Top Sustainability Trends

Sustainable TrendsIn my last blog, I shared some suggestions for your sustainability goals in 2012.  This week, I’d like to share some of the sustainability trends that you may also want to take into consideration as you plan your 2012 strategy.

Major pressure is emerging from shareholders, who want to see the companies they are invested in paying attention to sustainability.  Indeed, Ernst & Young has predicted that half of shareholder resolutions in 2012 will have a sustainability focus.  This is a major shift away from previous years when pressure for greening an operation came primarily from customers and the public.  Ideally, this, combined with new emphasis on sustainability and employee engagement, will mean that more and more companies work to embed sustainability into their operations and product development, rather than using green initiatives as a marketing gimmick.

As we recently reported in our new white paper The Growing Trend of Sustainability Scorecards, there is increasing pressure from a number of directions for supply chain sustainability, efficiency, and engagement.  This reflects the growing demand for companies to measure and disclose their Scope 3 emissions.  Traditionally, Scope 3 emissions—generated primarily by suppliers, corporate travel, and purchasing—have been the hardest to measure because they are outside the direct control of the corporate entity.  However, both the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) are seeing an increasing need for, and response to, Scope 3 reporting.

Emissions reporting isn’t the only big ticket item in sustainability these days, however.  Water management is emerging as a new and important area as companies like the CDP begin to embrace and encourage water impact reporting.  This signals a shift in the marketplace away from sole attempts to mitigate climate change toward an acknowledgement that environmental degradation—and its impacts—are a reality.  We can expect that, in addition to emissions measurement and management, water, waste, and energy consumption will likely become more important in the sustainability equation.

For many companies, how to communicate their sustainability goals and accomplishments, and to use this information to enhance their brand, remains a challenge.  Transparency, disclosure, and the right communication methods are all important topics for businesses on the sustainability path.  Simultaneously, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), one of the primary sustainability reporting agencies in the world, is working on the next iteration of their sustainability assessment, the G4, which takes into account feedback from stakeholders in its development.  Developing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) report and registering that report with the GRI is a major step for many companies to disseminate and disclose their sustainability progress.

You might see that measurement is a common theme in all these trends.  The ability to measure emissions, in particular, is becoming increasingly popular and important.  Demand for carbon accounting software is expected to grow exponentially in the next five years.  Here at Renewable Choice, we’ve responded to this demand by developing Mosaic™.  Mosaic is a web-based application that helps organizations to measure and understand their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It’s a simple, scalable, and cost effective solution for organizations all sizes and complexities.

Need more inspiration?  Check out these 2012 goals from some of the major players in corporate sustainability.

By | 2012-01-13T19:21:59+00:00 January 13th, 2012|Environmental Blog|

About the Author:

Amy brings 20 years’ experience in leadership and organizations to her work in sustainability communications for Renewable Choice. She earned her M.Ed. at Colorado State University.