Greenhouse Gas Inventory: The First Step in Your Decarbonization Journey

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Greenhouse Gas Inventory: The First Step in Your Decarbonization Journey

Are you ready to begin your sustainability or decarbonization journey but aren’t quite sure where to start? Or are you on the heels of the California sustainability disclosure legislature (SB 253) and in need of a fully auditable greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory?

If you haven’t yet completed a GHG inventory before, worry not! You aren’t the only one. Read on to learn what GHG inventories are, why to develop one, and the three keys – sorry, Ps – to a successful inventory.

WHAT IS A GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORY?

Think of a greenhouse gas inventory as a climate balance sheet. A GHG inventory is a list of an organization’s emission sources and their associated emissions that are quantified using standardized methods and aims to capture a company’s unique emissions footprint.

A GHG inventory should include all relevant emissions sources including:

    • Direct emissions sources, such as company owned vehicles, or
    • Indirect emissions, such as purchased electricity or emissions that occur in your value chain.

Your organization’s first inventory is typically considered your baseline inventory, which is the inventory all your subsequent inventories will be measured against to determine your sustainability progress. Your baseline inventory should represent your company in a typical business year.

WHY SHOULD I DEVELOP A GHG INVENTORY?

GHG inventories are the foundation that successful sustainability programs are built on. You wouldn’t buy a house or invest in a new company without inspecting it first, determining its strengths and weaknesses, and developing a practical plan for success. That is the same attitude you should carry with you as you step into your decarbonization journey.

A GHG inventory allows you to see exactly where your company currently stands and answers questions like:

    • What are the assets with the highest decarbonization potential?
    • Which suppliers are our highest emitters that we have good relationships with?
    • How many assets are in regions where we can choose green energy?
    • Which emissions sources can we reduce that have the highest ROI?

Equipped with a GHG Inventory, you can begin to reduce your emissions and set achievable reduction targets.

THE 3 Ps OF A SUCCESSFUL INVENTORY: 

    1. Prioritize the data. An inventory is only as good as the data you have. Data collection can be the trickiest part of developing an inventory, so prioritize data collection and setting up internal data review processes.
    2. Plan ahead. If you know you need an assured inventory by 2026 (tentatively for SB 253), then plan to have at least one inventory completed before needing assurance. This will take the stress off your team and allow you to work out any kinks before mandatory disclosure.
    3. Put down everything. An auditor will want to know exactly how you developed your inventory. Write each step of the process down. When working with our team, we will provide an inventory management plan, which is the “How-to Guide” for your specific inventory that will be crucial for an assurance.

I like to remind my clients not to get too stressed over their first inventory. Think of it as an exploratory phase to find out where your business’ emissions are coming from, build relationships with your asset managers, and put a data collection process in place. A GHG inventory is meant to be a process that is honed over time and should be constantly evolving with your business.

Inventories, like balance sheets, aren’t the flashiest part of a decarbonization journey, but they are the foundational piece that will mitigate your risk, increase the success of your sustainability actions, help to tell your unique sustainability story, and showcase to you and your stakeholders what is possible through your efforts.

Our team thrives in helping clients set and achieve their decarbonization goals. No matter where you are starting from, we’re happy to meet you where you are and give you the tools for developing a successful sustainability program. For a deep dive on the GHG inventory process and what to expect, reach out to our team to discuss your decarbonization journey.