Royal Bank of Scotland is a FTSE 100 U.K. financial institution based in Edinburgh. The bank operates on sustainable business principles, aiming to positively contribute towards society. One of these principles encompasses robust reporting practices to ensure transparency and accuracy in calculating and reporting data.
RBS operates a carbon accounting software system that gathers information from a range of company locations and third party data providers. The data collection and reporting needs of the bank and its sustainability team have changed since the system originally was implemented. As a consequence, a number of inefficiencies had developed in the way data was entered, processed, manipulated and stored.
To bring the software in line with the RBS sustainability team's goals and agenda, RBS asked Carbon Clear to recommend a more efficient way of working with the system that would deliver the ability to report comprehensive figures at any time; improved transparency of data input and calculation for better auditability; and improved quality and detail of the primary, secondary and extrapolated data.
RBS wanted to be able to automate the entry of large data sets into the system, to bypass the manual elements of managing the data and to provide a robust audit trail for annual reporting cycles.
The RBS team also wanted to build calculations into the existing software that would deliver figures in the absence of primary data based on parameters such as floor area, number of employees and building type.
Carbon Clear carried out a thorough analysis of the incumbent RBS carbon accounting system. This consisted of an initial software review process to determine the scope and limitations of the system in meeting RBS's requirements for managing its carbon data.
From this analysis, Carbon Clear recommended that RBS rebuild its carbon management system to reflect the reporting needs of the business. To assess which activities the company wanted to undertake and the correct indicators needed to provide relevant data, Carbon Clear undertook a data mapping exercise to identify unnecessary information and ensure the system remained flexible.
As a result, Carbon Clear built the new system around a set of Key Performance Indicators and a bespoke structure that allows on-demand reporting and lessens the administrative and human inputs to the datasets. All calculations are carried out within the accounting system, removing uncertainty and increasing auditability. In addition to the new system, Carbon Clear also created a basis for reporting governance document that lists and identifies all the methodologies used in the design and build of the system. This document is critical for the transparency of the data and the ease of access for RBS's auditors.
The new system delivers transparent and accurate carbon data that can be used for internal reporting and that, crucially, will be used for all of the company's carbon reporting requirements.
Carbon Clear's review of RBS' carbon accounting software has resulted in four major changes in process and efficiency:
- Automating the input of all large data sets, saving time and avoiding human error.
- Building sophisticated calculations into the system which allows reporting with little or no data.
- All extrapolations and calculations are carried out within the system, removing uncertainty and increasing visibility.
- Data sourced from each site instead of at a country wide-level, which creates visibility for carbon reduction and energy saving opportunities at individual buildings.
As there are many voluntary and compliance reporting requirements, such as CDP and Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting, that companies undertake on an annual basis, having an up-to-date and flexible carbon accounting system that can generate data on demand is invaluable for sustainability departments. RBS now has a robust system that will help it to benchmark itself against its peers, set carbon targets and report with accuracy in the future. The new, enhanced system will help RBS further improve its emissions reporting and establish itself as a best practice leader.
RBS will now focus on expanding calculation of its carbon data through the new system to encompass Scope 3 emissions and to set accurate and challenging carbon reduction targets for the future.
Top image via RBS.com. This article first appeared at 2degrees.