As consumers continue to be critical of brand behavior, companies of all sizes across business sectors are elevating sustainability as a core tenet of their practices, yet new research from new engineering, procurement, consulting and construction company firm Black & Veatch reveals that many companies continue to establish targets without a clear understanding of how to achieve them.
The firm’s newly released Corporate Sustainability Goal Setting and Measurement report, developed with GreenBiz Group, finds that corporate leadership teams across all sectors are working to accelerate the shift from discussing and establishing sustainability goals to actively delivering tangible results. How to achieve the most aggressive goals remains an area of uncertainty across business types and scale.
“This report confirms that sustainability strategies increasingly are becoming complex and require companies to consider operational planning views that can extend for decades,” said Rob Wilhite, leader of Black & Veatch’s distributed generation services team, in a news release. “With decarbonization a critical element, roadmaps will help companies set realistic targets in the short and medium terms, while offering the flexibility and agility required to comply with complex regulatory changes and rapidly evolving technology.”
Key findings of the research include:
- More than 80 percent of companies surveyed with revenues greater than $250 million have set greenhouse gas reduction goals, but 25 percent are unsure how they’ll meet them.
- Electric vehicles are being piloted by more than half of companies with revenues greater than $1 billion as a strategic component toward achieving sustainability goals.
- More than three-quarters of companies with revenues of at least $10 billion are using analytics to reduce energy and water usage, as are more than half of all other companies.
- Companies are using a combination of capital expenditures (CapEx) and operating expenses (OpEx) to fund sustainability projects while green and sustainability bonds gain traction.
- Corporate management and investors are the top stakeholders driving sustainability commitments, far outweighing other influencers such as customers or regulators.
- Of the survey’s largest companies—those with revenue exceeding $10 billion—two-thirds have set Scope 3 emissions targets, reflecting the growing trend to influence emissions of other companies and activities in their value chains.
Greenhouse gas reductions through the combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy sourcing is viewed as essential for many large companies
Given that enterprise-level power assets can have operational horizons that span decades, companies setting or adjusting targets must understand all options available to them to avoid getting locked into one technology path. By having a clear understanding of technology maturity and cost, as well as the changing regulatory environment, companies can avoid these pitfalls.
The transition will take time, but many innovative solutions already are here
Low- and zero-emissions power generation, advanced renewable energy projects, alternative-fueled vehicles and advancing energy storage are creating an entire ecosystem of carbon-reduction technologies. Now companies must identify their impact on the global carbon cycle, comprehend the associated climate risks and identify opportunities to conceive, update or alter their decarbonization roadmap.
GreenBiz Group, in collaboration with Black & Veatch, conducted extensive research into corporate sustainability goals and the strategies being developed and deployed to achieve them. The report is based on an online survey that polled nearly 500 respondents across 14 industry sectors, with additional insight from interviews conducted with sustainability leadership at several Fortune 500 companies.