What is a Green Audit or Environmental Sustainability Audit?

“If you can’t measure it you can’t effectively manage it!” Icologie.

Why `Go Green’?

Every person and business has a responsibility to Nature which ultimately sustains us and to future generations to conduct their lives and businesses in a way that is least damaging to the environment.

What is a Green Audit or Environmental Sustainability Audit (ESA)?

A Green or Environmental Sustainability Audit is a formal process that measures the energy and water consumption, the chemicals used, waste generation and carbon emissions of a business, household, organisation or community. It should answer the following:

1 Do I have a baseline against which to measure the efficiency of equipment, operating procedures and to set targets for saving costs and resources (energy, water, raw materials, waste)?

2 Do I understand the pricing tariffs and is my business or home on the correct tariff for energy, water and waste etc?

3 Does my business comply with the relevant environmental legislation? How will new legislation e.g. waste removal or Carbon Tax affect me and my business?

4 What are the financial risks to me and or my business associated with the increasing costs of essential services and resources? What are the alternatives?

5 What are the economic and marketing benefits of `Going Green’ and of being acknowledged as an environmentally sustainable business?

If a full assessment is too daunting to start with, rather than delay your Green Journey, choose to audit one of either Energy, Water or Waste. In this way you can deal with an immediate priority area and see the economic and best practice benefits of a focused Green Audit. Then don’t stop your journey – tackle the next step to sustainability.

Basic types of Audits

A do it yourself or First-party Audit is conducted by the organization or the homeowner. Typically this may be done to get a broad understanding of how much is being consumed, where and at what price to the consumer and what cost to the environment. A self-audit should be able to pinpoint inefficiencies, high cost and environmentally damaging activities. It is an essential first step of a green journey to a sustainable way of living and working. A self audit should be done in consultation with a Green Auditor and is not generally recommended for large businesses. Contact Kim at GAIA for more information.

A Third-party Audit is conducted by an external auditor. This includes a baseline audit of the entire home or business, or an audit of just one aspect such as Lighting, Energy, Water, Waste or Chemicals. To find out more about these focused Audits click on the relevant one: Energy Audit, Lighting Audit, Water Audit, Waste Audit.

The key steps in an Audit include:

A site visit to speak to the operations manager (or home executive) to get an understanding of the core activities.

An on site survey and completion of an audit sheet of what appliances and activities use electricity & water, what waste is generated and what chemicals are used that may impact negatively on the environment.

An analysis of electricity and water accounts to get historical data about consumption to determine trends and possible future risks.

As appropriate, the use of electrical power monitors to verify use patterns and identify energy hungry appliances.

A Green Audit Report which provides a baseline assessment of your business or home’s consumption of electricity, water and waste production. It makes recommendations regarding operational efficiency, and technical and best practice improvements.  Where replacement with energy and water efficient technologies is being considered by the client, a return on investment will be included.

Kim K April 2013