Best ways to measure your company’s impact on the environment



Executives looking for the best ways to measure and value their company's impact on the environment need look no further than a new report produced by the Network for Business Sustainability.

Called 'Measuring and Valuing Environmental Impacts,' the report is specifically designed to help senior executives and decision-makers new to sustainability choose the right tools to measure their company's environmental impact.

Growing public awareness of environmental issues and increasing government oversight have motivated companies to measure their environmental impacts, but this interest has also contributed to the proliferation of tools available to measure such impacts. Managers can become confounded by the vast array of options.

'This report is a high-level guide,' explains Dr. Tima Bansal, executive director of NBS and a leading researcher in the area of business sustainability, ' that recommends tools and additional resources for measuring and valuing environmental impacts, including an actionable four-step process .'

The report also identifies the pros and cons of the most common tools, enabling managers to select among them depending on their specific needs.

The report is a condensed version of NBS's systematic review of the entire body of research on measuring and valuing environmental impacts. Synthesizing data from 180 studies and 20 tools, the review presents the most comprehensive compilation of high-quality knowledge on this topic to date.


Step 1. Define Success - Measuring your environmental impacts is a means to an end-providing you a tool to help gauge progress towards your goals. So before measuring anything, define success. What goals do you want to achieve? How can your long-term goals be broken into interim targets? For instance, progress towards a goal of carbon neutrality might involve reducing carbon emissions by 10 percent in the first year.

Step 2: Decide What to Measure - Once you have identified your goals, decide which impacts need to be measured. Recognize that measuring all impacts is likely unnecessary and inefficient.

Step 3: Determine How to Measure and Value Impacts - Various measurement tools and methodologies have been developed to help managers measure more holistically. The two most common tools for measuring environmental impacts are life cycle analysis and environmental footprint. Financials are the common language of business. Translating environmental measures into financial values helps managers better understand the implications of environmental impacts and make informed decisions,

Step 4: Incorporate Environmental Measures into Decision-Making - Unless your primary goal is to improve your firm's environmental performance on select criteria, measuring and valuing is not the end point in the process.

Dr. Pamela Kaval was the lead researcher on this report. Before becoming a consultant in the United States, Kaval was an associate professor at the Waikato Management School at New Zealand's Waikato University.

Kaval was supported by the project's guidance committee, which included Karen Clarke-Whistler (TD Bank Group), Andrew Wilczynski (TELUS), Blair Feltmate (Univ rsity of Waterloo), Luc Robitaille (Holcim) and Dror Etzion (McGill University).

About the Network for Business Sustainability - The Network for Business Sustainability is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that connects thousands of researchers and business leaders worldwide, with the goal of creating new, sustainable business models for the 21st century.

Customer comments

  1. By Aurelio Barbato on


  2. By Jitendra Desai on

    congratulations. However, with plethora of framework corporates get confused. How this one different than ISO 26000; GRI or DEFRA etc.? This one is special wrt. ecological and environmental footprint.