Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Boston Chamber event “Making the Business Case for Sustainability”. This was a panel discussion of the integration of sustainability into business with representatives Johanna Jobin from EMD Millipore, Carolyn Kaplan from Nixon Peabody LLP, and Tony Calandro from VOX Global. The panelists represented varying industries, from service to production, which provided a range of perspectives on what sustainability means to various sectors.
There were some common threads among the panel such as “start small and build upon success.” I agree that this is key when implementing sustainable strategies as they require buy-in from management and often require a culture change in order for success. It was encouraging to hear that this may not be such an uphill battle going forward as many companies, such as consumer companies that VOX Global works with, view sustainability of their operations and products as “smart business”.
On the financial side, making operations sustainable makes them more efficient and thus more cost-effective. Saving or using alternative resources is also good for the planet, ensuring that a company will be able to do business into the future. From a public relations perspective it is smart business because, as Tony Calandro said, companies see that “they won’t lose business for being sustainable but will lose business if they aren’t.” This is a welcome shift in the thinking of businesses. Carolyn Kaplan noted that not only would they lose business but employees as well. She is seeing an environmentally savvy generation of the work force emerging that is looking for places to work where sustainability is fundamental.
I found it interesting that the panelists said that unlike other aspects of business where one wants to keep their trade secrets, sustainability is one thing which people are willing to share ideas and lessons learned. As an employee I’m interested in looking at other companies’ ideas to see what might inform sustainability at Arrowstreet. And as an architect it is integral for me to learn what clients are doing to make their companies, products, and services more sustainable so that I can help them plan and build spaces to facilitate their goals.