New Metrics

The new and evolving metrics that are helping expand the way businesses create, quantify, manage and report their impacts, and the value they deliver.

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Why Corporate Responsibility Has the Potential to Deliver Financial, Competitive Returns

I’ve been working in the Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (CR) field for twenty years. In that time, skeptics have persistently challenged the discipline: Do corporate environmental, social, and governance practices drive or distract from tangible financial, competitive, and wider business performance?On the one hand, anyone who attended SB’15 in San Diego should celebrate the present as the best of times to answer this question. Eyes are opening – backed by rigorous assessment – on the financial and wider competitive potential of low-carbon innovations, circular economic and other breakthrough economic strategies, and base of the pyramid development.

Report: Sustainability Innovation Powering Business Growth

Revenues from company-defined portfolios of sustainable products and services grew by 91 percent between 2010 and 2013, according to a new report by The Conference Board, a public interest research association.For S&P Global 100 companies that break out revenue for sustainable products or services separately, that revenue stream grew at six times the rate of overall company results.

From Theory to Practice: Phase 3 of the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics

Back in 2013, PRé and seven frontrunner companies developed a vision to create a standardised and trusted methodology to assess the social impacts of products. Creating such a methodology together would avoid the drawbacks of each company developing its own methodology. Two years later, the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics has reached its third phase.The aim of the product social footprinting methodology was not only to measure and reduce social risks in the supply chain but also to identify improvement opportunities, reduce the social footprint of products and drive innovation.

Trending: New Benchmark, Indices Show Continued Momentum Behind Impact Investing

Private impact investment funds — specifically private equity and venture capital funds — that pursue social impact objectives have recorded financial returns in line with a comparative universe of funds that only pursue financial returns, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis from global investment advisor Cambridge Associates (CA) and the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN).

Sustainability Mythbusters: Is Packaging Always a ‘Bad Guy’?

In the sustainability arena, we are used to work with a diversity of common sustainability assumptions. However, some of the assumptions that we trust might not be as right as we think they are. A critical eye is required before we consider basing our work on one of these assumptions. As a science-based method, LCA is an excellent tool to bust some of the myths that surround sustainability. With this piece, we kick off the “Sustainability Mythbusters” series and start exploring the most common sustainability assumptions to see if they are true or just myths. Let’s start checking the impact of packaging.

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Ecolab Helped Customers Save 115 Billion Gallons of Water in 2014

Ecolab’s efforts to help customers reduce, reuse, manage and treat water more efficiently led to a savings of 115 billion gallons of water in 2014, according to the company’s 2014 Corporate Sustainability Report, released Thursday.The company also launched the Water Risk Monetizer, a free public tool designed to help change the way water is valued and managed by all water users.Ecolab says its mission is “to provide and protect what is vital: clean water, safe food, abundant energy and healthy environments.” Through partnerships with customers, NGOs and communities, the company helps address some of the world’s most urgent resource and business challenges.

Reports Show We're Beginning to Understand, Quantify Our Dependence on Ecosystems

Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) on Monday outlined in a series of reports how governments, organizations and corporations are successfully moving away from short-term exploitation of the natural world and embracing a long-term vision of “nature as capital” — the ultimate world bank upon which the health and prosperity of humans and the planet depend.The reports, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that significant progress has been made in the past decade, and that people, policy-makers and leaders around the world are beginning to understand ecosystem services as far more than a tree to cut or fish to harvest.

Criteria That Positively Affect the ROI of Sustainable Tourism

Ireland has made positive strides in sustainable tourism in the last decade, including the development of a globally recognized tourism eco-certification program and the Wild Atlantic Way touring route filled with agritourism food trails, naturalist-guided adventure activities and environmentally conscious boutique hotels.

#SB15sd: How to Stay Afloat in Water Management

Led by Val Fishman, VP of Corporate Partnerships for the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), this panel congregated some of the most influential organizations that are driving change and collaboration within water stewardship. It also congregated a full room, which is not surprising considering that water scarcity has been pushed under the spotlight, having been named this year's top global risk by the World Economic Forum.

How Can We Assess the Future-Fitness, or True Sustainability, of Our Businesses?

