· be subject to compulsory carbon trading schemes (the EU Emissions Trading System, the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme)
· be required to meet stringent energy targets in order to benefit from lower energy prices (Climate Change Agreements)
· have to pay for Energy Performance Certificates and Display Energy Certificates for their buildings
· be obliged to operate a formal energy management system as a condition of their environmental permit.
Now, UK quoted companies must in addition report annually on their greenhouse gas emissions. This new requirement extends to certain public bodies too, while others are strongly encouraged to report. From next year, another new piece of legislation will make regular energy efficiency audits obligatory for all enterprises above SME level.
While such obligations may prove beneficial for some organisations through tighter control of energy consumption, high energy intensity businesses tend to manage their energy well in any case - when it is a large proportion of your overall costs, you have to or you become uncompetitive. Whether large or small, the raft of carbon management legislative requirements presents a compliance headache, particularly for those operations that are subject to a number of the overlapping regimes. The problem is magnified for companies that are part of an international group because the parent company may need to report worldwide emissions in several jurisdictions, based on differing legislation, emission factors and reporting guidelines. Such groups will often wish to make voluntary reports as well, and engage in CSR, in a way that is appropriate in each country.
How can an organisation keep track of all these requirements? Better still, how can it go beyond mere compliance and make use of the data it is required to gather to increase efficiency and demonstrate its environmental credentials to its stakeholders? Fortunately, the software tools are now available to meet these challenges and turn the burden of complying with multiple climate change regimes into an opportunity for performance improvements and reduced costs.
Landmark's Sustainability Sure package has been developed to help both large and small organisations to manage their energy and environmental data and facilitate reporting. It is flexible and customisable, allowing the user to record, analyse and manage all energy/carbon compliance issues through a single application, no matter where the operations are in the world, and deal with other CSR and sustainability issues too. It is supremely easy to use, with a web-based interface accessible through any browser. The displays and outputs can be tailored to suit the organisation and the user's preferences, and alerts set to inform the appropriate people when particular events occur (or don’t occur).
One of the key features of Sustainability Sure, and the main reason why many organisations use it, is CRC compliance. It is well suited to the task of tracking energy usage across a large property portfolio. Anomalies such as missing or inconsistent meter readings can easily be spotted, and supporting information such as bills or notes of organisational changes and property disposals can be uploaded to provide a full evidence pack. A unique feature is Quick Connect which provides automatic receipt of data from energy suppliers and metering companies, reducing the chance of errors creeping in and ensuring the consumption figures are available quickly.
For those businesses that participate in multiple schemes, whether UK-only or worldwide, an important benefit of Sustainability Sure is that data only has to be entered once even if it is used in several ways. For example, the consumption figures from a single meter can feed automatically into the CRC report, the UK greenhouse gas report, voluntary reporting under the Carbon Disclosure Project and any other outputs that may be required. Emissions factors are automatically updated, a big advantage for those working across several jurisdictions with their different reporting obligations. Users can be confident that their reporting will be compliant with both local legislative requirements and global standards. The system can handle CSR data such as waste generation and workforce diversity as well as energy consumption and emissions, allowing everything to be managed and controlled through one tool.
Having gathered a substantial quantity of energy data, it would be a shame not to make proper use of it. The Energy Dashboard within Sustainability Sure allows users to drill down through the data and analyse it in different ways (including graphically) to identify potential savings. This process can be as simple or sophisticated as the users wishes. For example, the energy manager of a large manufacturing group might start by ranking sites in descending order of energy intensity and then focus attention on the consumption of the top 10%. Half-hourly meter data can be examined at whatever scale is required. An unexpectedly high overnight gas consumption in single-shift production facility would merit investigation, as would a gradual increase in electricity demand over a period of months. The impact of changes such as the installation of renewable electricity generation is readily identifiable, making it easier to justify similar investments in the future.
Most of the schemes to which organisations are subject, whether mandatory or voluntary, have auditing requirements. In the case of the CRC only about 20% of participants will be audited each year and, as a result, the need to maintain 'audit-ready' records is often forgotten. This can lead to mild panic when a communication is received to warn of an impending audit. Users of Sustainability Sure need have no fears because the system is designed to facilitate the audit process. Remote or on-site auditor access can be provided easily, without compromising the security of other data, and all the supporting references will be available through the system. This makes both internal and external auditing a simple procedure even across a large number of sites.
Using an effective management tool such as Sustainability Sure allows an organisation to reap the benefits of climate change legislation as well as ensuring that compliance is achieved and can be demonstrated.