Calculating Environmental Costs, Benefits and Impacts
When weighing whether to make a process change or a capital investment to improve your facility’s environmental performance, be sure to consider the hidden costs and benefits. For instance, when considering opportunities to reduce waste generation, look beyond what you’ll save on waste treatment and disposal fees and consider the additional costs of wasted raw materials, off-spec products, labor costs, regulatory expenses, permit fees, and potential fines for violations. It’s not necessary to quantify all the costs down to the nearest penny. The goal is to identify the true costs of the environmental impact you are trying to address in order to broaden your decision making.
For further information and resources, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Accounting Project, which encourages business to understand the full spectrum of their environmental costs and integrate these costs into decision making or download EMFACT, Energy and Materials Flow and Cost Tracker software, to help manage your facility's inputs, outputs and costs.
Environmental Impact Calculators
The flip side of the hidden costs and impacts of waste generation is the hidden benefits resulting from actions taken to improve the environmental performance of your facility. A number of calculators are available to help demonstrate the positive outcomes of pollution prevention measures. Use these results to motivate your fellow employees to maintain good practices at your facility and to inspire further actions.
Energy Use Air Emissions
Use this calculator to determine the reduction in specific air emissions resulting from energy conservation initiatives at your facility. Information can be entered for both electricity and natural gas use reductions.
Use of CFL Bulbs Energy and Cost Savings
Use this calculator to determine energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and costs savings by converting to compact fluorescent bulbs.
Vehicle Travel Fuel Use and Air Emissions
This calculator determines fuel use and air emissions from car travel and can be used to calculate the environmental benefits of reducing trips or switching to a more fuel efficient car.
Airplane Travel Greenhouse Gas Emissions
This calculator determines greenhouse gas emissions resulting from airplane travel and can be used to calculate the environmental benefits of choosing teleconferencing over plane travel when appropriate.
Waste Reduction/Recycling Greenhouse Gas Emissions
This calculator, known as the Waste Reduction Model (WARM), determines greenhouse gas emissions reductions resulting from different waste management practices (e.g. source reduction, recycling, combustion, composting, and landfilling).
Purchasing Products with Recycled Content Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Impacts
This calculator, known as the Recycled Content (ReCon) Tool, estimates greenhouse gas emissions and energy impacts from purchasing and/or manufacturing materials with varying degrees of post-consumer recycled content.
Paper Use Energy Use, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Wood Consumption, Wastewater and Solid Waste
This calculator determines the environmental impacts of choosing different grades of recycled content paper and can also be used to show the benefits of paper use reduction if you enter the pounds of paper you know your facility has reduced to calculate the environmental impacts avoided. (Tip: one ream of 8.5" X 11" office paper weighs 5 lbs.)
Green Cleaning ProductsHazardous Material Reduction
This calculator quantifies the projected environmental benefits of using "green" janitorial products and practices.
Food Waste ManagementEnvironmental Benefits and Cost Savings
This calculator examines the cost competitiveness of alternatives to food waste disposal, including source reduction, donation, composting, and recycling of grease and calculates the environmental benefits.
Environmentally Preferable Electronics Environmental and Economic Benefits
This calculator estimates the environmental and economic benefits of purchasing EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) registered computers and monitors.
The following two spreadsheets were developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Note that both calculators ask you to enter the state where the facility is located so that the results reflect factors specific to the geographic location of the facility.
GHG Calculator: This tool calculates GHG emission reductions in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent(MTCO2e) from electricity conservation, green energy, fuel and chemical substitutions, water conservation, and improved materials and process management in the chemical manufacturing sector.
Cost Calculator: This tool calculates cost savings associated with reduced costs for hazardous inputs in a facility process, reduced costs for handling hazardous waste, reductions in annual air permitting fees that are based on actual emissions, reduced water discharge treatment costs based on gallons of discharged, reduced charges for water usage, reduced fuel costs, and reduced costs for electricity.