Environmental sustainability is becoming an increasingly vital part of daily business. To monitor the impact of business operations on living and non-living natural systems including ecosystems, land, air and water, Environmental performance indicators (EPIs) can be used. EPIs can evaluate the environmental performance of an organization, product, or service, and provide a firm basis for future targets and improvements. Companies often request Environmental Performance Indicators (EPIs) from business partners – and similarly respond to such requests – in order to incorporate these in reporting and decision-making processes.
When business users calculate their EPIs, finding relevant data can be a challenge as the information is often scattered across a number of different systems. Producing relevant EPIs to create different responses for each request and preferably also covering the whole value chain is making the task even more time-consuming and complex. The OEPI project (solution and services engineering for measuring, monitoring, and management of Organizations’ Environmental Performance Indicators) can reduce such work load through a business network solution that allows companies to easily calculate and share their EPIs with internal and external stakeholders. Such a solution is not only saving time, improving data access but also allows better business decisions.
By using a networking approach with one common platform, numerous business users can share their EPIs and get access to others’. This web-based solution also helps the user to calculate their EPIs, providing a service for eco-innovation & eco-efficiency new indicators-setting. The developed application is based on a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) platform that connects different environmental data sources. It collects and aggregates data and computes different EPIs, harmonizing and facilitating the data gathering process for the user. By simplifying and enabling sustainability to become a natural component in daily business operations, this project shows an easy way to facilitate the data analysing process when managing sustainability progress. Users can also easily compare different alternatives, resulting in a benchmarking opportunity of the service which is useful in strategic planning and sourcing processes.
Disseminating EPIs via a platform which is accessible to many relevant users gives the opportunity to connect and collaborate with other business. Users can harmonize formats for the presentation of EPIs as well as resolve former data-related issues by substituting different formats with homogenous standards. This solution also implies lower overhead costs by providing a network-centric approach rather than an enterprise-centric approach.
The method for realizing this online application has been developed through four business-driven case-studies with different focus: sustainable sourcing & procurement, design for environment, network deployment & circuit provisioning and environmental communications. The final results of the project will be presented in 2012, including the front-end portal and guidelines for the implementation in business scenarios. These results will be based on the four case-studies’ findings and the lessons learned from different user groups. The results consist of a prototype tool which supports the use cases and has been tested in cooperation with the industry partners involved in the project. This means that the outcome of the project will be tailored for a use in the fields of the above-mentioned case studies. However, further development is needed to apply approach to other business areas. Thus, the technology readiness level is 7 on the TRL scale.
This research project includes nine partners from the industry and academia in different EU countries, coordinated by a software-developing enterprise in Germany and is supported by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), a grant funding programme.