Method notes

The Sustainability Report sets forth the economic, social and environmental performances of the Group, with the aim of providing the stakeholders  with the clearest, most complete and integrated information possible. This edition refers to the year 2012, and is the fifteenth report published by Acea annually.

The Sustainability Report, having obtained the approval of the Board of Directors, is published in concurrence with the approval of the Annual statutory financial statements by the shareholders’ meeting.The new timing, introduced as from the 2011 edition, is due to the wishes of senior company management and has been formalised by the Reporting and CSR development lines adopted in November 2011 by Acea SpA’s Ethics Committee.


In this edition, Acea has followed the reporting standards and performance indicators of the GRI-G3.1 Guidelines1, the most recent version published by the Global Reporting Initiative, supplemented by the indicators envisaged by the Sector Supplement for Utility Companies in the electricity sector.

The sustainability report also presents, in the Environmental Accounts, which is an integral part of the same, around 250 items which quantify the physical flows generated by the Group’s activities: the production values, the factors used (the resources) and the outputs (the waste and emissions).

Since 2007, Acea has been involved in the Global Compact (GC) initiative, acknowledging coherence between the ten principles supported by the United Nations through the “Global Pact” and the ethical guidelines established by the Group’s value codes ( 2012 version).The Communication on Progress (CoP) envisaged by the Global Impact is supplemented in the sustainability report, by means of a reconciliation of the GRI indicators with the Global Compact principles, as a result of the agreement between the two organisations.

Content and structure of the document 

The contents of this Report aim to fulfil the expectations of the various stakeholders in terms of information in a clear and balanced way and are provided according to the indications provided in the GRI-G3.1 Guidelines appropriately linked up to the Company’s business and operating context. Account was taken of the legal nature of the company (the Parent Company, Acea SpA, is listed on the Stock Exchange), the relationships between the holding company and the other Group companies, the corporate mission (Acea is a Utility company), the sectors the Group operates in (energy, water and waste management), of the country - Italy - in which the activities are mainly carried out and the types of stakeholders with whom the Acea interacts.
In order to more fully apply the principle of materiality, indicated in the GRI Guidelines and adequately highlight the topics of greatest importance in terms of sustainability, in 2011 Acea appointed a specialised company to identify, map and hierarchise, within the economic, social and environmental areas, the priority elements to be included in the report, taking into account the low, average or high “importance” assigned to them on the basis of an analysis2 of the internal and external factors checked with respect to a benchmark. On conclusion of these survey activities, elements emerged summarily represented in table No. 1, for just the average and high importance assessments, each of which in reality has more complex breakdowns3. Acea takes the results of the analysis on the factors of importance into due account, in accordance with the priorities indicated by the corporate strategic choices and the Guidelines adopted for the reporting.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), set up in England in 1997 by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), became an independent, official centre in 2002 so as to provide support to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and collaborate with the Global Compact project (organized by the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan). The GRI-G3 Guidelines, published in 2011, are available on the website; they present the reporting standards to be followed when drawing up the sustainability report and the economic, social and environmental performance indicators to be published. The Electric Utilities Sector Supplement published by the GRI in 2009 and applied to the Acea Sustainability Report, is available online.
The documentary analysis, carried out in 2011, has been supplemented by interviews with internal stakeholders and focus groups with external stakeholders and envisaged the processing of the “mapping of the importance” both for the report then being drafted (2010 version) and for the subsequent editions.
For example, the “Water” aspect, of high importance for environmental matters, includes subjects such as: the quality of the water and the protection of the springs, the reduction of the losses, the quality levels supplied by the service, making customers aware of the value and the quality of the water resource, the regulation of the integrated water service, which also have economic and social implications.

Table No. 1 – Materiality: mapping of the importance   


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 The 2012 Sustainability Report complies with the standard elements and performance indicators required by the GRI-G3 Guidelines (core and additional) and the Sector Supplement, with the highest level of application (A+), which envisages, besides the confirmation of all the indicators, also the review of the report by an external company with proven experience regarding assurance activities. (see table No. 2).
The report offers additional information on the Group activities , with respect to that envisaged by the Guidelines, on a consistent basis with the principle of materiality and with the singularities of the company.

Table No. 2 – Level of application of the GRI-G3.1 Guidelines


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The structure of the 2012 Sustainability Report is divided up into three sections:  Corporate identity, The socio-economic relationships with the stakeholders and Environmental issues, integrated by the Environmental Accounts (see chart No. 1).
The report is disclosed by means of publication on the institutional website – -, on the company intranet and distributed on a pen drive to a selected mailing list (around 750 recipients) and at the time of participation in events.

