What Drives Companies to Become Sustainable?

Source: AlturaSolutions Communications

Walmart’s white roofs help reduce energy use and have a lower heat island effect than a darker roofing color. The skylights are part of the company’s daylight harvesting system, which can save an average of 800,000 kwh of energy annually. Image source: Walmart Stores/Flickr - cc license

Bloomington, IN – Mar 30, 2011 – For years studies have ranked companies that are the largest, most profitable, fastest growing, fastest declining, and most watched in the world.

Now, thanks to the 2011 Sustainability & Innovation Survey, we know which companies are perceived to be the most sustainable and what apparently has driven them to embrace sustainability as a company-wide objective.

The study was a collaborative effort of MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group and involved more than 3,000 global business executives.

Although not specifically defined in the study, the word sustainable has evolved in recent years. It now refers to such things as:

  • Fair and equitable business practices toward workers and community
  • Careful management of natural resources
  • Business profits and economic benefits.

According to survey respondents, the following are the top ten companies with established world-class reputations in addressing sustainability:

1. GE
2. Walmart
3. Toyota
4. IBM
5. Google
6. Apple
7. Patagonia
8. P&G
9. Microsoft
10. Shell Oil

The survey also sought to determine what is motivating these and other companies to embrace sustainability. Among the driving forces were these:

  • Public policy: Legislation at local, national, and international levels focusing on protecting resources and reducing carbon emissions. Companies today compete on a global level and often must meet more far-reaching environmental and sustainable targets than those currently in the United States.
  • Investor concerns: Some banks, equity firms, and private and public investment companies are requiring companies to disclose their climate-change risks as well as the steps they are taking to protect the environment and become more sustainable.
  • Employees: New job candidates are increasingly concerned about the environmental and sustainable impact of the companies they work for.
  • Customers: Customers are becoming a powerful force, encouraging companies to operate in a more environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.

The study also reports that a “new era of accountability” is evolving, which will put greater emphasis on companies to measure and report their social, environmental, and sustainable impacts.


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Sustainability Dashboard Tools, LLC, has created new software technology designed specifically for cleaning professionals. The company’s CEO is Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group and Executive Director of the Green Cleaning Network; its COO is Cynthia Schultz.

Sustainability Dashboard Tools’ software allows users to measure the natural resources their businesses use and the greenhouse gas emissions they generate. Armed with this information, businesses can make commonsense changes that reduce their impact on the environment. Such changes save businesses money and make them more efficient and competitive while also benefiting their facilities, employees, and local communities as well as the environment.