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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Does Your Sustainability Pitch Make Enough Sense to Your CFO?

Many experts have observed in recent months that innovating for sustainability seems to be attracting mainstream attention, particularly at Fortune 500 companies and among forward-looking social entrepreneurs. The growth of the Sustainable Brands community certainly supports that claim, with an audience of over 2,800 boasting more than $4 trillion in combined annual revenue represented at SB’13 earlier this summer. At the same time, however, in the majority of cases sustainability is still not part of firms' core strategies. And we can’t expect to be on the right long-term trajectory if all we do is encourage employees to switch to double-sided printing.

Total Energy Resource Productivity: Math Not Myth

Open the news in the US and you hear two conflicting messages: “We are on our way to becoming energy independent using fossil fuel” and “The biggest challenge we face is getting off fossil fuel.” The inconvenient truth is that we don’t know how to quantify our dependence on fossil fuel nor do we have a metric for Energy Productivity and Environmental Performance.

From Invisible to Impact: Value in the Personal Data Economy

There’s been a lot of talk about the power of Big Data in our modern digital economy. But tech experts will be the first to tell you “Big Data” is a marketing term, not a magic bullet. While it’s important to know how to best aggregate and make sense of the massive amounts of information available about your customers, there’s a more critical point you need to address right away about the nature of people’s data:It’s going to disappear.

What Metrics Are You Using to Measure the Success of Sustainability Initiatives?

Calling all innovators & implementers! This month, Sustainable Brands will relaunch an Issue in Focus editorial channel dedicated to showcasing the New Metrics of sustainable business success (#NewMetrics).With the help of our guest editors, corporate sustainability architect Bill Baue and Paul Herman of HIP Investor, the SB editorial team is seeking features, interviews, columns and case studies to publish throughout the year. This is a great opportunity to showcase the innovations you and your organization have pioneered — sustainable business metrics that strategically link to financial, ecological and social performance.

Sustainability Investing Grows Quickly, Though Measuring ROI Remains a Challenge

As a growing slice of a larger corporate push to develop more creative solutions to sustainability challenges, impact investing encourages financial actors to consider social and environmental issues when making investment decisions.These financial actors can range from first-generation entrepreneurs who have already integrated sustainability into their company DNA to foundations, family offices and institutions that invest in portfolios that align with their mission, as well as Fortune 500 companies.

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Follow-Up to SB'13: Bob Willard on the Emergence of Capitalism 2.0

Bob Willard is an expert on quantifying and selling the business value of corporate sustainability strategies. He serves on the advisory boards of The Natural Step Canada and Forum for the Future US, and his fourth book, The New Sustainability Advantage was published in 2012.

Five Reasons Every Business Should Care About the New Metrics of Sustainable Business

Every now and then, as I discuss various products Sustainable Brands has to offer to our growing community of brands and solution providers, I mention our New Metrics of Sustainable Business conference and I detect either a blank stare or a confused nod. When I pause to find out why, I typically get a response gravitating around these questions: “What exactly are these New Metrics you speak of? How do they affect my company, and why should I care?”Simply put, New Metrics (#NewMetrics) is an umbrella term for the latest and most successful ways businesses are creating and capturing entirely new forms of value, or quantifying previously ignored economic, social and environmental impacts and opportunities.

Research: Calculating the Hidden Risks of Environmental Damage

A new analysis reveals that some business activities do not generate sufficient profit to cover their natural resource use and pollution costs, creating large, hidden risks that affect some industries operating in certain regions of the world. The analysis can help businesses and investors take account of natural capital costs to help manage risk and gain competitive advantage.

Elephants in the Glass House: Contextualizing Sustainability and Integrated Reporting

Cutting the fluff out of reporting by looking at some of the root causes of sustainability challenges may help stakeholders to better understand in how far the majority of companies are part of the problem or can be part of the solution to human survival.

G4 Revamps Materiality While Staying True to Its Roots

If the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) created a semantic “heat map” of the most-used terms at its Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting this week, Materiality would win hands-down.

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Run Up to SB '13: John Havens Crowdsourcing Happiness To Save the World

John C. Havens is founder of the H(app)athon Project, a contributing writer for Mashable and

Crossing Thresholds: From Fossil Fuel Divestment to Sustainable Investment

Three cheers to Bill McKibben and 350.org for raising much-needed awareness through their campaign urging university endowments and pension funds to divest from fossil fuel-producing companies.

eBay Launches Standard for Measuring Costs, Impacts of Online Transactions

eBay has released a new Digital Service Efficiency (DSE) dashboard to monitor and analyze the cost, performance and environmental impact of customer buy and sell transactions in an effort to balance and tune its technical infrastructure, according to a recent announcement.

UK Task Force Report Explains Why Businesses, Government Should Prioritize Environmental Preservation

Today, the Ecosystem Markets Task Force (EMTF), an independent task force aimed at finding new opportunities for UK businesses to drive green economic growth, released its Final Report stating the opportunities available for businesses that properly value nature

Shell’s ‘New Lens Scenarios’ Predict Near-Zero Global Carbon Emissions by 2100

Shell released new scenarios last week that explore two possible futures with dramatically different implications for society and the world’s energy system. One scenario sees cleaner-burning natural gas becoming the most important energy source globally by the 2030s and early action to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The other sees solar becoming the top source by about 2070, but with slower action to address the threat of climate change.The New Lens Scenarios look at trends in the economy, politics and energy as far ahead as 2100, and underscore the critical role government policies could play in shaping the future.

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Heinz, Colgate Divulge Forest Footprints, But Many Firms Falling Behind, Report Says

Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Gucci and Heinz reported their forest impacts for the first time this year, but the gap between leading companies and laggards is growing, according to the fourth annual Forest Footprint Disclosure (FFD) Report.Every year FFD asks the world’s biggest firms to reveal their impact on forests based on the use of five chief commodities — soy, palm oil, timber and pulp, cattle products and biofuels. According to FFD, last year 100 companies disclosed their forest footprints, a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

Groundbreaking Cabot Study Reveals Shortcomings of Conventional Sustainability Metrics

A new study of carbon emissions highlights striking differences between conventional and new, context-based sustainability metrics.

Let’s Value People as an Asset, and Bring Financial Statements into the 21st Century

What is your organization’s most important asset? CEOs often respond that the organization’s people are its greatest asset. But if this is true, where are people accounted for in the financial statements? Today, people are generally classified as expenses on the income statement and liabilities on the balance sheet – not as an investable asset. Thus, when CEOs seek to increase profit, they cut costs – like people – rather than investing in assets – like people – that can appreciate. What Is Your Organization’s Most Important Asset?

GRI’s G4 Exposure Draft Undermines Sustainable Global Economy

We’re scratching our heads over the Global Reporting Initiative’s recent release of the Exposure Draft of Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

GRI and Sustainability Context: Explain It Like We’re Four

“Now, explain it to me like I’m a four year old,” says Denzel Washington to Tom Hanks in the 1993 film Philadelphia. We pose this same question to the Global Reporting Initiative, the standard-setter for sustainability reporting.

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