From Numbers to Action: How to Turn Emissions Data into Business Growth

Audrey White


You've Measured Your Emissions – Now What?

You’ve crunched the numbers, sent countless emails, and finally taken a well-deserved sigh of relief after finishing your carbon accounting – now what?

Beyond producing a report and engaging stakeholders, you’re likely excited to turn your attention to driving value from the work you’ve just done. This is a critical moment to capitalize on momentum and turn data into real action. In this guide, we’ll explore how to leverage your emissions data to drive energy efficiency, reduce costs, and deliver business value in the aftermath of your carbon accounting sprint:

  1. Optimize Your Process: Conduct a thorough review and identify data collection bottlenecks
  2. Take Cost- and Energy-Saving Action: Identify low-hanging fruit and take quick action to deliver results

Exclusive Offer for ESG Dive Readers: Get a head start on next year with a free assessment of your current process and energy improvement opportunity identification. Limited time offer – act before July 31, 2024. Sign up now.


1. Conduct a Thorough Review and Identify Inefficiencies

One of the most important steps you can take right after measuring your emissions is to pause and take stock of the process. Maybe you worked with a services or software provider, or maybe you kept it in-house. While everything is fresh in your mind, take note of what went well and what you would want to change in the next cycle.

  • Data collection & aggregation: Historically, one of the most time-consuming parts of measuring emissions has been collecting the right data and organizing it for calculation. This past cycle, how easy was it to gather your data? What was the extent of data reformatting or manipulation before finalizing calculations? If you spent hours formatting your data into templates, found yourself relying heavily on spreadsheets, or have not employed automation at this stage, there are likely efficiency opportunities to ease data collection and reduce data cleaning. Technology has improved dramatically over the past 12 months, with capabilities including automatically reading utility bills and other PDFs, parsing convoluted spreadsheets without the need for templates, automated distance calculations and supplier matching – not to mention direct software integrations.
  • Calculation transparency & accuracy: Depending on the extent of manual intervention in your data collection, human errors can be a reality. The best way to uncover and remediate inaccuracies is data transparency. Do you have visibility into calculation-level details such as emission factor selection, sourcing, and versioning, as well as accessible documentation of broader methodological assumptions? Is there a “paper trail” into every data point documenting its source and manipulation or is the footprint more of a black box? Tools like automatic anomaly detection, completeness mapping, and real-time calculations – in addition to expert guidance – can help both detect potential inaccuracies and prevent them on a proactive footing.
  • Stakeholder and project management: How was the people side of your measurement cycle? When you had to engage others to collect data, were they able to participate efficiently and with the right level of context? This includes both internal teammates and stakeholders such as suppliers and, sometimes, customers. New tools have made it easier to give the right users the right level of access and context for the measurement process – from full supplier empowerment tools to more tailored data assignments. In addition to stakeholder management, staying abreast of your progress to measurement completion can be challenging, so reflecting on opportunities to improve granular project tracking and data completeness can help improve.
  • Balance between accounting and action: Take stock of your balance of time. How much of your or your team’s time was spent on measurement and reporting? How much time did this leave to focus on reducing your emissions and those of your supply chain? Did your team run this as an intense sprint before the deadline? Check if there are systems that can make this simpler and enhance ROI. By examining the process from end-to-end, you can often find ways to streamline so you can focus on what is important: making an impact.

2. Take Cost-Effective Action

It can feel daunting to jump into action and find the right project that will drive impact and prove value quickly. However, what few people realize is that carbon management and energy management are two sides of the same coin. On the one side, you have the environmental cost of carbon and, on the other, you have the fiscal cost of energy. By plotting the energy points relevant to emissions numbers, you’ve also created a blueprint for energy and cost savings. 

One of the easiest ways to get started is with your data. The good news is that emissions hotspots are frequently energy and cost epicenters as well. Look for the largest sources of emissions by activity, process, location, or supplier. In particular, look for anything that is disproportionate or unexpected – this may be an opportunity to lower costs and emissions.

