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Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics: Challenges and Opportunities (1999)

Chapter: 8 Summary of Metrics Used by the Four Industry Sectors

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Suggested Citation:"8 Summary of Metrics Used by the Four Industry Sectors." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 1999. Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics: Challenges and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9458.
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8
Summary of Metrics Used by the Four Industry Sectors

In the four previous chapters the committee examined the environmental metrics used or under development by four industry sectors. That information is summarized here to explore how much common ground exists among the sectors. Table 8-1 lists common or particularly utilitarian metrics. As in the sector chapters, no prioritization of these metrics is implied.

The meaning of most of the metrics is straightforward. "Supply chain" indicates corporations are looking at the environmental performance of their suppliers, using one or more metrics to do so. In the case of the pulp and paper sector, supply chain refers to the forestry part of the industry. "Emissions" indicates releases to land, water, and air; emissions to each medium are often tracked separately. "Percent of land preserved" refers to the use of land at corporate facilities; the metric is not yet precisely defined. Many of the metrics require normalization by some measure of business activity, such as energy use per unit of product or energy use per dollar of sales. "Sustainability" is undefined at present. The development of a suitable metric to address sustainability issues seems desirable.

As can be seen from Table 8-1, a number of metrics—emissions, energy use, materials use, water use, packaging, percent of recycled material used, and various measures of worker safety—are relatively common across all sectors, although the exact definitions may differ somewhat. Several sectors are dealing in some way with the question of sustainability, either by looking at the use of land, the emission of greenhouse gases, or by searching for an appropriate metric. A major difference among the sectors is in the area of product-related metrics, which are tracked extensively by the automotive and electronics sectors. For

Suggested Citation:"8 Summary of Metrics Used by the Four Industry Sectors." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 1999. Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics: Challenges and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9458.
×

Table 8-1 Environmental Metrics Used in the Four Industry Sectors

Metric

Automotive

Chemical

Electronics

Pulp and Paper

Supply Chain

 

 

 

 

M1 Supply chain

E

 

E

 

Facility Centered

 

 

 

 

M2 Pollutant releases

C

C

C

C

M3 Greenhouse gas emissions

C

C

C

 

M4 Material use

C

C

E

C

M5 Percent recycled material

C

C

E

C

M6 Energy use

C

C

C

C

M7 Water use

C

C

C

C

M8 Environmental incidence report

C

C

C

C

M9 Lost workdays/injuries

C

C

C

C

M10 Percent of land preserved

 

E

 

C

M11 Packaging

C

C

C

C

Product Centered

 

 

 

 

M12 Nongreenhouse gas emissions

C

 

 

 

M13 Greenhouse gas emissions

C

 

 

 

M14 Material use

 

 

 

 

M15 Energy use

C

 

C

 

Sustainability

 

 

 

 

M16 Sustainable forestry

 

 

 

E

NOTE: C = environmental metric in current use; E = emerging environmental metric.

industry sectors whose products are largely raw materials for others (i.e., chemical) or have essentially no impacts during the product-use phase (i.e., pulp and paper), product-related metrics do not appear to be useful.

A Generic Metrics Set

If the metrics set identified in Table 8-1 were tentatively regarded as a suitable generic set for the four industrial sectors analyzed in Chapters 47, how well might the set serve other manufacturing industries? To investigate this question, the committee briefly examined the suitability of the set for six additional sectors: agriculture, appliance manufacture, metal fabrication, mining, pharmaceuticals, and recycling facilities. The following conclusions resulted from that analysis:

  • The supply chain metrics (M1, M5) are generally suitable for all sectors. Even for a sector whose products are at the front of the supply chain (e.g., agriculture or mining), the metric could be applied to suppliers of equipment (e.g., combines, cranes) rather than to suppliers of raw materials.
Suggested Citation:"8 Summary of Metrics Used by the Four Industry Sectors." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 1999. Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics: Challenges and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9458.
×
  • Emissions metrics (M2, M3) are applicable to all sectors.
  • Resource metrics (M4, M6, M7) are applicable to all sectors.
  • Health and safety metrics (M8, M9) are applicable to all sectors.
  • A land-use metric (M10), while not yet well defined, applies equally well to these sectors as to the four sectors studied in detail by the committee.
  • The product-packaging metric (M11) is generally appropriate for all sectors, but packaging may not be required for some products (such as iron ore).
  • Product-centered metrics (M12–M15) appear to be useful only for industrial sectors whose products have the potential for significant environmental impacts (e.g., appliance manufacturers).
  • Until sustainability is better defined, the suitability of a sustainability metric (M16) across sectors cannot be addressed.

Hence, it would appear that a provisional set of generic metrics might consist of:

GM1—Materials use (normalized in some appropriate way)

GM2—Water use (normalized in some appropriate way)

GM3—Energy use (normalized in some appropriate way)

GM4—Percent of recycled materials in products

GM5—Percent of products that are leased

GM6—Resource consumption and/or emissions during product use

GM7—Average use of packaging

GM8—Emissions from manufacturing (normalized in some appropriate way)

GM9—Recordable health and safety incident rate

GM10—A sustainability metric of some type

One could go on from this point to ask whether a generic environmental metrics set would be suitable not only for manufacturing industry sectors but also service industry sectors. To study that question, the committee imagined the use of such metrics in a set of hypothetical service-based businesses: a retail appliance store (A), a barber shop (B), a grocery store (G), a hospital (H), a lawyer's office (L), and a package delivery service (P). Table 8-2 assesses the suitability of the metrics set for these businesses. It appears from this table that the generic set, if carefully defined, is probably as useful to service industries as it may be to manufacturing industries.

Suggested Citation:"8 Summary of Metrics Used by the Four Industry Sectors." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 1999. Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics: Challenges and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9458.
×

TABLE 8-2 Fit of a Generic Metric Set for Hypothetical Service-Sector Businesses

Metric

A

B

G

H

L

P

GM1

?

S

?

?

S

S

GM2

U

S

?

S

U

U

GM3

S

S

S

S

S

S

GM4

S

S

U

S

S

S

GM5

S

S

S

S

S

S

GM6

S

U

U

U

U

S

GM7

S

S

S

?

?

S

GM8

S

S

S

S

?

S

GM9

S

S

S

S

S

S

GM10

?

?

?

?

?

?

NOTE: S suitable; U = unsuitable.

Suggested Citation:"8 Summary of Metrics Used by the Four Industry Sectors." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 1999. Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics: Challenges and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9458.
×
Page 147
Suggested Citation:"8 Summary of Metrics Used by the Four Industry Sectors." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 1999. Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics: Challenges and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9458.
×
Page 148
Suggested Citation:"8 Summary of Metrics Used by the Four Industry Sectors." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 1999. Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics: Challenges and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9458.
×
Page 149
Suggested Citation:"8 Summary of Metrics Used by the Four Industry Sectors." National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. 1999. Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics: Challenges and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9458.
×
Page 150
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Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics is a corporate-focused analysis that brings clarity and practicality to the complex issues of environmental metrics in industry. The book examines the metrics implications to businesses as their responsibilities expand beyond the factory gate--upstream to suppliers and downstream to products and services. It examines implications that arise from greater demand for comparability of metrics among businesses by the investment community and environmental interest groups. The controversy over what sustainable development means for businesses is also addressed.

Industrial Environmental Performance Metrics identifies the most useful metrics based on case studies from four industries--automotive, chemical, electronics, and pulp and paper--and includes specific corporate examples. It contains goals and recommendations for public and private sector players interested in encouraging the broader use of metrics to improve industrial environmental performance and those interested in addressing the tough issues of prioritization, weighting of metrics for meaningful comparability, and the longer term metrics needs presented by sustainable development.

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