Markets working to support sustainable development

TruCost

TruCost is a sustainability reporting MGM that helps organisations to measure and manage the environmental impacts associated with their operations, supply chains and investment portfolios. As part of this, they collect data on carbon, water, waste, metals and chemicals. But they don't only focus on reporting on the physical environmental impact in quantitative terms; they also place a monetary value on any impacts found.

 The services supplied by TruCost help its clients to:

  • Identify the most efficient approach to measuring carbon and wider environmental impacts across organisations, supply chains and investment portfolios
  • Identify focus areas for reducing material environmental impacts
  • Validate source data, including filling in gaps in data currently not being tracked or reported on
  • Compare environmental performance against that of its peers, sectors, investment benchmarks and portfolios
  • Transform quantitative environmental data into environmentally-oriented investment strategies

In addition, in 2011, Trucost began to work with 'Environmental profit and loss accounts' which explicitly considered the environmental impact of a companies activities and matched them with business performance through economic valuation of the impacts caused.

Market coverage: 

Trucost claim to have the world's most comprehensive dataset on corporate environmental impacts. Their website currently claims their database to cover over 4,500 organisations, covering 464 industries worldwide, and tracking over 100 environmental impacts.

Background information: 

Founded 2000 in the UK.

Funding source: 

Privately funded by TruCost.

Notable information: 

TruCost do not actually physically measure at the point of emission; they estimate the financial and physical emission data using a model. And the methodology and approach used in creating the model is reviewed annually by a specially assembled advisory panel comprised of economic and environmental academics.

Initially TruCost analyses financial information from sources, such as Factset or Dun & Bradstreet, to establish the business activities of a particular organisation and then apportion revenues to those activities. This information is then put through their environmental profiling model to calculate direct and supply chain environmental impacts. At this point in time, their model only predicts industry-average performance at sector level.

TruCost enhances its data model by incorporating reported environmental data obtained from public sources such as annual reports and websites. But where environmental reporting is not available, Trucost draws on sources of proxy information such as fuel use or expenditure data, which can be converted into emissions data. Analysts also standardise figures - this ensures that the all of a company's activity is represented in the final outputs while also asserting high reporting standards. Companies are then offered the opportunity to verify or refine the environmental profile Trucost has created and are also given a chance to disclose any further information. Any amendments are validated and authenticated by Trucost’s analysts.

Then impacts are monetised by TruCost’s academic panel  to reflect the damage caused by each environmental impact and the consequential costs borne by society. This standardised and quantitative data can then be used to assess risks, opportunities and relate environmental performance against peers and sectors.