The Roadmap to Sustainability

The first thing to make Triple Bottom Line (TBL) accounting a success is to gain allies in different domains and sub-domains, like Development, Design, Purchase and Marketing – essentially establishing  a cross- functional team that can cut through the red tape and get things done.

The roadmap towards sustainability will look something like listed below:

  • Making a business case of implementing the TBL accounting in the company and showing a positive return on investment (ROI) will be the first step.
  • Actually sitting down with the domain heads and middle managers to get them to calculate their respective domain’s carbon footprint in various areas and devising strategies and specific metrics to reduce on the big impact areas.
  • The product design team will have the maximum opportunity to drastically re-invent themselves through ‘design for environment’ methodology.
  • Investing in culture: Getting the people in the company to at least start thinking sustainability by educating and promoting the 3R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)
  • Setting goals that are immediate wins. For example, improving driver training, routing and efficiency through ‘idling stop’ campaigns of the existing buses.
  • Another area will be to look at the printing operations – double side printing and using recycled paper is definite money saved.
  • Making a case to invest in the new CNG fitted fleet by showing management the examples of similar exercise done at other companies and the potential for savings.
  • Another example will be lighting – the big elephant. Making a case for CFL’s will require some convincing.
  • Probably, the company’s campus is in the suburbs – huge campus with all greenery around…and lots of sunlight. Making a case for renewable energy through solar panels will be a much bolder goal, but nonetheless will get the management aligned in the ‘sustainable thinking pattern’ as that will more than pay for it self in a few years of energy generation.

In some cases, there will be an initial upfront costs associated, and therefore, areas with immediate gains will be the starting point. There can be lot of other ‘energy leaks’ also that can be plugged.

Helping people find value in sustainability is the main task. As the saying goes ‘What gets measured, improves’ – so by creating a new environmental cost category and depicting the emissions and the investments made in that regard, the returns on the accounting sheet will automatically emerge.

Setting small goals will be the key. It doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing’ goals.

And when the ideas start to come from the bottom up, then it will be the real sustainability 101, an entire culture change – which is what is required to make any significant changes.

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