Monthly Archives: June 2009

Variance and Risk in GHG Emissions Calculators

WSJ published an interview with Ken Parker, the global head of Deutsche Asset Management, a unit of Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG.  The interview focused on Mr. Parker’s views on climate change and his leadership of related investment management activities within Deutsche Bank.

Mr. Parker, a member of Deutsche Bank’s group executive committee, oversees $613 billion of assets under management. Four years ago, he launched what are thought to be the first investment products focusing on businesses that will help mitigate the effects of climate change. Those funds currently have about $4 billion in agribusiness, clean technologies, energy efficiency, environmental management and water.

A believer that information breeds action, Mr. Parker’s next project is to raise awareness about the daily greenhouse-gas emissions around the world by setting up a second-by-second counter in New York City.

An interesting idea.  However, there is no standardized method for calculating CO2 or other GHG emissions.  Numerous studies have been conducted in recent years comparing the popular on-line “carbon footprint” calculators, including EPA’s.  These studies (links to two of them are posted below) consistently demonstrate the significant variation in results from the same inputs. Further, the major engineering trade associations in the US have only now recognized the need for their direct involvement in bringing impartial, independent and technically valid scientific rigor to the development of GHG/CO2 emissions calculations.

But until such a consistent and valid calculation methodology exists, numbers generated from the current calculators may create potential risks to those relying on them.  Especially in the litigious US.


New Sustainability Consulting Team Formed Within Elm

Elm is proud to announce the formation of a highly experienced sustainability consulting team.  This group is unique because it consists of former in-house corporate sustainability managers of corporations considered to be global leaders in the sustainability realm.

  • Liz Muller. With over 20 years of experience in the environmental field, she served as The Gap Inc.’s Senior Environmental Manager and was the primary authority on all aspects of the company’s environmental strategy and programs. Her accomplishments range from conducting the company’s first life cycle assessment and metrics system to implementing water quality and environmental procurement programs, launching organic cotton products, installing a solar array, and providing sustainability training to employees and suppliers. She currently advises clients on the development and execution of sustainability strategies and programs, including the development of policies, resources and tools, and corporate social responsibility reports.
  • Shari Carle. Shari wrote Dell Computer’s green procedures while engaging with socially responsible shareholders. She also acted as Dell’s liaison with forest ethics and other interest groups in Dell’s efforts to create policies to support the company’s corporate responsibility efforts. She developed various communications of the company’s commitment to sustainable practices, including Dell’s forest products stewardship model, which set measurable goals and standards to protect forest resources in the printing of catalogs and purchasing. She also led the company in developing policies and positions on HIV/AIDS, political donation transparency and supply chain responsibility.
  • Mark Schaffer. Mark has over ten years of environmental and sustainability experience.  Recently, he was with Dell Computers where he led efforts to green computer purchasing for the government while contributing to Dell’s sustainability reporting initiatives. Prior to Dell, he worked for Canon Virginia building their internal recycling program and designing new ways to manufacture laser printers.
  • Tracy Grable.  Within Delta Airlines, Tracy began managing Delta’s air quality compliance program. She developed corporate manuals and training and became Delta’s in-house expert for greenhouse gas calculations, regulations, and emissions trading schemes. Eventually, this grew into the company’s corporate sustainability initiative which involved developing partnerships with internal and external stakeholders, including the conservation fund and producing the 2007 Corporate Responsibility report for Delta.

Elm Announces ROI Metric for Environmental/HSE/EHS Risk Reduction

Elm has developed an innovative valuation methodology that leverages EHS and risk management concepts with economic analyses.  Our Return on Investment of Loss Avoidance (ROIa)© demonstrates financial return of EHS risk reduction investments in terms of both reasonable anticipated loss and the cost of generating new profits needed to recover associated profits.  ROIa utilizes existing financial data along with frequency and severity data obtained through EHS risk assessment processes, then benchmarks that exposure information against varying sets of cost data that are most relevant to client organizations.  This produces ROI information for EHS management costs in the context of internally-credible values, risk management and revenue/profit generation benchmarks.

See our April 2009 presentation on ROIa at

New Environmental Risk Ratings by Financial Institutions

The Financial Times recently reported that

Markit, a financial information company, will this summer launch an index based on the Carbon Disclosure Project (“CDP”) results for the 2008 survey.  “There is an increasing market both from a retail and institutional perspective for products and exposure to companies who have a good environmental management strategies, and we’re certainly getting that message from many of the institutional investors who are signatories to CDP,” Ms Joanna Lee of CDP said.

The Markit information will apparently also reflect physical risk faced by a company’s EHS management activities.  US companies have historically focused their HSE risk control efforts on compliance-oriented matters or remediation activities.  Now there may be a direct shareholder-based driver to assess the risks on a broader basis.

Making plans for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) trading?

Two articles in the June 26, 2009 edition of the Wall Street Journal highlighted two interesting items of potential concern to US companies who are planning their carbon or GHG strategies.   The articles (links posted below) discuss

–       new regulatory uncertainties of an emerging US GHG cap and trade mechanism.  A new round of technical backlash is arising from respected scientists around the world concerning the previously-touted scientific consensus on GHG emissions contribution to global climate change.

–       Financial institution concerns about the trading controls included in the current version of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

There continues to be the need for US-companies to conduct a thorough business risk assessment of potential GHG trading plans and strategies.

Do you measure the economic value of EHS risk reduction or auditing programs?

Elm recently sponsored a poll on on the status of measuring improvements in EHS risk (or “HSE”, “environmental”, “environmental, health and safety” – whichever term is preferred).

This survey demonstrates the variety of views on the importance of and methods for risk quantification or risk measurements for environmental, health and safety matters.  The results indicate that only 20% of the respondents are using detailed financial analytics to measure and track the value created from EHS risk management.

–       202 responses were logged in less than 24 hours (the poll was set up for  a maximum of 200 responses).

  • 37% from very large companies;
  • 14% from large companies;
  • 10% from medium companies; and
  • 39% from small companies.
  • 27% of the respondents represented the Management/Senior Management/Owner functions in their organizations

–       29% currently measure EHS risk reductions through some form of financial metric, but 10% indicated no rigorous metrics are used.

–       12% felt that no measurement is needed because the value of improving EHS exposures is inherent.

–       13% are looking for ways to develop financial metrics.

–       The remaining 43% stated that such measures are not a priority at this time.

LinkedIn members can view the poll at