Calculating Eco-efficiency Indicators: Workbook for IndustryAn IndEco project report
From the introduction:
About this workbook
Many leading companies have already developed key eco-efficiency indicators for their businesses and are routinely tracking and reporting energy, waste and water intensity indicators. Because these indicators have been developed internally within businesses or business sectors, the results are not readily comparable. The standardization of definitions and decision rules for calculating and reporting eco-efficiency indicators could help companies to set measurable eco-efficiency targets and facilitate comparisons between companies and business sectors — essentially, it would result in widely accepted, quantifiable, verifiable and transparent indicators that could be widely used. Ultimately, reporting of eco-efficiency could become as standard and routine as reporting currently accepted indicators of financial performance.
Canada’s National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), with the active cooperation of volunteer companies, has developed and tested decision rules and definitions for energy, waste and water intensity indicators. The NRTEE’s work builds on the development of principles and a framework for eco-efficiency indicators undertaken by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
Participants in the NRTEE indicator program agreed that other companies in Canada and internationally should be encouraged to measure and report energy, waste and water intensity using the consistent approaches tested. Participants also agreed that it would be useful to develop a user-friendly workbook that companies could use in calculating and reporting the indicators.
This workbook has been developed in accordance with that advice. It outlines and defines the energy, waste and water indicators that were developed during the NRTEE program and provides basic instructions for companies that wish to calculate these indicators for their organizations.
Structure of this workbook
This workbook provides definitions of the three core eco-efficiency indicators that were developed during the NRTEE indicator program. It also includes definitions for several complementary indicators that are associated with the core indicators. Users will find instructions and tables for calculating each of the core indicators as well as advice on calculating the complementary indicators. Wherever existing procedures are available in references, those instructions have not been reproduced here. Instead the appropriate references are provided.
The workbook is divided as follows:
- The need for indicators — the value of eco-efficiency indicators in helping businesses improve their financial and environmental performance.
- Reporting the indicators — the decisions each company must make on the use, purpose, and scope of the indicators before it begins to calculate its indicators; advice on how to use the indicators for performance tracking and reporting, and cautions about comparisons.
- Energy intensity indicator — the definitions and decision rules for the core energy intensity indicator and instructions for its calculation.
- Waste intensity indicator — the definitions and decision rules for the core waste intensity indicator and instructions for its calculation.
- Water intensity indicator — the definitions and decision rules for the core water intensity indicator and instructions for its calculation.
- Resources and tables — additional resources for calculating the indicators.
- Complementary indicators — advice on how to calculate complementary energy, waste and water intensity indicators.
- Working examples — examples of how two facilities calculated their three core indicators.
It would be impossible to address every special case a company could encounter when calculating these indicators, but a basic framework is laid out. If your company is unable to comply completely with all of the decision rules for any of the indicators, then when reporting the indicator, both internally and externally, you should provide explanatory notes outlining the deviation from the decision rules or definitions and the reason for the deviation.