Good Bye Indicators?

October 12, 2010

Many environmental management systems, for example the WWF GreenOffice, use indicators for companies to track their environmental performance. While a good idea, indicators have their limits – after a year or three most companies will have reached a satisfactorily level and can not, with reasonable measures, decrease the level of e.g. paper consumption or waste further. Also keeping track of the indicators is a tedious job, and not very interesting or challenging for the person responsible for it. 

Furthermore, what to do when a satisfactorily level in an indicator is reached? Changing to a new indicator would probably be the answer of the organization controlling the standards, but I doubt that this is a good long-term solution. It brings the same problems with it – goal reached after two to three years, not interesting & tedious.

A final critique of indicators is that one often has many different ones to keep track off, at the same – waste, energy, paper, water, transportation, for example. This diliutes the attention and spreads resources over many different areas. It is not a problem for a multinational company with a whole environmental experts team, but for a SME – where often one person handles environmental matters – this can mean spreading resources very thin, or even failure.

Green office

So what would be better than a set of indicators for companies to track in order to improve their environmental performance? In my opinion, it would be smart to have yearly projects, which the company would pursue.

Yearly projects have the advantage that all resources – human and monetary – are invested into one effort, for example reducing energy usage. Instead of working for a couple of years on something, decreasing energy & water usage, waste, transportation and paper little by little every year, a company can concentrate on one project and reach the goal at the end of the year; then allowing them to concentrate on a new project the next year. The monetary savings through a yearly project also are likely higher than in an multiple indicator approach, because results are higher and result in a higher pay-off.    

Companies having the same standard – e.g. EMAS easy or ISO 14.001 – also could come together to form working groups, exchanging ideas and creating the best solution to their common problem. This also fosters cooperation, networking and learning among companies from different areas – the companies search for a solution to a common problem, even if they do business in different markets. With indicators, while often being similar in different companies, one company might more concentrate on X while the other one concentrates on Y. With a common project, everyone concentrates on Z and can share their experiences with others.

This is at the moment still futuristic thinking, of course. Most EMS still follow their indicator-driven approach at company-wide environmental improvement, and while it works, I strongly believe that a project driven approach has many advantages as outlined above. 

If you and your company feel tired of indicators and would like to realize concrete results to improve your environmental performance, please get in touch with me.

Fram Oy, one of Vaasa’s premier printing houses, became in the spring of 2010 with the help of Korpi Consulting the first printing house in Vaasa and at the same time the northern-most Nordic Ecolabel (or Joutsenmerkki in Finnish) certified printing house in Finland.

The work on Fram’s certification process started in October 2009, when I visited Fram in Vaasa for a couple of days to observe their operations, collect documents and interview employees. After this initial visit I went through the collected documents, cooperated with the Nordic Ecolabel certification body SFS and arranged everything for Fram, so that after the hectic winter holiday time in the late winter of 2010 an auditor from SFS came for the inspection visit at the facility in Vaasa.

The auditor found everything most satisfactorily, pointed out where he believes some improvements could be made in the future, and granted Fram Oy the use of the Nordic Ecolabel, making the company the first Joutsenmerkki-certified printing house in Vaasa. Fram is very proud of this fact, and also business-wise it was a smart decision, as increasingly Fram’s clients want their print products to be environmentally friendly and bear the Nordicecolabel!

If you are the owner of a printing house and are considering to get the Nordic Ecolabel for your company, why not contact us and have an expert help you getting the label. This enables you to concentrate on what you do best – running your business!

Last Wednesday Toy Toy Manner Oy, a client I worked with in spring, had his WWF Green Office audit. A service of Korpi Consulting is that we will attend your audit, to be able to help you answer questions and generally give you peace of mind.

However, Manner had nothing to worry about, as the auditor was delighted to see that the environmental programme was perfect and left few questions open. A walk through the office showed that Manner has been implementing the programme very well, and after only two hours the auditor was convinced that the company is walking the talk and has a functioning environmental management system in place. Manner is now joining the WWF Green Office network, and will receive the rights to use the WWF Green Office logo in their marketing. The company is well on track with its environmental efforts and was very enthusiastic that the work paid off.

If you would like to learn more about the WWF Green Office and environmental management systems, please contact Korpi Consulting and we will answer your questions.

