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How is environmental performance measured?
14 February 2024 10:02

Measuring environmental performance involves the quantified monitoring of environmental impacts. Impacts are measured to facilitate analysis and improvement of environmental performance. The approach applied here is frequently applied as part of an ISO 14001 EMS, capturing quantified impacts and results from efforts in place to reduce negative environmental impacts and improve sustainability. 


Here are a few approaches commonly used to measure environmental performance:


ü  Environmental performance Indicators in the form of KPIs used to quantify and track environmental performance. KPI indicators include measures for energy use, water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, waste volumes, biodiversity loss and land use etc. KPI Indicators provide valuable data for assessing trends over time and identifying areas for improvement. Consider the requirements set out in ISO 14031.2021. for environmental performance evaluation.

ü  Often associated with Environmental performance indicators the carbon footprint measures the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions (usually expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent, CO2e) associated with a particular activity, organization, product, or individual. It includes direct emissions from sources such as fuel combustion and indirect emissions from purchased electricity, transportation, and supply chain activities. Calculating and reducing carbon footprints is a key strategy for mitigating climate change.

ü  Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a method used to evaluate the environmental impacts of a product, process, or service throughout its life cycle usually from raw material extraction to the disposal stage. It considers resource use, energy consumption, emissions, and waste generation at each life cycle stage. LCA provides the opportunity to routinely identify risk opportunities relating to the potential reduction environmental impacts.

ü  Compliance with environmental regulations and other requirements is a fundamental aspect of environmental performance measurement. Organizations must adhere to laws, permits, and industry-specific requirements related to air and water quality, waste management, pollution prevention, habitat conservation, and other environmental issues.

ü  Engaging internal and external stakeholders, including employees, communities, NGOs, and government agencies essential for understanding their concerns and requirements, gathering feedback, and building support for environmental initiatives. Stakeholder input can inform EMS decision-making processes, help prioritise actions, and enhance the credibility of environmental performance efforts captured in the EMS.

ü  Overall, measuring environmental performance involves a combination of quantitative data analysis, qualitative assessments, stakeholder engagement, and compliance monitoring to evaluate impacts, set, objectives, targets, and drive continuous improvement toward sustainable outcomes.

ü  Environmental Management Systems (EMS) provide a systematic framework to manage and improve environmental performance. The most widely adopted environmental management system standard is the ISO 14001:2015. The standard provides a structured approach to environmental management and environmental continual improvement. 


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