With consumers and investors demanding significant change, profit pools shifting away from incumbents to insurgents, and even the most carbon-heavy companies making net-zero pledges, executives ignore this revolution at their peril. Today, digital technologies are being used to measure and track sustainability progress, optimize the use of resources, and engage employees in responsible practices—all of which can help reduce an organization’s environmental impact. Moreover, these solutions often offer a quick return on investment and can be used to improve operational efficiency. In other words, sustainability is no longer a lovely thing; it is a must-do.
The Business Case for Sustainability
There are numerous reasons why sustainability should be a top priority for businesses today. But, perhaps most importantly, it just makes good business sense. A company that prioritizes sustainability will often find that it can reduce costs, increase efficiency, and boost its bottom line.
Moreover, sustainable businesses tend to be more resilient than their less sustainable counterparts. They are better able to weather external shocks—such as an economic downturn—because they have lower costs and are often more efficient. Furthermore, as investors increasingly seek out companies that align with their values, those businesses that can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability often have an advantage in attracting capital.
Last but not least, many consumers today are willing to pay more for products and services from companies they perceive to be sustainable. In addition, studies have shown that millennials—now the largest demographic group in the U.S.—are particularly likely to support businesses with a positive environmental or social impact.
Supporting Sustainable Businesses Through Digital Transformation
Fortunately, several digital technologies can be used to measure and track sustainability progress, optimize the use of resources, and engage employees and other stakeholders in the company’s sustainability journey. Here are just a few examples:
Sustainability Management Systems (SMS)
SMS are software platforms that help organizations track their performance against sustainability goals and report progress. They also typically include features for managing data, analyzing trends, and collaborating with stakeholders. One popular SMS is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Framework.
Environmental Management Systems (EMS)
EMS is similar to SMS, but they focus specifically on environmental performance. EMS can help organizations track emissions, water usage, waste generation, and more. Many EMS also includes features for managing environmental data and analyzing trends. Popular EMS platforms include Climate Smart, and Carbon Footprint.
Sustainable Procurement Platforms
These platforms help organizations source sustainable products and services from suppliers who share their commitment to sustainability. Sustainable procurement platforms typically include supplier management, sourcing, contract management, spend analysis, and reporting features. Some popular sustainable procurement platforms include EcoVadis, BSD Tools, and Sourcemap.
Energy Management Systems (EMS)
EMS helps organizations track and manage their energy consumption as well as costs. EMS can also help organizations procure renewable energy and invest in energy efficiency initiatives. Standard EMS features include energy monitoring, reporting, analytics, and project management. Popular EMS platforms include Dandelion Energy, Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Power & Grid Advisor, and Johnson Controls Metasys® Facility Explorer® Suite.
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
BIM is a digital technology that helps architects design more sustainable buildings by considering energy use, daylighting potential, water usage, material selection, and more. BIM software platforms typically include features for 3D modeling, clash detection, construction coordination, and more. Autodesk Revit, Bentley Systems MicroStation CONNECT Edition, and Trimble Tekla Structures are all popular BIM software platforms.
As you can see, several digital technologies can be used to support businesses in their efforts to become more sustainable. Moreover, this is just the tip of the iceberg! As sustainability becomes increasingly essential for companies, we will likely see more innovative digital solutions emerge. So if your business is not already incorporating sustainability into its operations, now is the time to start!
Sustainability is no longer something businesses can afford to ignore; it is a must-do if companies want to stay competitive and future-proof their operations. Fortunately, several digital solutions can help organizations reduce their environmental impact while delivering a quick investment return.
It is time for businesses to get on board with sustainability—before it is too late.