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Ecotoolkit: Ecoscan, Ecomapping and Ecotips

Ecotoolkit: Ecoscan, Ecomapping and Ecotips
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The Ecotoolkit comprises three environmental management tools, which a company may use in order to get an understanding of its current environmental situation and main problems, manage and reduce its environmental impact, and respectively improve its environmental performance. These three tools can be seen as the elements of a simple environmental management system.

Ecoscan is an online carbon and ecological footprint calculator for small businesses in eight economic sectors: hotels, bars and restaurants, offices, hair dressers, car repair shops, home improvements, events, and retail shops.

Ecomapping is a visual and practical tool that helps small businesses to analyse and manage their environmental behaviour.

Ecotips is a multisectoral database of environmental and economic tips for small and medium enterprises.

Applicability
The Ecoscan contributes towards efficiency of resource use. The Ecomapping tool helps small companies to implement environmental management, ISO 14001 and EMAS. This visual and practical tool helps SME managers and employees to analyse and manage the environmental performance of small companies and craft industries. The Ecotips tool provides key advice to a company manager on specific measures for the environmental aspects and problems, which have been identified by using Ecomapping and Ecoscan. Ecotips provides also information on relevant legislation and potential cost savings, which may result after specific measures are taken.

Process of tool application
For the Ecoscan, the user enters into the prescribed boxes the relevant information about energy and water consumption, waste generation, mobility, purchasing, etc. The information can be entered for single occasions, or annually. Then the user can visualise and compare its carbon or ecological footprint over time, per environmental aspect. It is highly advisable, after the three steps have been undertaken (in a given period of time, e.g. 6 months or 1 year) to use the Ecoscan again, in order to assess the changes in environmental performance.

As 80% of the environmental problems are related to a specific location, Ecomapping the organisation's workshops and offices is very useful to show clearly which environmental nuisance occurs and where. For Ecomapping you will need a detailed floor plan of the office or workshop, and less than one hour for each ecomap. More information about the process of ecomapping is available at the website: http://www.ecotoolkit.eu/ecomapping.php.

For Ecotips, users need to choose their sector. Subsequently, they will receive an overview of activities that may have environmental impacts in their sector. Finally, advices are given in relation to the selected activity, including the impact they might have on the environment, any potential financial return there might be and other relevant information.

Benefits
The Ecoscan provides a simplified environmental calculator aiming at giving a first estimation of the carbon and ecological footprint of a small organisation.

The Ecomapping module provides guidance for the users on how to carry out an on-site environmental review to identify and analyse the main environmental aspects/problems related to energy use, water use, air emissions, waste, noise, purchasing, stakeholders, etc. This tool also enables a company manager to develop a light informal action plan for environmental improvements in the problematic areas of his or her company’s operations.

The Ecotips tool provides to a company manager key advice on specific measures for the environmental aspects and problems, which have been identified by using Ecomapping and Ecoscan. Ecotips provides also information on relevant legislation and potential cost savings, which may result after specific measures are taken.

Examples
The tools of the Ecotoolkit are used by SMEs worldwide in various sectors. When using the Ecotips tool, examples of best practices are provided together with the advice.

References
Ecomapping has been developed by Heinz Werner Engel in the context of the INEM project, EMAS Tool Kit for SMEs in 1998. All information is to be found on http://www.ecotoolkit.eu.