Calculating the Environmental Impacts of Green EffortsJune 27, 2012
GWG is pleased to feature guest author Howard Ballin, a Project Administrator for the California Office of the Attorney General (AG) Department of Justice (DOJ) Hawkins Data Center. Howard is Chair of the DOJ Broadway Facility Green Committee in Sacramento California and serves on the statewide AG Green Office Committee in that capacity.
There are two schools of thought as it relates to details; one is “its all in the details” and the other is “drowned in details”. Over history, especially with the advent of information technology, we now track daily life activities in both our personal and professional lives such as budgets, revenues, expenses, travel, nutrition, medication and exercise to name just a few. Now we can add “environmental sustainability” to this list of daily tracking. Another set of unnecessary details or a guide to ensure we are good stewards of our environment?
Public and private entities and individuals are now required to abide by laws, rules and policies that sustain our precious natural resources and protect our environment. Most perceive it as what is best for us and our planet. Hazardous waste can no longer be thrown away in the garbage and most all users of water now must pay as a “use cost” basis through metering. Twenty years ago this was not the norm in our daily lives in many areas of the country. This has been the evolution of environmental sustainability.
So now, how do large organizational entities ensure they are compliant with the laws, rules and polices of their communities and governmental jurisdictions that have been implemented in recent years? Well, software computer tools have been around for over a dozen years that allows entities track their sustainable practices so they can report accordingly. Today many organizations have personnel that assist in assuring they are following such compliance and many use these software tools to ensure they capture the most accurate and viable information to track their sustainability practices through their organization.
But in recent years the simplest of tracking such as paper use, collection of recyclables and electrical usage has morphed into multiple enterprise management sustainability drivers that propel environmental sustainability to new heights. We now need to also track our emissions and waste, our supply chain partners, our renewable resources and our carbon trade. While software computer tools have been used most organizations typically have used spreadsheets to track their practices. This is no longer feasible as the complexity of our “carbon footprint” encompasses a vast realm of transparency and accountability as it relates to green strategies, priorities, metrics and results that require the use of easily created and shared dashboards and reports.
Today there is a need to close the loop to stay ahead of regulatory, customer and business pressures and achieve the bottom line of environmental impacts and goals through integrated green practices, green project execution and green management. As it relates to solution based benefits it appears that today the school of thought may in fact lie in the “details”. Today’s vast number of green issues need to be identified quickly so plans to mobilize and execute solutions to create green successes can be achieved without having to repeat processes, create similar programs or recalculate metrics. To perform these activities it appears that most organizations will need to have some type of software application that will harness the information necessary to manage their environmental sustainability, maintain corporate responsibility and comply with federal, state and local regulatory policies.
(Editor's note: This article is the creation of the author and reflects his views, which are not necessarily those of either the California Department of Justice or the Office of the Attorney General.)