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Environmental Sustainability Framework

March 7, 2018  - Tips for Small Business
illustration of city skyscape with environmental sustainability framework words vision principles important issues commitment and scope objectives and reporting overlaid

It can be wise to run your business in a lasting and responsible way—to position it to take advantage of opportunities, benefit financially and leave behind a positive legacy. In developing an environmental sustainability policy, you must first look at your own operations and evaluate your ecological footprint. Your sustainability strategy should define business drivers that cover sustainability areas across your business.

 image depicting a green footprint with environmental factors surrounding it

Steps your company can take in evaluating your ecological footprint:

  • Look at each of the processes within your organization and find ways that they can be altered to incorporate sustainability practices with minimal effect on the process itself
  • Look at your break room and find ways that you can eliminate waste
  • What about your companies use of electricity or water? Are you being wasteful?
  • How are your employees getting to and from work?

Examples of areas you might decide to improve:

  • Replace most light bulbs with low energy light bulbs like LED's or CFL's
  • Make it a practice to turn off lights when you leave a room that isn't being used
  • Use coffee cups that can be washed and reused instead of paper cups
  • Purchase paper products made from recycled material (Ex: Sustainable Earth by Staples)
  • Offer incentives for employees to ride the bus or join a carpool

6 Components of a Sustainability Policy Framework: Vison, Policy, and Strategy

1. Vision: Your vision statement should be a sentence of approximately 10 words that concisely describes your ideal outcome, product or service.

2. Principles/Core Values: Include a list of principles that are most relevant to your business and/or align with company core values to help guide your response to an opportunity or challenge in a way that aligns with your sustainability vision

3. Important Issues: Which issues in the world are most important for your organization to address? Example: Due to the direct impact on our business, we have prioritized the following sustainability issues to be addressed: water and energy conservation.

4. Commitment & Scope: At times, your ability to act on your policy can be affected by what you control and influence, so your policy should clarify boundaries and scope.

5. Objectives: It is imperative to have time-related achievable targets with deadlines. An Action Plan will help to ensure that the policy is effective and doesn't become 'another piece of paperwork.' Your commitment should be broken down into key objectives that are SMART:

 graphic showing the five components of creating SMART goals for your business

Your operational policies and projects can be more specific regarding how you apply these objectives. Strong sustainability policies will also detail how each objective is measured by identifying an indicator and a target. Establish metrics to measure and track your policy. Try to make your targets reasonable and achievable so you can obtain your goals and build on successes.

Sustainability Policy Objectives Examples:

  • Recycle
    • Recycle as much waste material as possible, including equipment that is no longer of use to the company. 
    • Purchase products made with recycled paper, such as paper towels and printer paper.
  • Conserve Water & Energy
    • Keep energy usage low. Making use of low energy LED light bulbs throughout and ensure that computers and lights are turned off when not being used.
  • Reduce Waste & Emissions
    • Avoid the use of paper wherever possible—go paperless. Send invoices and quotes via email as PDF files.
    • Reuse waste paper (from the printer) where possible, making use of the blank side for notes etc.
    • Purchase products with a lower environmental impact. Use environmentally safe soaps and detergents.
    • Use low impact transport for business travel. Offer incentives to employees to carpool and use public transportation.
    • Avoid unnecessary travel by making use of technology (instant messaging, video and audio conferencing, etc.).

6. Reporting: State your intention to report progress against your sustainability goals. Make your policy viewable in your work area and on your website and re-visit it at least once a year. It's good for the environment and good for business.

  • Example: We will externally report on our progress against these goals once per year.

Take it a Step Further

All organizations have suppliers, and if you are a major client, you have the weight to encourage suppliers to implement an Environmental Policy of their own. You could build this into your policy’s targets, thereby demonstrating that you are looking beyond simply your organization’s direct environmental impact.

quote from GreenBiz Business Owners have moved past questioning why sustainability is important

If you would like to review Ascentium Capital's sustainability policy, click here to request a copy.

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If you're looking to invest in your business for a sustainable future, Ascentium Capital can help. We specialize in helping SMBs with all major business initiatives – from conversion to energy efficient LED lighting to environmentally friendly technology solutions – let us help you get your “Green Campaign” in motion.

Fill out our contact form and a finance manager will be in touch soon!

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