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Sustainability at the core: moving from gut feeling to facts

Sustainability has become a core function of businesses and organisations. This is something we see on all levels, from the European Commission to individual companies. And that’s great! Because that means sustainability experts on all levels can keep on moving away from gut feeling and towards fact-based understanding of sustainability – the kind of understanding that allows you to take action.

By Eric Mieras on February 26, 2020

 

Increasing need for concrete information to substantiate claims

Increasingly, governments, investors, consumers, clients and employees all want sustainability to be backed by solid metrics. To substantiate claims in purchasing, for non-financial reporting, for design decisions and performance monitoring, and for many more reasons.

 

One example of how sustainability is taken to the next level is the European Green Deal, announced by the European Commission in late 2019. This landmark policy document included a focus on concrete measures, such as reliable, comparable and verifiable information for buyers and green claims substantiated against a standard methodology. In practice, the EC envisions digitalisation tools to increase transparency and prevent false green claims by companies.

 

Let’s create facts that inspire action

This increased demand can be the driving factor behind taking metrics and reporting to the next level: the level where these facts can empower you to take action. Companies can be more efficient and reliable in their sustainability assessments by moving away from ad-hoc reports for each individual purpose. And if these metrics are made scalable and available to a much broader audience, like business units, design teams, procurement, management and even clients and people outside the organisation, they lend even more credibility to environmental performance claims.

 

There is a lot of energy and drive around sustainability, with many people motivated to contribute to a shared purpose and who deserve to know what the contribution of an idea is. How do various options score against each other? Do we end up triggering trade-off effects with our decisions? These kinds of insights allow companies to confidently move away from gut-feeling and towards fact-based decision making and action.

 

The tools are there for fast implementation

To get to this point, we need a single source of truth that everybody can use for their own purpose. Life cycle-based information and tools can be that single source of truth, because they work with models that can be made accessible for all different users in specific, relevant ways.

 

For instance, you can allow users to compare and monitor sustainability results by changing the variables that are relevant for them. Then, instead of publishing a single, general report, these users can use the baseline models to generate their own, more specific reports. One tool to do that with is SimaPro Share. These tools are set up by experts, who also build the underlying model. The result: robust and trustworthy figures, in a solution that can be implemented quickly by reusing your existing models.

 

Grow as you go

To start with, you can keep it simple and focus on the most material aspects. At PRé, we have learned there’s no need to go as advanced as possible right from the start. It works best to start simple and add complexity as you go. This allows you to learn by doing. Once new questions come up, they can be embedded in the model to make the model and solution more advanced.

 

This is much more successful than overwhelming yourself with too many choices at the start. And it will actually speed up the learning process later on. We have seen this in countless environmental assessment projects, for tenders, product portfolios, design and reporting.

 

Are you looking for a quick, simple start in making sustainability strategy more fact-based? Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Contact the author

‘Sustainability is all about impact. Positive impact makes you meaningful. But first you have to know where you are making an impact and where you can create shared value. That’s where PRé comes in. Pinpointing your impact is an essential starting point for taking joint action with people and organisations in your ecosystem. The combination of sustainability and social business can make a real change in the way we do business.’

Contact Eric Mieras
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