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3 Ways Sustainability Has Evolved and How EHS Systems Can Help

Sept. 6, 2012
Why are we really engaging in sustainability initiatives, and what are organizations doing today to make their sustainability initiatives show substance over the flash of going green? Here are three trends showcasing how sustainability has evolved over the years.
Only a few years ago, “going green” was all over the headlines. The concept of sustainability in businesses was a common theme in politics, business and general discussion. It was a platform for organizations to demonstrate their commitment to the environment, or a method to excoriate heavy emitters. Either way, the newness of sustainability now has worn off, and reality has set in.

Why are we really engaging in sustainability initiatives, and what are organizations doing today to make their sustainability initiatives show substance over the flash of going green? Here are three trends showcasing how sustainability has evolved over the years.

1. Sustainability is no longer just a line on the annual report.It used to be that sustainability was a component of the annual report. The token reporting on sustainability to satisfy the shareholders is only one aspect of the larger initiative now. Sustainability now is built into business plans and product release initiatives. It is part of the business process and is tracked with more real value than just good reporting. Sustainability is good business; it enables organizations to maintain compliance to sustainability initiatives while affecting the bottom line. Better utilization of resources means less waste and more allocation to productivity.

2. EHS management systems control and centralize sustainability projects. Sustainability, in its infancy, had a siloed approach. A random assortment of spreadsheets, business systems and reporting methods had to be compiled to paint an accurate sustainability picture. EHS management systems have evolved to respond to sustainability needs by providing a centralized hub for the collection, management and control of environmental aspects. Coupled with a dedicated business process workflow, EHS systems now are the single holistic resource for managing sustainability data. All information is recorded in the EHS system, risks and potential hazards are flagged, and workflow rules work to bring resolution to any potential adverse events. Furthermore, the ability to produce quantifiable reports is easier when everything is centrally located. Whether you report to shareholders, GRI, CDP, or others, the EHS system is able to compile relevant reports at the click of a button.

3. Corporate leadership has improved.With all the emphasis on the business viability of sustainability, it has become easier to justify an investment in sustainability. By demonstrating the business value behind sustainability, organizations are putting more effort into sustainability as a true business improvement initiative, versus a corporate reporting necessity. The more corporate buy-in increases, the more we begin to see dedication to implementing truly effective sustainability performance technology.

If there was any advice to give a company looking to begin their journey towards a viable sustainability program it would be this: Look for a strong leadership commitment to the initiative, identify a clear objectives and target project for achieving your sustainability goals and then implement technology to help you get there.

Leadership and commitment are key to success. With the weight of the company behind you, you can focus on developing a sustainability plan that makes good business sense. Finally, look for solutions that provide a centralized resource for managing and tracking these initiatives, along with the reporting and resolution capabilities to not only track but improve your organization for a greener, more sustainable future.

Tim Lozier has an extensive background in software technology and has been involved in the creation of leading-edge technologies in user-interface design and development. He is responsible for fostering the development of leading quality management software solutions, and has helped shape EtQ’s strategic vision. He provides strategic leadership for EtQ, enterprise quality and environmental health and safety management software for identifying, mitigating and preventing high risk events through integration, automation and collaboration.

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