Effective sustainability: Towards a sustainable organization in six steps

Effective sustainability: Towards a sustainable organization in six steps


Companies can no longer ignore the call for sustainability. A growing number of organizations feels the responsibility to contribute to a liveable world. Many of them have already taken significant steps towards sustainability, or are beginning to.

From the outside world this call for sustainability - in the broadest sense of the word - is also getting louder. New regulations require companies to regularly report not only on their CO2 emissions and energy consumption, but also on working conditions and other social themes. Clients are also increasingly making demands in this area. It is expected that legal frameworks will become more sharply defined in the future, so that almost every company will have to deal with them.

Effective sustainability: this is how to approach it

Is your organization already operating sustainably? To avoid falling behind, it is sensible to start as soon as possible.

But how to handle that? In this article, we'll outline how to draw up and implement an effective sustainability policy, in six concrete steps.

Step 1 Collect the necessary data

Data is the cornerstone of a good sustainability policy. With insight into the right data, you know where you currently stand on the road to sustainability, and in which areas you can improve.

Therefore data collection is the first step. With the Greenhouse Gas Protocol as a guideline, you can make an initial draft of the sustainability themes relevant to you; the steps your organization can take. Do you have a number of large office buildings? Or do your employees travel a lot by car or on planes? Then those items are probably making up a large part of your footprint.

Based on such initial assumptions, you can start collecting the correct data: energy bills, distances driven, fuel cards, and so on. This is how you map out your company's emissions.

This may seem like quite a challenge—and without the right tools, it is. We are happy to help you on your way. With the SmartTrackers software platform you can collect all relevant data in one clear, well-organized place. This way, the data is editable and transparent for everyone in your organization. Moreover, the system also helps you with the development of your sustainability policy, as we will see in the following steps.

Step 2 Identify the main action themes

Have you collected all the data? Then you need to calculate your exact CO2 impact and energy consumption per theme. This way you not only know where you can reduce emissions, but also where your greatest opportunities for further savings and sustainability lie.

If you use SmartTrackers, our system automatically performs these calculations for you. It also immediately splits the outcome into different job categories and scopes (whether you can influence it directly or indirectly). This gives you a clear overview of those sustainability themes where action is most relevant, feasible and necessary for you.

Step 3 Determine your sustainability goals

Now that you know how your organization is doing and where room for improvement can be found, it is time to set concrete objectives. What to focus on? In what area do you want to improve on sustainability? What exactly do you want to achieve and in what time frame?

You can formulate different types of objectives in SmartTrackers. Think of absolute targets, such as: “We want to use x % less energy in our production process by 2030." But you can also set relative targets, for example: “If our profit increases by x%, our CO2 emissions must decrease by x %”. Just like with the data, you can assign the objectives to the corresponding scope. This way you have a comprehensive oversight of the actions the company needs to take.

Step 4 Create and implement an action plan

Now that you've done all the preliminary work, it's time for action. How will your organization achieve the objectives? What measures and changes are necessary for this? And how are you going to implement them?

There is not one standard package for sustainability. The best way is the way that is relevant to your organization. It is often a mix of sustainable technology and process optimization based on the trias energetica:

1) Minimize energy consumption
2) Ensure that required energy is used efficiently
3) Generate or buy energy sustainably (e.g. bio fuels, green electricity)

Next it is important to take a good look your own organization. Where are the unique opportunities for sustainability? Which specific business processes can be organized more efficiently and sustainably? The best way to find out is to internally gather as much information as possible.

Listen not only to managers, but to people at all departments and levels, to learn what ideas or suggestions they may have. Perhaps an operational employee has a smart idea about how to save on packaging materials, while the board room has not yet considered this. Diversity in input, visions and experiences often leads to the best insights.

With a little creativity, joint effort, learning from best practices and possibly some guidance from SmartTrackers, any organization is capable of developing concrete, realistic measures.

Step 5 Calculate your scenarios

With a collection of potential measures, you can't wait to get started. However, it is prudent to first calculate scenarios and forecast effects. SmartTrackers features prediction curves for your goals and can also calculate simple return-on-investment times. That way good decision making becomes a lot easier.

Step 6 Make sustainability an ongoing process

You have now laid a strong foundation for a sustainable organization. To verify that your measures lead to the desired outcomes, it is important to go through the aforementioned cycle regularly.

Update the data in SmartTrackers at regular intervals, for example once every quarter or once a year. Report the outcomes internally and evaluate the progress with all parties involved. Are you getting closer to your goals? Have CO2 emissions or energy consumption decreased sufficiently? Or are other or additional measures required to achieve the goals? Adjust your sustainability policy where necessary and re-evaluate progress at a later time.


Want to know more?

Do you need some extra help on your way to sustainability? Or do you want to know more about what SmartTrackers can do for your organization? We are happy to help you! Contact us.
You can reach us on +31 (0)33 2003265 and via info@smarttrackers.nl.
For specific questions about using the software itself, please refer to this guide, or submit a support ticket from your account:

or mail to support@smarttrackers.nl
courtesy of Eva van der Schans

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