Handbook 4.0: how better data monitoring leads to more insight and less CO2

Insight into emissions: a much-cited added value of the CO2 Performance Ladder. But it won't stop there: with Handbook 4.0, we can expect even more insight into the CO2 emitted and energy consumed. From your own organisation, from other certified organisations and from projects. Footprints will be centrally accessible and more comparable, all with the aim of making even more and even smarter CO2 reductions. Members of SKAO’s Central College of Experts (CCoE) Marjan Kloos, representing Bouwend Nederland (Dutch Construction Industry Federation), and Madeleine Nagelkerke, representing Techniek Nederland (Dutch Technical professionals), tell us what to expect.

Why is better data monitoring needed?

Madeleine: ‘We want to ensure even more CO2 reduction with the new handbook: data monitoring helps with this. If you don't monitor progress, then you're taking action at random without knowing whether it will produce results.' In other words, to be sure that you are hitting your target as an organisation, you need the ability to measure your efforts.

Comparing with others

In addition, it has to do with being able to benchmark organisations, says Marjan. 'We want to ensure that organisations can more easily compare their footprint with those of others. To that end, it is more convenient if all footprints can be found in one place.' Indeed: at the moment anyone who wants to see an organisation's footprint has to do a targeted search on the organisation’s website. Once found, it cannot simply be compared with another footprint, because footprints are often static as a pdf.

Gaining inspiration

'When footprints are easy to compare, organisations can inspire each other. How much effect does a measure have on the footprint? How can I achieve the same result, or even do it better? Especially for scope 3, this can be incredibly inspiring, because that is where the biggest gains can be made,' says Madeleine.

More insight for clients

Clients also yearn for more insight into footprints and the effects of measures, Marjan explains: 'Contracting authorities often do not know exactly the environmental impact their tendered projects have, whereas they would very much like to.’ 'Exactly what measures does a contractor take and what effect do they have? Especially for public authorities, it is necessary to be able to justify the budget and demonstrate what the organisation has achieved in terms of annual CO2 reduction.' Handbook 4.0 meets that need, as contractors will soon be required to share their project footprint with the client.

Use ECI calculation for project footprint

Making that project footprint will be a little easier for contractors. Clients in the Netherlands often already ask the contractor to show an Environmental Cost Indicator (ECI) calculation, and the calculation method asked for ECI will soon be able to be used as proof for the Ladder as well. Madeleine is happy about this: ‘We want to avoid organisations having to do double work so it is good that the Ladder is also in line with other initiatives in this respect.’

Under handbook 4.0, what data will organisations have to collect? Does that differ from handbook 3.1?

Marjan: ‘Organisations will basically collect the same data as now. They will continue to calculate COemissions for scope 1, 2 and 3. What may be added are data on other influenceable emissions .' ‘Organisations will also soon calculate scope 3 emissions more precisely, if their impact and influence analysis gives reason to do so,’ she reveals. 'Where can my organisation save a lot of CO2? Organisations will calculate that source of emissions traceably and as precisely as possible.' Now, this is often done indirectly, based on expenditure - what the calculation will look like in the future depends on the source of emissions. For materials, one might consider a calculation based on quantities actually purchased, such as kilometres of copper, tonnes of steel or cubic metres of concrete. For an organisation in the service sector, the calculation will look different. ‘In any case, it will make the carbon footprint a lot more relevant and accurate.’ And more useful, because chances are this method will also be used for the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

Converting to joules or watt-hours

Madeleine: ‘Another difference in Handbook 4.0 is that, in addition to making an emissions inventory, organisations will soon develop an energy balance with the collected data. They will then not only calculate how much a work or service consumes in terms of CO2, but also in joules or watt-hours. This will reveal where the greatest energy consumption is and therefore where there is an opportunity to achieve energy savings.' That is something that will be rewarded in the new handbook by being included in the requirements.

Making energy saving opportunities visible

‘Organisations will soon have to set not only quantitative targets for COreduction, but also for energy savings,’ Madeleine explains. 'An organisation that has already greened everything with HVO, green gas and green electricity, will not see in its emissions inventory that for energy savings it is best to focus on its vehicle fleet, for example, where the greatest energy consumption lies. The energy balance sheet will provide this insight.'

For whom will the data become public?

Marjan: ‘All mandatory publications for the new handbook will soon be available in one place: on the COPerformance Ladder website. This applies to the climate transition plan, the action plan, and thus the organisation footprint. Previously, organisations had to post the mandatory documents in a rigid format on their own websites. We think this centralisation will provide better accessibility and an additional advantage is that organisations will soon have to publish less on their own websites.'

Organisation keeps control of data

But, she stresses, this does not come at the expense of protecting sensitive business data: regarding sharing non-mandatory information, such as the data underlying the footprints or the scope of projects, the organisation retains control. 'Those data are only shared with parties to whom they themselves give permission. Project footprints do not appear publicly on the CO2 Performance Ladder website, but they do have to be shared with the client.'

Similar to PID

The comparison with the already existing Project Impact Dashboard (PID) is easily made. That tool, too - for projects with award advantage - is carefully managed by SKAO, centralises the registration of the required documents and gives the user control over their degree of disclosure. Whether, as in PID, there will be an option to calculate the footprint on the spot is not yet known.

Does it still make sense to certify for Handbook 3.1, now that a new handbook and CSRD are coming?

‘Yes’, states Madeleine. 'As far as Handbook 3.1 is concerned, there will be a transition period appropriate to the extent of the changes. So organisations need not fear that they will have to rearrange everything at a moment's notice, even if they are still working with Handbook 3.1 until the last minute. They will have plenty of time before they have to comply with the requirements of handbook 4.0. In order to meet the requirements of the CSRD, having a good CO2 management system in place will be a big help. That is your basis for reporting. Without substantiation, a report doesn't say much.'