As you explore these projects, make sure to also assess if there are state or federal tax incentives for adopting these technologies that may apply. Ideally, this is something your carbon management provider can assist you with so you don’t need to parse through pages of technical legal documents.

The exact action you take should be tailored to your operations and those of your supply chain partners, of course, but there are a number of cost-effective energy improvements that you could explore. Investing in this type of energy efficiency project also presents a unique opportunity to lower your emissions without annual reinvestment, which is common with carbon offsets or carbon removal credits. 

These “low-hanging fruit” projects are accessible, cost-effective, and can provide substantial returns on investment, making them ideal starting points for companies looking to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. 

  • LED Lighting Upgrades: It may seem obvious, but switching to LED lighting is one of the simplest yet most effective energy efficiency measures. LED lights use 90% less energy and have a 25x longer lifespan than traditional incandescent bulbs. Installing motion sensors and smart lighting controls can further reduce energy consumption by ensuring lights are only on when needed. 
  • HVAC System Optimization and Retrofits: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are major energy consumers. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning filters and coils, can improve efficiency, but upgrading to energy-efficient HVAC units and installing smart thermostats can lead to substantial savings. New technology like BAC’s Loop optimization technology reduces cooling operating costs by 20% through real-time automated system optimization of leaving water setpoints for any high capacity cooling system. One of our customers expects to save $1M in energy costs annually through the optimization of their cooling systems. 
  • Demand Response: Lowering energy consumption at high use times can yield immense benefits. We work with Voltus, which pays customers to reduce or shift their energy consumption in times of high prices or grid stress. Customers can get paid over $100k and avoid 100s of tons of carbon dioxide emissions by using less energy during demand response events. 
  • Fleet Electrification: In specific geographies and use cases (e.g., region with tax incentives, high mileage uses), total cost of ownership or cost of leasing an electric vehicle is lower than traditional ICE vehicles. Even outside fuel savings, maintenance costs can be 50-60% lower for EVs. Partners evaluate options, provide financing, and support with charging infrastructure. 
  • Battery Energy Storage Systems: Battery energy storage systems (BESS) can store excess energy generated from renewable sources or during off-peak times for use during peak demand periods. This not only reduces energy costs but also enhances energy resilience and reliability. BESS can also replace diesel generators as a source of power to run operations in remote locations or mobile working environments.

By investing in pragmatic steps that make sense for your business, your company can become more resilient, decrease costs, and reduce risk—all while also reducing emissions.


Example: How MiddleGround Capital and Race Winning Brands Turned Data into Action

MiddleGround Capital has measured firm-level emissions and portfolio companies’ emissions from inception. But after conducting a review of their process in 2022, MiddleGround recognized there was room for improvement. 

With portfolio companies busy with day-to-day operations and often unaccustomed to ESG metrics, measuring emissions is not always top of mind. They chose to work with Gravity because the process was painless and efficient. On the platform, MiddleGround was able to measure emissions across fifteen companies in two months. Gravity’s quality assurance process also enabled proactive identification of discrepancies in underlying data that would have impacted the accuracy of their results. 

While measuring operational emissions was important to MiddleGround, they were far more interested in driving value through decarbonization – both in terms of emissions reductions and cost savings. With Gravity’s help, they have been able to create customized decarbonization plans for their portfolio companies and continue to develop plans across the portfolio. 

One of those companies was Race Winning Brands, the leading manufacturer of performance parts for the automotive market. Within six months, they implemented several decarbonization projects that both reduced emissions and provided positive ROI across all their sites. Switching to LED lighting was the first project selected since proven results had already been seen at one facility. As a result, RWB reduced electricity usage by approximately 15% from 2022 to 2023. 


Looking to measure in record time and reduce your costs?

Effective carbon reporting is just the beginning. By optimizing your process, analyzing data strategically, and implementing targeted energy efficiency measures, you can transform carbon data into powerful drivers of business value.  Our team has helped hundreds of companies with this transition and is ready to help you. Please reach out to learn more if you’re curious about improvements you can make.

Ready to elevate your carbon strategy? Get a free assessment of your current process and discover energy improvement opportunities. Limited time offer – act before July 31, 2024. Request your spot now.

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