2013's biggest successes, from the GreenBiz Executive Network

As 2013 comes to a close, we asked members of the GreenBiz Executive Network, our member-based, peer-to-peer learning forum for sustainability professionals, to reflect on the past year and look at what lies ahead.

They obliged by telling us about their accomplishments in 2013 and also how their jobs have continued to change. A few big themes emerged: More companies are working to broaden their impact beyond their four walls to work with customers, suppliers and even competitors in order to make a greater impact. They're also measuring more of their efforts and setting 2020 goals (something I'll be holding a workshop on at our GreenBiz Forum 14). 

Here's what they said when we asked: What was your company's greatest accomplishment this year?

Kim Marotta, director of sustainability, MillerCoors 

Drunk driving is completely preventable and this holiday season, we launched our largest drunk driving prevention program in company history. We teamed up with Hailo, the world's largest taxi finder app, to provide $3 million worth of taxi rides in Chicago, Boston and New York during the holidays. We also supported safe ride programs in many other cities across the country for the holidays, including Phoenix, Ariz.; Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Virginia Beach, Va.; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay, Wis.; and Denver, Colo. We're proud to help millions of people celebrate safely.

John Schulz, AVP of Sustainability Operations, AT&T 

We have been working with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) for a while now, and this year saw the launch of the fruits of our labors — the WaterMAPP tool — which we're using to build the business case for water efficiency in buildings. We're using it to help meet our own water efficiency goals, and we're also aggressively working with EDF to get the word out so that other companies can do the same.

Bob Langert, corporate VP, CSR/Sustainability, McDonald's Corporation 

Within McDonald's, we have achieved an aligned, global, focused, senior management-driven 2020 CSR/Sustainability Framework. This is a huge milestone for us and will be made public in the second quarter of 2014.

Jeff Rehm, senior manager corporate Facilities & global sustainability, W.W. Grainger, Inc., W.W. Grainger 

Our team's greatest accomplishment is our increased collaboration with our finance partners. By engaging them early in the due diligence process, the sustainability team was able to help prioritize win-win investments including a new solar project in Northern California. This relationship has evolved from reactive to proactive involvement from the team and now, in some cases, to the sustainability team leading projects from concept to completion.

Bruno Sarda, director, sustainability operations, Dell 

Our greatest achievement this year was our ability to finalize and launch an ambitious multi-year sustainability strategy and goals. This is especially noteworthy given that this was fully supported during a time of organizational distractions caused by a lengthy and tortuous process that led to Dell to becoming a private company again.

Bill Morrissey, VP environmental sustainability, The Clorox Company 

Our greatest accomplishment is setting and getting the company aligned to new 2020 Environmental Sustainability Strategy and Goals, including a further 20 percent reduction in our operational footprint metrics (energy use; GHG emissions; water use; solid waste to landfill), a commitment to scorecard and help improve the sustainability of our top 100 suppliers, and a commitment to make sustainability improvements to 50 percent of our product portfolio.

Amy Skoczlas Cole, vice president of corporate citizenship, Pentair 

Pentair's focus on lean operations has driven sustainability accomplishments of less energy consumed, more water re-used and less waste going to landfills across our operations while also saving millions of dollars. In our Enschede, Netherlands facility we are currently separating industrial wastewater into two high-value resources: a chemical solvent used in manufacturing and water for re-use in the facility. The result: savings of approximately 400,000 liters of wastewater daily and about $2.2 million annually.

Deborah Hecker, vice president, sustainability and corporate social responsibility, Sodexo 

We led the process to develop an executive sustainability scorecard for our North American business unit. The new scorecard will help leadership focus on driving performance within 10 strategic sustainability and wellness initiatives as part of our global Better Tomorrow Plan. The initiatives include energy and waste reduction, sustainable sourcing and promoting healthier food choices.

Michelle Yates, director corporate responsibility, Adobe; and executive director, Adobe Foundation 

At Adobe, 2013 has been a very good year for sustainability. Late this year we were proud to release our new CR Report presented in a very simple and concise format that demonstrates Adobe's focus on enabling creativity in a responsible and sustainable way. As of December 2013, 70 percent of all our workplace square footage is LEED certified, up from 58 percent at the end of 2012, and our CDP rankings rose to 97 from 93 in 2012.

Mike Lynch, vice president, green innovation, NASCAR 

Once coined "the dirtiest sport in America," NASCAR now boasts the three largest green programs in sports: renewable energy, recycling and clean air. NASCAR has recycled more than 20 million bottles and cans, 600,000 race tires and enough oil to power the Empire State Building for one year. It has also planted enough trees (188,000) to completely offset carbon emissions for all NASCAR national series racing for the past five years of NASCAR Green, plus the next 18 years.

Read our story "VERGE winners define the trends to watch in 2014" for more insights from industry leaders.

Champagne photo by LIGHTWORK via Shutterstock