SustainaBase’s team of experts has identified the top sustainability trends for 2018. The trends are based on industry research, key data points, and interactions with a diverse group of customers and partners. We hope these trends are helpful as corporate social responsibility (CSR) officers, CFOs, city managers and others involved in sustainability efforts plan for the year ahead.
Increased Collaboration Across Departments
Organizations will integrate sustainability throughout their organization, as it becomes part of their core objectives.1 To succeed, sustainability will no longer be a silo. Instead, organizations will empower an increasing number of employees to incorporate it in their daily work, whether they are in executive roles, finance, sales, marketing, procurement or other roles. Increased collaboration will align sustainability goals with business objectives and fiscal responsibility, as well as create a collective sense of purpose among employees.
Shifting Role of Officers in Charge of Sustainability
The day to day work of officers in charge of sustainability will shift to a more strategic role – creating an organizational vision, setting goals, reporting on progress and generally leading in their area of technical expertise. However, employees in other departments will increasingly become the “doers” that implement these strategies on a day to day basis. To do so, organizations will need tools that give employees across departments better visibility into data, initiatives and progress, as well as the ability to easily collaborate and share reports.
Increased Role of Technology
Organizations will continue to invest in smart technologies that result in using less energy and resources. At the same time, the use of data-driven online tools and technology will increase, as stakeholders, investors, customers and constituents demand quantifiable metrics. Tools such as SustainaBase, are developed to increase operational efficiency and have a positive impact on the bottom line. These tools also make previously difficult to gather sustainability data easily available for reporting. In addition, reporting showing progress based on quality data will positively impact an organization’s credibility and brand.
Cities Taking the Lead
Cities will continue to drive climate and sustainability policies in the United States. They will increasingly commit to achieving emissions reductions as they become signatories to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, the Chicago Climate Charter, the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, and other similar agreements. To do so, they will set emissions reductions and other goals and will need to gather, maintain, analyze and report key metrics showing progress towards those goals.
Institutional Investors’ Increased Focus on Sustainability
Studies continue to show a positive correlation between sustainability efforts and shareholder value. For this reason, institutional investors are pushing companies to cut their emissions and report on their progress.2 To date, 225 investors with more than USD $26.3 trillion in assets under management have signed on to the Climate Action 100+ initiative. The initiative seeks to engage with the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters to improve governance on climate change, curb emissions and strengthen climate-related financial disclosures. Our customers’ investors increasingly want to see reports on sustainability data metrics, setting science-based targets, and disclosure through frameworks such as the CDP. SustainaBase expects this trend to continue.
Sustainable Procurement Increases
Organizations will increasingly demand that their suppliers collect, analyze and report on emissions, water and other key metrics. This is because of institutional investor pressure and because organizations are aligning sustainable practices with profits and fiscal responsibility. For example, AT&T, working with CDP Supply Chain, annually reaches out to about 500 of its suppliers to report on GHG emissions. This represents approximately 80% of its spend. Using industry-accepted methods, AT&T then gathers and analyzes data on these suppliers’ emissions, reduction goals and progress.3
In addition, according to Supply Chain Dive, the gap between sustainable and low cost procurement is narrowing, and the green alternative is frequently the low cost alternative.4 This is because sustainable practices often result in operational efficiency that lowers costs. The gap between sustainable and low cost procurement should continue into 2018.
Continued Growth in Green Building and Building Data
Green building will continue to grow due to regulatory requirements, incentives and consumer demand. On the regulatory side, cities and states will continue to encourage more sustainable buildings, either through requirements or incentives. For example, the State of Florida now requires builders to conduct residential blower door tests, which help pinpoint issues with a home’s indoor air quality and energy efficiency.5 As another example, the City of Miami requires builders to obtain a green building certification for certain large buildings. If they do not, the builder forfeits a performance bond equal to 4 percent of the total cost of construction. Those that obtain the certification may be given additional capacity as an incentive.6.
The building sector will also increasingly need to collect, analyze and report building data. As consumer demand for greener buildings and homes increases, developers’ sales and marketing teams are in need of easy access to related metrics. For example, SustainaBase’s developer customers often need to make home energy rating information available to sales reps.
SustainaBase’s expert services and flexible online platform are used by governments and companies of any size for effortless collection, analysis, monitoring, sharing, reporting, control and management of their sustainability data. By having the right information easily available, our customers can focus on what really matters- setting valuable goals, monitoring progress, implementing strategies, and communicating efforts and successes. Click here to learn more about our platform and how we can help you succeed in 2018. For a brief overview of how SustainaBase can benefit your organization, please click here.
- Ellen Weinreb, Advice for breaking down sustainability silos in 2018, GreenBiz, December 18, 2017, https://www.greenbiz.com/article/advice-breaking-down-sustainability-silos-2018
- Ken Silverstein, More Institutional Investors Throw Weight Into Fight Against Climate Change, Forbes, December 12, 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2017/12/12/is-the-financial-and-political-heft-behind-the-climate-fight-enough-to-make-a-difference/#25d141aa1551
- See http://about.att.com/content/csr/home/issue-brief-builder/environment/engaging-our-supply-chain.html
- Rich Weissman, Sustainable Sourcing is More Cost-Effective than You Think, Supply Chain Dive, December 21, 2017, https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/sustainability-green-supply-chain-procurement/513200/
- Matt Zirkelbach, RunBrook, Florida’s Blower Door Test: 3 Things Multifamily & Production Home Builders Need to Know, https://www.runbrook.com/insights/florida-blower-door-test-3-things-multifamily-and-production-home-builders-need-to-know
- Matt Zirkelbach, RunBrook, 5 Ways Green Building, Energy Ratings and Incentives Add More Value Per Square Foot™, https://www.runbrook.com/insights/5-ways-green-building-energy-ratings-and-incentives-add-more-value-per-square-foot