Cooperation

July 2, 2009

I started a cooperation with One Did It, the company which produces a simple and effective tool for consumers to measure their ecological backpack. You will during the next weeks find a link from my website to the One Did It site. The tool is aimed at the end consumer, and therefore in this case is directed at employees who want to see their private impact on the environment. Accompanying the eco backpack tool are useful eco-tips which help people grow their awareness and minimize their CO2 emissions.

Here is my personal ecological backpack:
My eco-backpack

The EU average is 32.665kg, so I’m almost 1/3 of the EU average! Visit their website and take the test, and also check out their developer’s blog which has a lot of useful information!

Here is the second installment of available management systems in Finland. In the first part I introduced the WWF Green Office, EMS Light-Nordic, Ekokompassi, GreenCard and EcoStart. Today I will tell about EMAS easy, ISO 14.001 and EMAS.

EMAS easy is EMAS, the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, simplified for the needs of SMEs. Its very unique, as it incorporates the Ecomapping approach for the Initial Environmental Review (IER), which is a very useful tool and its quick to use. Also, EMAS easy is not as demanding for SMEs, as it is more relaxed. Costs depend again on the size of the company and on how many sites it operates, and go from 650€ to 2700€. On top of that come annual fees, which start at 350€ for the first site and 175€ for each remaining site. EMAS easy was developed to be implemented in a maximum amount of 10 days. It is suitable for any kind of company, and as its big brother, it gives companies a strong marketing tool in form of the EMAS logo. Finally, with EMAS easy in place a SME can be sure to create a positive image and be ready for the future.

ISO 14.001 is probably the most well-known EMS there is on this planet. It is very closely related to the ISO 9.000 Quality Management Standard and the ISO 22.000 Food safety management standard, and can create good synergies with these two standards. ISO 14.001 manages the company’s impacts on the environment, and helps the company to become more efficient. While a SME can implement ISO 14.001, the standard is better suited for larger companies. Costs depend on the consultant used, and on the certification company.

Finally EMAS, probably the most acclaimed EMS in Europe. Though it is exhaustive, it gives companies which have implemented it a very positive image. The EMAS logo is a strong marketing tool as well, and with the changes which will happen in the near future the EMAS logo will be known over the borders of Europe. Because its so exhaustive, you can be sure to be prepared for coming changes in environmental legislation, and with the increases in efficiency your company will be a environmental leader in its field. Costs are the same as for EMAS easy, though implementation costs might be slightly higher.

These two articles should give you a good idea of which EMSs are available in Finland. If you are unsure which is the suitable EMS for your company, please check out Korpi Consulting and get in touch. We will visit you free of charge and help you chose the right EMS for your company, and help you in the implementation process.

Here the first part of the descriptions of available environmental management systems (EMS) in Finland. There are environmental management systems and environmental management systems, and to the uneducated they might look all the same. This little guide is thought to show what is available, while I leave it to the reader to judge the systems himself.

The WWF Green Office is a light EMS which is solely for the office spaces of a company. Its main attention is on reducing energy usage and trying to use renewable energy sources, and reduction of the waste stream. The main benefit, besides cost savings, is the use of the WWF Green Office logo, which is a strong marketing tool. Costs for the EMS start at 800€ for the application, and the yearly fee starts at 1500€ – this is for the smallest category (30 employees maximum), and are increasing with the size of the company. The WWF recommends to use a consultant if the company plans to do an Initial Environmental Review (IER), but if the company thinks it doesn’t need an IER, then it can do it by themselves. I do agree that if a company has a motivated employee(s) who is familiar with environmental management, that a consultant is not necessary. Currently there are 62 certified WWF Green Offices in Finland.

EMS Light-Nordic is a Nordic project aimed at supporting the sustainable development in small communities in the Nordic Countries. The main aim of the project is to increase the level of environmental protection and competitive strength for the small and medium sized enterprises.The project takes place at the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Åland Islands. I can not give any information on costs, or on how many companies have implemented it yet.

Ekokompassi is part of a project coordinated by the Helsinki City Environmental Centre, with the aim of strengthening the environmental performance of SMEs in the Helsinki region. Ekokompassi includes a light environmental management system for SMEs, coaching and a web-portal for information regarding environmental issues. There’s currently no website, and the project is supposed to go life in spring 2009. I don’t know about costs, although I heard that it is supposed to be without the assistance of environmental consultants which might mean that it is low-cost.

