C3.3.2.4 Absolute or Normalised?


Absolute Data

Absolute data is information on performance that is usually collected in terms of absolute units of measurement (e.g. tonnes, cubic metres, gigajoules, etc) over a given period of time, usually per annum.


Normalised Data

Normalised data makes relationships between figures visible, by relating two absolute figures to each other. For example:

  • Cubic meters of water used per employee.
  • Kilometers traveled per liter of fuel.
  • The proportion of recycled waste to total waste.
  • Tonnage of waste produced per £m turnover.
  • Total CO2 emissions per unit of output.


It is important to used normalised data when setting objectives and targets. For example, in some situations you may wish to tie the target into a turnover value to enable a comparison to be made regardless of whether the organisation’s activity increases (or decreases). If turnover were to reduce significantly that may have the effect of reducing waste produced, even though no meaningful improvements had been made. Conversely, if turnover were to increase significantly and the waste produced was dramatically reduced, this is likely to be an even more significant improvement that should be quantified to highlight such successes.


Here are some examples:

Environmental Impact Absolute Data Normalized Data
Greenhouse gas emissions Total annual carbon dioxide emissions Carbon dioxide emissions per employee, per unit of output, etc.
Water consumption Total annual water consumption Water consumption per employee, per unit of output, etc.
Waste output Total annual waste output in tonnes Waste output per employee, or per unit of output, etc.