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Systematic Review: Measuring & Valuing Environmental Impacts

The systematic review provides an actionable, four-step process for measuring your organization’s sustainability initiatives and environmental impacts.

Corporate Impacts, Measured and Managed with the Best Available Tools

NBS reviewed more than 180 applied and academic studies to answer the question, “How can a firm measure its environmental impacts?” Our Systematic Review entitled Measuring and Valuing Environmental Impacts: A Systematic Review of Existing Methodologies, is the full, detailed extension of the Network for Business Sustainability’s Executive Report on evaluating environmental impacts. It effectively summarizes the growing body of research on how firms can navigate the sea of benchmarking tools to adequately quantify significant impacts their business operations have on the environment.

Measuring—and then Assigning Value

Environmental impacts can be recorded as a measurement or a value. A measurement is simply a technique used to determine the magnitude of a quantity. Valuing an impact, on the other hand, refers to assigning a monetary value to a particular impact. Several measurements are financially based, such as the income derived from the sale of products or the cost of shipping, while some valuations initially require a measurement, such as the amount of carbon dioxide released annually from a particular smokestack, before a value can be assigned. It is often unclear which tool is best to use in a particular situation. Moreover, although several tools have been studied by academics, much remains left to assumptions and interpretation and no consensus exists within individual methodologies. Inspired by ideas from the NBS Leadership Council, the Systematic Review presents the most comprehensive compilation of high-quality knowledge on this topic to date. We have synthesized the data and identified 20 key tools firms can implement to more easily understand which tool is best for them. We hope it will help managers and practitioners better record and manage their progress on the journey towards higher efficiency and lower environmental impact.

A Systematic, Simple 4-Step Process

The systematic review provides an actionable, four-step process for measuring your organization’s sustainability initiatives and environmental impacts. It identifies the pros and cons of the most common tools, enabling managers to select among them depending on their specific needs. Below is a sample from the review of the top identified three tools by year grouping. View the full report for other tools and details on how they can be implemented.

Who Should Read the Report

Senior executives and decision-makers will find the research useful to support their own decision-making processes on managing environmental impacts. Researchers can use this comprehensive compilation as a reference for further studies on the topic.


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