Over the last nine or so years, U.K. research firm Trucost has amassed a giant database that tracks more than 700 environmental impacts from about 4,500 companies operating in 450 industries.
Three years ago, Newsweek selected Trucost to provide the data it would use for its annual Green Rankings. Since then, demand for the company's data has pushed Trucost to strike deals with an ever-growing list of institutional investors, consultants, financial service giants, universities and software vendors, with new partnerships announced nearly every month so far this year.
"Our partnership efforts started revving up in 2010 as a way of both meeting increased demand and to ensure we were marketing our data through the best channels," said Cary Krosinsky, Trucost's senior vice president of North America.
Consultants use the data to provide services to their clients, while investors use the data to spot environmental risks in their portfolios. We at GreenBiz.com have even used Trucosts's data for our annual State of Green Business report to analyze how much and how fast corporate transparency and disclosure is improving.
I spoke to Krosinsky yesterday to get an update on the company's recent string of announcements and get a sneak peek at the upcoming Newsweek green rankings. Here's is a quick snapshot of its four latest partnerships:
• GMI: This partnership will add Trucost's data to the research platform of GMI, which Krosinsky characterized as a leader in corporate governance analysis. Target audience: Investors
• EQ2: Trucost's data will be incorporated into EQ2's enterprise sustainability management and planning software, allowing organizations to benchmark their performance against their peers. Target audience: Companies
• FactSet: The company, a major provider of financial information whose rivals include Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters, now offers Trucost's environmental performance data to its clients. Target audience: Investors and analysts
• Fronesys: The sustainability consulting firm will use Trucost's data to help its clients assess assess their environmental performance, determine which sustainability issues are material to their businesses, and address those risks and opportunities. Target audience: Companies
While these are among the partnerships Trucost is now talking about publicly, there are also more underway that we may never hear about. The one that promises to dominate the headlines next month will be the release of the third Newsweek Green Rankings.
"Here in the U.S., it's become our highest-profile project and put us on the map," Krosinsky said.
In terms of the Newsweek Green Rankings, Trucost has seen "unprecedented levels of disclosure this year," Krosinsky said. He chalks it up to an appreciation for the rankings from companies constantly bombarded with requests for non-financial information.
"They hope it will emerge as the most credible and some of the requests will go away," Krosinsky said.
Another trend: outperformance, where ranked companies consistently outperform the benchmark S&P 500. And for the first time this year, the Newsweek Green Rankings will cover the world's largest 500 companies that comprise the Global 500 index.
All of this boils down to many potential developments on the horizon. Krosinsky also noted that the breadth of Trucost's metrics is garnering more attention than just greenhouse gases, which was the impact du jour leading up to the international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.
"It's not just about carbon anymore," Krosinsky said. "It's the full gamut of environmental impacts where in a resource-constrained world, these things will become increasingly important to be measured and managed."
Underlying image CC licensed by Flickr user L.C.Nøttaasen.