Environmental Management Accounting in a University
Purpose: Investigates the feasibility of introducing environmental management accounting (EMA) at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Design/methodology/approach: Utilises an exploratory case study, including interviews with senior staff and an analysis of University reports and plans. Findings: Related sustainability activities have been implemented on a small scale, take a long time to become established, and are driven by a few concerned staff. Some aspects of environmental performance, such as electricity consumption, waste removal, fuel consumption and air travel miles, are measured and recorded, suggesting that the EMA information is systematically generated. However, EMA data are not reported on or compared to goals or targets. Interviewees, however, favoured the idea of EMA to communicate environmental performance, provide targets for comparison and enable better long-term decisions. Practical implications: There is significant potential for developing EMA at the University of Canterbury, but the concept is not well understood and therefore is unlikely to be an organising concept for systems development. EMA is a useful starting point for the University’s purported, but unrealised, commitment to sustainability reporting. Existing information systems could produce EMA information, but codes would have to be disaggregated and more software would be needed. Originality/value: Provides a rare empirical illustration of the practicability of introducing EMA in a University setting.