FEM – Getting Started

Learn the Basics

1. What is the 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 inefficiencies
  • Create a common means and language to communicate sustainability to stakeholders

A facility should complete and post one Higg FEM per year. The self-assessment reporting period for the Higg FEM 2020 cycle is from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 for the data from January 1st 2020 to December 31, 2020. All FEM 2020 self-assessment modules must be posted by the April 30, 2021 deadline. If any facilities plan to do the verification, the verification conducting period for FEM 2020 cycle is from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021. All FEM 2020 verified modules must be posted by the December 31, 2021 deadline.

2. What does FEM measure?

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 measures:

  • Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
  • Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emission
  • Water Use
  • Wastewater
  • Emission to Air (if applicable)
  • Waste Management
  • Chemical Use and Management

3. What are the benefits to use Higg FEM?

The Higg FEM provides greater value and insight in the following ways:

  • Relieves audit-fatigue. The Higg FEM is only conducted once per calendar year.
  • Offers questions according to facility needs, leading to better, actionable data, and more insight into your supply chain.
  • Enables rapid learning through identification of sustainability hot spots, existing level of performance, and improvement opportunities.
  • Calculates scores and allows data verification with increased accuracy. Helps to easy share with your business partners.
  • Catalyzes sustainability education and provides a clear guidance.
  • Drives improvements over time through benchmarking of environmental sustainability performance.

4. What is new for the 2019 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
  • Automatic GHG calculation
  • Detailed question guidance including question applicability, question intent, technical guidance, and how the question will be verified
  • A new and improved chemicals management section developed in collaboration with the following:

5. What is new for the 2020 Higg FEM?

Key updates in the Higg FEM 2020 include:

  • 100% completion rate for all required questions to submit and post your module.
  • Allow multiple files to be uploaded for the permit question in Site Info and Permit section.  Click here to learn more. 
  • Adding the Facility Preview section which enables quick assessment of a facility’s environmental sustainability readiness. Click here to learn more about Facility Preview.
  • Improved assessment questions that drive at performance improvement throughout the module. Click here to learn more about the FEM 2020 content updates.
  • Detailed question guidance including question applicability, question intent, technical guidance, and how the question will be verified. Click here to learn more about the FEM 2020 content guidance updates.

6. What else should you know about FEM?

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 System Guide guide.

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 review the guidance for the question in the Higg FEM How to Higg Guide below.

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

7. What Is Facility Preview?

Table of Contents

1) What is Facility Preview? 

2) What does Facility Preview measure? 

3) What is the benefit to using Facility Preview?

4) Who is Facility Preview for?

5) What else about Facility Preview? 

6) As a facility, what do I need to know about Facility Preview?

7) As a brand, what do I need to know about Facility Preview?

 

1) What is Facility Preview? 

Facility Preview is a new feature that complements Higg FEM on higg.org platform. It replaces the mechanism by which the brands assess compliance with their codes of conduct. It streamlines the collection of sustainability data and increases data accountability in the industry.

  • Facilities can use Facility Preview to assess their foundational environmental performance.
  • Manufacturers, brands, and retailers can use Facility Preview to quickly identify opportunities and hotspots in their extended value chain. 
  • Facility Preview reduces duplication of assessments and increases efficiency for facilities. 

Facility Preview was developed by Higg, in partnership with the SAC, based on feedback from Higg customers and SAC members. Brands and retailers can use Facility Preview to quickly identify opportunities and hotspots in their extended value chain. In collaboration with their value chain partners, brands and retailers can use data from Facility Preview to make informed decisions about how and where to strategically invest in facility sustainability improvements.

Facility Preview does not provide a comprehensive view of value chain performance, it is an entry point. Facility Preview shows a facility’s primary-level environmental performance, informing decision making, including readiness for full Higg FEM assessment. Facility Preview includes Level One Higg FEM questions, plus several questions unique to Facility Preview. It may be completed independently or in addition to a Higg FEM assessment platform guidance and click here to learn more about how to enable the Facility Preview section through the Advanced Adoption Services. 

2) What does Facility Preview measure? 

Facility Preview is a way for brands and retailers to quickly evaluate the environmental performance of facilities at a foundational level. Available on the Higg platform, Facility Preview enables quick assessment of a facility’s environmental sustainability readiness. 

Facility Preview includes Level One Higg FEM questions, plus several questions unique to Facility Preview. It is an entry point to the Higg Facility Tools, which are comprehensive environmental and social sustainability assessments for global facilities.

