Environmental metrics

Given the growing worldwide emphasis on pollution reduction, companies should be aware of how their operations impact the environment.  Since accountants are in the business of issuing operational reports, we should consider becoming involved in providing environmental metrics to management.

The following list of 26 metrics is culled from a variety of environmental status reports issued by public companies, or in some cases are recommended by non-profit environmental groups. Hardly any of these metrics involve information that can be readily found in the general ledger - instead, entirely new data collection systems will be required. The list follows:

  • Average annual fuel consumption per vehicle in vehicle fleet
  • Average miles per gallon of vehicle fleet
  • Compliance fines incurred
  • Cubic feet of storage space per revenue dollar (energy used to heat/cool storage space)
  • Emissions (tons) per $100,000 revenue dollars
  • Emissions by type (volatile organic compounds, sulfuric acid, etc.)
  • Energy use – kilowatt hours per employee or unit of product
  • Hazardous waste – percentage recycled
  • Kilowatt hours per square foot
  • Number of unresolved environmental corrective actions
  • Obsolete inventory
  • Percentage of inbound/outbound deliveries by air freight (pollutes more than ground freight)
  • Percentage of products designed for easy disassembly, recycling
  • Percentage of products not requiring hazardous materials to produce
  • Percentage of products taken back at end of product life cycle
  • Percentage of recycled materials used in new products
  • Percentage of recycled product used in packaging
  • Percentage of vehicles in company fleet with pollution abatement technology
  • Potential cost of environmental liabilities
  • Rework percentage
  • Scrap percentage
  • Shipping packaging as percentage of product weight or volume
  • Waste energy recovery percentage
  • Wastewater reuse – percentage reused
  • Water use – gallons per employee per day
  • Water use – per unit of product