5 Strategies to make your Sustainability Data Actionable
Looking to turn your sustainability data into something you can act on?
Collecting data on sustainability-related factors—including energy and resource use, greenhouse gas emissions, and supply chain performance—you can uncover insights to guide your sustainability-related initiatives and improve your overall resource efficiency.
But if you’re struggling to sort through all the data, you’re not alone! One of the top questions we hear is, “I love having visibility to my data, but what now?” The truth is, collecting the right data is one thing; making it truly useful often requires a different mindset.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of our top five strategies to help you start making an impact with your sustainability data.
1. Identify what matters most
In the age of big data, figuring out where to get started can feel daunting.
Identifying which KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are the most important to both your long and short-term sustainability goals can help you focus on where to begin.
Ideally, your goals are specific. Making it easier to figure out the best KPIs to track your progress. If you’re still figuring out where to start, some areas to consider might be:
- Energy consumption
- Water consumption
- Waste reduction
- Direct and indirect emissions
- Sustainability training
- Workplace safety
- Supplier diversity
2. Ask the right questions
Before you start analyzing your data, it’s essential to consider your top business questions related to your already established goals and KPIs. Without a clear business question, you can easily waste hours of your time getting lost in all the data. You may even come up with insights that are not relevant or important to what you’re working on. That can be pretty frustrating!
Data is only as good as the questions you ask. Perhaps a school district wants to improve their energy efficiency, so they ask, “Which school buildings are the least energy efficient?” They then look at a metric like energy use per square foot to help uncover which school buildings are their bottom performers.
3. Tell the full story
Without the proper context, your sustainability data isn’t that meaningful. Make sure to provide the full story about the sustainability data you are presenting. What do the numbers mean? Why does it matter? How do they compare?
You can add context to your data by pulling together relevant information to help you and your team make a more informed decision. At JadeTrack, we like to use benchmarks (like ENERGY STAR) to help add context to data. Comparing your performance to benchmarks means understanding how you perform above or below industry averages.
4. Make the complex simple
Simplification is perhaps our favorite strategy. Even if you love data, presenting sustainability data in a way that non-data-loving teammates can actually use is key. That means you don’t necessarily need to produce lengthy reports. Instead, focus on sharing the most timely, relevant, and compelling information.
In practice, that can look like this:
- Only including numbers that relate to your story – less is more!
- Using bold, compelling headlines or call-outs to express your key takeaways
- Incorporating visuals and charts
Bonus – know your audience and use terms that resonate most with them.
5. Break down organizational silos
A consistent hurdle to making your sustainability data actionable is managing data and sharing insights across organizational silos. A data silo happens when one department owns data and it is inaccessible by other teams.
Cultivating a collaborative culture is key to promoting communication and reducing isolation. Meeting regularly with important cross-functional stakeholders is a great way to engage the entire team, which you will need to do if you want to implement your sustainability goals.
Investing in new technologies like JadeTrack can also help integrate siloed data into one central location. With JadeTrack, you get unlimited user seats, which allows for organization-wide access and visibility across teams.
Find what works best for you
Each of the strategies mentioned above will help turn your data into insights and initiatives that help your business operate more sustainably and save money.
It’s important to note that there is no one size fits all approach, so try experimenting with what works best for you. Look for popular best practices in your industry and continue to go from there!