Understanding current energy use and greenhouse gas emissions is a key first step towards reducing the environmental impact of a certain area. Inventories in themselves do not produce any environmental benefits, but they are key enablers to set objectives and monitor progress towards them. They are usually used for action planning to identify key sectors or areas for energy consumption and carbon emission reduction measures.
Public administration bodies can systematically collect energy use and emission data from the territory of the municipality. The scope of the inventory includes energy consumption and emissions across the territory from all sectors, including industry, commerce and services, agriculture, construction, housing and transport.
There are several methodologies for producing emissions inventories and they generally consider:
- greenhouse gases
- energy consumption
- emissions factors
- baseline determination
- geographical boundaries.
Once the municipality has decided what data to collect, the following hierarchy should be used to build the desired database:
- Use existing data sets.
- Collect data from market operators.
- Collect data from consumers.
- Use direct measurement.
As said before, the main benefit of developing a database of emissions and consumption is to analyse and use the data to identify actions that can be taken to reduce carbon emissions. Once data is collected, public administration bodies can develop a local action plan and use the data to support the case for particular interventions. This can be an energy-focused action plan, or they can focus on emissions and include carbon-emitting activities beyond energy. For more detailed information on these plans, please visit the best practice Establishing and implementing a municipal energy and climate action plan.
Reports are generally made public and used as a basis to engage with the wider community on the actions. Making the underlying data openly available can bring wide economic and social benefits as it can be used by other public authorities, commercial organisations and members of the public to produce a wide variety of tools, services, information and activities.
It is possible to develop the software database, but there are a number of free or commercial tools available.