The U.S. pulling out of the landmark Paris Climate Agreement this year made international headlines — the vast majority of them negative. But as the world debates the global impact of that move, and U.S. cities and states step in to fill the void, it’s an opportune time for companies in the energy sector to demonstrate their own environmental leadership.
A sustainability report is a great way for companies to showcase what they’re doing on a corporate level and in their local markets to be responsible stewards of the environment — from saving energy and water to reducing waste to providing a safe workplace. It conveys to customers and shareholders that they’re taking a strong stance and builds the company’s reputation as a good corporate neighbor.
If your company is not already producing a sustainability report, this is an excellent time to do so. Here are some thoughts to get you started.
A sustainability report should clearly outline your company’s sustainability goals and address these five key questions as they pertain to the environment:
- What are we doing with processes?
- What are we doing with products?
- What do we provide customers to help their own eco efforts?
- How are we creating a safe workplace for our employees?
- What are we doing to make a difference in the community?
The answers to those questions should be backed up with solid data and presented in a way that’s easy to digest. In its 2014 report, industrial equipment manufacturer Dresser-Rand (which was acquired by Siemens AG in 2015) created a side-by-side comparison of its 2014 sustainability commitments against its accomplishments that year in each of those areas, followed by new goals for 2015. This approach offers readers a quick, visual way to chart the company’s progress on its commitments and its vision moving forward.
Case studies are another vital component of a sustainability report and are your opportunity to tell compelling stories about specific environmental initiatives and their impacts. Sun Chemical, the world’s largest producer of printing inks and pigments, annually presents performance measurements of important sustainability metrics and provides concrete examples of the company’s efforts to advance eco-efficiency.
One case study from Sun Chemical’s 2015 report details the company’s decision to replace newly made industrial packaging with reconditioned packaging, which resulted in an immediate positive environmental impact of avoiding 2,571 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Charts, graphs, and brief blocks of content will make your report more persuasive and simpler for readers to grasp. Photography is important too, particularly to document your employees’ participation in community outreach events throughout the year.
For more ideas on what makes a great sustainability report, you’ll find a number of resources and report samples online. A good place to start is Global Reporting Initiative. You can also find many examples of sustainability reports that Eric Mower + Associates has produced listed in our work samples.