(Ros) Return on Sustainability: Gaining Benefits from a Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy

May 27, 2010

The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) third Sustainability Roundtable in Chicago

The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) proudly hosted its third Sustainability Roundtable event on Thursday, March 25, 2010 in Chicago. The event featured key presentations from CSE partners, such as the Green Exchange (GX) Business Community and the Chicago Manufacturing Center (CMC), focusing on the topic of realizing and measuring the financial benefits of a Sustainability Strategy. Guests of the event included professionals from Hess Corporation, Wisconsin Energy, Baker Hughes, Carbonetworks, ERM, Nuance Solutions, Koelnmesse, 2 Point Perspective, and the Chicago Clean Energy Alliance. The group perspective was global, made up of people from four countries. The event was held at the Green Seal certified Talbott Hotel, in Chicago.

The Sustainability Roundtable series, hosted by CSE, is an effort to bring the topic of Sustainability further into the main stream of business, by focusing on key issues and topics for discussion. This roundtable, “(RoS) Return on Sustainability: Gaining Benefits from a Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy”, featured a controversial topic for discussion, the direct, financial benefits of a Sustainability Strategy. The presentations, made by Demetria Giannisis of the Chicago Manufacturing Center and Phil Baugh of the Green Exchange, included methods to track performance and benefits, using Key Performance Indicators (KPI), in order to begin to justify an organization’s investments in the critical programs surrounding its Sustainability.

The Sustainability Roundtable series format includes breakout sessions for participants to consider and discuss key questions and issues that may be preventing businesses from further investing into their own Sustainability. From these breakout sessions arose the content for the second half of the evening’s discussion, barriers to implementing Sustainability. Key barriers to further implementing Sustainability to business, discussed by participants, include a lack of resources; access to capital; management’s current predominance of the “survival mode” of thinking; and the difficulty of identifying the tangibility of Sustainability. “We are beginning to see the topic of Sustainability move into the mainstream of business, as ordinary corporations are beginning to apply the principles of Sustainability to their business models, in a practical, productive way,” says Nikos Avlonas, CSE President.

The CSE event piggybacked onto CSE’s Global Accredited Workshop for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Practitioners, held on March 25-26 in Chicago. The workshop is one of a few workshops, globally, training practitioners on the necessary tools for implementing Sustainability and CSR into their organizations. The accredited workshop is certified by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) in the UK.

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