Publicizing Environmental Performance

Spend two days studying voluntary sustainability reporting programs and learning best practices for publicizing environmental achievements.

Effectively communicate environmental performance to customers and the public

Sustainability is an ever-increasing concern among company stakeholders, including customers, investors, and the public. Most organizations now promote environmental performance on websites and other marketing channels, while others have committed to various reporting frameworks. However environmental achievements are shared, close scrutiny of claims and the risk of a public misstep requires that companies understand how to effectively communicate their achievements.

Understanding options in voluntary reporting standards

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting programs have been developed by several organizations, including EPA and many non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Organizations often choose to commit to such reporting frameworks to clarify reporting methods and gain credibility and selecting a reporting program is an important decision.

Before deciding to engage in voluntary public reporting or selecting a specific reporting platform, options should be carefully evaluated and compared, including value to stakeholders, obligations, implementation cost, and maintenance burden. The best ESG disclosure framework is the one that best suits the needs of your individual organization.

Avoid Public Missteps

Sharing your environmental performance progress does not come without risk. Your messaging will be scrutinized by environmental advocacy groups, customers, and the public. Even with the best intentions, mistakes can happen. Which environmental initiatives will be received positively or with public skepticism or even criticism? How should they be stated? Where should they be announced? The experiences of other organizations, both positive and negative, has created “best practices” useful in avoiding unanticipated outcomes.

The public has become openly concerned and vocal about organizations that appear to be engaged in “greenwashing”, giving false impressions or misleading information about environmental sensitivity or performance. Greenwashing often stems from insufficiently substantiated or overstated claims that potentially deceive consumers into believing a company’s products are more environmentally friendly than they really are. This can result in significant negative discussion in public and private forums.

Who should attend this course?

This course was developed for anyone involved in communicating with customers and other stakeholders about the environmental performance of an organization, including:

  • Company Leadership
  • Environmental Managers and Directors
  • Marketing and Communications Professionals
  • Strategic Planners

What is the course format?

Publicizing Environmental Performance is a combination of presentation and open discussion geared toward enabling attendees to understand voluntary environmental reporting options and consider how various techniques and options apply to their organization. It is presented as a series of topical modules over a 2-day period, with frequent breaks throughout the day, and a 1-hour break for lunch.

The course is offered in pleasant and easily accessible locations, and training venues are selected to allow you to escape distractions and focus on the presented material in a professional setting. All locations offer wireless service and Internet access so you can stay connected. Discussions among instructors and participants is encouraged throughout the course.

What does this course deliver?

Publicizing Environmental Performance covers evolving strategies and current best practices in communicating organizational sustainability and environmental performance achievements, including self-managed communication or through a voluntary ESG reporting platform.

You will leave the course prepared to re-evaluate your company’s environmental messaging and identify opportunities to improve it and eliminate risks. You will also understand available voluntary reporting options and be able to identify the program that best suits your organization.

At completion of the course, you will receive a certificate for your records.

What’s covered in the course?

This course covers all aspects of communicating environmental performance metrics and achievements on behalf of an organization, and how to evaluate costs and value of voluntary reporting under currently available platforms.

You will understand how to obtain environmental performance data and compile data into useful performance indicators. You will also learn how to submit accurate reports for voluntary reporting and how to avoid common mistakes. You will receive bound course handout materials which will become a useful desk book for later reference.

Topics Covered Include:

  • US and International trends in environmental reporting
  • Environmental reporting metrics
  • Practical approaches for obtaining and compiling environmental performance data
  • Stakeholders’ perspectives on environmental disclosures (what matters to them?)
  • Disclosure of environmental performance
  • Pros and cons of alternative media channels
  • Best practices (with specific examples)
  • Mistakes to avoid (with specific examples)
  • Communication options (with specific examples)
  • Voluntary public reporting (ESG) platforms
  • Determining which reporting is most relevant to your organization
  • Planning the reporting process
  • Key report aspects
  • Report development
  • Maintaining and improving the reporting process
  • ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System overviews
  • How an EMS can prepare you site to report
  • Identify realistic goals and targets that can be tracked

Course Agenda

Day One: 8:15 am – 4:15 pm

US and International trends in environmental reporting

Environmental reporting metrics

Practical approaches for obtaining and compiling environmental performance data

Stakeholders’ perspectives on environmental disclosures (what matters to them?)

Disclosure of environmental performance

  • Best practices (with specific examples)
  • Mistakes to avoid (with specific examples)
  • Communication options (with specific examples)

Creating an environmental communications plan

Day Two: 8:15 am – 3:00 pm

Analysis of all voluntary public reporting (ESG) platforms

ISO 14001 relationship to voluntary reporting

Establishing environmental reporting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Planning the reporting process

  • Key report aspects
  • Report development
  • Maintaining and improving the reporting process

ESG Controversies

Planning for future reporting

Course agendas may be modified as necessary.

Gabrielle McDonald is an environmental professional with over 20 years of experience in government and commercial sector sustainability programs. Her primary areas of expertise include sustainability reporting, environmental auditing, EMS, and environmental program training. Ms. McDonald is CPEA methodology trained with 16 years of experience leading environmental compliance audit programs. She has performed hundreds of multimedia environmental compliance audits for federal and private clients per year for the past 15 years.  She has managed teams with multiple subcontractors, completing projects in 35 states, DC, and three US territories. As an ISO14001:2015 Lead Auditor, Ms. McDonald has worked with clients to develop and implement Environmental Management Systems (EMS), guided them through a variety of required and voluntary reporting processes, and coordinated programmatic training and technical assistance. Ms. McDonald provides top tier training for management as well as staff from all organizational levels and has taught hundreds of students across the country.