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Inventory Management Plan (IMP), Explained

Article Overview

If your company reports its greenhouse gas emissions — whether to regulators, investors, or customers — you need to be confident in the data you disclose. This is where the Inventory Management Plan (IMP) can prove useful. An IMP helps ensure quality data by detailing the methods and systems you use to track and calculate your scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions. It serves as a roadmap for data management, establishing a repeatable and documented process that can be utilized at your organization for future reporting years. It is a critical step in the climate disclosure journey — and can help your company make smart decisions about how to prepare for regulatory disclosure and assurance, improve internal processes, and decarbonize effectively.

In this article, we’ll talk about what an Inventory Management Plan looks like, why it’s important, and the steps you can take to develop one. 

What is an Inventory Management Plan?

An IMP details the process you use to collect, calculate, and maintain GHG data.

With a rise in greenwashing and false environmental claims, companies face growing scrutiny over their sustainability reporting. An IMP helps ensure that your account of your greenhouse gas emissions — also known as your GHG inventory — is credible. It provides an internal documentation process that institutionalizes the completion of a high-quality GHG inventory. 

Your IMP outlines how you collect GHG data, where it comes from, what calculation methodologies are used, and any quality assurance measures, including governance and oversight of the inventory. It codifies institutional knowledge to guarantee that, even in the face of staff turnover, your GHG data management will remain consistent. 

“An Inventory Management Plan (IMP) describes an organization's process for completing a high-quality, corporate-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. Organizations use an IMP to institutionalize a process for collecting, calculating, and maintaining GHG data.” - US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

While your IMP will be unique to your company, the EPA has outlined seven foundational components you can incorporate to ensure a robust plan. Later in this article, we share a checklist of the information you’ll need in order to address each of these categories. 

7 Components of an Inventory Management Plan 

While your IMP will be unique to your company, the EPA has outlined seven foundational components you can incorporate to ensure a robust plan. Later in this article, we share a checklist of the information you’ll need in order to address each of these categories. 

  1. Organization Information: The first section covers the basics of your company as well as the document owner, revision history, and document approver. 
  2. Boundary Conditions: In this section, you’ll describe your organizational and operational boundaries. This includes which parts of your organization are within the scope of the inventory, and which emission sources were calculated.
  3. Emissions Quantification: Here, you detail the calculation methodologies and emission factors you use across all relevant sources of emissions, as well as estimates for missing data and any assumptions used. 
  4. Data Management: This category covers your data sources, collection process, and quality assurance practices.
  5. Base Year: This is where you share your organization’s approach to base year adjustments for structural and methodology changes (if applicable).
  6. Management Tools: This part of the IMP describes roles and responsibilities relating to the GHG inventory, as well as training and file maintenance practices.
  7. Auditing & Verification: Finally, you need to outline any auditing, management review, technical, and corrective action processes you use.

Why is it Important to Build an Inventory Management Plan?

An IMP is an essential tool for ensuring data quality.

Carbon accounting is a highly technical and nuanced process that often requires significant documentation. Unlike financial accounting, completing a GHG inventory relies heavily on science and engineering — and sometimes requires estimations.  An IMP is an essential tool for ensuring consistency and data quality on an annual basis (or more frequently). It builds confidence in your emissions reporting, which is becoming more important in the face of rising regulatory and stakeholder expectations. 

Regulations in many jurisdictions, including the EU, the US, and Singapore, now require companies to obtain assurance over their emissions data. The IMP can help you prepare for the assurance process (and save time and money) by documenting the calculation methodologies and data sources you use. 

An IMP also lays the groundwork for an effective and efficient decarbonization strategy: To make sound decisions about how to decarbonize, an organization’s leadership needs not only a clear picture of its emissions but also trustworthy data. 

GHG Inventory Quality Management System

The IMP is a key component of the GHG Protocol’s guidance.

Across the globe, climate disclosure regulations and frameworks build on the foundation of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP), which emphasizes the importance of high-quality emissions data. 

An Inventory Management Plan is a critical component of the quality management system outlined in the GHGP Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. According to the GHGP, organizations need to develop quality management plans that describe their procedures and inventory development processes — from initial data collection to final reporting. The GHGP Corporate Standard recommends that companies integrate existing quality management systems into their GHG plans as much as possible, focusing on practical measures for implementation. Your IMP and quality management system are evolving processes that will likely change over time.  

“A quality management system is essential to ensuring that an inventory continues to meet the principles of the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard and anticipates the requirements of future GHG emissions programs.” - GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (Revised)

implementing an inventory management plan

Developing a GHG Inventory Management Plan

An IMP Template and Checklist are critical starting points.

Developing an IMP for the first time can feel daunting. You need to make sure you address all of the appropriate components and adequately document your processes for collecting and calculating scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions data. The most effective IMPs are laid out so that someone with no prior knowledge of an inventory could pick up the document and replicate the same outcome as previous years. The more detail noted in an IMP, the stronger the inventory. The US EPA has developed this resource to help organizations develop a high-quality IMP.

GHG Inventory Management Plan Checklist 

A GHG Inventory Management Plan Checklist details the essential components of a high-quality IMP. Use it as a guide to create a new IMP or consolidate existing documentation.

  • Supplementary Organizational Information. Start with organizational details such as the main contact, key stakeholders, and the document owner. 
  • Organizational Boundary. Describe which approach you’ve taken (operational control, financial control, or equity share) and why, along with a complete list of all facilities in scope for your emissions inventory.
  • Operational Boundary. Provide a list of different greenhouse gases in your inventory (CO2, CH4, N20, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, and NF3). Identify which GHG sources are most material to your business activities, as well as other sources that could be in scope for your organization. 
  • Boundary Conditions - Supplemental Information. Chart the method used to identify each category of emission sources. List sources for scope 1 (e.g., stationary combustion, mobile combustion, fugitive emissions); scope 2 (e.g., steam, electricity, purchased heat); and scope 3 (e.g., purchased goods and services, business travel, use of sold products). Detail any market instruments, such as renewable energy credits (RECs) and offset projects, that you use to meet emissions reduction goals.
  • Emission Quantification. Detail the methodologies you use to quantify emissions, including emissions factors. Persefoni customers can pull this information directly from the Persefoni GHG Report.
  • Data Management. List the sources of activity data documents or processes needed to follow the quantification methodology (e.g., monthly fuel purchase records) for each emission source. Specify the processes for collecting or monitoring data —  from its original source to the final data entered into the inventory, including key data cleansing and estimation steps. Document your quality assurance measures, data system security, and reporting frequency. 
  • Base Year. Explain your approach for adjusting base year emissions in light of structural changes like mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and outsourcing, as well as methodology changes. 
  • Management Tools. Outline overall roles and responsibilities for corporate GHG inventory development and maintenance, along with training received by team members. Describe your document retention and control policy. Disclose your internal auditing process and timing, as well as any processes for external verification. Give a rundown of your senior management review process, along with the process for implementing corrective actions if errors are found. 

Build Confidence in Your Emissions Reporting with a Robust Inventory Management Plan

An Inventory Management Plan allows you to feel confident sharing your emissions information with regulators, investors, customers, and other stakeholders. It lays a foundation for ensuring the quality and consistency of your inventory year after year. Pairing an IMP with a reliable carbon accounting system will lead to more consistent reporting and even greater trust in your data. Persefoni’s platform, for example, allows you to easily see the calculation methodologies, source data, and audit history for your GHG inventory. When you’re armed with a comprehensive IMP and reliable carbon accounting software, you’ll be better prepared to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving marketplace and regulatory environment. 

Find out how Persefoni can help you build your carbon footprint with transparency, accuracy, and controls.

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