Until recently, companies had to rely on monthly summaries of sustainability metrics -- energy consumption, water usage, gas used by company vehicles, waste recycled, and so on -- to monitor their performance.
In fact, 77% of companies use monthly utility bills to obtain energy consumption data, according to a survey by Panoramic Power.
While utility bills might be useful for budgeting, they're not much help for improving sustainability. Because they only show performance at the facility level, there's no way to know which processes and pieces of equipment are actually impacting performance. Plus, utility bills and monthly summaries only look at past performance, so you can't answer questions about current operations.
Today, corporate sustainability software enables companies to manage sustainability at the asset level. That offers several advantages for companies looking to improve their environmental performance.
Better information = better decisions
One of the ways companies improve sustainability is simply by monitoring it in greater detail.
Instead of monthly summaries, they're able to capture huge volumes of data on energy consumption, waste, emissions, and resource usage at the source. They're able to discern the impact of each boiler, pump, and piece of equipment.
What's more, the insights gleaned from that data take the guesswork out of sustainability decision-making. Knowing precisely which equipment is using the most energy, for example, helps companies set maintenance and upgrade priorities. With data collected at the asset level, leaders can get answers to questions like:
- Which pieces of equipment use the most energy?
- Which activities contribute most to our carbon footprint?
- Which equipment should we service or replace?
- Which processes should we focus on optimizing?
In short, more granular information helps management make better decisions.
See performance in real-time
Another advantage of technology is the ability to see performance in real-time. As data is collected by continuous emissions monitoring systems, for example, it can be imported into a centralized EHS software system and analyzed instantly.
What does that mean? It allows companies to respond to possible environmental issues and inefficiencies right away, instead of at the end of the reporting period.
Software also offers the ability to set custom thresholds for energy usage or emissions, and get alerts when these limits are exceeded. And with the power of mobile apps, managers within the company can stay informed about key metrics in real-time from any location.
Benchmark and improve sustainability across the company
Another advantage of managing sustainability at the asset level is the ability to normalize and compare performance across the company. By comparing similar pieces of equipment or similar buildings, leaders can identify best practices that can be replicated and prioritize poor performers. This information is can be useful for ISO 14001 environmental management. Or, it could even be used to create an energy efficiency competition between similar facilities.
Choosing the right technology
When it comes to managing sustainability, not all EHS software is created equal. Look for a platform that can handle high volumes of environmental data -- something that's challenging to do, and not all software does it well. Also, look for software that can integrate with IoT devices, like continuous emission monitoring systems. As Internet of Things devices become more common, you want a system that can integrate with any new devices you start using.