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New Higg FEM: What to Expect

What is the Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM)?

The Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM) is a sustainability assessment tool that standardizes how facilities measure and evaluate their environmental performance, year over year.

The Higg FEM is designed to:

  • Measure and quantify the sustainability impacts of a facility
  • Reduce redundancy in measuring and reporting sustainability performance
  • Drive business value through reducing risk and uncovering efficiencies
  • Create a common means and language to communicate sustainability to stakeholders

A facility should complete and post one Higg FEM per year. The reporting period for the Higg FEM runs every year from January 1 to May 31. All modules must be posted by the May 31 deadline.

What is new in the Higg FEM?

Key updates in the new Higg FEM include:

  • Improved assessment questions that drive at performance improvement throughout the module
  • Applicability tests to ensure a facility only answers and is scored on questions applicable to its facility type and processes
  • Updated scoring to incentivize performance improvement
  • Automatic unit conversions
  • Automatic calculations quantifying total reductions from baseline and usage data
  • Automatic data normalization by production unit
  • A new and improved chemicals management section developed in collaboration with Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) and Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)
  • Detailed question guidance including question intent, technical guidance, and how the question will be verified

How long will it take to complete the Higg FEM?

The time required to complete the Higg FEM will vary depending on how much of the required data and information you have already collected prior to starting the module. Typically, it will take between 2-4 weeks to complete the full module.

For step by step guidance on how to start and complete your module in the new higg.org platform, please review the Higg.org Platform: Completing Your Module guide.

What to Know Before You Get Started

Facilities should be honest and transparent when completing assessments. The Higg FEM is NOT a pass/fail assessment, rather a tool that identifies opportunities to improve.

When in doubt about whether your answer qualifies as “Yes,” it is recommended to take a more conservative approach and answer “Partial” or “No or Unknown,” where applicable. When you have selected “Yes” to a question, you should provide as much supporting information as possible in the sub-questions and file upload.

Question Structure

The Higg FEM is comprised of primary and secondary questions. Primary questions are numbered, and secondary questions are listed below the primary questions and colored blue. Question types in the Higg FEM may be one of the following:

  • Select one
  • Multi-select (select all that apply)
  • Enter text
  • Enter a number
  • Upload a file (please note some file upload questions are required, and others are just suggested – required questions will have a red asterisk * next to the question.)

Note: If you answer “Yes” to a question, additional follow-up questions will appear that you must answer to fully complete the question and earn points. 

Completing Level 1 Questions First

Each section of the Higg FEM consists of a three-level structure (Levels 1, 2, and 3) of questions, which represent increasing levels of environmental practices.            

  • Level 1 – Tracking and Awareness: Level 1 achievement indicates the facility is adequately tracking sustainability performance and has a good understanding of the facility’s environmental impacts
  • Level 2 – Baselining and Improving Performance: Level 2 achievement indicates the facility is baselining, setting targets, has an action plan, and is starting to make environmental impact reductions.
  • Level 3 – Leading Practice: Level 3 achievement indicates the facility’s exemplary sustainability leadership in making continuous reductions and/or demonstrating true industry best practice (e.g., use of renewable energy and/or closed loop water recycling).

In the new Higg FEM, facilities must meet Level 1 practices before moving on to Level 2 or Level 3. You will not be able to view or answer Level 2 or Level 3 questions unless your factory has implemented practices from Level 1 questions. This ensures basic practices are well-established before more advanced practices are assessed.

Applicability Questions

The new Higg FEM will include qualifier questions to ensure you only answer questions applicable to your factory type. These questions are called “applicability tests.” You will be asked applicability questions at the start of four sections of the Higg FEM:

  • Water Use: are you a high risk/heavy water user? Or a low risk/light water user?
  • Air Emissions: do you have sources of operating, refrigerating, or production air emissions?
  • Wastewater treatment: What type of wastewater do you produce and how do you treat it?
  • Chemicals: do you use chemicals in production processes or not?

Scoring

For information on Higg FEM scoring, please review the Higg FEM Scoring and Applicability guide.

Auto-calculations and Data Normalization

The new Higg FEM will ask questions regarding baselines and whether your facility normalizes baselines, targets, and impact reductions. For more information please review the Higg FEM Baselining & Data Normalization guide.

Starting January 2018 Higg FEM will show automatic calculations in the Energy, Water Use, and Waste sections for Level 2 and Level 3 questions referring to:

  • Baselines
  • Targets
  • Reductions 

Note: to avoid confusion answering these types of questions, please wait until January 2018 to start completing any questions in the sections outlined above.

Detailed Question Guidance

Every question in the Higg FEM offers a hint right below the primary question to help you better understand how to answer the question.

If you are looking for more detailed guidance on a question, you can click the “?” symbol next to the question. This will take you to the Higg FEM How to Higg Guide.

  • The Higg FEM How to Higg Guide provides guidance for every question in the Higg FEM. For every question, the guide will explain:
    • The intent of the question
    • Any technical guidance for that question
    • How the question will be verified

Who to Engage on Higg FEM

Make sure that you have engaged the relevant subject matter experts at your facility to complete the Higg FEM. Below is a checklist of suggested personnel that you can engage to get the most accurate information for each Higg Index Section:

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