Geoff Kendall, co-founder and CEO of the Future-Fit Foundation, set the stage by calling into question most of the existing sustainability performance metrics, which he believes are sending business leaders and investors the wrong signals; “if someone with the illustrious name of Dow Jones can tell the CEO and investors of an oil company that it is 85 percent sustainable, something is wrong.” Kendall explained why existing approaches to performance metrics are limited: 1) some metrics measure progress relative to a baseline year but this does not tell us where a company should be; 2) other metrics evaluate companies relative to best practice or peers but that encourages compan

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Tennaxia-SASB Partnership Simplifies Sustainability Data for Companies, Investors

A new partnership between data management company Tennaxia and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) may make it easier for companies to measure, manage and report on the sustainability data most essential for financial performance and value creation.By integrating SASB standards into Tennaxia’s software platform, companies will be able to track industry-specific metrics material to financial performance, alongside a broad range of CSR data and reporting frameworks. C-suite management and investors can have access to a ‘total mix’ of information needed to make decisions.

Science- vs. Context-Based Metrics – What’s the Difference?

As the importance of measurement and reporting in sustainability continues to grow, it should be helpful, I think, to clarify the distinction between so-called science- and context-based metrics.

Announcing The Product Social Footprinting Programme

During my past five years at PRé, I’ve observed how companies approach different issues. I’m very interested in social impact assessment, and I experienced that companies have wildly different approaches for assessing the social impacts of their products and services, and for managing product social sustainability.

Utility – the Fundamental Metric of Social Impact

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”— John DonneIs the world a better place because we exist?Socially useful business is neither a new idea nor one that is particularly at odds with the fundamental point of business — to sell things that people want or need.However, demonstrating social utility has becoming rather a burning issue in recent years, spurred not just by the slow growing questioning of the current mode of international capitalism but also by the rather more pointed challenges to the purpose of whole sections of the economy raised by the recent financial crash.

Lost in Translation: How to Find a Common Language Between Departments

Despite the progress being made in organizations around the world in the pursuit of sustainability, many still suffer from internal breakdowns in communication on the subject, even when all teams are, ultimately, working toward the same goal. We asked a variety of practitioners their thoughts on solving two of the perhaps most common “language barriers” within companies today — that between Marketing and Sustainability teams, and between LCA practitioners and, well, the rest of the company. And the common theme around solutions seems to involve little more than changing your perspective.

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Kering Releases EP&L Methodology to Encourage Wider Adoption of Natural Capital Accounting

Today, Kering released the results of its Environmental Profit and Loss Account (EP&L) — measuring the environmental footprint of its operations and across supply chains — and released the methodology as an open-source tool to encourage other corporations to clarify their impact on the environment.

Creating More Value, Profit with 21st-Century Financial Statements — and CPAs

Shareholders would revolt — and fire the CEO, CFO and Boards of Directors — of companies who ignore more than 80 percent of the factors that drive more value and profit.Prepare for a revolution, as 84 percent is the proportion of corporate value in the S&P500 corporations that is intangible. That’s right — the plant, property and equipment, as well as inventory, receivables and cash recorded on regulatory- required financial statements are only 16 percent, or one-sixth, of the value of your S&P500 index.

How a Life Cycle-Driven Business Model Can Accelerate Sustainable Value Creation

When Peter Bakker from the WBCSD declared that corporate social responsibility is dead, he urged us to create new definitions of success. The change to a more holistic approach is already happening. However, shouldn’t we place the shared value that we create at the heart of what we do?

#BusinessCase: Dow/TNC Study Highlights Benefits of Valuing Ecosystem Services

According to a recent study in Ecosystem Services, businesses may pay more for less reliable sources of water in the future.

Is It Objective to ‘Be Objective’ About Sustainable Business Metrics?: Part 14

In 13 earlier parts of this series, Claire Sommer and I developed 25 pitfalls in the sustainable business metrics field, based on the experiences of many mostly non-business fields. (Find them here.)It is tempting to believe objectivity is possible, humans are rational creatures, and decisions should (and could) be based on these. To be a member of such a higher species is reassuring (however much one might question this status on some “Page 1” newspaper days).

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