How [we] respond to the challenge of sustainability profoundly affect[s] the competitiveness—perhaps even survival—of [our] organizations.Harvard Business Review
Perhaps the future of sustainable business practices is not a subject that keeps you up at night. Maybe you deem the terms “eco-friendly” and “closed-loop” as only relevant to younger generations. You may even feel that “renewable energy” is a nuance that will falter in the face of the Presidency’s mantra of fossil fuel dependency.
But maybe the future of your business actually depends on your stance on these issues.
If you do find yourself dismissing these principles, then we invite you to see things a little differently and to take a look through the lens of sustainable engineering. Topics such as this—among many others—are not reserved solely for Millennial conversation or entrepreneurial endeavors. They are quickly becoming “business megatrends,” and there is plenty of room for you in the conversation. As major tech companies like, Apple, Facebook, and Google invest in better environmental practices, they provide real-world examples of sustainable engineering that work in enterprises today.
Regrettably, due to largescale influences like President Trump’s anti-Paris Agreement campaign and Brexit’s withdrawal from the EU, the waters of global sustainability have been politically muddied. Many CEO’s still prefer to leave the fight for sustainability to the younger, “greener” youth of today. Yet, despite the opposition, corporate investment in sustainability continues to rise—by an impressive 22% in just the past two years—and a great deal of it is due to the sustainable engineering industry.
So what is sustainable engineering?
If you are considering a transition to “greener pastures,” there is an entire budding industry to help you with a transition to sustainable processes. That’s right, it’s called sustainable engineering.
Let’s define the terms before we continue. Sustainability, according to the Brundtland Commission report, is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Consequently, sustainable engineering, as defined by the Business Council for Sustainable Design, is the application of researched, sustainable design to operating systems in order to “combine objectives of growth with environmental protection for a better future.”
Well, that was simple enough: highly-trained civil engineers who care enough about the environment and the economy to use their skills in order to better them. What’s not to like?
Care is the mother of invention.
In general, younger leaders care deeply about the long-term impact of human advancement on the environment and economy alike. Their “care” in this case, like necessity, has been the mother of their invention. The technological advancements borne from their collective perusal of better, greener business practices are profound. As such, Millennial startups and entrepreneurial ventures are often built from the ground up on sustainable business models, effectively placing them at the forefront of ingenuity and efficiency.
As such, corporations that are increasingly focused on greener business practices have discovered sustainability’s unassuming secret: its multidimensional benefits. When such a model is implemented correctly, not only do you get to help preserve the environment, you get to preserve the integrity of your bank account as well. According to a global 2014 report conducted by Niesen, over 55% of consumers “across 60 countries are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.” Moreover, a whopping 71% of Americans “consider the environment” as a factor when they conduct business or make purchases. And don’t forget that 22% industry growth rate in the past two years. That’s quite the upward trend.
You, however, in your profitable, fully-established business of fifty years perhaps did not build your company on the same platform. The thought of a transition is overwhelming at this venture, and you might not think it’s worth the effort. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? Admittedly, we are all creatures of habit to some degree or the other. But, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it” has always been the mantra of a dying business. If you want to grow, you have to know what is coming—you must understand and predict the evolutions of your industry. Acting on these insights may be more profitable than you realize.
Admittedly, keeping up with advancements and responding to societal expectations can be a tall order. But this is where engineering comes into play.
Engineering bridges the sustainability gap.
Sustainable engineering consultants help to make your aspirations of a sustainable business model a reality as they bridge the gaps between design, implementation, and production.
According to a study conducted by the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP), “the number of sustainability consultants has grown rapidly” despite a recession in past years, with considerably more growth predicted over the next five. The ISSP found that 56% of recent consultation focus is being allotted to strategy development and planning. This proves that a good many businesses seeking sustainability consulting are still, like you, in the beginning phases of the transition. It’s never too late to join the movement, and you haven’t been left behind.
The ISSP also reports that the next highest category for consultation demand, at 45%, was defining metrics and/or benchmarking. Obviously, revenue is of great concern to any business, so you need to make sure that such a move is done in a financially prudent way. Any decision or implementation must be a sustainably profitable one. To ensure this, it makes sense for the implementation process to be executed properly, which is all the more reason to learn from the expertise of sustainable engineering professionals.
We work with companies in these situations every, single day. If you want to know more about what some of these trends may be, listen to Lisa Jackson, Apple’s VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, discuss the state of Apple’s upcoming environmental efforts.
For the betterment of the future; for the betterment of your company.
We’re not asking you to change your mind on the spot or to jump haphazardly into the general direction of sustainability (please don’t do that). These topics are entirely too important for your business to take so lightly.
What we are asking is that you join the conversation and bring your insights and experience with you. Do some serious research. Speak with a sustainability consultant or engineer—we can help with that. Take a long look at your company and ask yourself the hard questions. Don’t settle for the comfort of habit.
And one last thing before you go. Imagine what can be achieved when the hard-fought wisdom and expertise that you bring is combined with the younger generation’s fresh outlook on established business models. Their cutting-edge innovations and entrepreneurial drive are assets that can often be overlooked due to the “Millennial stigma” of their generation.
The fact of the matter is that this conversation is one that will continue as long as generations are made. There is no age requirement. There is no age limit. All of us were young once. Most of us will grow old. There is plenty of room for your voice. And we need your help to affect real change. Will you join us?