What is Business Sustainability?posted by Anna Mar, April 09, 2013
I decline to accept the end of man... I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.Business sustainability is the capacity of a business to endure.
~ William Faulkner
It's an approach that recognizes that a business is connected to ecological and social systems. It's the idea that if these systems fail — the business also fails.
Business sustainability is a business principle that is widely recognized as a critical strategic concern for governments and organizations. Many organizations have chosen to integrate sustainability principles into their business models.
Non-sustainability threatens the survival of nations and the global financial system. These systems tend to defend themselves when threatened. As a result, it's increasing common for markets, regulators, customers, employees and partners to require sustainability from every organization.
Organizations that fail to incorporate sustainability as a strategy are unlikely to endure. In other words, it's likely that the successful firms of the future will be highly sustainable.
The following examples illustrate a few common sustainability strategies.
1. Energy EfficiencyAn office building that leverages passive solar architecture can dramatically cut energy needs for lighting and temperature control.
2. Waste ReductionA supply chain that uses reusable boxes instead of cardboard.
3. Emissions ReductionA rooftop garden reduces the carbon footprint of an office building (gardens can be used to insulate a building).
4. Toxic Substance ReductionA manufacturer replaces toxic materials in its products with safe alternatives.
5. Sustainable TransportA company pays the public transportation fees of its employees but doesn't have a parking lot.
6. Durable ProductsA tire manufacture is able to engineer its products to last twice as long.
7. Reusable ProductsA car manufacture designs parts to be easily reused. When its models are junked their parts are valuable.
8. Fixable ProductsAn electronics company designs a tablet computer with swappable components. When the device breaks, it can be fixed by the customer by swapping the broken component.
9. Secondhand SourcingA company purchases secondhand office furniture.
10. RecyclingAn electrics manufacturer offers a recycling program. It pays customers a small fee for their old devices and recycles every part and material in each device.
11. Sustainable Supply ChainAccording to the EPA, long-haul freight trains are more than 9 times more energy efficient than trucks (325 vs 3,163 BTU / ton-mile) 1.
12. Sustainable ArchitectureEnergy-efficient landscaping is used to passively heat and cool a home (landscape architecture).
13. BiodiversityA forest is allowed to return to its natural state. Trees are harvested at a sustainable pace.
14. Sustainable AgricultureRecently desertified land is reclaimed for agriculture with sustainable techniques for provisioning water, soil fixation and hyper-fertilizing. The new farmland dramatically reduces extreme poverty in the area.
15. Sustainable ProcessesA manufacturing process improves product quality to avoid the wastes associated with customer returns (i.e. manufacturing a product only to have it shipped to the customer and then shipped back for a quality issue is wasteful).
16. Renewable EnergyDepending on the weather, Germany produces up to 50% of its electricity with solar.
17. Social ResponsibilityThe employees of an investment bank start a program to fund surgeries for poor youth in a developing nation to work towards elimination of preventable blindness.
More: 50 Sustainability Strategies You Can Implement Now
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