“It has become increasingly common for companies and other organizations to collect and provide data on their environmental impact, such as carbon dioxide emissions. This can be both time consuming, cumbersome, and it is not easy to motivate employees to this extraordinary task,” says Fabian Hagman, who is a co-founder of IT company Presis!

Reporting expense accounts is not something most people look forward to. The driving force that nevertheless accounts for travel and hotel expenses, however, is strong – without travel expenses and receipts no money will be reimbursed. For ease of administration, most organizations have established more or less advanced systems for travel expenses, from paper forms to web based solutions.

“We work with advanced web and mobile applications and to make a system for travel claims is not a major problem for us. However, what characterizes our business – and that might not be so common in the IT industry – is the environmental commitment of our employees,” continues Hagman. “We weigh paper waste, compost, and facilitate journeys to work with free public transport and more.”

“In one project, we wanted to cover Lund with a rainforest and buy a rainforest plantation. We have come a long way and the surface we bought now covers the central part of the city. For us, it was natural to spice expense report forms with a number of functions that calculate the environmental impact associated with business travel.”

Calculating the environmental load

“IMPRESSION (AVTRYCK) is a web service that we have developed that helps organizations to seamlessly collect data on various environmental aspects. The intention is for the system to facilitate sustainability, reports to authorities and more,” says Hagman.

“An optional component of the IMPRESSION (AVTRYCK) web service is a travel expense module that guide employees in how to calculate per diem and expense reports. The module also informs about the climate impact of the trip had and the data is stored centrally for analysis and reporting of the combined environmental impact.”

IMPRESSION (AVTRYCK) expense reports calculate the environmental load per trip and show the individual employee’s, the department’s and the organization’s travel behaviour.

“The company Trivector delivers timely information to a travel expense system on carbon emissions from car, plane, train and bus travels. Via Bing Maps, the journey is mapped from inception to the final destination. When you fill out the form, the system gives information on the distance travelled and total carbon emissions. You can see in the graphs, the environmental impact of a recent trip, and your carbon footprint in the past year, or other period of time. You can get information on how many trips you made, journey times, which transport you selected and carbon dioxide emissions.”

“If you work as environmental coordinator or administrator, you will automatically receive data from the system and can produce reports on how business travel contributes to climate change. The information can also be presented in the form of graphs on the Intranet or on displays in the staff room, reception area and elsewhere.”

Calculate the environmental impacts in advance

The choice of travel is controlled in most organizations by cost, time and safety. Environmental issues have over the years found their way into many travel policies and IMPRESSION (AVTRYCK) Expense Management gives employees the opportunity to pre-test alternative modes of transportation to get information about the environmental impact.

“We argue that it has become a little more fun to fill out expense reports and one should not underestimate the pedagogy of the employees in a simple way to calculate the trip’s carbon footprint. Hopefully the information can help plan a more environmental trip. We also have a number of environmental coordinators who have said that we can save a lot of time by figuring out the environmental impact of business travel,” says Hagman.

The article was published in June 2013