S-CORE™(Sustainability--Competency, Opportunity, Reporting & Evaluation) is a multi-purpose sustainability assessment tool that speeds up the implementation of organizational sustainable practices. A tool that works equally well for businesses and not-for-profits, S-CORE™ helps organizations determine where they are on the road to sustainability and identify and prioritize opportunities to accelerate their journey forward. Originally developed by AXIS Performance Advisors in collaboration with the International Sustainable Development Foundation and the Zero Waste Alliance, the web-based version of S-CORE™ was created by Sustainable Measures, LLC to allow easier access by a wider audience of users. In 2014, AXIS and Sustainable Measures turned ownership of S-CORE™ over to ISSP in order to put the tool into the public domain and accelerate the implementation of sustainable best practices.
Using the online version of S-CORE™ provides access to benchmark data that allows an organization to compare itself to the current 'state-of-the-art' of sustainable business practices. That information can then be used internally to make strategic business planning decisions.
S-CORE™ includes more than 100 practices and is organized by functional areas (top management, facilities, HR, finance, etc.) that are part of practically all organizations, making it easy to assign accountability and responsibility while fostering organizational understanding and dialogue. Each practice describes three levels of sustainable activities so that organizations can see where they are now and where they need to go long-term. These results feed into the organization's sustainability planning process.
The results also feed into the S-CORE™ benchmark data that can be used by all organizations to compare their progress to other similar organizations. Special sector supplements include practice areas specific to different industry sectors such as manufacturing, construction, utilities and government. ISSP is encouraging its members and partners to create sector supplements for additional industries as well as add to the benchmark data to improve understanding of the ‘state-of-the-art’ of sustainability organizational best practices.
S-CORE™ is useful for organizations at all levels of sustainability implementation. Those just starting the sustainability journey can use S-CORE™ to begin the dialogue internally and prioritize next steps. Organizations already committed to sustainability can use S-CORE™ as a rapid assessment of how well sustainability is being integrated into their corporate culture and practices as well as to benchmark themselves against other organizations. Sustainability leaders can use S-CORE™ to engage stakeholders as well as identify industry best practices and opportunities to collaborate to truly move sustainability forward.
Training is needed to become a S-CORE™ licensee and ISSP will begin offering classes in July, 2014. ISSP members will receive a discount on the training fee although training is open to all sustainability professionals. Once trained, S-CORE™ licensees are assessed a small use fee that allows ISSP to maintain the database. Existing S-CORE™ licensees will still be able to use S-CORE™ provided that they register with ISSP and maintain their license credentials. While pricing details are still being worked out, the intent is to keep costs low - below $100 for a single assessment - with bulk pricing options and discounts for ISSP members.
S-CORE™ was first published in The Business Guide to Sustainability by Darcy Hitchcock and Marsha Willard and continues to dovetail with the book to provide frameworks, tools and strategies for improving organizational sustainability performance.
FAQs -- Frequently Asked Questions about S-CORE™
FAQs -- Frequently Asked Questions about S-CORE™
Is a list of organizations that make up the benchmark data available? Or a list of the number of organizations by industry sector?
The information about any particular company is proprietary, so we do not provide information about which organizations are included in the benchmark data. In addition, the data for the 10 common functional areas (senior mgmt, HR, purchasing, etc) is for all organizations that have taken the assessment regardless of industry sector. This is intentional because the practices in those common functional areas are, as the name says, common to all organizations: for example, senior management needs to have a vision and show commitment regardless of the industry. For the S-CORE™ sector supplements, the information, by definition, is only for organizations in that industry.
Do the businesses in the benchmark data operate only in the US or are they multinational?
Currently, most of the organizations are in the US. Some are multinationals. We expect that to change as S-CORE™ is more widely used.
How often and what is the process for updating the benchmark data?
The benchmark data is updated when there have been sufficient new datapoints added to the system. The last time it was updated as when there were about 150 organizations in the system. Since S-CORE™ is just being transitioned over to ISSP, we will have to look at the timing for the next update of the benchmark. The process includes a review of the new data to ensure that any outliers are accurate and then a simple averaging of all the numerical results for each practice.
Does a client’s data become part of the benchmark automatically or do they have the option of opting in or out?
If a client's data is in the system, it will be included in the benchmark when it is updated. Since the only information included in the benchmark is the numeric score for each practice and the client's numbers are averaged with all the others, the client's results can't be distinguished from anyone elses.
What is the fee for generating a report?
The price will be $95 per assessment - the report is the result of the assessment so there is no additional charge for the report. There will be a discount of $20 for ISSP members. Bulk discounts will also be available. At the moment we do not have a specific discount schedule but will be developing this in response to requests.
What is the difference between S-CORE™ and SPaRK?
S-CORE™ is a sustainability assessment tool, SPaRK is a sustainability planning tool. They work very well together because they were initially developed by the same people, Darcy Hitchcock and Marsha Willard. S-CORE is a rapid assessment process that you can use as a starting point if you are just beginning to work on sustainability. The results of S-CORE™ would then feed into your use of SPaRK to create a plan for implementing sustainability. Both can then be used again a year or two down the road to evaluate how far you have gotten and what the next steps should be.
Do you need a licensed consultant to do a S-CORE™ assessment or can an organization do it themselves?
Anyone can buy the book and use it to do an assessment of their own organization, although the book does not include the benchmark data. If you want to know how your organization compares to all others that have taken the S-CORE™ assessment, you need to be a licensed assessor. However you don't need to hire an external consultant. An internal consultant, ie, someone in the company who works on sustainability can take the training and become a licensed S-CORE™ assessor. This not only gives you access to the benchmark data, it also allows you to compare different parts of your organization to see how well sustainability in being integrated throughout the corporate culture. For example, if you have multiple locations, you can do a S-CORE™ assessment for each facility and see where there are common barriers to overcome or best practices that can be shared. For very large organizations, like a statewide university system or multinational corporation, you can also compare how different departments or divisions are embracing sustainability.
What do I need to do to become a licensed S-CORE™ assessor?
Becoming a licensed S-CORE™ Assessor requires the successful completion of two courses:
- The one-month Assessing Organizational Sustainability using S-CORE™ course, either live or self-study, and
- The two-to-three month S-CORE™ Master Class.
The Master Class requires an additional fee ($750 for non-members or $650 for members) and is scheduled based on interested cohorts. The Master Class is centered around a practicum, where an ISSP Master S-CORE™ Assessor will guide you through completing an assessment with a client of your choice and will support you as you:
- Prepare you to Facilitate an assessment
- Review the client data
- Review your report before sending it to the client
- Reflect on the experience and define next steps
If you're interested in becoming a licensed S-CORE™ Assessor, please contact us.
What size organization does S-CORE™ work for?
A S-CORE™ assessment is best done for organizations with 25+ employees, although the small business S-CORE™ assessment will work for even smaller organizations. It can be very useful for organizations that have multiple facilities in different locations or multiple large departments as a way to compare the level of understanding and implementation of sustainability practices across departments or across facilities.