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Ready to Create Your First Sustainability Report?

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The right reporting partner will help you gather your data, prioritize calculations, and ensure accuracy.

By Nicole Sullivan

Perhaps you’ve started work to quantify your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and environmental impacts, or you have a plan to generate your first sustainability report, what’s next? Consider working with a sustainability consultant—it can be helpful at any point in your sustainability and decarbonization journey, including your first annual sustainability reporting effort. Third-party reporting offers traceability and helps ensure confidence in the accuracy of your reporting; consultants can also help you prioritize calculations and data needs.

If you’re not planning to do your report in-house, planning your budget and selecting a consultant that meets your needs is important, but generating your report isn’t as simple as establishing a scope of work and paying your consultant. You, as a client, will be an active participant in the reporting process. The more collaborative your reporting effort, the more accurate your report will be because you know your data, operations, and target audience better than anyone else.

Some steps you can take to prepare for a sustainability reporting engagement include:

Data Gathering

Your consultant will guide you through a data collection exercise at the start of any engagement, but there are some standard data needs that are likely applicable regardless of the nature of your operations. Some easy places to start include gathering your energy bills, water bills, mileage records if you own a fleet of vehicles, equipment specification sheets if you have equipment such as boilers or heaters, flight records if you have any corporate travel.

This information will help quantify your direct and indirect impacts (Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions). Any information you can proactively get your hands on will help improve the efficiency of your reporting process.

Engage your team

Give your team a heads up on the upcoming reporting effort. Share why sustainability reporting is an important activity for your business and foster excitement for the upcoming effort. Depending on an employee’s role, they might be asked for data on the facility or their activities, and understanding the driver for the effort helps employees be more supportive.

Connect with your suppliers 

Information from your supply chain will be needed to evaluate your Scope 3 emissions (indirect emissions generated by your suppliers and/or customers). A helpful starting point is to evaluate whether your suppliers have conducted their own sustainability reporting efforts. In addition to GHG emissions, you may consider your partners and suppliers’ water, waste, and ingredient impacts in your value chain.

Don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed

Progress comes from taking action, but sometimes taking steps can feel daunting. Preparing for and ultimately completing your first sustainability report is an exciting step on your sustainability journey, and CarbonBetter can help you every step of the way. Once you do an initial quantification of your impacts, you can continue to improve and build upon your efforts – don’t stop!

Ready to get started? We’d love to hear from you and explore how we can help you with any of your sustainability and decarbonization needs.

Nicole Sullivan is the Director of Climate Services at CarbonBetter. When she’s not working on sustainability reports and helping clients to decarbonize, she’s busy reading about the environment or is outdoors exploring it. Connect with her on LinkedIn and drop her a line to let her know what you thought about these stories and share what you’re reading.