3) What is the benefit to using Facility Preview?

Facility Preview replaces the mechanism by which the brands assess compliance with their codes of conduct. It streamlines the collection of sustainability data and increases data accountability in the industry.

  • Facilities can use Facility Preview to assess their foundational environmental performance.
  • Manufacturers, brands, and retailers can use Facility Preview to quickly identify opportunities and hotspots in their extended value chain. 
  • Facility Preview reduces duplication of assessments and increases efficiency for facilities. 

4) Who is Facility Preview for?

Facility Preview is ideal to assess the environmental sustainability readiness of facilities in the extended value chain. Facility Preview quickly assesses a facility’s readiness to start on a more comprehensive environmental sustainability journey. Facilities can share Facility Preview data with brand and retail value chain partners to efficiently identify sustainability improvement and strategic investment opportunities.

Facility Preview is optional. Facilities must be invited to use the feature. For the 2020 cadence, members must be subscribed to the Advanced Adoption Services tier to unlock the feature and have access to the support needed to manage it. Using Facility Preview is not mandatory to fulfill SAC member requirements

5) What else about Facility Preview? 

Facility Preview does not provide a comprehensive view of value chain performance, it is an entry point. So it doesn’t replace the Higg FEM assessment. 

Facility Preview doesn’t offer verification for individual Facility Preview section submission only before posting the full Higg FEM currently. If the facility Posts their full FEM 2020, the facility may choose to purchase vFEM and go through verification using the standard verification workflow. 

Facility Preview does not offer scoring or a benchmarking feature.

6) As a facility, what do I need to know about Facility Preview?

Facilities need to be invited to join the Facility Preview section. Once you have purchased the Higg FEM 2020 and a brand has added your facility to a Facility Preview cadence, then the Facility Preview feature will automatically be enabled. So you need to check with your brands to confirm the requirement.

Please click here to learn more about Facility Preview content guidance and click here to learn more about Facility Preview platform guidance.

7) As a brand, what do I need to know about Facility Preview?

For the 2020 cadence, you must be subscribed to the Advanced Adoption Services tier to unlock the feature and have access to the support needed to manage the Facility Preview enabling for your facilities.

Please click here to learn more about Facility Preview platform guidance and click here to learn more about how to enable the Facility Preview section through the Advanced Adoption Services.

 

What to Prepare

8. How long will it take you to complete the Higg FEM?

The time required to complete the Higg FEM will vary depending on your understanding level of the questions and how much of the required data and information you have already collected prior to starting the module. Typically, it will take between 3-6 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 Complete a Higg FEM guide.

 

9. Who to engage on the 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:

Suggested Personnel - FEM

 

How to Get Started

10. Overall Process of Navigating FEM

11. How do I roll my previous data forward?

In this guidance, you will learn: 

What is “Rolling Forward”?

What can be “Rolling Forward”?

How to roll forward? 

“Roll forward” or copy data from a prior year’s Higg FEM assessments

Facilities can “roll forward” or copy the previous year’s Higg FEM or FSLM data to a new Higg FEM or FSLM assessment and share the new Higg FEM or FSLM assessment with previous connections.

This will save facilities time, as they will not need to enter the data in the new Higg FEM or FSLM assessment if the data is the same as the previous year’s. They can then share this new Higg FEM or FSLM assessment with the previous connections.

Rolling Forward rules:

  • Any data not relevant to your current year won’t be rolled forward to the new Higg FEM or FSLM assessment. For example, your previous annual energy consumption data won’t be rolled forward to the new Higg FEM or FSLM assessment because the energy consumption data is different each year.
  • You can only see the roll forward feature when you have completed a previous Higg FEM or FSLM assessment and purchased a brand new Higg FEM or FSLM. For example, if you completed a Higg FEM 2019 self-assessment and you will purchase a 2020 Higg FEM self-assessment, you can roll forward your 2019 Higg FEM or FSLM data to the new 2020 Higg FEM or FSLM assessment.
  • Currently, this functionality is only available for Higg FEM or FSLM facility accounts.

Guidance:

  • Login to your account in Higg.org and go to the FEM or FSLM homepage dashboard.
  • Click “Edit FEM/FSLM” and you will see the data rolling forward option.
  • Click “Yes” to choose the data rolling forward option. You can choose to roll forward your previous FEM or FSLM self-assessment data or verified assessment data to the new FEM or FSLM self-assessment.
  • Choose “Yes” if you want to share this new FEM or FSLM module with the previous connected accounts and then hit “Continue”.

 

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