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Center for Corporate Climate Leadership

Excellence in GHG Management (Goal Setting Certificate)

The application period for the 2015 Climate Leadership Awards closed on September 12, 2014.


Recognizes organizations that publicly report and verify organization-wide greenhouse gas inventories and publicly set aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.

Application and Submission Instructions
  1. Review the general eligibility requirements and the specific evaluation criteria for the GHG Management: Goal Setting category specified below.
  2. Download the 2015 Excellence in GHG Management (Goal Setting Certificate) Application form to review questions, provide requested information, and prepare materials as needed.
  3. Once the application is complete and materials are finalized, save a final copy on your own computer.
  4. Please submit final materials by e-mail to applications@ClimateLeadershipAwards.org with the following subject line: Application for Excellence in GHG Management (Goal Setting Certificate).

Please Note: If applying for an award in more than one category, submissions must be made separately for each. An organization may not reapply for an award category in which it has won in the past two years (e.g., an organization that won in a category in 2014 may not reapply for the same category until the 2017 awards, however, it can apply in another category if it meets the eligibility requirements for that category).

Early bird applications were due by August 8, 2014. All other applications were due by September 12, 2014.

Goal Setting Certificate Eligibility Requirements

Applicants for the Excellence in GHG Management (Goal Setting Certificate) must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Have significant operations in the United States. Given the global nature of climate change, the majority of greenhouse gas emissions reductions do not have to occur in the U.S.
  • Meet one of the following descriptions:
    • Legally-recognized corporate organization with annual revenue over $100 million; or
    • Governmental entity or academic organization with annual budget over $100 million.
  • Publicly report a comprehensive GHG inventory, which accounts for all GHG emissions from scope 1 & 2 sources, at a minimum, and is third-party verified to a reasonable or limited level of assurance consistent with ISO 14064-3, conducted by a verification body accredited to ISO 14065, or critically reviewed by a third-party.
  • Have a current, publicly-set, aggressive, organization-wide GHG emissions reduction goal.
  • Identify at least three significant planned or implemented GHG mitigation activities that will contribute to achieving the GHG emissions reduction goal.

Goal Setting Certificate Evaluation Criteria

GHG Inventory Requirements

Publicly disclosed inventory of all scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions within an entity's organizational boundary (U.S., North American, or global operations). Scope 3 emissions must also be reported if they are incorporated in the reduction goal. The inventory must be reported in accordance with international best practice and third-party verified to at least a limited level of assurance or have been through a third-party critical review (details below).

A comprehensive organization-wide GHG emissions inventory for the goal's base year is required as a supplemental document. The inventory must be broken out by scope and include CO2 (including direct biogenic CO2 reported outside of the scopes), CH4, N2O, SF6, PFC, and HFC emissions within goal period's geographic boundary. Base year inventory must be verified to at least a limited level of assurance or have been through a third-party critical review (details below).

The goal's inventory boundary must remain consistent throughout the goal period. Up to 5% of the GHG inventory (for goal period) could be accounted for using simplified estimation methods. Misstatements (including omissions) leading to a cumulative over or under estimation of the GHG inventory by less than 5% are considered immaterial and will also be accepted.

GHG Reduction Goal Requirements

Have one of the following types of current, public GHG reduction goals:

  • An aggressive, absolute organization-wide GHG emissions reduction goal (U.S., North American, or global operations).
  • An intensity goal accompanied by a parallel and translatable absolute reduction goal. Furthermore, public communication about the goal must clearly highlight the absolute reduction aspect of the intensity goal.

Flexibility in goal setting is important because every organization has a unique set of GHG emissions sources and reduction opportunities. Aggressive GHG reduction goals, however, must significantly exceed credible and transparent sector-specific, business-as-usual performance forecasts. Reduction targets set using other aggressive benchmarks or "context-based sustainability" approaches, such as those informed by GHG emission level reductions required by the scientific community to limit a global temperature rise to 2°C are also acceptable provided they also meet the aforementioned sector-specific criteria. For more information on demonstrating the aggressiveness of a reduction goal through benchmarking, please refer to EPA's guidance.

Goal Setting Period Requirements

  • The goal must have been set between January 1, 2012 and September 12, 2014.
  • The goal period must be three years at a minimum.
  • The goal must be publicly communicated within a year of the goal being set and must be made public by the final application deadline.
  • Goals that have already been recognized through the Climate Leaders or Climate Leadership Awards programs are not eligible.

Disclosure of GHG Mitigation Activities

Identify at least three GHG mitigation activities that contributed to the reduction in organizational GHG emissions to demonstrate that planned reductions were not the result of organic growth or decline. These activities should reflect internal actions the applicant took to achieve the reduction, and should be in addition to any renewable electricity or offset purchases. Activities relating to supply chain management may be included if the goal incorporated scope 3 reductions.

Verification Requirements

GHG inventories must include both scope 1 and 2 emissions and must be third-party verified to a limited level of assurance or have been through a third-party critical review. If scope 3 emissions are included as part of the applicant's goal, these must also undergo third-party verification or critical review. If adjustments of 5% or more are made to the base year emissions, a third-party verification body or critical reviewer must attest to the accuracy of the base year adjustment.

If an organization changes its reporting approach (e.g., from a calendar year to a fiscal year-basis) during the goal period it must provide emissions data for the period of time not reflected in the achievement year inventory so as to demonstrate that the organization would have still achieved the original goal had the reporting approach not changed. Where provided, additional data will not be required to be verified, although verification is recommended. Alternately, organizations can elect to adjust the base year to conform to the reporting approach of the achievement year and obtain verification of the adjustment. In these circumstances, the organization does not need to re-evaluate the aggressiveness of the goal. However, if more significant changes are implemented, it may be necessary to demonstrate that the original goal is still aggressive.

Please note: Beginning with emissions year 2014, verification to at least a limited level of assurance consistent with ISO 14064-3, conducted by a verification body accredited to ISO 14065 will be required for all inventories submitted to comply with Climate Leadership Award application requirements. In addition, 2014 base years and achievement years used to qualify for the GHG Management recognition will be required to be verified to a reasonable level of assurance consistent with the above ISO standards. Inventories for emissions years prior to 2014 that have gone through limited assurance, third-party critical review or were previously reviewed and approved under EPA's former Climate Leaders program will be accepted for all applications.

For more information on levels of verification, see Frequent Questions.

Renewable Electricity

Renewable electricity purchases or on-site generation–demonstrated by the ownership and retirement of renewable energy instruments, like renewable energy certificates (RECs)–can be applied to scope 2 emissions associated with purchased electricity as part of a comprehensive GHG management strategy.


High-quality offsets can be used to reduce scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions as part of a comprehensive GHG management strategy. Offset projects must demonstrate that the reductions meet four key accounting principles:

  • Real: The quantified GHG reductions must represent actual emission reductions that have already occurred.
  • Additional: The GHG reductions must be surplus to regulation and beyond what would have happened in the absence of the project or in a business-as-usual scenario based on a performance standard methodology.
  • Permanent: The GHG reductions must be permanent or have guarantees to ensure that any losses are replaced in the future.
  • Verifiable: The GHG reductions must result from projects whose performance can be readily and accurately quantified, monitored, and verified annually.

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