Aug 31, 2010

sustainability 2.0 - from green to blue - Registration is open!

Register for the symposium 2010 before Sept, 15 and receive an early bird discount of 30%. Participants from Universities and non-OECD-countries get a discount of 50% (can not be combined with the early bird discount).

More information and registration

Aug 30, 2010

GaBi Software - User Forum Back!

After being temporarily unavailable, during the move to the new website, the GaBi User Forum is back!

The User Forum is designed to allow registered GaBi users to ask each other questions, share experiences and learn from each other.

Check out the forum topics now; perhaps you’ll be able to answer someone’s question.

Aug 29, 2010

Carbon neutral travel in Australia

PE Australia, in collaboration with Northern Territory Government’s Tourism NT, has developed and implemented an innovative framework to enable Small to Medium Enterprises in the Northern Territory tourism industry to publish statements of claims about their greenhouse gas emissions and offsets.

The system, called Outback Offsets  was based around completion of a Greenhouse Gas Emission Life Cycle Assessment compliant with ISO standards and third party verified offsets.

The solution has been supported by the WWF. The Chief Executive Officer of WWF Australia, Greg Bourne, congratulated Tourism NT, on the “independent, transparent and credible programme for small and medium businesses to reduce their greenhouse emissions”. The scheme has the potential to be applied to many other industry sectors keen to become involved in accredited climate change initiatives. 

Aug 28, 2010

French Environmental Product Declaration (FDES) requirements

The French National Department of Health and Environment is planning that during 2010 50% of construction products put on the French market have an FDES (Fiche de Déclaration Environnementale et Sanitaire.) The new GaBi-tool FDES-CREATOR now enables you to automatically generate  LCI and LCIA tables in one click, as well as the FDES report as requested by the standard NF P 01-010 and in compliance with the AIMCC official format of 2005, format 9.7.

Aug 27, 2010

Outcomes of the GHG Protocol workshops

WRI hosted a workshop for companies’ road testing the drafts of the product and scope 3 standards for GHG accounting and reporting. These standards will be finalized by the end of 2010 and publicly available by the beginning of 2011. Read the summary of the workshops here.

Summary of the workshop on the Scope 3 standard
The scope 3 standard will be an extension to the current GHG Protocol – Corporate Standard (revised edition 2004) and will cover all indirect emissions from a company including their supply chains and downstream emissions. About 60 companies representing a diverse range of industries have volunteered to ‘road test’ the draft. As expected there were a variety of preferences and individual agendas howeverconsensus was able to be achieved on many issues:

The most divergent views surfaced on questions about the essential strategy behind the standard, i.e. whether it should be a standard that is primarily about good and complete emissions accounting practice along a corporation’s value chain, or a standard focused on supplier engagement and driving change through this. It was suggested that the standard may be both, and that companies should declare which strategy they are pursuing for carbon accounting and reporting.

Another interesting topic was the setting of boundaries i.e., how much of the scope 3 emissions should the standard require to be reported. The current draft suggests an 80% threshold. Many companies said that in order to do this they will have to determine how much 100% is anyway, and that in this case they may as well report 100% provided it is acceptable to have a higher variance/uncertainty attached to the remaining 20%. 

One positive development was in relation to data types and quality: The current draft requires separate reporting of emissions from primary and secondary data where primary data includes supplier supplied data and secondary data includes sources such as literature, LCA data bases and I/O data bases.  The next version of the standard however, may not require separate reporting of primary and secondary data. Instead, it may just require “reporting the emission totals for each category (16), together with an indication as to what percentage of emissions is based on ‘physical relationships”. This – in our view - increases the accuracy of reporting plus it increases the likelihood of scope 3 reporters using LCA data for their emissions calculations.

Summary of the workshop on the product standard
In contrast to the companies involved in the Scope 3 workshop, there was a broad consensus among road testers on the application, interpretation and optimizations required in the current draft of the product standard:

All road testers confirmed that attributional Life Cycle Assessment was the adequate approach for the accounting of product GHG emissions. It was therefore recommended the section on consequentional LCA be erased in the current draft of the standard.

All road testers confirmed that capital goods were insignificant within the life cycle of the products under investigation. As a result of this, deletion of capital goods from the analysis is being considered. Alternatively, the investigation of capital goods may be limited to facilities owned or controlled by the company performing the carbon footprint analysis. In summary, it was concluded that there is no absolute need for inclusion of capital goods in all upstream and downstream processes.

Most road testing companies did not agree that primary data should have priority, as outlined in the current draft of the standard.. The quality of the Data is the key to identifying preferred data sources. In the current draft of the standard, data quality is only referred to in the reporting phase. It was recommended to change this to using data quality as a criterion to identify the most representative/appropriate data to be used in the analysis.

