Sustainability Trends Part 1: Trends Impacting Organizations

Posted on Apr 10, 2012 by Theresa Lehman


This post is part 1 of a 2 part series on sustainability trends. Part 1 will highlight trends impacting organizations while part 2 will focus on trends impacting the construction industry.

TOP TREND – New sustainable employee engagement programs, best practices and industry metrics will unleash people power to deliver change in sustainability performance in 2012.

Corporate Sustainability Programs: There is a large shift taking place from a PR-focused agenda to robust risk management and environmentally-conscious operations because sustainability is considered #1 for companies’ economic viability. Eighty percent of major corporations are planning to invest significantly in employee engagement in 2012 and will take a data-driven approach, focusing on emerging environmental issues and making heavy use of social media.

Corporate Responsibility & Accountability: Globally-positioned companies and publicly-held companies are being mandated and/or are getting shareholder pressure to report their carbon footprint (i.e. energy usage, water usage, transportation costs, waste and other identified important metrics). Shareholder pressure on corporate accountability was the fastest-growing motivator for sustainability initiatives in 2011. As the volume of enterprise data skyrockets, an industry is growing up around using this flood of information to help companies operate more efficiently and sustainably. Companies will increasingly be deploying sophisticated software as a key component of their sustainability strategy. Demand for corporate emissions management software is booming. Groom Energy predicts the market will increase 300% this year, while Pike Research says global expenditure for carbon accounting software and carbon management services is expected to grow from $705 million in 2010 to $5.7 billion by 2017.

Corporate Sustainability (Carbon Metric) Reporting: Global Consistency — World Resources Institute, the de facto authority on corporate sustainability reporting, has come out with new indirect “scope 3” reporting standards. Indirect “scope 3” impacts include: sustainability reporting of corporate supply chains, business travel, waste and procurement. The new standard signals greater consensus world-wide on indirect emissions accounting, making it easier for global organizations to report their carbon emissions. By measuring and bench-marking carbon emissions, more companies will invest in reducing their emissions. In 2011, the Carbon Disclosure Project reported a 20 percentage point increase in indirect emissions reporting at leading companies. That’s a big deal, because we know that these indirect emissions comprise upwards of 80 percent of a typical company’s environmental impact.

Government Policy and Public/Private Partnerships: Large-scale change requires collaboration among all organizations involved in solving today’s economic and social challenges. To make large-scale change happen and be successful, public-private relationships must exist.

Image courtesy of Google Images.

About Theresa Lehman

Dedicating her entire career to sustainable practice, Theresa has worked on more than 70 projects seeking LEED® certification utilizing the LEED®-NC, LEED®-CI, LEED®-CS, LEED®-EBOM, and LEED® for Schools green building rating systems. She has successfully certified projects that have earned LEED® certification at all four award levels including: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Her portfolio of LEED® projects includes many “Wisconsin firsts” such as the first State of Wisconsin LEED® certified project, the first healthcare facility, the first LEED®-EBOM Schools, the first LEED® for Schools project and the first zero-net energy / carbon neutral project–the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center–the “greenest building on the planet” according to Rick Fedrizzi, former President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council.

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