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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Top 5 Benefits of a Sustainability Audit 11-16

Top 5 Benefits of a Sustainability Audit

Why a Sustainability Audit?
A sustainability audit is a powerful tool.  A sustainability audit takes an inventory of all of the policies, procedures and practices of an organization and compares these to the best practices in their industry.  In essence, an audit is a gap analysis and a maturity analysis of the sustainability practices of an organization. It is meant to document ‘what you are doing’ and ‘to what extent’ across a wide range of sustainability categories.  Upon completion, an organization will have a sustainability baseline it can use to track progress going into the future.
What a Sustainability Audit is Not
A sustainability audit is not an exercise in counting carbon or tallying the financial implications of sustainability initiatives.  Nor is a sustainability audit an in-depth examination of any specific program of work.  However a sustainability audit should identify and help an organization prioritize these more specific sustainability management tasks.
Benefits of a Sustainability Audit
Your organization can expect some great benefits from a sustainability audit.
1. Compare your practices to Industry Best Practices – This is probably the most obvious benefit of a sustainability audit.  No Chief Sustainability Officer or Sustainability Manager has the time to stay on top of all of the latest developments in the world of sustainability.  The right sustainability audit should provide this benefit.  It is critical the framework and sustainability categories be comprehensive.  If so, your organization should know how it compares to the industry leaders in sustainability.
2. Planning, Structure and Accountability – A huge challenge facing many organizations is that they want to implement a comprehensive sustainability plan, but sustainability initiatives often times gets blended into operations, facilities or information technology initiatives.  A sustainability audit identifies these initiatives and provides a means for account for these within a sustainability program.  This allows for effective planning, a structured approach and accountability that reaches across organizational boundaries.
3. Identify New Sustainability Initiatives – One of the most striking benefits of a sustainability audit is that for the typical organization, it is going to identify dozens of initiatives in areas previously never considered.  This raised awareness will translate in to enthusiasm, innovation and unexpected benefits across the organization.
4. ‘Period to Period’ and ‘Business to Business’ Tracking – One of the biggest complaints about sustainability management is the lack of ‘period to period’ and ‘business to business’ tracking and accountability. Once a sustainability audit has been conducted, your organization will have a comprehensive snapshot of all your green activities.  If your organization has multiple locations, you now have a tool to compare these using exactly the same criteria.  The same is true about comparing operations from period-to-period.
5. Higher Sustainability Performance - A sustainability audit can allow your organization to increase its sustainability performance across the board.  You will have all the information at hand to improve planning, execution and follow-through for a range of initiatives.  By doing so, you will poised to realize the core benefits of sustainability outlined below.
  • Cost – A natural result of most sustainability initiatives will be a reduction in costs. Looking for ways to reduce consumption (raw materials, energy), increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of business practices, and exploring new and innovative product and services will all result in operational performance.
  • Compliance – Compliance risk is an increasing challenge facing organizations. The number and complexity of international, national and regional regulations that address the environmental impact of product, services and business activities is increasing. Companies can expose themselves to considerable risk by not effectively managing these issues.
  • Reputation Risk – Reputation Risk can be defined as any action, event or situation that could adversely or beneficially impact an organization’s reputation. Regulatory noncompliance, unethical behavior and perception of green-washing all represent ways in which an organization can negatively impact their reputation. Behind financial and litigation risk, reputation risk in the global marketplace represents the greatest risk to an organizations long-term success.
  • Competitive Advantage – Sustainable practices can provide an organization significant competitive advantages in the form of reputation, lower costs, better compliance, greater levels of innovation and many others.
  • Innovation – One of the most important benefits of beginning sustainability activities is innovation. At the core of the process of moving towards better sustainability performance, organizations needs to take a fresh look at how they conduct business, what is going into their products, and how do their products effect the environment and society once they are sold.
Current State Sustainability Audit
Current State is based on the Three Tiers of Sustainability™ framework. The framework organizes sustainability into 3 main categories: Green IT, Business and Facilities. It further divides these areas into 28 additional sub-categories.
The survey is delivered either online or through a pdf form – only takes a few hours to complete – and results can be delivered in a matter of days, not weeks or months.  CurrentState™ can deliver higher quality results for a fraction of the cost of other consulting services.

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