Data Starts Coming In For Supply Chain GHG Standards Testing

SAN FRANCISCO, United States — Data is beginning to roll in for the pilot test of an eagerly anticipated new standards for supply chain greenhouse gas accounting.

The World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development began road-testing two new standards under the GHG Protocol in January. One focuses on Scope 3 emissions from supply chain, while the other covers product life cycle accounting.

Sixty companies from 17 countries are taking part in the testing, including big names such as 3M, Autodesk, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Kraft Foods, Ford, SAP, Pepsi, Ikea, and Procter and Gamble.

On Thursday, Webcor Builders said it delivered its complete supply chain emissions data to the WRI and WBCSD; all companies are expected to submit data by late June. Webcor began taking a hard look at its supply chain emissions last year when it partnered with San Francisco-based Climate Earth to create a database of the emissions embedded in construction materials in order to help the building community design low-carbon structures. The company previously reported its Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions to the California Climate Action Registry.

“The current lack of data regarding the carbon footprint of the construction supply chain -- such as steel, glass, carpet, concrete and other materials -- presents a significant opportunity for the building design and construction industry to better understand construction activities and design choices,” Phil Williams, Webcor's vice president of technical systems and sustainability, said in a statement Thursday. “Webcor is elevating the metrics of the construction industry to include a more complete measurement of the environmental performance of our buildings just as we are measured today on cost and quality.”

The results from identifying impacts across the construction materials in all of its projects across their supply chain revealed that 99.6 percent of its carbon footprint comes from the construction materials supply chain. Just 0.4 percent were operational emissions.

"The supply chain, the building materials are where we can have the most impact on emissions for Webcor as a company, and more importantly, where we as an industry can have the greatest relevance," Williams told ClimateBiz.com via email.

The company has used the findings to identify opportunities in its supply chain to reduce emissions. For example, the company recently completed a project where emissions related to structural concrete were reduced by 7.9 million pounds.

"That represented over a 49 percent reduction in CO2 that will be emitted in the manufacturing of materials required to build just one portion of the project," Williams wrote. "We are implementing measures that will produce similar percentage reductions in the steel and drywall for the other building elements. These are CO2 reductions that will be mitigated in the very near term, in fact over just the next 12 months."

One of the biggest challenges in measuring supply chains emissions is establishing national or global standards that manufacturers know will be fairly and consistently used across product and industry channels.

"That is why we are investing our time in the WRI standards effort so that we do not benefit solely as Webcor, but so that we can accurately work to represent the entire construction industry," Williams said.

Webcor announced in December that it now asks for GHG data in contract bids from its suppliers.

"It`s a part of the technical specifications, along with length, width, height and strength -- we want to know about carbon emissions," Williams said in a statement at the time. "It`s not a sole criterion for winning a bid, but you can`t compete without it."

The first drafts of the two new GHG Protocol standards were released in late 2009, with the final standards scheduled for release in December.

Image CC licensed by Flickr Nick Saltmarsh.