Reports from industry analysts and business groups too often gather dust on desks, or virtual dust in email inboxes. That's a lot of wisdom left untapped. If you've ever worked on such reports, you know the heaps of effort it takes to gather the research and commit to some bold conclusions.
Along with the new year came a flurry of reports that mark key trends from 2013 and attempt to define the year ahead. Here are highlights from four recent reports that are worth a look.
Hopefully these summaries will help you decide whether to download the full versions. Watch for more roundups of reports in the months to come, and share your own reports by emailing us here.
Ten Predictions For Energy Management In 2014
What it says: Using interviews with 500 energy management professionals since 2012, Verdantix wrapped up this report just in time to mention Google’s purchase of Nest in January. It names organizations as varied as Toyota, PG&E and the U.S. Green Building Council.
This global forecast leads with building energy management exploding in Japan, as it struggles with post-Fukushima power shortages. Next, France, Germany and the United Kingdom will jump onboard with demand response, helped by pending legislation, while home energy management tools will expand beyond the United States.
Also in this crystal ball: Onsite solar power expands, building and lighting systems unite, and electric cars make a comeback. However, smart home products won’t take off until costs drop. Utilities will begin to focus on small and midsize businesses. One of the more future-forward points is the notion that microgrids will disrupt utilities’ business models.
What we say: This is a quick read for energy pros or anyone interested in smarter, cleaner energy at their corporate campus and beyond. Examples are chosen well, and the predictions aren’t too pie-in-the-sky for the remaining year ahead.
Access: Download here.
Planning for a Sustainable Future
Source: National Association for Environmental Management
What it says: The NAEM has tracked environmental management systems for two decades. In its first trends report, the group finds that sustainability has moved beyond an early “feel good” stage to become woven into companies’ risk-based management strategies.
This is based on 26 interviews, including with 17 corporate EHS and sustainability leaders. Their priorities for the next year include energy and water management; product compliance with regulations such as REACH; supply chain transparency; preparation for new reporting requirements; employee engagement; and incorporating climate risk assessments. How are companies framing these challenges? The key themes probably sound familiar: Integration, engagement, transparency, collaboration and resilience.
What we say: This is an engaging look ahead for 2014, based on in-depth interviews with a small yet influential group of leaders from Alcatel to Wrigley. Many themes here — such as collaboration, supply chain transparency and the overall integration of sustainability into business risks — echo what you may see elsewhere (including our GreenBiz 2014 State of Green Business Report). In addition, it touches on a less tangible call to sweeping changes that you hear year after year, such as a need for Wall Street to look beyond quarterly earnings.
Access: Download here.
Rate the Raters: The 2013 Ratings Survey
Source: GlobeScan and SustainAbility
What it says: Which corporate ratings really matter? Does anyone really care if your brand tops the DJSI or CDP charts? Corporate sustainability ratings are an increasingly crowded space — not to mention a bigger time suck for your job. Some two-thirds of respondents expect these ratings will grow in importance in the next few years. More than 700 experts in 70 countries chime in.
What we say: If you’re drowning in surveys to stay on top of the latest “top” lists, this 15-page insight into which ratings your peers value, and why, may be helpful. Add to your wish list: An “agony rating” to warn how long it takes to report to each rating system.
Access: Download here.
Sustainability Matters 2014: How Sustainability Can Enhance Corporate Reputation
Source: The Conference Board
What it says: Where do sustainability and brand value intersect? How can you quantify a rise or fall of brand value in dollars, as related to sustainability?
This 73-page research collection features 11 authors and an array of data sources. One highlight is a “Sustainability and Firm Performance” section that proposes a “Green Business Case Model.” This ties specific actions to hard results, such as revenue growth as well as lowered tax rates and capital costs.
What we say: Every CSR pro grapples with translating the intangibles into the bottom-line money talk the CFO and CEO understand. This report offers insight there. Although it doesn’t go so far as to determine cause and effect between measurements in brand value and sustainability, it does provide evidence for the correlation between the two. Here’s some ammunition to get support from the C-Suite.
Access: Download here