The Future of Sustainability (continued)

By Matthew Weller – Sustainability Advisor, MJC Sustainability – and

In the last blog post, we had a detailed look at three of the six key components of the fresh approach to sustainability given by Dr Matthew Tueth (PhD) from Aquinas College.  If you missed the last blog, make sure you read it over here.  As a worldwide business community part of the responsibility to ensure the future of our operating environments lies with us, and through a refreshed attempt at sustainability we can be well on the way to making some great changes.  In this article we dig a little deeper and look at the final three of these elements and share some ideas and examples on how this can be implemented in your business.
Solar, wind, geothermal and ocean energy
A key for future sustainability is the use of energy sources that do not use fossil fuels or require use of non-renewable materials.  Examples of these include solar, wind, geothermal and ocean energy – there are emerging technologies, which are being tested and trialed and will in time be available for use by all energy consumers.

As most businesses operate on the non-renewable energy grid, there are several ways for your business to transition towards utilising renewables:

The best low cost way to encourage these energy sources is to purchase green energy from providers.  Green energy options do provide the opportunity for you to offset your energy usage, but does not contribute towards energy efficiency or implement strategies to identify where your business can improve;
Move your business towards utilising renewable energy sources and incorporate renewables into your business where feasible;
The stretch target for business is to investigate how to decentralise the energy supply the business relies on, this may be undertaken through collaborating with local businesses to establish renewable energy generators that can service business precincts or office blocks.  This approach would ensure your business has the opportunity to establish continuity of supply and eventually have an energy source that is both sustainable and affordable.

Local-based organisations and economies
As businesses move towards sustainability, it is suggested that there is a move towards more local-based businesses and economies, and establish regional corporations who work together in a web of collaboration and partnership.  This will ensure communities and businesses are durable and are not exposed to external factors outside of their operating areas.

As a start, your business could look at the following ways to become more of a local organisation and ensure your business is more resilient in local economies:

Look at how your business engages with the local community, whether it is through charity events or even sponsoring schools – any engagement        with the local community moves your business towards localisation;
If you operate in many locations you could look at localising your business to ensure it reinvests in the community by employing locally and encouraging development of the region’s youth.

Continuous improvement process
To continually move towards sustainability and increase the Triple Top Line value for the business, it is important that organisations implement continual improvement processes that monitor, analyse and provide for redesign of elements of the business whilst implementing the Triple Top Line approach will increase the value return to the business as conditions change and new opportunities emerge.

There are some key activities that your business can implement to mainstream a continuous improvement process into how you operate:

Implement an environmental management system, this could be as simple as utilising the Queensland Government’s ecoBiz toolkit or putting in place an ISO14001 compliant standard;
Review your existing policies and see how they can be updated to incorporate sustainability elements, for example your procurement policy could be updated to ensure products and services your businesses purchases meet appropriate standards.

Reference: Tueth. Matthew Ph.D (2010). Fundamentals of Sustainable Business: A Guide to the Next 100 years. Hackensack: World Scientific Publishing Co.


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