Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Businesses Continue to Toy With Climate Change Strategies

I snapped this photo while wandering along the typical strip of route 62 in Amherst, NY (outside of Buffalo) earlier this week. It seemed like an appropriate photo for a continuing stream of discussion about energy use and sustainable business. How nice the high voltage towers look, backlit by the setting sun as cars whiz past. How long can we support the existing infrastructure that feeds these systems?

The Sustainable Company has passed through my hands and been added to the book shelf as a good reference for me to help build a business case for sustainability activities. I am greatly simplifying Mr. Laszlo's book by relating only the Eight Disciplines of the Sustainability Tool Kit. I do recommend picking up the book if you have not been exposed to much in the way of the business case for sustainability or if you are already working in the field and would like to see all that is out there. Of course, the book has been out for about four yeas now, so I am certain that there have been tweaks and modifications to this methodology.

The Eight Disciplines of Sustainable Business:

1) Understand the Current Position
2) Anticipate Future Expectations
3) Set Sustainable Value Goals
4) Design Value Creation Initiatives
5) Develop the Business Case
6) Capture the Value
7) Validate Results and Capture Learning
8) Build Sustainable Capacity

Points 1-3 fall under the heading of Discovering Value Opportunities, points 4-6 fall under Creating Value, and points 7 & 8 connect the sets of 1-3 and 4-6 together with a feedback loop. The book goes into greater detail with keys to success in each of the stages as well as some case studies including Patagonia and Bulmer's. What I have not done yet is check in on the progress of these companies to date. It should be an interesting exercise.
A few recent articles caught my eye, most of them courtesy of the WBCSD newsletters.

Both articles highlight company concern over energy. One with executives expressing their concerns about energy price instability and the need for making plays to reduce their exposure to this volatility. What does that mean? Investments in energy efficiency and alternative energy sources. The second one, playing off of previous articles about the potential for a C-level Chief Sustainability Officer, mentions the potential for a Chief Energy Officer or CNO. Their may be enough specialization and permutations in procuring energy cost effectively in the future that companies need a special position. Interesting.

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