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How Will Sustainability Change at Your Company in 2011?

<p>Leaders from companies across a wide range of industries -- from sporting goods to coffee to building materials to IT -- share with us how they expect sustainability to change at their companies.</p>

As 2010 draws to a close, GreenBiz asked executives from a range of companies -- all of whom have been featured in the news this year -- to tell us about their most exciting green prospects, the challenges and the changes they anticipate for 2011, and what they think 2011 will look like from the perspective of 2012. Here's what they told us:

How do you see sustainability changing at your company in 2011?


Hannah Jones, vice president of sustainable business and innovation, Nike

We don’t see a lot of things changing as much as we want to elevate, scale and amplify the work we are already undertaking. As a company, we need to continue to innovate even more aggressively, move faster and importantly, grab onto sustainability solutions which we (and the industry) can scale. We believe that this will prepare our business to address the declining natural resources and impacts of climate change.

Chuck Bennett, vice president of earth and community care, Aveda

We’ll focus strongly on “broadening the base” of understanding of and contributing to sustainability by educating Aveda employees on and engaging them in understanding the relationship between how they do their jobs — and the decisions they make every day — and our overall success.

Adam Lowry, co-founder and Chief Greenskeeper, Method

At Method, we integrate sustainability into everyone’s job. That’s different from the way that most companies do it, which is with a "sustainability department" that does sustainability for the business. We have built analytical tools, taught techniques and created incentives in everyone’s job here at method that really allows sustainability to manifest in many more ways than is typical in a company. This syndication yields innovations in unexpected places, like now owning our own fleet of biodiesel trucks. So in 2011, the way we live sustainability won’t change, but the results we produce will accelerate as sustainability flourishes in every corner of our business. 

Beth Shiroishi, assistant vice president of citizenship and sustainability, AT&T

We’ve spent 3 years as the “new” AT&T building a sustainability governance structure and expert teams. With these incredibly talented people we have achieved positive results. But 2011 is the year we take sustainability out to every employee – and do it in a way that resonates and motivates employees to change their behavior.

Joseph Taylor, chairman and CEO, Panasonic Corp. of North America

Sustainability will become a clearer management responsibility and an aim of all our employees.


Leisha John, Americas director of environmental sustainability, Ernst & Young

As a professional services firm, we expect to see the trend continue around client requests for information about our environmental impact – to ultimately understand the impact it has on their value chains. We’re also seeing new levels of appreciation and curiosity about our environmental performance from our people – at all levels, generations and geographies. My favorite part of the job is getting questions – and even hearing gripes – from our people. It’s evidence that we’re implementing change and generating greater awareness about everyday as well as large-scale impacts on the environment.

Kevin Surace, chairman and CEO, Serious Materials 

We will continue to plow forward on internal measures as well as new products.



David Wilkerson, corporate director of sustainability and product stewardship, residential division, Shaw Industries

We are seeing a growing market focus on the safety of ingredient materials in products and end-of-life solutions for keeping those products out of landfills. These are issues that we have been focused on for several years, but as the issue has reached a tipping point in the market it will drive change in the organization. This will continue to influence the way we manage our supply chain and our continued commitment to significantly reducing the volume of post-consumer carpet landfilled each year.

Jim Hanna, director of environmental impact, Starbucks

We’ve made great strides at demonstrating the business case for sustainable practices throughout Starbucks operations. In 2011, our goal is to further integrate expertise and sustainable practices into individual business units and performance measurements. Ultimately, a scalable sustainability program depends less on a large environmental affairs team and more upon integrating sustainability as a standard operating procedure throughout the entire company.

Michael Meehan, chief technology officer and co-founder, ENXSuite

Ever since I started on this path over a decade ago, walking the talk of sustainability has been a priority for the companies I've created. At ENXSuite we have instituted bike to work programs, employee public transit programs, energy reduction programs, and much more. We use our own software to ensure we manage and reduce our environmental impact. It's not so much that our approach to sustainability is changing, but our commitment to running a sustainable business grows with each passing year, and we encourage this commitment with our customers and partners around the world.  

Robert Houghton, president and founder, Redemtech

True sustainability in IT policy and practice depends upon our customers’ ability to quantify and measure results. Redemtech is working on improving our sustainability reporting to be more detailed, and to be more market focused. Our customers care about many aspects of environmental performance, and we want to be sure we are reporting those in ways that are easy to understand. And there is an opportunity for enhanced reporting to create value from financial opportunities such as emissions credits and from social opportunities such as technology donation.

Tim Carey, director of sustainability and technology, PepsiCo Americas Beverages

Sustainability at PepsiCo has evolved over the past few years to be something that we consider, measure and apply in a way that reaches every aspect of our business - from how we develop packaging, to how we bring our products to market, to how we engage our consumers. I think we'll continue seeing an evolution along these lines at PepsiCo for years to come.

Bill Morrissey, vice president of environmental sustainability, The Clorox Company

For Clorox, it’s about staying focused on executing the sustainability strategy we have in place. We’re looking to accelerate our sustainability efforts now that eco is an explicit part of our corporate strategy.


Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist, Microsoft

A big part of Microsoft’s journey will be to see the continued acceleration around sustainability. In just a few years, we went from seeing sustainability as an area of interest to being embedded in everything we do. A theme of governance on sustainability issues has taken hold across the company and I expect this to only build.  

Arlin Wasserman, vice president of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, Sodexo

It's moving from a strategy to a platform for innovation and improving our operations. Time to make a bigger difference in the new year.


Michel Gelobter, Chief Green Officer, Hara

We're growing fast but focused on continuing to optimize our own organizational metabolism --  the collective resources we consume and the resulting outputs. So innovation will be on our plate too!


Suzanne Shelton, founder, president and CEO, Shelton Group 

We dedicate ourselves every day to helping brands tell the most effective, honest story they can about their sustainability commitment in a way that actually engages mainstream consumers. We'll continue to do that...and we're becoming increasingly concerned about the looming water problem in our world and the general cluelessness of Americans about that issue. Thus we're working right now to craft a PSA campaign about water conservation and just beginning to talk with potential sponsors to get it produced. We hope to see this take off in a big way in 2011.

Eric A. Spiegel, president and CEO, Siemens Corporation 

The sustainability efforts and our environmental portfolio, and doing a lot more at our own facilities is gaining momentum around the world. When I get together with the other country leaders, there's a lot of momentum around Siemens doing more, and a lot of momentum around doing the right thing, pushing those environmental portfolios. We're investing more and more in driving this environmental portfolio, and doing more good things at our own facilities, to be a leader in this area. 

Joseph Danko, director of sustainable solutions, CH2M HILL

Through innovative knowledge transfer, breakthrough sustainability systems development and focused enterprise-wide training we will reach a new level of imbedding sustainable solutions throughout CH2M HILL. We will also both create and deliver a new level of enterprise-wide sustainability projects.

Terry Yosie, president and CEO, World Environment Center

A sufficient number of global companies have advanced their sustainability strategies to the point where they will seek to “raise the bar” in the marketplace to gain competitive advantage with key business customers/consumers.  These market leaders are evolving their business models through innovations, unique partnerships and other customized initiatives that are not easily replicable by their competitors. While not everyone is prepared to purchase products based on sustainability criteria, perceptions of value and need are proving to be more receptive to an approach that effectively integrates sustainability into product characteristics (e.g., quality, cost, innovation) that customers already desire. In short, from Shanghai to Singapore to Pittsburgh to Prague, sustainability is moving from the periphery of business strategy to the core in a growing number of market sectors.

Office buildings - CC license by Flickr user René Ehrhardt

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