9 headlines sustainability executives want to read in 2016

9 headlines sustainability executives want to read in 2016

What sorts of news would be a barometer for sustainability success in the year ahead?

This article is part of an end-of-year series on the biggest challenges and opportunities for corporate sustainability executives. Read part one here.

As 2015 ends and 2016 begins, we asked members of the GreenBiz Executive Network, our member-based, peer-to-peer learning forum for sustainability professionals, to look ahead and share what headline would they like to see in 2016 (and why).

While climate, water and carbon were envisioned as making the headlines, they’d also like to see news about senior executives going public with their leadership plans and news about the policy and political landscape.

Here's what our members said when we asked: What headline would you like to see in 2016 (and why)?

Brandy M. Wilson, global sustainability director, CH2M:

“Engineered oyster reef saves coastal community from hurricane floods.”

We know that oyster reefs and other natural infrastructure solutions work to reduce tidal energy and preserve coastlines; I would love to see the engineers and bivalves get credit, together, for success. People tend to view higher seawalls and bigger levees as the only way to be truly safe.

Getting the idea into public consciousness that nature can be part of a total engineering solution should help communities adopt more creative, resilient and interconnected solutions.

Dave Stangis, vice president of public affairs & corporate responsibility, Campbell Soup Company

"CEO’s finally realize what they were calling 'CSR and Sustainability' are critical enablers for competitive advantage in the 21st century."

Sustainability becomes a differentiator.

John Schulz, AVP of sustainability operations, AT&T

"IoT grows up: How the hype is turning into real impact."

The past year was not only the year that the Internet of Things (IoT) made it into the dictionary, but it was also the year IoT began to truly transform the way we work and live every day. IOT solutions connect items like cargo containers, homes, vehicles, light posts and water systems around the globe.

In 2016, we think IoT will become a part of daily lives, helping to drive a more connected and sustainable world. In fact, one of our 2025 goals is to enable carbon savings 10 times the footprint of our operations by enhancing the efficiency of our network and delivering low carbon customer solutions by 2025. We know IOT will be a big part of this.

Jeff Rehm, senior manager of corporate facilities and global sustainability, W.W. Grainger, Inc.

“Climate legislation passed.”

It just needs to happen already.

Jenny Cross, vice president of corporate sustainability, Mohawk Industries:


I started to type all the whys and I was on my way to writing a novel. Basically it boils down to respect for me. I hope to live in a country, and a world, where we respect one another and can begin to move closer together instead of further apart. 

Whether we agree or disagree, worship or do not, look the same or different, we simply respect one another. Most of us are business people and at some point in our careers have either read or been trained according to Covey’s "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."  

I’ve always loved his quote that "the psychological equivalent of air is to feel understood." So I’d like to breathe, please, and I prefer fresh air to hot air.

Kim Marotta, director of sustainability, MillerCoors:

"California no longer under drought conditions."

I think it’s pretty self-explanatory as to why this is the headline I would like to see in 2016 — even though access to an abundant supply of water has plagued California for decades.

This headline would mean that government, corporations, agriculture and communities have worked together to develop new technology, systems and programs to manage the demands for water in California. While we may not see this headline in 2016, if stakeholders continue to collaborate we may be able to see this headline in the not too distant future.

Paul Murray, Vice President, Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, Shaw Industries

Paul Murray, vice president of sustainability and environmental affairs, Shaw Industries

"People Demand More Recycled Content" and/or "Fuel Prices Begin to Climb." 

The decrease in fuel prices has all but destroyed the demand for recycled content, thus we have no outlet for the sale of recycled carpet fiber. This puts an incredible strain on our ability to collect and recycle our products.

Nanette Lockwood, global director of climate policy, Ingersoll Rand Center for Energy Efficiency & Sustainability

National leaders fund and promote low carbon technologies at an unprecedented rate. Private sector responds accordingly.

Organizational focus changes will follow COP21. With a global environmental agreement, national leaders will fund and promote low carbon technologies and the private sector will need to respond accordingly to make the benefits of the agreement a reality.

Susan Rochford, VP of energy efficiency, sustainability & public policy, Legrand North America

"Research confirms that building owners and architects give preference to manufacturers that deliver verifiable product transparency and sustainability."

Why: business case support to accelerate and validate product initiatives.