Sustainability services are those that provide planning and benchmarking, communications and reporting, assessment, training and possibly certification to companies. These services focus on how that company can maximize its potential for the long-term maintenance of the Earth’s well-being, which has environmental, economic and social dimensions. These services might focus on specific areas of climate change, carbon usage, building standards, water and resource management and renewable energy opportunities across the entire company or product by product.
As a company begins using sustainability services, the consultant providing such services will review the company in two or more ways. The first review will be an overall look at the company’s efforts with regard to sustainability. This will take into consideration how the company uses energy or petroleum-based products, builds or maintains its facilities and uses other natural resources such as water or specific minerals. If it is possible to break down this usage by product line to make a more detailed analysis, the consultant is likely to do that as well.
Assessment starts the process for each company in order to determine how the company is incorporating sustainability into its business processes. It is imperative that the company take an honest look at what it is doing correctly with regard to stewardship of the Earth and what could use improvement. With accurate information, the company can determine which areas should be addressed.
Planning is the next step in the sustainability services process. During this phase, the company comes up with a corporate strategic sustainability plan. This plan documents the company’s environmental impact, it establishes the objectives and costs associated with improving corporate sustainability, and it designates principals and practices to facilitate improved sustainability. Benchmarking the company against similar companies is also completed in this stage.
Communication of the corporate sustainability plan, the benchmarks the company is trying to meet and the processes to be used to make these objectives is the next step of sustainability services. During this phase, the company must communicate with its employees in order to educate them about how implementing these objectives will better steward the environment in an economic and socially responsible manner. The company might also have to report to governmental agencies and its shareholders on the actions it is taking to improve its sustainability.
Training is an integral part of sustainability services. It is important for employees to learn the reason for implementing each change initiated by the corporate sustainability plan. Employees will take ownership of the company’s sustainability plan if they are properly educated as to why it is being implemented and the benefit of each change.
Certification is another part of sustainability services. Companies in certain sectors can benefit from going through a certification process. Certification gives an objective designation on how a company measures with regard to its sustainability. These certification programs will vary based upon business sector and location.