Incorporating Environmental Costs and Considerations into Decision-Making: Review of Available Tools and Software

A Guide for Business and Federal Facility Managers

Submitted to:
Holly Elwood
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Pollution Prevention Division
Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics
401 M Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20460
Prepared by:
Aarti Sharma
Keith A. Weitz
Center for Economics Research
Research Triangle Institute
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
RTI Project Number 5774-3
September 1995
EPA last updated:
April 18, 1996 -
Minor editing by Ronald L. Still:
December 16, 1996

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By conducting an environmental review of the tools and software included in this guide, the EPA is not explicitly endorsing or discouraging the use of any specific software system or tool listed in this guide. Tool profile information was collected from a variety of sources including DOE reports, research reports for Federal agencies, promotional literature written by tool producers, and conversations with tool producers. In addition, tool producers received copies of these tool profiles and reviewed them for accuracy. Their subsequent comments have been incorporated into the text to the best of our ability.

While steps were taken to be as comprehensive as possible in this review, many tools and software systems may not be included in this guide primarily because of time constraints and the wide variety of tools covered in the guide. Omission of any software and tools does not imply a dismissal or a judgment on the tools' importance.

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This resource guide was prepared as part of research for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics(OPPT) under Cooperative Research Agreement No. 821790-01 with the Research Triangle Institute. Holly Elwood of OPPT, Pollution Prevention Division, served as project officer. Additional funding for the project was provided by the Planning, Prevention, and Compliance Staff of the Federal Facilities Enforcement Office (OFFE), and the Waste Minimization Division of the Office of Solid Waste(OSW). In this regard, the EPA/OPPT would like to thank Rick Brenner from OFFE and Mark Ralston from OSW. The EPA would also like to thank the following individuals who took the time to review earlier drafts of the resource guide and offered helpful comments and suggestions.

Claire Barth
Senior Editor
Institute of Management Accountants
Louis Bisgay
Director, Management Accounting Practices
Institute of Management Accountants
Robert Bollinger
Health, Safety, and Environmental Consultant
Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) Software Development Group
Don Brennan
Environmental Information Manager
Environmental Regulatory Affairs Department
Rohm and Haas
Rick Brenner
Planning, Prevention, and Compliance Staff
Federal Facilities Enforcement Office (OFFE)
Greg Daro
Ecology Information Team Leader
Ecology and Safety
BASF Corporation
Marc Epstein
Visiting Professor
Stanford University, Graduate School of Business
Julian Freedman
Director of Research
Institute of Management Accountants
Eun-Sook Goidel
Pollution Prevention Division
Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics
Bill Hombach
Technical Director
Communications Training Analysis Corporation (CTAC)
Mike Kabjain
Project Manager
EMAX Solution Partners
John King
Senior Regulatory Consultant
Resource Consultants Inc.
Gerald Kos
Chief, Cost Estimating Branch
EER Systems
Timothy C. McManus
Senior Principal
Project Management Associates, Inc.
Chairperson, Government Liaison Committee AACE International
Marty Spitzer
Pollution Prevention Policy Staff
Office of the Administrator
Peter Thompson
Pollution Prevention Division
Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics
Jeannie Wood
AT&T Global Information Solutions

Special thanks goes to Tim McManus who provided key technical guidance throughout this research. Sharon Barrell, Judy Cannada, and Andrew Jessup provided editorial, word processing, and graphics support for this resource guide.

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Purpose of this Guide

This guide refers to "decision-support products" as software and non-software based items employed by decision-makers to aid in various areas of corporate and Federal facility decision-making, including capital budgeting, project management, and environmental management. "Tools" is used to refer to non-software based products.

The purpose of this guide is to:

This research focused on the following questions:

This guide has been successful in providing information that can help answer these questions. However, the coverage of tools and software is not comprehensive, mainly because a wide variety of products were covered in a limited period of time. The evaluations are presented as objective pieces of information, and readers need to assess and rank the tools and software based on their own requirements.

This guide is a product of the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) ongoing Environmental Accounting Project, which works to encourage and motivate businesses to understand the full spectrum of environmental costs and to incorporate these costs into decision-making. The guide was jointly funded by the EPA's Office of Federal Facilities Enforcement and the EPA's Office of Solid Waste, which are working to help Federal facilities and municipal governments, respectively, to incorporate more environmental costs and considerations into their decisions.

For more information on environmental accounting issues facing the corporate sector, see An Introduction to Environmental Accounting as a Business Management Tool: Key Concepts and Terms, EPA742-R-95-001. For information on environmental accounting issues facing the Federal government, see Federal Facility Pollution Prevention Project Analysis: A Primer for Applying Life Cycle and Total Cost Assessment Concepts, EPA 300-B-95-008. The Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse (PPIC) can be contacted at 202-260-1023 for a list of all documents on environmental accounting in the private/public sector and/or for copies of the above mentioned documents.

