You can analyse the current situation regarding the consumption of various resources by yourself and consider how it could be reduced. Another way is to influence the supply chain through sustainable purchasing or tenders with environmental criteria. It is also worth looking at the habits of employees and through education and joint development of new rules, transform them into being more ecological. At this stage, the opinion of experts will be useful. We can develop our knowledge about the environmental impact of an organisation, but only if we know which issues are worth considering. If you have the necessary financial resources, hire an external company to conduct the audit. Select the scope and type of audit according to your needs, resources (time, human resources) and funding. Examples of types of audits related to pro-environmental changes in institutions:
Environmental audit (documentation + legal compliance)
It focuses on the analysis of documents confirming environmental impact. Auditors analyse reports on waste management, registration of appliances and cooling systems with the Central Register of Operators, emissions from vehicle engines and environmental impact analysis. Such a review makes it possible to assess whether the institution’s operations are in line with current environmental protection regulations. Proper reporting makes it possible to assess the scale of an institution’s impact in certain areas (e.g. carbon dioxide emissions). Permits and registrations of installations, contracts with recycling companies, contracts with rubbish collection companies, with waterworks, technical data sheets of devices used by the institution, data sheets of chemical preparations, documents related to tests of water or gas emissions are all under scrutiny. Auditors should have access to people who are knowledgeable about the specificity of the organisation, as well as technical installations and technological solutions.
The estimated cost of an environmental audit may be around PLN3,000–PLN5,000, depending on the size and type of the institution and the scope.
Sustainable development audit (environmental impact regarding water, soil, air + supply chain + environmental impact)
The audit assesses the impact on the environment through the analysis of the supply chain. This means that the areas researched previously in the organisation (e.g. gas emissions associated with the use of vehicles, water consumption) are applied in researching suppliers and purchases. Auditors also verify the rational management of existing resources (e.g. display cases, frames, stationery), including environmental criteria in tenders and requests for proposals, as well as analysing products ordered (e.g. checking for certificates, composition or recyclable materials).
The estimated cost of a sustainable development audit ranges from over PLN10,000 to tens of thousands depending on size and type of the institution and the scope.
‘Zero waste’ audit
This is based on the results of the environmental audit. Additional information is collected in various ways, e.g. through observations of the way space is used and conversations with employees. A ‘zero waste’ audit may concern lighting, biophilic motives (contact with nature, e.g. plants in the office), functionality and use of social facilities, storage methods, organisation of work, pro-environmental amenities (e.g. infrastructure for cyclists). Auditors can prepare photo documentation and pay an on-site visit. Sometimes they also visit galleries, bookshops or restaurants as customers to experience solutions from a user’s perspective.
The estimated cost of a ‘zero waste’ audit ranges from PLN10,000 to PLN50,000 depending on size and type of the institution and the scope.
The result of the audit is a report with recommendations, which concern remedial and optional action. Remedial action usually concerns changes necessary for compliance with regulations. The changes should be implemented at this stage. Some institutions in Poland have already had their audits carried out. A discussion about the audit at the Zachęta gallery in Warsaw is available under this link