By Jane Marsh
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Sustainability will be a key topic in corporate discourse this year. Consumers continue prioritizing sustainable brands, and businesses wanting to grow sustainably have more tools than ever at their disposal.
Not all green policies are made equal, however. Some changes, regardless of how difficult they are to implement, may barely affect the business’s carbon footprint or change customer perceptions.
These are the most important environmental concerns for businesses prioritizing sustainability in 2022.
Environmental and Sustainability Data
Most businesses have more access to data than ever before. This change is good news for enterprises that have struggled with measuring the effectiveness of sustainability programs.
Data-gathering and analysis programs can help provide businesses with hard facts about the utility of their programs — allowing them to identify both valuable investments and changes that haven’t had much impact.
For example, industrial facilities can adopt IoT sensors that monitor a wide variety of data, including energy consumption, site air quality, and equipment health. This information can help facility owners pinpoint waste, improve maintenance, and reduce pollution.
Other businesses may take advantage of tools like vehicle telematics to track the carbon savings earned by switching to electric vehicles or encouraging more efficient driver behaviors.
ESG Programs and Sustainable Investing
According to data from NAVEX, 88% of publicly traded companies have ESG initiatives in place, and 87% of businesses agree that ESG metrics impact brand reputation. Just half of all companies, however, believe that their current environmental performance is effective.
For both individuals and financial services providers, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors are increasingly important to investing decisions. A business with an ESG reporting program and strong performance in terms of ESG metrics is seen as less risky and a more valuable investment than other, less transparent businesses.
Businesses wanting to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability should reevaluate their ESG reporting approach and overall environmental impact strategy. For example, if a business doesn’t have a chief sustainability officer (CSO) right now, it may want to investigate appointing a CSO at some point in 2022.
These officers can help organize sustainability programs, manage environment- and sustainability-related risk, or manage ESG reporting. The position provides a point of contact for businesses that have struggled with environmental accountability or the organization of sustainability programs.
Businesses can also use ESG data to guide their own investment strategies and identify potential future business partnerships. For example, with ESG data, it can be easier for a sustainability-oriented energy company to identify businesses willing to invest in sustainability programs or sustainable energy sources.
Renewable Energy Investments and Climate Positivity
The ongoing transition to renewable energy is picking up momentum, and all businesses are likely to feel its impact in 2022. Falling prices for wind, solar, and other renewables have made these sources of energy much more accessible to businesses.
Combined with growing oil price volatility and potential future supply shocks, these shifts will make renewables a serious alternative to fossil fuels for many businesses this year.
For businesses wanting to zero out carbon emissions, investing in renewable projects or renewable power systems for business facilities may be an excellent strategy. Energy professionals and businesses may also have more success in encouraging businesses to invest in renewables and related projects.
At the same time, some businesses are going beyond net-zero emissions targets. Instead, some businesses are embracing climate-positive commitments — programs and investments that bring business emissions as low as possible and actively remove carbon from the atmosphere.
If an enterprise has had success with net-zero emissions programs but wants to go further, adopting a climate-positive approach can help signal a serious commitment to sustainability and responsible environmental stewardship.
Best Practices for Sustainable Business in 2022
As sustainability becomes more important for businesses, investing in the right practices will be more crucial than ever. At the same time, businesses also have a wide range of new tools that can help them improve sustainability practices.
Internal sustainability data, ESG reporting, and renewable energy investments will all be important this year. Businesses can take advantage of these resources to improve their sustainability programs and partner with other companies that take environmental stewardship seriously.
About the author:
Jane is the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life.