The resources listed below come from my webinar ‘It ain’t easy going green – but it sure is profitable!’ They will help you explore the productivity opportunities the environment can offer your organization. There is a wealth of information out there – this is only a start. Good luck!
How to search for information relevant to your sector
Enter ‘sustainability', ‘green' or ‘resource efficiency, [sector]' into your search engine, focusing on the pages for your country. So if you work in the pharmaceuticals sector, search for:
• ‘sustainability, pharmaceuticals'
• ‘green pharmaceuticals' or
• ‘resource efficiency, pharmaceuticals'.
If you can't find anything locally, search the rest of the web, as the findings from other countries still be generally relevant to you.
If you don't find much information for your sector, other terms to search for are:
• cleaner production
• waste minimization and
• pollution prevention.
You may well find that there is just too much information. Don't worry - give yourself time to look through the material and choose one or two sources that feel right for you.
There will be a great deal you can do on your own, but you may also need help. The websites below will get you started - but you may also need to find or start a supportive group to work with.
Organisations that will help you on your sustainability journey
Government agencies often provide or link to sustainability resources for business: in the USA and Australia, look on the website of your state or federal EPA. In other countries, look for information provided by your Ministry or Department of the Environment.
Ethical Corporation http://www.ethicalcorp.com/ provides business information for sustainability.
Professional associations often have sustainability subgroups, for example accountants, engineers, planners, surveyors, landscape architects.
Industry associations also sometimes have sustainability subgroups, for example, manufacturing, infrastructure, packaging, plastics.
Sustainability Victoria http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/: has great resources for anyone.
Sustainable Business Network http://www.sustainable.org.nz/: this New Zealand based organization has great resources: look for similar groups near you - or start one!
The Natural Step has worked with thousands of corporations, municipalities, academic institutions and not-for-profit organisations that have proven that moving strategically toward sustainability leads to new opportunities, reduced costs, and dramatically reduced ecological and social impacts. http://www.naturalstep.org/.
UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, has resources and information as well as personal stories and ‘greening tips' at http://www.unep.org/Sustainability/.
Waste Management Institute: most countries have such an institute and resource efficiency is an increasing focus.
World Business Council for Sustainable Development http://www.wbcsd.org - look for a national or regional branch near you.
CEEQUAL http://www.ceequal.com/: the UK-based Civil Engineering Environmental Quality Assessment and Award Scheme helps companies assess their projects' performance across 12 areas of environmental and social concern.
Carpets: consider moving from a product-based to a service-based model, in the way that Ray Anderson did for Interface Carpets. Look for Ray on YouTube and follow this inspiring journey to profit and sustainability at http://www.interfaceglobal.com/Sustainability.aspx and http://missionzero.org/. This model truly has the potential to save the world - and as the Paris-based Matisse model shows (http://www.matisse-project.net/projectcomm/), has the potential to create not only more jobs, but more meaningful jobs.
Envirowise delivers free, independent advice to UK businesses to enables them to increase profitability and reduce environmental impact. Many of the resources are relevant to businesses anywhere in the world. http://www.envirowise.gov.uk/.
Financial sector: take a look at the following reports:
• Eccles, Robert and King, Mervyn, 2010. Integrated reports voluntary filing. Downloadable from the World Federation of Exchanges website at http://www.world-exchanges.org/news-views/views/integrated-reports-voluntary-filing.
• Social Investment Forum. 2007 Report on Socially Responsible investing trends in the United States. Downloadable from http://www.socialinvest.org/resources/pubs/documents/FINALExecSummary2007SIFTrendswlinks.pdf.
• World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the UNEP Financial Initiative. 2010. Translating ESG into sustainable business value: key insights for companies and investors. UNEP Finance Initiative and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Available from ‘Publications and reports' at http://www.wbcsd.org.
The Global Reporting Initiative develops and disseminates globally applicable sustainability reporting guidelines for voluntary use by organisations. Find out more at http://www.globalreporting.org.
Sustainable procurement policies
A selection of government-led sustainable procurement policies is listed below. Many private sector bodies, including some major corporations, are also developing such policies.
Australia: Australian Procurement and Construction Council, 2006. Australian and New Zealand Government Framework for Sustainable Procurement. Downloadable from www.med.govt.nz/upload/50471/anz-framework.pdf.
Canada: Policy on green procurement, 2006. Downloadable from http://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/ecologisation-greening/achats-procurement/index-eng.html.
Europe: see Green Public Procurement, or GPP at http://ec.europa.eu/environment/gpp/index_en.htm and ICLEI (Local governments for sustainability) at http://www.iclei-europe.org/index.php?id=procurement.
New Zealand: OAG: Office of the Auditor-General. 2008. Procurement guidance for public entities: a Good practice guide. June 2008. Downloadable from www.oag.govt.nz/2008/procurement-guide/. Also see NZ Transport Agency, 2009. Procurement manual for activities funded through the National Land Transport Programme. Downloadable from http://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/procurement-manual/docs/procurement-manual-201109.pdf.
United Kingdom: Sustainable Procurement Taskforce, 2006. Procuring the Future. Downloadable from http://www.defra.gov.uk/sustainable/government/publications/procurement-action-plan/.
USA: Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) helps the federal government ‘buy green': see http://www.epa.gov/epp/.
Certification or rating schemes
Applicances are often rated for energy and water efficiency. There are numerous other product certification schemes, usually country-specific. Ask your environmental or consumer agencies for more information.
Building rating schemes include NABERS (Australia; http://www.nabers.com.au/), BREEAM (UK; (http://www.breeam.org/) and LEED (http://www.usgbc.org/) as well as various 5-star schemes.
CarboNZero is an internationally accredited greenhouse gas certification programme. Find out more at http://www.carbonzero.co.nz/.
ISO 14001 is an environmental certification. Find out more at http://www.iso14000-iso14001-environmental-management.com/ then search for advisers and auditors near you.
Resources about business and the environment
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: go to http://www.maweb.org/en/Synthesis.aspx and look for the free PowerPoints that set out the business case for better environmental management all round the world.
Stern Review on ‘The economics of climate change': http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stern_Review and search ‘Robb Lectures' at http://www.auckland.ac.nz/, the University of Auckland website, to download the PowerPoints of his three lectures in September 2010.
Worldwatch Institute http://www.worldwatch.org/.
Cradle to cradle (not grave) design for energy-efficient products, buildings and infrastructure that use less energy to operate and maintain over their working life, can be easily maintained to extend their working life, and can be broken down into re-usable or recyclable materials at the end of it - see http://www.mbdc.com/.
Videos: Youtube: Greg Craven - How It All Ends: watch this hilarious video about climate change and the risk of doing something or not doing anything about it.
What else gets your vote?
Email me via my website www.clarefeeney.com if you find any useful information you'd like to share and I'll update this article - and acknowledge you if you wish.
About Clare Feeney
Clare Feeney is a consultant, author and speaker on business, economics and the environment.