GreenCard is a handbook for companies, which serves as the basis for building up an EMS. Currently only a few consultants consult this EMS in Finland. The system can be audited and a company can receive a Green Card- certificate, issued by KETEK – the developer of the EMS – after a successful audit. Currently 11 companies have implemented Green Card. No estimates about costs, they probably depends on what the individual consultant charges.

EcoStart was developed by the T&E Keskus Etelä-Savo, and currently around 60 companies have implemented the EMS. Ecostart aims to improve the company’s environmental performance and eco-efficiency. It comes as a 4-10 day consultation package including workshops for identifying the environmental aspects, recommendations for improving the environmental performance, environmental policy and environmental programme. A follow-up day is organised six months after the implementation of the EMS. The company can have their EcoStart EMS audited after one year and it then can receive an EcoStart certificate. The costs of EcoStart depend on the size of the company and the consultant used, varying from 150€ to 350€/ day for the basic consultation package. EcoStart is currently available in the regions of five T&E Centres in Finland, but there is an intention to spread it in all of the regions in the near future. There’s no website at this point, but there should be one going online soonish. Google helps, and I linked to a brochure (in Finnish) from where you can find contact details.

In the next installment I will cover EMAS easy, ISO 14.001 and EMAS.

Korpi Consulting offers the WWF Green Office, EMAS easy, ISO 14.001 and EMAS. If you need more information on what might be the right EMS for your company, get in touch.

Future posts

March 11, 2009

Today just a short update on what I am planning for the future posts of this blog. I decided, in line with a “radical transparency” principle, to publish a list of all environmental consultants in Finland, sorted by city. Why, you might ask, are you giving away so easily the information about your competitors? Its quite easy: I can’t be everywhere all the time, and it is easier for interested companies to find one place where you can find all environmental consultants in Finland at once. Also, I got nothing to lose.

Furthermore, because companies interested about environmental management often are not very well informed about what is available, I decided to publish a list of environmental management systems and environmental labels, and give a brief description about them – much like on my company’s website where I describe my services. The idea is to give interested companies a one-stop shop from where they can inform themselves, free of charge, about the different EMS and labels which exists. I will be rating them, as there are some systems which are very established, developed by organizations and supported by the government, versus some systems which are developed by one consultant. It will give interested parties a good idea of what actually is available.

Finally, as currently it is just me working at Korpi Consulting, I will write in the first person and do away with the “we” I have been using previously. No sense in appearing bigger than I am.

Doing research for a project we are working on, we came across Morgan Lovell in the UK, which has a lot of very good information on why it makes sense to green your office. If you think about greening your office, but still look for some goods reasons how you could convince your staff or boss, look no further and check out those two white papers:

Ten Business Reasons to Green Your Office – an informative pdf which gives hard facts why a company should green its office
Sustainable Office Design – another pdf, full of very useful information from “What are the benefits?” over “How do I begin?”  to concrete tips 

Furthermore, they have a few good articles, from How to motivate staff on saving energy to How to make your office refurbishment sustainable, thus its definitely worth to check them out. Their site is well designed, thus don’t hesitate and check them out – though if you have no time to read, give us a call and we will help you to get a green office!

This was a new one, haven’t seen something like it before. Definitely a good way to spread knowledge about the ISO 14.001 standard. I wonder, does something similar exist for EMAS or the WWF Green Office? 

 

 

Some quick search on Youtube showed that the WWF Green Office environmental management system doesn’t have a video like the one above. However, Kona Bikes has a blog and a few videos on Youtube on how they are redeveloping an old factory building, which is full of useful tips on how to improve energy efficiency, save water and at the same time have a BBQ area and a Sauna. That’s possible because they follow the WWF “One Planet Living” principles. As they are just at the beginning of the project, its worth to follow!

Twitter

February 19, 2009

As we wrote last week, after some initial skepticism we decided to open a Twitter account for the company, to have another channel in which we can be contacted – besides the obvious email and website + this blog. We are sure that Twitter will take off soon on a corporate level, and therefore its better to be on board early. So everyone who’s already on Twitter, you are welcome to start following us, and those who aren’t what are you waiting for – sign up!

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