What is energy management? I’m not referring to the kind of commercial energy management that requires energy management consultants. I’m talking about the kind of energy management that the average consumer can perform to ensure energy optimization in their homes in terms of reducing consumption.
During last week’s webinar we took a look at what exactly a sustainability plan is. Going through all this information can seem a bit overwhelming, but with the right focus it becomes a more tangible concept. To get started, we need to ask ourselves first the question:
What is sustainability?
There are a few definitions of sustainability, but the one that strikes the strongest chord is, “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
It is our responsibility as humans to take care of this world so that the world can, in turn, take care of us, now and for generations to come. In other words, sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony and allow the fulfilment of the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
At a meet-the-press event, California Governor Jerry Brown criticized political leaders who continue to disregard climate change and its consequences. He pointed to their opposition to President Obama’s efforts in curbing climate change as one of the reasons why the United States’ climate change initiatives have yet to achieve their intended level of effectiveness. With the drought expected to continue, state leaders like Gov. Brown have taken steps to cut back on water usage, letting the grass go brown in their backyards as a symbolic act of support for climate change initiatives.
Climate change is a worldwide concern, defined as a change in global or regional climate patterns; in particular, a change apparent from the mid- to late 20th century onwards, and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels. With continuous changes to climate patterns, numerous agencies have adopted Climate Action Plans (CAPs). CAPs address air quality, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, transportation strategies, land use, open spaces, economic development, water management, recycling and more. Although various agencies may concentrate on different categories with more emphasis, the importance of CAPs are the effectiveness of the implementation and the longevity.
This is an important development, as it aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Many of the goals in this framework fall within a variety of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues, including accessibility and sustainable management of water and sanitation; reliable and sustainable modern energy for all; promotion of sustainable economic development and useful, decent work for all; construction of resilient infrastructure and promoting sustainable industrialization; fighting climate change and its impacts; and strengthening the implementation and revitalization of global partnerships.
In the global marketplace, green technology is critical to sustainable development. Organizations view technology as an effective tool in aligning business objectives with sustainability goals. Companies such as H&M and Puma, inspired by the circular economy model, have teamed up to utilize textile-to-textile recycling technology as part of their business strategy to integrate sustainable practices into corporate operations. By reusing and repurposing old or unused products, companies are, simply put, more sustainable.
Cities all over the world are trying different ways to contribute to global sustainability. One popular practice is the creation of “green” buildings: structures built using sustainable materials or modified to become sustainable. Such structures provide cities with infrastructure that will stand the test of time with little maintenance. This can be achieved through a variety of design innovations, such as the use of renewable sources instead of fossil fuels for energy and the use of renewable materials for renovation.
Experts agree environmental risks are one of the underlying causes of operational issues that negatively impact companies. Disclosing environmental data is an important aspect of corporate transparency valued by stakeholders. In 2014, over 5,000 companies from more than 80 countries chose to report, manage and share vital environmental information through CDP. Why? Because it demonstrates to investors, supply chains and governments that you are managing risks and capitalizing on opportunities, in addition to reducing the impact your operations have on the resources you rely on—all of which attract investors and customers, and strengthen your brand.
According to Maria Garrido, International Marketing Director for international advertising agency Havas, consumers are willing to spend money on a brand if they see it as a meaningful brand. Their operational concept of brand “meaningfulness” consists of three value propositions: 1) marketplace benefits, or the value delivered by products; 2) personal benefits, or the capability of a brand to connect to customers; and 3) collective benefits, or a brand’s overall contribution to society and the environment.
Global organizations regard climate change as a serious business risk that directly impacts their business operations. Climate change leads to environmental risks such as floods, heat stress and droughts, which adversely affect organizations, especially their supply chains, consumers and revenue streams. As a result, people are realizing that the framework we use for conducting business and producing goods and services needs to change.
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