Oct 4, 2021

6 things you need for good environmental reporting

Our Sam McConnochie details how he set up the SHIFT [1] portal which helps social landlords report on all environmental issues and provides an excellent audit trail.  Here’s what he wrote:

Working with a web development agency, we built the SHIFT portal from concept (August 2019) to launch (March 2020) with the ambition of providing a sleek, user friendly, auditable system for reporting and storing environmental performance information for our clients.

Over the months we worked closely on the design of the portal but also on the technical challenge of building SHIFT’s bespoke scoring system into the portal. Below is a list of the main features we worked on for the portal:

  1. Backend calculations to convert client primary data into reportable environmental metrics
  2. Data verification and supporting evidence sections for each question
  3. Guidance sections for each question to help with sourcing data and providing information on legislation such as the Heat Metering Regulations (2011) and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets
  4. Real-time performance graphs showing client performance, SHIFT average performance and top performance across a range of environmental areas
  5. Reactive scoring system for environmental data
  6. An assessment audit section where SHIFT assessors can approve or reject information on a question by question basis and provide information directly to landlord on amendments that need to be made or queries they have.

Our landlords really liked the simplicity and functionality of the portal and believed it would make reporting environmental performance on an annual basis a far less time-consuming project.

Having their SHIFT report, all the data and the supporting evidence accessible at any time meant that if the organisation had a change in personnel between SHIFT assessments, all the learning about how and where to source the information would not be lost as the portal provided an excellent audit trail.

Our clients also valued the real-time graph building function we had developed which allowed landlords to compare their performance across environmental metrics such as kgCO2 / m2 of office space against the SHIFT average and top SHIFT performer. This meant that even if their latest SHIFT report was completed some time ago, they could still see their performance in comparison to the latest figures reported by the sector.

The data auditing system has worked very well with all our SHIFT assessors able to relay queries and amendment information to our landlords at a question-by-question basis using only the portal meaning that this information is freely available to see by anyone from the client and SHIFT Environment. Before, amends and queries would be sent via email or spoken over the phone meaning that tracking amendments and decisions was often difficult.

With COVID-19 limiting any in-person work, the portal inadvertently became an even more valuable asset for SHIFT. It meant that we could deliver a complete environmental report remotely and were able to easily provide advice, track progress, audit data and deliver the SHIFT report all on a single system that our clients find really intuitive and beneficial. I am extremely proud that the portal is changing the way that the social housing sector is reporting their environmental performance and that its design is also improving the accuracy and quality of data provided by our landlords.

Since the initial set up we have expanded the SHIFT portal to capture the Environmental aspects of the ESG reporting requirements for the social housing sector as well as using it for Streamlined Environmental Carbon Reporting (SECR) requirements.

If you are interested in full environmental reporting or just want to concentrate on one environmental aspect for now, please get in touch: [email protected]

[1] https://shiftenvironment.co.uk/what-is-shift/shift-sustainability-standard/