When one thinks of sustainability and sustainable business practices, two of the most common terms that come to mind are ‘carbon neutrality’ and ‘going green’.

It is abundantly clear that the challenges we face as humanity are enormous with a required 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.This means reductions within all aspects of society including and most importantly business.Unfortunately there is no quick fix, nor silver bullet. Energy efficiency, process realignment and offsets all have their place but going green and true sustainable business practice require time and appropriate business strategy. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Sustainability needs to take into consideration many more aspects than just going green. Staff well being, job creation, customers, financial stability and the environment all play a part in keeping a business sustainable. Paying an offset to appease a business conscience with an associated ‘green’ badge will not, nor putting in place the latest energy efficiency device with wild claims.Sensible strategy based on traditional business planning and principles is still the way to go when adopting sustainability strategies.

So where does one begin?

A sustainable business strategy requires clear leadership and executive commitment with a clearly articulated vision for the business. A statement of intent to achieve carbon neutrality over a period of years is usually a good place to start. This however needs to be augmented with measurement, namely measurement of a baseline of emissions from which to build a reduction programme. Without baseline measurements, a strategy in this respect becomes an exercise in futility. Furthermore, ongoing reductions, technology adaption and mitigation strategies should all be augmented with measurement.

At the end of the day, business needs to adapt to the emerging low carbon economy and sustainable business practices need to be embedded within the fabric of the business operations. Failing to do this is actually paying lip service to the real issues and risks being labelled as green washing.If you are embarking on a ‘green’ strategy, do it right and don’t take short cuts, in the long run such a strategy will pay dividends.

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