User Survey Highlights Most Valued Tools and Resources

Earlier this summer, GHG Protocol conducted a survey to collect input from all of our users regarding our tools and resources. With increasing opportunities and challenges in providing a broader range of GHG-inventory services, it is important to know what our users value most and how to prioritize improvements of these resources. The survey included questions about our downloadable Excel-based calculation tools, the availability of emission factors and guidance documents, and training and verification resources.

Though the number of respondents to the survey overall was limited, results revealed several notable trends:

  • Calculation tool usage is growing: The number of respondents downloading GHG Protocol calculation tools has grown steadily. In 2004 (the year the revised Corporate Standard was published) only 3.7% of respondents used the tools. However, 22% of respondents used the tools in 2007, 68% in 2010, and finally 85% in 2011. Most respondents downloaded the “Cross Sector Tools,” including stationary combustion, transportation, and GWP Values. Sixty-one percent downloaded tools when they noticed a new version was available. Each tool is updated on a slightly different schedule depending on when the underlying emission factors it uses are published.
  • Finding emission factors and other guidance: A majority of respondents visited the GHG Protocol website in order to download our standards and Excel-based calculation tools, and most prominently to obtain the emission factors embedded in the tools associated with different GHG emission sources. Sixty-five percent of respondents, however, did not realize that all the emission factors were listed in a separate document and are not available from downloading the Excel tool itself. While the formulas are visible, the tool’s coding renders it nearly impossible to extract an individual emission factor. In addition, only 63% of respondents realized there was a guidance document accompanying each Excel workbook, though 77% of respondents who did know of these guidance documents found them helpful.
  • Emission factors need explanation: While a majority of users felt the Excel format for the calculation tools met their needs (64%), several identified a lack of transparency about the emission factors and how they were developed in the underlying studies we cite. Fifty-eight percent of respondents had questions about the emission factors in our tools, particularly related to transportation (60% of respondents) and purchased electricity (33%). The GHG Protocol currently does not provide elaboration or explanation about how these emission factors are calculated by the source studies, but doing so may help clarify user questions.
  • Global users need geographically-appropriate transportation emission factors: The transportation calculation tool currently cites default factors from the US and UK only – and 67% of respondents have had to look for transportation emission factors applicable to other countries, including China, India, and many in Europe and South America. In addition, 79% of respondents who used a customized emission factor had developed this factor based on other published emission factors.
  • Need for scope 3 and LCA resources: Seventy-three percent of respondents did not know that the GHG Protocol maintains a list of third party emission factor databases for scope 3 and LCA sources (for which we do not currently have Excel calculation tools). To that end, 71% of respondents specifically requested tools for scope 3 categories not already covered by existing Excel tools, as well as a clearer identification of default data, such as cradle-to-gate fuel data (80% of respondents). A screening tool for scope 3 assessments to help companies quickly identify their hot spots was also a popular request (69%). When it came to training, the survey indicated strong interest in training on the Scope 3 and Product Life Cycle Standards (54% and 53% respectively), as well as on the Corporate Standard (45%). The vast majority preferred for such training to be delivered as e-learning courses (taken at the participant’s own pace) and online classes.

Next Steps
Armed with this important feedback, we will seek to improve emission factor research and communication, as well as form new partnerships to support the development of these critical resources. If you were unable to participate in the survey, please feel free to send your feedback to ghgquestions@wri.org.