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When it comes to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting, utility data is one of the most crucial and basic sources of information for evaluating your company’s GHG emissions, carbon footprint and other climate impacts—impacts that are essential indicators of overall ESG performance. With clear and increasing demand from investors, customers, workers and other stakeholders for greater transparency into corporate ESG performance, the ability to report ESG metrics quickly and accurately is more important than ever.

To help businesses minimize the administrative burdens of analyzing their utility data and more accurately quantify ESG performance, VelocityEHS has partnered with Urjanet, the world’s largest utility data integration provider. By integrating our VelocityEHS Accelerate® Platform’s ESG Software with Urjanet’s global network of utility providers and powerful data collection platform, users can automatically import their utility data from Urjanet’s growing network of more than 9,000 utility companies, then seamlessly analyze and convert that data into key ESG metrics which can be easily viewed, tracked and exported for ESG reporting purposes.

Utility Data Management Challenges

One of the biggest challenges to aggregating and reporting utility data—whether it’s for ESG reporting purposes, consensus standards compliance (e.g. ISO 14064) or internal environmental management efforts—is the fact that the average organization has numerous accounts for electricity, natural gas and other energy utilities that are a primary source of their overall GHG emissions and carbon footprint. Even mid-size organizations can have hundreds of utility accounts across many operating locations.

For many of us, retrieving and aggregating utility data from across multiple accounts and facility locations is a time-consuming process requiring manual data access, entry, and analysis, as well as close coordination and communication among a variety of stakeholders and data users. Each month, you might need to perform a long list of tasks including:

  • Accessing/locating paper utility invoices or online accounts
  • Assessing usage data for each account at each facility, and manually entering it into spreadsheets or other database/analytical software
  • Identifying, setting up and maintaining appropriate emissions factors and other calculations as dictated by generation/fuel type, time of use, location, seasonality and potentially other variables
  • Analyzing utility usage data to quantify GHG emissions
  • Generating reports of utility usage statistics and GHG emissions, and distributing them to stakeholders

This is just a brief sample of potentially numerous administrative steps required to determine the GHG emissions and climate impacts from your organization’s utility usage—steps that will surely involve multiple stakeholders (e.g. accountants, consultants, workers, management, etc.) and systems to collect, analyze, interpret and report your GHG emissions data. The financial cost and resource allocation associated with these steps can be burdensome for some organizations to absorb.

In addition to the administrative challenges of managing multiple utility accounts, utility data is often supplied by multiple utility providers and in many different units, be they kilowatt-hours (kWhs), British thermal units (Btus), therms, tons, metric tons (tonnes) or others. Standardizing these utility data inputs to determine how they factor into your overall climate impact often requires time-intensive unit conversion calculations, as well as analysis to translate raw utility data inputs into meaningful ESG metrics such as CO2 equivalents (CO2e) or other GHG emissions.

Examples of common CO2e calculations are available from the U.S. EPA. These calculations are relatively straightforward, but they are made more complex by differential CO2e and GHG emissions from various generation sources and fuels. For instance, your utility provider will most likely publish your usage data in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Coal-fired electricity generation emits greater amounts of GHGs/kWh than natural gas-fired generation or renewable generation sources, and it’s very likely that your utility provider relies on a mix of generation sources/fuels to meet demand. Quantifying your overall GHG emissions from electricity generation involves many variables determined by their specific generation mix.

The EPA’s Avoided Emissions and Generation Tool (AVERT) is a helpful resource to calculate CO2e emissions from electricity generation. For example, AVERT uses the following emission factor to derive CO2e emissions based on usage:

1,562.4 lbs CO2/MWh × (4.536 × 10-4 metric tons/lb) × 0.001 MWh/kWh = 007.09 × 10-4 metric tons CO2/kWh

In basic terms, for every kWh of electricity used, your business generates about 1.56 pounds of CO2e emissions. To put that in perspective, an average mid-size business uses as much as 55,000 kWh per year, resulting in 85,800 pounds of CO2e emissions annually. If you know how many kWh your facility or your organization consumes annually, you can use this emission factor to get a general sense of your total GHG emissions from electricity usage.

Reducing Environmental Impacts

Electricity consumption is one of the most common examples of how utility usage contributes to your company’s overall environmental impact and ESG performance. Making reductions to these impacts is a fundamental goal of ESG initiatives, but it starts with establishing a benchmark for current performance. From there, you can dig into the data to identify opportunities for reductions that will help you to achieve your future ESG performance targets.

But keep in mind that you’ll likely need to collect, consolidate, analyze, and track this data across multiple utility providers at multiple facility locations. It’s not hard to imagine how getting a picture of your organization’s total environmental impact and ESG performance can quickly become unmanageable, especially if you need to hunt down data for each location and rely on spreadsheets or legacy database software that isn’t specifically designed and set up to perform these complex calculations and reporting functions.

We Want to Hear from You!

How are you collecting and managing your utility data? Please click on the link below to take a brief survey and tell us about your utility data management challenges. We’ll publish the results in an upcoming blog where you’ll be able to see how your organization compares to others among the industries we serve.

Click Here to Take our Survey!

Urjanet & VelocityEHS ESG Software: The Simple Solution

By partnering with Urjanet, VelocityEHS helps you eliminate the need to track down utility bills across multiple providers and locations, manually enter utility usage data into outdated spreadsheets, or perform time-consuming analysis to accurately assess the environmental impacts of your business’ utility usage. We help you all but eliminate the administrative costs and processes of utility data management while optimizing utility data accuracy and reporting speed.

How do we do it? VelocityEHS securely and automatically logs into your selected utility accounts, retrieves copies of your utility invoices, instantly finds and extracts the relevant usage data and uploads it into the VelocityEHS ESG Software. From there, you’ll be able to automatically apply the correct emissions factors based on location and generation type, instantly calculate your GHG emissions and easily generate pre-built GHG reports that meet reporting requirements for common ESG reporting standards including Scope 1-3 GHGs CDP, SASB and GRI.

Imagine being able to quickly and accurately assess your utility-related GHG emissions and carbon footprint, with virtually zero effort. With VelocityEHS, you can. Click here to learn more about our ESG Software solutions.