What is a Green Audit or Environmental Sustainability Audit?
“If you can’t measure it you can’t effectively manage it!” Icologie.
The Environment Protection Act 1970 (‘the Act’) states that an environmental audit assesses the nature and extent of harm, or risk of harm, to the environment posed by an industrial process or activity, waste, substance or noise. It is about understanding the type of pollution and the harm it poses.
Planning authorities, government agencies and private businesses use the environmental audit system to determine the condition of a site and its suitability for use, or to advise what’s required to make a site suitable for use.
Environmental audits must deliver authoritative, independent and transparent advice and recommend measures to reduce identified risks to the environment from a site or industrial facility.
Why `Go Green’?
Every person and business has a responsibility to Nature, to others in terms of our Constitution 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 business?
4 Do I know about opportunities to benefit from incentives and rebates which are offered to subsidize efficiency measures (e.g. Eskom lighting and heating rebates)?
5 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?
6 What are the economic and marketing benefits of publically `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 for your business and see the economic and best practice benefits of a focussed 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. Syed at Indkarta for more information and for audit sheets used in a self audit.
A Third-party Audit
is conducted by an external auditor. These include 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:
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 of the business.
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 yourSchool or University’s environmental sustainability performance and carbon footprint. It records the measurement of inputs such as electricity and water and makes recommendations regarding operational efficiencies, and technical and best practice improvements as well as options to reduce waste production. Where replacement with energy efficient lights or water heating is being considered by the client, a return on investment and options for a rebate will be included.