Sustainability has become a “buzz” word which has been used to describe conservation and protection of the environment we live in.
Due to the fact that the general public (through old and new media platforms) has become increasing knowledgeable about climate change and pollution (from print news articles, online websites, documentaries and films that focus on the wrongdoings of companies), they are holding companies accountable and voting amongst industry competitors with the dollars they spend on goods and services. An Inconvenient Truth is a 2006 American concert film/documentary film directed by Davis Guggenheim about former United States Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to educate people about global warming. The film features a comprehensive slide show that, by Gore’s own estimate, he has presented over a thousand times to audiences worldwide. Films like “An Inconvenient Truth” can shed light on the way that people and companies play a part in the world we live in. Because we live in a world of limited resources it is important that we focus not only on ourselves, but the earth and all its eco-systems (plants and animals included, not just human beings). Human beings have the greatest impact on the planet and need to be accountable for how we live our lives. Companies and organizations need to do the same.
How can we make
sustainable development a reality?
This response focuses on a world driven by economics: Impact
from “Corporations” & “Organizations” are two of many ways to help
materialize sustainability because they shape the lives we live through
community, what we buy, where we learn, where we work and how we choose to
spend our income.
The European Commission (2010) defines corporate social responsibility (CSR) as ‘‘a concept whereby
companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business
operations and in their interaction with their
stakeholders on a voluntary basis.’’ A common definition in the management
literature comes from Davis (1973, p. 312), who defines CSR as ‘‘the firm’s considerations of, and response to, issues beyond
the narrow economic, technical, and legal requirements of the firm to
accomplish social [and environmental] benefits
along with the traditional economic gains which the firm seeks (Source: The
benefits and costs of corporate social Responsibility” by Geoffrey B. Sprinkle,
Laureen A. Maines) .”
In creating and distributing CSR Reports, companies not
only share their reports with their customers and their employees, but in the
process, they are able to reflect on what they are doing and how they can make
improvements. In the words of W. Edwards
Deming, “Measure of productivity does not lead to improvement in productivity.” However, by recognizing attributes that make
the organization unique help move it forward.
By identifying key metrics that impact the business the organization
will be able to better address the financial, social, and environmental
benefits, commonly referred to as the Triple Bottom Line.
Customers need to be aware of companies that
may be using “greenwashing.” There are
times when organization may not want to directly promote their activities
through advertisements because it may appear like “pinkwashing” or
“greenwashing.” Savy customers may be
turned away by marketing tactics. More
important is to do the right thing, keep employees motivated and focused on the
organization’s values, and report in their annual CSR report (Source: Marquis,
Christopher, Pooja Mehta Shah, Amanda Elizabeth Tolleson, and Bobbi
Thomason. “The Dannon Company: Marketing and Corporate Social
Responsibility (A).” Harvard Business
School Case 410-121, April 2010. (Revised September 2011)).
can be measured?
Because I have focused the past 20 years of my career
primarily in the higher education industry I will focus my response on what I
know, instead of tackling this problem from a larger more global perspective
like I have in the responses above.
However, it is with much thought and consideration that I share these
insights because I strongly believe that other industry sectors can prosper
from this information. This is by no
means an end to all measurements of sustainability but it certainly is a good
start to put a dent in this massive undertaking!
For the past few years APPA/NACUBO has compiled a survey
of institutions of higher education.
The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) is a membership organization representing more than 1,900 colleges and universities across the country. (https://www.nacubo.org) APPA is the gathering place for educational facilities professionals, dedicated to the ongoing evolution of the profession. Although their name has changed over the past 100 years their mission remains: “To support educational excellence with quality leadership and professional management through education, research and recognition (https://www.appa.org).”
APPA/NACUBO provides an annual survey on the self-reported information submitted by their constituents which is comprised of: (1) Community Colleges; (2) Small Institutions; (3) Comprehensive/Doctoral; and (4) Research Institutions (High and Very High Research Institutions).
The following key performance indicators are measured,
compiled and reported by APPA/NACUBO based on the one of 4 categories listed
Energy Use Intensity (measured KBTU per
Electrical (measured kW per square foot)
Water daily (measured average gallons per FTE
Recycled waste (measured in pounds annually
per FTE student enrolled)
Garbage waste (measured in pounds annually
per FTE student enrolled)
Carbon footprint (measured in metric tons CO2
per FTE student enrolled)
The report illustrates the year-over-year comparison of results
from the survey, as well as comparisons by type of institution. APPA/NACUBO encourages the academic institutions
of higher education to explore
these findings as a starting point to better inform
their campus decisions.
It is vital that each institution look at similar organizations (community colleges, small institutions,
comprehensive/doctoral, and research universities). The survey reports raw data by gross square
feet (GSF) and by student full-time equivalent (SFTE). The raw data can be used
to evaluate and reduce consumption.
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!