Chart n. 1 - Structure of the 2012 Sustainability Report



Boundaries of the report

The area which the reporting refers to - the “boundaries of the report” - was established on a consistent basis with the dimension of the Group (also see the section Group Profile) and without omitting significant information or data

The wider boundary considered is that relating to economic information, which refers to the complex made up of Acea SpA and the other companies included within the scope of consolidation, as defined in the 2012 Consolidated Financial Statements4. Each time this area changes, according to the effective availability of the data - to be placed in relation with a progressive centralised management and the significance of the same -, this is appropriately indicated in the text5.

The activities carried out by the holding company and the main operating companies in the water, energy and waste management sector, which the most significant economic, social and environmental performances of the Group derive from, have been subject to due reporting, to ensure comparability of the data over time.

Box – Definitions and boundary  

“Acea Group”, “Acea”: here reference is made to all the companies which fall within the scope of consolidation, including Acea SpA.
“Acea SpA”, “Parent Company” and “Holding Company”: these are terms used on an equal basis.
The main companies which fall within the boundaries of the report, in addition to Acea SpA, are: Acea Distribuzione, Acea Reti e Servizi Energetici, Acea Energia holding, Acea Energia and Acea Produzione; A.R.I.A. (within which the companies EALL, Terni En.A, Enercombustibili and Ergo Ena were merged via incorporation), Aquaser, Acea Ato 2, Acea Ato 5, LaboratoRI, Acque, Gori, Acquedotto del Fiora, Publiacqua, Umbra Acque, and Acea8cento.
Where possible, the boundary of the report also includes other companies and this is specified as and when appropriate in the document.

4Available on the website (Shareholders section).
5In various cases, the reporting area of The socio-economic relationships with the stakeholders and environmental issues sections does not coincide with the scope of consolidation despite referring to the main Group companies. These differences take place because not all the data (for example that relating to the Human resources or Suppliers) is collated and handled at centralized level. These boundary changes are always indicated in the text, in boxes entitled The boundaries.

Data reliability and retrieval system 

The data and information published in the Sustainability Report is essentially provided by the responsible divisions (dataowner); it is additionally supplemented and specified, by means of in-depth discussion and communication between the internal work group, which draws up the sustainability report, and the Industrial Areas and the Divisions directly concerned, until final validation. If necessary, the data is reprocessed or reclassified according to the adopted Guidelines.
Before publication, the report is entrusted to an independent consulting firm, specialised in assurance, with whom Acea does not have any joint interests or any other links. The independent firm is tasked with checking the adequacy of the methods for drawing up the document, examining the contents, in all the parts including the Environmental accounts, checking the consistency with the Guidelines adopted (GRI-G3.1 and Sector Supplement) and issuing a full opinion on its clarity, completeness and transparency. (see the Opinion Letter of the consulting firm).

 Gauging systems

 Social and environmental quantitative data has been produced:

  • where possible, by means of the direct gauging of the parameters correlated to the phenomena studied in this report;
  • in other cases, by means of the calculation or the estimate of the values of the parameters based on the best information available.

Each piece of environmental data is commented on in the explanatory notes to the Environmental Accounts, specifying whether this is the result of calculation, gauging or estimation.

 Box – Other sources of information on Group performances: the website 

On the website, it is possible to access up-to-date information on the Group:

  • the “Regulations and Values” section contains documents and information on Corporate Governance, the Ethics Committee and the text of the new Group Code of Ethics ( 2012 version);
  • the economic-financial reports, press releases, presentations, etc. are published in the “Shareholders” section. On the “Highlights” web page it is possible to view, interactively, the graphs relating to the main economic-financial data of the last few years, compare said data and compare it with that of the leading national competitors; Access is also gained to a portal with the on-line version of the Consolidated Financial Statements (in Italian and English);
  • in the “Sustainability” section - amended and updated in 2012 -data and information on Group performances, data relating to the various stakeholders, a section of interesting news are available, along with the complete text, in PDF format, of the 2012 Sustainability Report and previous editions; in addition, an on-line version of the report which can be consulted interactively, is available in Italian and English;
  • the “Quality and Safety” section contains information on the two subjects;
  • there is a section dedicated to “Suppliers”, with a part concerning legislation, Qualification Systems and on-line tenders, and, for Customers, information and links to the websites of the companies which manage the services;
  • in the section “Communication” there is an area dedicated to the press and to prominent news, as well as information on the advertising campaigns created and on the main events organised with the aid of Acea.

Requests for additional information can also be sent to the following e-mail address: