  Cindy provides a great context in our article which recently published:

Carbon footprints are becoming as well known as Bigfoot himself and may feel just as mythical to some organizations. And yet they cannot be ignored. Shareholders and investors have been taking notice of carbon outputs and the associated risks for some time. Standards issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to inch closer to mandatory carbon reporting. Europe has introduced carbon trading and is now in talks with Australia to commence international trade in carbon by the end of 2012. Fortunately, automated carbon monitoring software has matured quickly in recent years, and numerous guides and standard calculations exist to help companies assess and benchmark their carbon emissions.

In response to such pressures, organizations have made automated carbon monitoring one of the strongest focus areas of their sustainability programs because it involves one of the most measurable impacts. That’s the good news. The bad news is it can still be difficult to determine what to monitor.

In my assessment of carbon reporting solutions, the overall feeling is that while we still have a ways to go progress has been made.  In addition, many large enterprise business solution providers are stepping up to the plate by developing or acquiring their own offers.

Carbon monitoring add-on software has been available for several years. While many approaches focus on one or more of the four critical aspects of an automated carbon monitoring program, few are truly comprehensive. In addition, most early applications for reporting carbon footprints are based on a series of internal and supplier surveys that roll up into specific results that give an initial snapshot of the organization’s footprint. However, these early products weren’t specific enough to meet the regulatory reporting requirements facing institutions, commercial organizations, and public sector agencies, particularly for Scope 2 and 3 requirements.

In many small to mid-size organizations, data collection involved manually consolidating sources into spreadsheets often crafted by engineering companies and service providers. Large organizations are more likely to have sophisticated business intelligence (BI) software that can sift millions of data elements associated with carbon monitoring, but this is a two-edged sword. The deep repository of information potentially allows broader and more accurate carbon monitoring, but the information is often misrepresented, poorly calculated and even superfluous to the actual reporting requirements. In short, there is too much of the wrong information to provide accurate and reliable carbon monitoring.

Feel free to read the complete article at here.  Many thanks to Cindy for the collaboration!


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Filed under Business Analytics, Change Management and Leadership, Compliance, Information Technology, Operations, Risk Management, Sustainability, Technology

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