NI Environmental Benchmarking Survey

Business in the Community’s Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey is NI’s FREE principal benchmarking exercise that helps businesses to examine, review, compare and improve their environmental performance, and champions organisations who are demonstrating action for real change.

Both the main Survey and Small Business Survey benchmark organisations against sector peers and leading Northern Ireland organisations, based on environmental management and performance in key areas, as well as the extent to which environmental business practices have been embedded within corporate strategies.

Taking part enables your organisation to publicly demonstrate its commitment to being environmentally responsible and transparent, and the process allows organisations to examine and reflect on their environmental performance, to help drive improvements.

The survey is open to all organisations in Northern Ireland and is widely recognised as NI’s principal environmental benchmarking exercise.

Since 1998, the Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey has pushed the environmental agenda to the fore and in 2023 more than 120 organisations of all sizes and from a range of industry sectors took part, including, construction, education, engineering, and food and drink.

Contact us about participating in 2024

Find out more about the Survey

Download the 2023 Report

2024 Resources

Why take part in the NI Environmental Benchmarking Survey?

Effective environmental management is a way for organisations to make tangible cost savings while contributing to a more sustainable future.

The Survey process enables organisations to examine their performance, to drive improvement, and to compare themselves with similar organisations. It’s not a competition: it’s a unique and valuable opportunity to learn from what others in your sector and other organisations are doing to improve their environmental impacts.

Through taking part in the Survey, your organisation is demonstrating ‘green leadership’.

The Survey can help organisations:

  • Identify environmental impacts
  • Measure progress to drive improvement
  • Raise awareness of the environment as an important, strategic and competitive issue at board level

It also provides valuable opportunities to share ideas and learn from what others are doing.

Scores – released at an event in November – are based on an organisation’s environmental management and performance in key areas, as well as the extent to which environmental business practices have been embedded within corporate strategies.

The Survey Process

The Survey is an online self-disclosure exercise. The length of time required to submit your entry will vary depending on your organisation, but we recommend starting as early as possible to allow lots of time to collate the information needed for submission.

The data you submit is treated in the strictest confidence and shared only with our Survey verification partner.

External verification happens in two stages. Firstly, the raw data from the Survey is analysed, to look for any inconsistencies, significant changes in organisations’ responses year-on-year, and missing data. Secondly, we select approximately 10% of participating organisations as a sample, to be verified in person.

Small Business Survey

If your organisation employs fewer than 25 people it is eligible for the Small Business Survey, a reduced version of the main Survey. This offers the opportunity to demonstrate the business’s environmental credentials alongside the major players in Northern Ireland.

Both versions of the Survey are free to complete.

George Dawson Award for Environmental Contribution

Does your colleague go above and beyond to support your organisation to be more sustainable?

The George Dawson Award is an annual recognition award that celebrates an individual’s contribution to improving the environmental performance of their organisation. Colleagues should nominate someone from within their own organisation that is seen as an environmental leader, raising awareness of environmental issues internally and in the wider community, and who introduces innovative solutions to environmental challenges.

Click here to find out more about the George Dawson Award.

How organisations are scored

Participating organisations are ranked by level: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze or Green. The higher the overall score, the higher the organisation will rank. There is no limit on the number of organisations that can fall into any one ‘band’.

The first two sections of the Survey relate to environmental management. For organisations to increase their score and advance up the rankings they need to have well-established management systems and must be able to demonstrate performance improvements with quantitative data, as most marks available are in this section (72%). Investing in improvement projects across climate, circular economy and resource use, and any other organisation-specific impact areas, will also increase scores in the performance section. Participants that show an ongoing performance improvement over several years will perform best, so those wishing to rise towards a higher band level must focus their efforts on continual improvement.

It is possible for participants of the Small Business Survey to achieve Silver, but they tend to achieve Bronze or Green level rankings.

How does the Survey work?

The Survey is split into the following sections: