Greenhouse Gas Inventory: How FMs Should Help
FMs play a critical role in most organizations' climate change mitigation strategies. These five questions can help you get organized.
As climate change becomes a greater threat to facilities and the planet at large, it’s more important than ever for facility managers to contribute to their organizations’ climate mitigation strategies. One important facet of this is making sure to do greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory correctly and efficiently.
Many organizations, unfortunately, have been doing the same incorrect emissions calculations for nearly a decade. Sometimes calculations only reflect a portion of the business and major scope 1 and scope 2 emissions sources are simply left out. These details have to be buttoned up before making public statements about goal performance. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy
A GHG inventory is intended to reflect all of the emissions sources generated by the organization. Think about if your organization left out key portions of its income or expenses in its annual financial report. It’d be practically irrelevant and probably illegal. The same basic logic applies to a greenhouse gas inventory. Truly a GHG inventory is an exercise in carbon accounting.
Every organization should take a look at its GHG emissions and consider these five principles of carbon accounting.
1. Relevance: Is the information provided in the GHG inventory representative of the organization as a whole? For example, are you accounting for a division but talking about the conglomerate? Every facility, owned and leased?
2. Completeness: Did you account for and report on all GHG emission sources and activities within the organizational boundary that you have chosen? For example, were locations that consume energy in the United States left out?
3. Consistency: Did you use consistent methodologies that allow for meaningful comparisons of emissions over time? Or has the organization changed methods since its baseline calculation?
4. Transparency: Have you disclosed any and all assumptions and made appropriate references to the accounting and calculation methodologies and data sources used? For example, did you estimate the energy use of leased space and have you documented or updated emission factors?
5. Accuracy: Can the organization ensure that GHG emission calculations are neither over nor under actual emissions? Is the organization able to determine that the levels of uncertainty are reduced as far as practicable?
If any of these questions are difficult to answer, consider having your 2019 inventory looked at by a professional consultant. This review will help make sure the appropriate protocol has been followed, the appropriate emission sources have been applied, and the inventory and its outputs are ready for communication.