Written by: Tom Klaers, Clean Response
This article was written in January 2018 for the 2018 Quarter One newsletter.
Sustainability is a word we all know, though what sustainability defines is continually evolving. The scope of sustainability continues to grow, and its importance to people, companies, and investors is driving a focus on global performance improvement. A closer look at where sustainability is going, and why, helps us understand why it should be important to all of us.
Sustainability origins are in:
Today, sustainability includes the items above and:
Much of thus change has been driven by investors and stakeholder interest in the sustainability practices of companies and organizations. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index was launched in 1999 and now measures thousands of companies against benchmarks based in the criteria listed above. Companies, investors, fund managers, and Wall Street now understand that the more an organization implements sustainable practices, the more likely it is to have long term success.
Organizations use a variety of names for their programs and policies related to sustainability. Here are some examples:
How the components within a sustainability program are weighted vary by company and how sustainability is balanced against revenue and profit goals may cause conflict between the company's functions. Owners of BOMA buildings many also struggle with evaluating the return on investment for improvements in their building's sustainability. The benchmarks, metrics and calculations related to the ROI of sustainability investments are often difficult to establish and apply to a property. However, considering the ever changing needs and wants of tenants, including tenants' perspective on sustainability (not just amenities), is always a worth while practice.
For example, BOMA members might have a prospective tenant who requires LEED certification for a newly constructed or remodeled building or an existing tenant who wants to know the carbon footprint, energy efficiency and/or waste management approaches of a property, because they have "green" service and procurement policies that call for them to lease sustainable properties. Tenants may also want to know the property owner's employment practices and if they have human rights policies that address things like diversity, working hours and fair wages for their employees, as well as how they monitor those issues in their supply chain. Having objective information about these topics just might win a property profitable long term tenant.
No matter what terms are used, sustainability is evolving to a multifaceted but singular goal - a means to manager and be accountable for a company's impacts on people, planet and profits. The importance of this "triple bottom line performance," is affecting the decisions of those who own and invest in the buildings in our communities as well as their companies (and their employees) that lease space in our buildings.