Top Business Sustainability Initiatives To Start Now For A Net Zero Future

Learn the top business sustainability initiatives and practices that you should start to implement.

Switching your business to net-zero emissions or another sustainability initiative is challenging but something all companies need to consider for long-term global sustainability and employee health. Business sustainability initiatives are ever-growing; they will most likely be mandatory in future years to combat climate change.

Luckily, many businesses can begin the switch now and reap financial benefits, improve the experiences of workers and potential customers, and reduce overhead costs. Here’s your guide to business sustainability efforts, with definitions and examples:

What is Sustainability: Definitions and Examples

Sustainability is often thrown around as corporate jargon. But, sustainability refers to a broad spectrum of developmental goals, including clean energy, climate action, economic growth, poverty, health, education, equality, peace, justice, hunger, and more. The United Nations sustainable development goals include all of these since company growth can impact access to the necessities of life, like breathing clean air, and disproportionately impact different social groups.

Non-sustainably-focused business development can have negative environmental, social, and economic impacts.

So when we talk about sustainability, we’re talking about the ability to maintain a rate or level. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this includes the ability to create or sustain conditions where human living and production are in harmony with each other. In a positive sustainability environment, and according to the United Nations, corporate development meets the needs without compromising human life now and in the future.

Sustainability Definition Graphic By Clarus
Definition of Sustainability Source: Clarus

Why a Sustainability Program?

Businesses that start at ground zero for sustainability can realize the positive potential of these initiatives. Sustainability should have a significant positive impact on those around you, but it also can improve your business operations.

While sometimes vague, remember that sustainable business practices are not one-size-fits-all and may need to change as you progress your initiatives and goals.

Sustainability is:

  • Better for the environment
  • Will improve your bottom line
  • Can improve the lives and working conditions of your employees
  • Can put you at a competitive advantage

Luckily, efforts in sustainability for the environment can also improve social and economic impacts.

Examples of Corporate Environmental Sustainability

You can contribute to corporate environmental sustainability based on goal, tactic, or certification level.

Two of the most common goals for goal-based corporate sustainability initiatives are pollution prevention (P2) and resource conservation. Still, you can also dedicate your business to zero waste landfill, waste minimization, and zero discharge, among many others.

Pollution Prevention

Pollution prevention (P2) refers to reducing or eliminating waste at the source. Pollution can occur in the land, air, or water, so reducing your carbon footprint or using less waste can help P2.

Examples of P2 sustainability practices include:

  • Reducing product packaging
  • Reusing materials in production
  • Implementing conservation techniques like using less water
  • Using non-toxic substances
Corporate Energy Resource Conservation System

Resource Conservation

Conserving resources is part of P2 sustainability and often involves changing operations for more efficient use of resources.

This includes:

  • Low-flow and water-efficient faucets and toilets in bathrooms
  • Removing lawns and hardscaping and reducing landscape water use
  • Installing automatic shut-offs and sensors throughout a building
  • Energy-efficient light bulbs for reduced greenhouse gas emissions

Resource conservation is probably one of the most approachable methods.

Zero Emissions

Zero emissions is an essential tactic-based sustainability effort that would directly reduce a business's impact on the environment. Reducing waste, switching from fossil fuels, buying energy-efficient appliances, adopting the EPA’s Waste Reducing Model (WARM), changing to electric vehicles, and investing in renewable energy would all contribute to the zero-emission model. In addition to the following tactics, businesses can also commit to responsible consumption, responsible waste management, and renewable energy.

LEED Gold Building Certification Insignia

LEED and Green Buildings

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is widely used as a green building rating system. LEED can apply to a building or neighborhood instead of a company. So if your company wants to obtain the LEED credentials, you must be prepared to potentially make structural changes to your building to meet their standards.

Some companies shift this by switching to an overall environmental plan like reducing the carbon footprint. Colgate Palmolive uses LEED buildings to reduce their environmental impact and exposure to water and climate-related issues.

ISO 5001:2018 and ISO 14001

ISO 50001 and other energy management standards are global management standards to help businesses implement, improve, and maintain efficient energy use.

ISO 50001:2018 is one of the most popular frameworks, and businesses can also register with ISO 14001, which lays out the requirements for improving environmental performance and helps enterprises manage ecological responsibilities.

Corporate ESG Goals

Going Towards Sustainability

Going green in the corporate world requires a lot of moving parts. But, when done right, corporate sustainability can play off for your bottom line, employees, and customers.

If you’re interested in going towards sustainability, consider the following:

  • You can’t achieve zero emissions or perfect sustainability overnight; it’s a process.
  • Sustainability requires buy-in from the top down, so sustainability measures must be thought out and feasible for your business.
  • Building-related sustainability efforts are possible and can improve tenant satisfaction.
  • Include SMART goals in your planning, and connect with EHS professionals, so your plans are well-thought-out and make sense.

Healthy buildings are part of sustainability practices. Small things like your building’s air quality can significantly impact the environment.

Reach out to Sanalife today to learn which simple changes can quickly improve carbon emissions and environmental impact.

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