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Data: The Ultimate Tool to Reach Your ESG Goals

April 7, 2023

Terms like “ESG” (which stands for Environmental, Social, Governance – the three sides of sustainability), “clean energy,” and “decarbonization” seem to be everywhere these days.

Organizations realize that reducing their environmental impacts can save them money, keep them in compliance with increasingly climate-friendly government regulations, and even make them more desirable to potential customers and employees.

The 2023 Esker Sustainability Study discovered a majority of those surveyed consider a company’s commitment to sustainability when choosing where to work. 80% said it’s either “extremely important” or “somewhat important” for businesses to prioritize sustainability practices and values.

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From recycling to reducing your carbon footprint, there are many ways your organization can become more eco-friendly. But taking action is only one side of the coin.

You also need to be able to clearly report your organization’s ESG work to your stakeholders and regulatory bodies.

For example the SEC’s Climate Disclosure Proposal would require ESG reporting beyond current mandates, such as:

  • Disclosure of climate-related risks, governance, financial impacts, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Addition of ESG on financial statements with climate-related disclosure metrics
  • Internal controls over financial reporting (ICFR) applied to ESG

Feeling the pressure yet? Governments, vendors, partners, employees, and end users all want a more sustainable future. They want action on multiple fronts – and they want proof, a clear record of what you’re doing and how it’s helping the environment.

Facilities managers need to start preparing now for more ESG initiatives and requirements – because like it or not, they’re coming. But where should you even start? What can you do right now to get the wheels turning?

It all comes down to your data. Before you can identify where you should focus your ESG efforts, before you can start tracking your progress, and before you can provide dependable reporting on the results, you need a clear picture of where you stand right now - today.

What’s Your Baseline?

You have plenty of audits you can conduct, financial benefits you can go after, and steps you can take to reduce your environmental impact. For instance:

  • Window tinting
  • Installing LED bulbs
  • Decreasing operating hours for mechanical systems
  • Upgrading to more energy efficient assets
  • Sealing and insulating your envelope
  • Reducing water consumption
  • Installing energy-saving electrical sockets
  • Taking advantage of grants and tax deductions

That’s all great. But if you don’t know what’s already happening in your facilities, you won’t be able to measure your efforts or prove your results. You need a starting point to which you can compare yourself. This is called your baseline. In other words: what does a typical year look like for my organization right now before we make any changes?

Getting your facilities data under control is the first step towards any change or goal you wish to pursue.

7 Signs Your Facilities Data Isn’t Ready for ESG

The 2023 State of Corporate Sustainability Report found that issues with data quality are a major barrier to sustainability success – regardless of how far along an organization is in its sustainability journey. Companies across a variety of industries reported:

  • Data quality problems (gaps, incorrect data)
  • Challenges managing data in spreadsheets
  • Difficulty making the business case for reporting and data management solutions

How does your organization stack up? Is your facilities data complete, accurate, and centralized enough to take on ESG initiatives?

Here are the 7 signs your data isn’t ready for ESG:

  1. I don’t have accurate square footage numbers
  2. I don’t know when my assets were last touched
  3. I don’t have records of assets being decommissioned and new ones installed
  4. My floor plan is outdated and/or incorrect
  5. My data is spread across different places – spreadsheets, PDFs, paper, Word doc lists, separate systems
  6. I have a long-term team member who’s the only person who knows certain things about the facilities
  7. I manage different aspects of the facilities in different programs – work orders in one software, capital planning in a spreadsheet, inspections in another software or binder, etc.

If you found yourself nodding along while reading that list, you know what that means: it’s time to get your data ducks in a row.

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What sorts of data will you need for your ESG efforts? It’ll depend on your organization’s specific goals and KPIs, but in general, you’ll want to collect as much baseline data as you can on all of the assets making up your major systems, including:

  • HVAC
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Flooring
  • Roof
  • Windows and doors
  • Exteriors

For each asset, you’ll want to gather key information such as:

  • Manufacturer/make/model
  • Install date
  • Location
  • Original cost
  • Replacement cost
  • Relationships with any upstream or downstream assets

Collecting the facilities data you need for ESG – especially if you need to start from scratch – can seem like a lot of work. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful or time-consuming task.

We can say this with confidence because we spent years creating one of the best data collection tools on the market. We’d like you to meet AkitaBox Capture.

Insanely Easy ESG Data Collection with AkitaBox Capture

Shred those paper checklists, say goodbye to bulky spreadsheets, and leave your laptop at home. AkitaBox Capture is all you need to gather all sorts of facilities-related data.

  • Easy to learn and use: if you can type and take photos, you can use Capture
  • Customizable: add or subtract data fields so you only collect what you need
  • Fast: Optical Character Recognition technology “reads” data within photos and adds it to the system, no typing required
  • Works offline: keep collecting data even while offline and then sync once you’re back online
  • Mobile app: use it on a tablet (available for iOS and Android)
  • Asset level: every piece of data is tied to a specific asset for better granular and high-level data transparency
  • Location based: the assets you wish to track are pinned to a digital version of your floor plans
AkitaBox Pulse Data Sheet

Plus, Capture is part of our comprehensive facilities management system (known as AkitaBox Pulse), so the data you collect can feed into your work orders, asset management, capital planning, and inspections.

Imagine all the ways a data collection tool this powerful can support your ESG and decarbonization goals. Use it for:

  • Energy usage audits
  • Energy efficiency audits
  • Water usage audits
  • Waste disposal audits
  • Greenhouse gas emissions measurements
  • Regulatory compliance tracking
  • Inspections to ensure all assets are performing optimally
  • And so much more

Discover how AkitaBox Capture can help you collect the data you need for creating the KPIs, tracking the progress, and showing the results of ESG goals. Watch this short video to see it in action. And contact us to learn more.

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Betsy Francoeur

Betsy is AkitaBox's Content Manager. She loves to write blog posts, e-books, whitepapers, emails, and magazine articles about all things facilities management. She also enjoys traveling, running 5ks, and cuddling with her dog.

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