Center for Sustainable Organizations
INNOVATING FOR CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY MANAGEMENT ... some context based metrics in the public domain
Context-based carbon metric (for municipalities)
Our context-based carbon metric is now available in a version designed for municipalities (and human populations at any other scale of interest). As in the case of our other carbon metrics, the municipal metric is science-based and assesses emissions relative to reduction targets specified in the IPCC RCP 2.6 mitigation scenario. The IPCC scenario allocates reduction burdens unevenly throughout the world according to where emitters are located and the development status of the economies involved. Thus, the IPCC scenario is also equity-sensitive.
The latest version of our context-based carbon metric for municipalities (an Excel spreadsheet) is downloadable here.
Context-based carbon metric (for higher education)
In 2014, we worked with Corey Johnson, a Master of Environmental Management Candidate (2015) at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, to develop an adaptation of our context-based carbon metric for use in college & university settings.
The main difference between the higher education and business versions of our metric is the manner in which emissions entitlements and mitigation burdens are allocated. In the case of business, our metric makes such allocations in a way that is proportionate to a company’s contributions to GDP; in the case of colleges and universities, allocations are made according to a school’s headcount. The latter uses a headcount metric we call Per Capita Equivalent.
Like the business version of our metric, the higher education version measures the greenhouse gas emissions of a school against reduction targets specified in the IPCC’s RCP 2.6 mitigation scenario. The IPCC scenario allocates reduction burdens unevenly throughout the world according to where emitters are located and the development status of the economies involved. Thus, the IPCC scenario is equity-sensitive.
The latest higher education version of our context-based carbon metric (an Excel spreadsheet) is downloadable here.
Context-based waste metric
Our context-based waste metric was first developed in 2012 and measures the volume of municipal solid wastes (MSW) a company sends to landfills against a reduction target of zero waste by 2022 and a baseline year of 2008. Users of this metric can easily substitute baseline years and target dates of their own choosing.
The latest version of our context-based waste metric (an Excel spreadsheet) is downloadable here.
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INNOVATING FOR CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY MANAGEMENT
Downloadable context-based metrics
Companies interested in experiencing the use of context-based metrics in their sustainability programs will be pleased to know that we now make certain of our metrics freely downloadable. For starters, templates for our context-based carbon and solid waste metrics are now downloadable from this page.
Context-based carbon metric (for businesses)
Our context-based carbon metric (first piloted with Ben & Jerry's in 2006) measures the greenhouse gas emissions of a company against reduction targets specified in the IPCC RCP 2.6 mitigation scenario. The IPCC scenario allocates reduction burdens unevenly throughout the world according to where emitters are located and the development status of the economies involved. Thus, the IPCC scenario is equity-sensitive.
The latest version of our context-based carbon metric (an Excel spreadsheet) is downloadable here.
Answers to frequently asked questions about our metric can be found
Note: CSO is especially grateful for the involvement and support of the following organizations in the development of the metrics described on this page: Ben & Jerry's, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Dartmouth College, St. Michael's College, the University of Groningen, and the University of Massachusetts.
The Social Footprint Method
The Social Footprint Method (SFM) is a context-based approach to measurement and reporting that expresses the social sustainability performance of an organization. In this regard, the Social Footprint is merely a narrow application of context-based sustainability, which in its broader form covers sustainability performance in all of its dimensions, not just the social one.
In practice, the SFM is similar to the Ecological Footprint, which is a method for measuring and reporting the ecological sustainability performance of human social systems. Unlike the Ecological Footprint, however, which measures a population's impacts on natural resources (i.e., natural capital), the SFM deals with impacts on anthropogenic, or what we call “anthro”, capitals (consisting of human, social and constructed capitals).
The Social Footprint differs from the Ecological Footprint in another very important way. Unlike natural or ecological capital, which is limited and which humans do not create, most forms of anthro capital are produced by people and can be grown virtually at will. When confronted with shortages of anthro capital, we can almost always create more of it given the will to do so.
What really differentiates the SFM from other sustainability reporting tools is the manner in which it measures performance against standards of performance assigned to specific organizations (i.e., for impacts on anthro capitals). Such standards are set by reference to whom an organization’s stakeholders are, and what its duties and obligations are to each of them to have impact (or not) on anthro capitals of vital importance to their well-being. No other sustainability method does this.
Social Footprint Method
The text being discussed is available at