As many road testers had already undertaken numerous, recent LCA studies, it was concluded that a specific chapter on how to convert an ISO 14044 LCA into the GHG Protocol Product standard, should be included in the standard.

It was emphasized that the standard will provide the building blocks for standardization. However some areas may be not finally standardized, e.g. allocation. Fine tuning of the specifications and choices could occur within the framework of a program or industry specific standards based on the GHG Protocol Initiative. It is likely that the standard will contain a section on how to set up/ write PCRs based on the GHG Protocol standard.

Many road testers expressed their desire for more guidance for tracking biogenic carbon storage (the need for a case study was mentioned). There was disagreement on the PAS 2050 approach to carbon storage credits, however no alternative was available at present.

If you are interested in the ongoing developments of the GHG Protocol initiatives and/or other ongoing standardization such as ISO 14067, PAS 2050, French Grenelle, etc. PE INTERNATIONAL can provide customized workshops and seminars.

Aug 26, 2010

GaBi 4.4 update release

We are happy to announce that the GaBi 4.4 update will soon be released. This update includes a number of new features and functionality in response to changes in the Life Cycle Assessment industry.

We’ve implemented the ILCD format, and added a number of features that should make documenting process information, and preparing documentation for EPD certification, much easier. We’ve also updated and extended database content by adding life cycle working environment and land use data, adding the complete ELCD database and splitting the existing carbon dioxide flows into CO2 from fossil resources and CO2 from biotic resources. These changes should improve your modelling flexibility and improve your analysis. For those using GaBi’s automatic update function, the software will update automatically. Others will receive the update via email or post. Once successfully updated, you will have the opportunity to view a short video explaining the improvements in more detail. We look forward to the release!

Aug 25, 2010

Who will take the lead? - Trends from the GRI Conference 2010

Although the Copenhagen negotiations in 2009 did not deliver on the much anticipated “Hopenhagen” and governments are still slow to implement mandatory requirements, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) announced ambitious goals at this year’s Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency.

The GRI would like to see all large and medium-sized companies – about 80,000 firms worldwide – reporting on their material environmental, social and governance performance (also called ESG performance) by 2015. Indeed the number of organizations issuing GRI reports has risen by 46% from 2007 to 2008, with about half of the reports coming from Europe and North America in second place.

Notably, Asia and Latin America are catching-up as interest in social and environmental reporting in these regions is growing fast. One obvious sign was in evidence at the GRI’s 2010 READER’s CHOICE awards ceremony when three Brazilian companies swept the awards which recognized the sustainability reports that best meet the needs of the readers.

Along with these encouraging developments, some would like to see governments more active in setting minimum standards and encouraging voluntary disclosure. According to a report on global approaches to sustainability reporting by UNEP, KPMG and others; 142 mandatory and voluntary country standards are currently in place. Next to regulation, additional forms of successful government involvement were discussed including leading by example and further implementing sustainability reporting in public agencies.

Voluntary reporting standards are equally evolving. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) plans to release the new ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Standard at the end of 2010. The new standard defines fundamental expectations of a company that claims to operate under the concept of sustainable development and is intended to complement existing international agreements. However, ISO’s Deputy Secretary-General, Kevin McKinley, emphasized that the standard provides guidance only and companies cannot be certified against it.

The business community has embraced sustainability reporting as much more than just a boiler plate to promote the company in public. Reporting has become a management tool that helps to improve corporate ESG performance. As Barbara Kux, Siemens' Chief Procurement Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer put it:”What gets measured gets done”.

The increased focus on performance is necessary to improve the credibility of sustainability reports among stakeholders. Just ticking boxes and business as usual are not enough according to Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International. BP’s recent oil-spill-disaster illustrates that outstanding sustainability reporting measured by current standards does not necessarily reflect the whole picture of environmental, health and safety performance of a company.

A much discussed topic at the conference was the need to give investors a clearer sense of a company’s financial risks and opportunities. The combination of financial reporting and ESG reporting and the development of one global standard for such integrated reporting by 2010 was one of the GRI propositions. The International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC), an initiative of Prince Charles' Accounting for Sustainability Project, seeks to develop guidance for integrated reporting with strong involvement from the investor community.

Standardizing sustainability reporting need to be addressed urgently. How can stakeholders compare the ESG performance of companies whose businesses are` diverse and who are facing varying environmental issues because they operate in different  geographical contexts? How can a single report satisfy the needs of different stakeholder groups and how can stakeholders be more engaged in the process? Ultimately, collaboration and partnerships between government, business, NGOs, financial markets and consumers will need to be expanded, so that a global standard for sustainability/ integrated reporting can emerge.