The reporting framework shown earlier supports the assessment and reporting process as shown in the figure below. The programs and initiatives from the framework support improvement of ongoing campus activities that are measured and evaluated as part of the assessment process. The environmental indicators described earlier are compiled from this assessment for reporting and dissemination back to the campus community.
With eight Environmental Performance Indicators identified, the next step is to ensure that an effective and efficient system is in place to manage the data throughout the reporting life cycle (i.e., collection, compilation, analysis, storage, reporting). It is imperative that clear responsibility is assigned for each of these phases. It should be noted that Units within the University already track about 75 percent of the raw data that underlie the eight Environmental Performance Indicators. For example, the U-M Utilities Department gathers basic data on energy sources for electricity, heating and cooling and hot water.1 It is likely that additional resources need only be dedicated to the collection of the remaining 25 percent of the raw data, as well as central data compilation, data analysis, conversion to appropriate measurement units, normalization and actual production of the periodic report.
Given that data are currently being collected for the eight indicators, the Task Force recommends that the University report on these indicators on an annual basis. Such frequency will enable the University to chart its progress towards environmental sustainability, to assess whether or not its Programs and Initiatives are having the desired impact and to set meaningful objectives. Such frequency could also better position the U-M to engage stakeholders on these issues.
For manageability and efficiency, it is recommended that the bulk of the periodic campus environmental report be dedicated to the eight Environmental Performance Indicators. Therefore, each year, concerned parties can assess and chart the University’s environmental performance along the same eight criteria. The Task Force suggests that in each report, the authors select a particular topic to highlight, presenting University efforts and accomplishments. For example, the report might focus on Transportation to highlight the University’s alternative fuel programs. By going in depth on a particular theme, the authors can then present certain Operational Metrics and Programs and Initiatives that demonstrate the University’s commitment to environmental stewardship. Models for such a layout can be found in corporate environmental reports, of which there are many.
In producing and disseminating this report, it is important to first consider who will be using the report and how will they be using it. The report could be printed in a small number for those stakeholders who prefer this medium. The report could also be converted to an electronic file and either emailed to the University community or placed on the University’s existing Environmental Stewardship website.
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