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Chapter 1 - Introduction


This chapter discusses the importance of incorporating environmental costs into decision-support tools. It provides information on the organization of the resource guide and suggestions on the ways in which it should be used. The scope and limitations of the resource guide indicate the extent of utility and information that can be derived from it.

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1.1 Why Should Environmental Considerations be Incorporated into Decision-Making?

Hidden and unaccounted for environmental costs hinder efficient environmental management. This, in turn, can reduce company profits and Federal facility cost minimization efforts.

Decision-makers in industry and in Federal facilities rely on tools and software systems everyday to help them make decisions. When these decision-support products incorporate environmental costs and considerations, they can save companies and Federal facilities money while simultaneously protecting the environment. However, if environmental cost information remains hidden and unaccounted for in the decision-making process, well-informed decisions on environmental management and investments cannot be made. Decision-support products that do not consider environmental costs and considerations may hinder optimal decisions. Evaluating the extent to which existing decision-support products include environmental information is one important task towards incorporating environmental costs and considerations into business and Federal facility decision-making. Conducting this evaluation and making the information available to the public is the primary goal of this guide.

Companies and Federal facilities currently invest significant amounts of time and money to comply with growing environmental regulations. Environmental spending is now approaching 2 percent of the nation's gross national product. U.S. companies spend an estimated $140 billion annually to improve environmental performance, while only a quarter of these costs are traced directly to environmental compliance (Owen, 1995). Better management of environmental costs is important for reducing public and private expenditures and for avoiding contingencies in the form of liabilities. Companies and facilities also recognize that initiatives such as proper materials and waste management, efficient process and product design, energy efficiency, and recycling can be both profitable and environmentally preferable (Ditz, 1995).

In addition, new standards and mandates are encouraging companies and Federal facilities to better manage their environmental costs and considerations. International standards are now requiring companies to develop environmental management systems. For example, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is creating a series of voluntary environmental management standards entitled ISO 14000. Conformance with standard ISO 14001,the Environmental Management System (EMS) specification document, has strong potential for becoming a de-facto requirement for conducting trade, both domestically and internationally. Procedures and tools that carefully track environmental costs and impacts will greatly assist organizations in meeting the monitoring and performance measurement requirements of ISO 14000. Another change being seen in the private sector is that consumers are beginning to ask product suppliers to take back products when they can no longer be used, or are asking for information on the environmental impact of a product prior to purchase.[1] Federal facilities are now required, under Executive Order 12856,to apply life-cycle analysis (LCA) and total cost accounting (TCA) principles to the greatest extent practicable when estimating pollution prevention opportunities. In addition, Executive Order 12873 required Federal facilities to give preference to purchasing environmentally preferable products. In light of these developments, traditional methods and tools employed for management, accounting, and analysis used by both sectors need to be modified or complemented with new tools.

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1.2 How to Use This Guide

Chapter 2 - Procedures for Screening and Profiling Software Systems and Tools discusses the classification of the products covered in this guide and also offers detailed descriptions of the methods employed for profiling them. This chapter should be read before reviewing the profiles because it will help readers understand the terms used in the product profiles and decide which product class to focus on.

"Decision-support products" or "products" refers to software and non-software based tools covered in this guide. "Tools"refers to non-software based products.

Chapter 3 - Overall Findings by Product Category presents the overall findings of this research project subdivided by each product category. Chapter 3 also has details on the nature of the products under each class, which, combined with the information in the glossary, can help users who are unfamiliar with the characteristics of some product types. This chapter also has summary tables that can assist readers in a preliminary screening process to decide which products to focus on or to obtain some basic product information. These summary tables should be consulted before reading the profiles chapter. The chapter also includes recommendations for vendors under each product class as well as overall recommendations for users.

Complete and abbreviated product profiles can be found in Chapter 4. Each product class is preceded by a table of contents. Abbreviated profiles can be found at the end of the relevant subsections in which the profiles are presented.

Appendix A - Glossary of Terms contains a glossary of project management and environmental terms that have appeared repeatedly or have been referred to in the guide. The definitions of environmental terms presented are not meant to provide final or universally accepted definitions. Rather, the terms have been defined to be consistent with meanings that have been employed or assumed for the purpose of this resource guide. All references can be found in Appendix B - References.

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1.3 Limitations of the Guide

The objective of this resource guide is to go beyond traditional software and tool reviews and surveys to provide information from an environmental perspective. However, this guide is only a first step in a long-term process of incorporating environmental costs and considerations into decision-making. The following are some key limitations of this guide:

This guide is intended to be useful for a wide audience that will have different needs and directions. Thus, users need to make their own evaluations based on the information provided.

  1. For further information, see the forthcoming EPA document, "Environmental Accounting Case Studies: Green Accounting at AT&T," EPA 742-R-95-003.

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