Six points to consider when looking at options for GHG verification
After completing hundreds of greenhouse gas (GHG) verifications over the last 12 years, and helping my quantification clients survive their verifications, I’ve learned that there are very different approaches used by verification bodies. Choosing the right one isn’t always straightforward.
A GHG verification is a third-party audit of a facility’s or corporation’s GHG emissions. A program or regulatory body relies on these audits when accepting a reporter’s emissions.
Verification bodies are organizations that are accredited by a member of the International Forum against ISO 14065—an international standard that sets out conditions for bodies that attempt GHG verification.
When comparing costs of greenhouse gas verifiers, consider the total cost to your organization. Focus on picking the best Verification Body, and not the least expensive.
While all accredited verification bodies have procedures that align with the requirements of ISO 14065, how the verification bodies execute those procedures may be dramatically different. The facility or corporation undergoing a verification can have two very different experiences with two different verification bodies. Some verification bodies will focus on data management and systems, while others focus on the technology. The best approach is a solid mix of both.
Choosing the right verification body can be challenging. Here are my tips for making your selection:
1. Check the requirements
Make sure to check the regulatory or program requirements and ask your potential verifier to explain how they meet the requirements. Some programs require that the verification be performed by a verification body accredited to ISO 14065. Typically, the two main accreditation bodies in North America are ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and SCC (Standards Council of Canada), and their list of accredited verification bodies can be found here and here. The verification body should also be accredited to the right category—organizational, project emission reductions, or validation—and technical scope. Ask your potential verification body to provide evidence in their proposal as to how they meet the criteria under the program or regulation.
2. Experience counts
Check the experience of the verification body. Specifically, look for verification of similar projects and scope and program familiarity.
3. What about the individuals?
Make sure that the proposed team also has relevant experience. The company can have lots of experience, but if the lead verifier and other verifiers are lacking in that technical area or familiarity with the program, this can create issues.
4. Check out the “bench strength”
In addition to the proposed team, look at the “bench strength” of the verification body. If unforeseen circumstances arise and someone is not available to work on your verification, are their back-up personnel trained? Also, it is important to understand that if changes to your verification team are necessary, then the new team members should provide resume. They should also give you the opportunity to object to the change in team.
When looking for a greenhouse gas verification body, talk to the lead verifier to get a sense of his or her personality. Will that person be a good fit for you and your staff?
5. Make sure it's a good fit
Talk to the lead verifier to get a sense of his or her personality. I commonly hear from clients that the personality of their previous verifier was not a good fit for them and their staff.
6. What is the total cost?
When comparing costs of verifiers, consider the total cost to your organization. Price is one factor, but it should not be the sole deciding factor. I encourage you to ask other questions: What are the costs if the verification body doesn’t catch a material error? What are the costs of choosing a verification body that doesn’t understand the technology? Financially, the cost of verification can be quite small compared with the cost of purchasing allowances under a regulatory system. At costs around $18 per tonne of CO2e rising to $50 soon, inaccurate emission inventories can cost you money. So, there is incentive to get the emissions right. Focus on picking the best Verification Body, and not the least expensive.
I hope these points help you with the process of selecting the right Verification Body. Keep your eyes open for an upcoming blog from my colleague Gizem Gunal-Akgol, where she describes what the past few years of performing GHG verifications have taught her. And look out for a post from Stantec’s Vicki Corning, where she discusses how our GHG verification process fits in with Canada’s plan to fight global climate change.
About the Author
Nicole Flanagan has been involved in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting since the inception of provincial reporting programs in 2007 and was the lead verifier for some of the first offset credits in Canada.More Content by Nicole Flanagan