Drowning in environmental reporting? It’s not your fault!

NPIs, NGERs, GRIs, CDPs… Your head is spinning; it’s flooded with data, calculations, frameworks. You think – yet again – that there must be an easier way. But you already have an EMIS. So what else can you do? It’s just the way it is, right?

Well, there is an alternative: environmental accounting.

Although still in its youth, environmental accounting is now a reality. It’s here, among other things, to make your life as an environmental scientist a lot easier.

Environmental accounting? You ask. Isn’t that what I’m already doing?

Not really – and it’s why sustainability and environmental inventory reporting is giving you such a headache.

Your company’s finance team isn’t running the financial accounts on a spreadsheet. So why are you running the environmental accounts on one?

You immediately say: we are not doing it on a spreadsheet we have an EMIS.

Yes, but unfortunately an EMIS is not an environmental accounting system – it’s an information systemand you are still doing it on a spreadsheet, albeit a little bit more easily.

This is not a slight on the EMIS software. Many of these systems are an absolute boon, and indispensable to the overworked and understaffed HSE departments in many companies. It is simply that all EMIS software has been developed from a different perspective than environmental accounting.

To put it in terms that senior business managers may understand, the main function of an EMIS is to help manage the task-oriented collection of the huge amount of environmental data that today’s large organisations have to do.

The environmental accounting perspective aligns with financial accounting principles and practices. It facilitates the systematic and comprehensive recording of environmental transactions pertaining to a business. In environmental accounting terms, an environmental transaction is any measureable, recordable or derivable quantity which can be related to the physical environment.

Financial accounting also refers to the process of summarising, analysing and reporting these transactions. The environmental statements that summarise a large company’s operations, environmental position and physical material flows over a particular period are a concise summary of the hundreds of thousands of environmental transactions it may have entered into over this period.

Ok. You say. But exactly how does this help me?

First and foremost, it will save you a lot of time!

An environmental accounting system will define the organisational reporting boundaries and design a data collection template. Data will be collected and entered only once, yet it will be available to use multiple times to produce different reports and analyses.

Data can be reviewed and verified and values calculated using current and correct methods. Draft reports can be reviewed and final reports can be submitted electronically to the relevant regulator. Full support is provided during and after submission.

Data will be accurate and traceable and a document management system means all reports are audit-ready, always.

Further, it will provide easily accessible insight into your company’s environmental impact and how this affects commercial performance.

Right, got it. You say. But how do I convince my manager that we need this? Budgets are tight.

An environmental accounting system delivers an ROI by reducing the service requirements and costs of external audit and assurance services and reducing the time required from internal resources. The ROI is even greater when quantifying the value-adds such as increased visibility of non-financial risk, ongoing process optimisation, environmental stewardship and ability to source capital.

Greenbase offers a complete environmental reporting service. To find out more about our reporting capabilities, visit our Services page.

– The Greenbase Team