How to perform a sustainability audit

A sustainability audit assesses your business’s environmental and social impacts, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, and identifying areas where you can make effective change to achieve your sustainability objectives. Here, we guide you through the main steps involved in performing a sustainability audit.

Establish your objectives and plan your approach.

The first step in conducting a sustainability audit is to define your objectives. What specific aspects of your business’s operations do you want to assess? Common areas to consider include energy consumption, waste management, supply chain ethics, staff engagement and training, and community engagement.

Forming an audit team will be helpful, so you have a variety of voices and experiences inputting to the work. Your team should include, where possible, individuals with some knowledge, or an interest in developing knowledge, of sustainability, compliance, and relevant regulations.

Make use of existing guidance and templates to help get you started. We have a Net Zero Toolkit for Businesses that can help you identify potential areas for change and action. Lloyds Bank have also produced a helpful guide, and The Carbon Trust have a guide specifically on performing a carbon audit.

Gather the data

Collect data on your business’ operations and practices related to your audit objectives. This may include energy bills, waste disposal records, supplier information, and voluntary or community activity. The Government provides guidelines on carbon reporting and reducing energy consumption, which can be invaluable during this stage.

Identify areas for improvement

Use the audit findings to identify areas where your business can improve its sustainability practices. This might involve setting specific targets for reducing carbon emissions, or adopting greener supply chain practices or a local-first procurement policy.

Develop an action plan

Create a detailed action plan to address the issues and gaps you’ve identified. Your plan should outline specific actions, responsible parties, timelines, and measurable targets. Align these actions with your own objectives, as well as any regulations and standards you need to meet. Then you can begin implementing your action plan and monitoring your progress. The British Business Bank has further guidance on creating an action plan.

Conducting a sustainability audit for your business is a proactive step in demonstrating your commitment to responsible business practices and aligning with relevant regulations. By adhering to sustainability regulations and consistently improving your practices, your business can contribute to a more sustainable and ethical future.

Learn more

Find out how to create a sustainability plan

Read our guide to the circular economy for tips on improving practice and processes