Posts Tagged ‘Metrics’

Performance Measurement – it’s more exciting than you think!

February 1, 2010

As companies reflect on their accomplishments in 2009, many feel good about their efforts in sustainability and are sure they’ve made a difference, but can’t quite quantify their results. Measuring performance can be a challenge (especially initially) and the thought of it doesn’t usually get the sustainability team all fired up.  However, it is essential for maintaining momentum and keeping employees engaged.

First you need to benchmark your baseline environmental performance so you can tell whether your future initiatives make a difference. Which environmental areas do you want to benchmark and monitor on an ongoing basis?  Energy?  Waste?  Water? Identify which areas are applicable to your business and consider the expectations of your stakeholders (e.g. investors, customers, consumers, employees, competitors.) Now determine the specific metrics that makes the most sense. Do you simply want to track total energy consumption or a normalized version such as energy consumption per unit of production or per dollars of revenue?

Once you decide on the metrics, it’s time to go out and get the data. Some data may be readily available from utility bills or operational performance metrics you already track; other data may need to be obtained from outside service providers (e.g. waste haulers.)  Most of the time these service providers are eager to help once they understand your needs, but be prepared that you may face a little resistance.  Sometimes the service provider will be nervous about why you’re suddenly asking for data you’ve never before requested. They may even think you’re asking because you’re considering changing to another vendor. By taking the time upfront to explain your motivation, you can bypass some possible unpleasantness and set the tone for the service provider to partner with you on this important initiative.

In some cases, you may need to rethink your original set of performance metrics if the data simply isn’t available. For example, if you lease space in a multi-tenant building, utility sub-metering may not exist.

Once you’re able to track your performance, you can communicate and celebrate your successes citing actual quantitative data – and that can actually be pretty exciting!