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Environmental Measurement: Reasons to Measure Environmental Performance
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons to Measure Environmental Performance
Developing a Measurement System
Calculators and Tools
Where To Go for P2 Help
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Environmental Results Management Systems: Moving from Planning to Action by Measuring What Counts
Guidance for agencies, based on the Plan-Do-Check-Adopt model, to help in planning, decision-making,...

Guide for Measuring Compliance Assistance Outcomes
Document helps agencies measure the impact of compliance assistance projects and activities on the r...

Measuring Progress in Toxics Use Reduction and Pollution Prevention
This project developed and tested a methodology for measuring toxics use reduction progress in MA, u...

Pollution prevention or source reduction projects, investments, and programs that are not tracked lose out on some very important information and insight.

Four overarching benefits of measuring environmental performance are:

  • Glean perspective on what's working and what's not working
  • Understand and demonstrate progress toward sustainability, environmental goals and environmental quality
  • Create a continuous feedback and learning mechanism to support management decisions and effectively apply future effort(s) and investments in environmental improvement
  • Market and promote successes and effectiveness of programs and opportunities to stakeholders, customers, and others.

The benefit of information showing the environmental responsibility of an organization, program, community, or ecosystem, depends to some extent on the audience. Managers, employees, and other stakeholders should know as much as possible about how their environmental efforts and participation impact an organization, program and the environment. Understanding environmental performance fosters a greater sense of accountability, personal ownership, problem solving initiative, and better prioritization.

Motivation for behavioral changes can be driven by translating the measured information into meaningful messages that help people understand how their environmental efforts make a difference.


"Assuming Pacific Northwest fuel mix, your efforts in helping our company reduce energy consumption by 5,000 kwh avoids 976 pounds of carbon dioxide, a prolific greenhouse gas."

"Your environmental efforts have resulted in a cost savings of $xxx for our company."

"Identification and changeover to the XYZ alternative, non-toxic material has reduced our employee exposure to volatile organic compounds and reduced $450 per year in hazardous waste management costs."

"Your efforts in eliminating landfilling of five tons of solid waste ultimately avoids around 1,100 pounds of methane, a potent greenhouse gas."

"Recycling one ton of aluminum saves the equivalent of 2,350 gallons of gasoline. This is equivalent to the amount of electricity used by the typical home over a period of 10 years. " (Source: Indiana Department of Education. 1992.)

Some additional benefits of measuring include:

  • Effective management and reduction of wastes, toxics and greenhouse gas emissions, discharges, and accidents
  • Ensuring up-to-date environmental practices at each facility
  • Understanding and controlling true environmental costs
  • Understanding the effectiveness and environmental benefits of investments
  • Choosing wisely between alternative projects
  • Meeting voluntary business initiatives, (e.g., CERES Principles, Responsible Care, Global Reporting Initiative's Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, The Natural Step, Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award, various local or regional environmental awards, etc.)
  • Easier environmental reporting (regulatory, publicity, stakeholder reports, other)
  • Justifying corporate support for capital requests and allocations
  • Public relations and improving public image

Additional reasons for agencies or environmental programs to measure can also include:

  • Communicating activities and accomplishments to policymakers
  • Sharing and/or aggregating information with other state or region pollution prevention metrics
  • Using information to improve program management
  • Providing program funders with relevant activity and outcome information
  • Justifying continued funding or staffing for a program
  • Influencing policy development


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Environmental Measurement Topic Hub™ was developed by:

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Hub Last Updated: 5/7/2013