Climate change is happening, and while regulatory standards toward net-zero emissions are just starting to be put into place, organizations may soon be required to track and disclose their emission levels.

Under a new rule proposed by the SEC, public companies would be required to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions annually. The annual reports are meant to protect investors should the company’s emissions affect their earnings, as well as to highlight potential business risks associated with disasters linked to climate change, such as extreme weather. While these requirements wouldn’t be in effect for at least two years after the decision is made, it’s imperative for business leaders to take action now in order to fight climate change and prepare for the regulation. Luckily for building and security managers, much of this information is available through performance data that exists within their access control and property management systems.

The hybrid work environment, accelerated by the pandemic, has recently transformed the way most organizations operate to adapt to the “new normal.” Access control helped organizations manage the transition to a hybrid working model through remote credentialing, occupancy tracking and monitoring, providing insight into space utilization and trends during the pandemic. As security and facility leaders gear up for the proposed SEC reporting, access control should be thought of as a key data gathering component when it comes to the next transition in place: climate risk management.

Along with electricity, HVAC and water, access control should now be considered the fourth utility necessary for proper business operation. Access and occupancy data and trends can inform smart building features including thermostat and water sensors for regulating energy use in unused spaces and provide alerts on temperature changes or moisture levels detected in the air. As electricity accounts for the second-largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the US according to the EPA, this data is paramount when it comes to meeting sustainability goals.

Large-scale businesses from Apple to Walmart have already taken strides towards publishing climate disclosures as a pledge to become more carbon neutral. According to The Governance and Accountability Institute, 86% of institutional investors surveyed in 2021 were skeptical about companies’ ability to deliver on their sustainability goals. This SEC proposal calls on companies to standardize reporting requirements to leverage the reliability and transparency of their emission information, which modern access control technologies can offer to meet industry laws and regulations.

In order to meet these potential regulatory compliances, companies need to understand data from smart buildings and use that aggregated data to make decisions about consumption and inform their overall environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) programs.