Information technology can enable the achievement of sustainability goals on campus in many ways, including by providing sustainability assessment and reporting tools. More than two years ago when students initiated and drove the population of a “sustainability scorecard” with the purpose of conducting a sustainability assessment and setting the bar, information technology played an insignificant role. The scorecard was presented to management but never published and there has been no subsequent assessment.
Recently, however, the request came to the IT Division to investigate the local market for carbon footprint assessment and reporting tools. A very brief report on sustainability reporting (pdf) was prepared and submitted. It briefly explores the world of sustainability and integrated reporting, considers reporting frameworks and standards (such as the GHG Protocol, Global Reporting Initiative, STARS (a framework for higher education) etc.), and reviews a sample of sustainability management suites and tools.
Finally it recommends that:
…any choice of a sustainability application suite should be delayed until the university’s sustainability strategy has been determined.
… that it is necessary for the university to select and implement a sustainability assessment and reporting framework in order to identify sustainability indicators, help it develop its strategy, assess progress, report to stakeholders and benchmark against similar institutions.
The recommended assessment and reporting framework is the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability, Tracking and Rating System (STARS). Stellenbosch University is an international member of AASHE.