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New app helps smaller companies rank sustainability

<p>A new iOS app aims to help small and midsize businesses kick the tires and compare their sustainability efforts.</p>

The powerful software that big businesses use to rank themselves on the sustainability ladder doesn't often apply to smaller companies. Now, however, a new mobile app targets small and midsize businesses seeking to measure their sustainability efforts.

The CK Ranker app, released earlier in June, helps companies to assess and compare their own sustainability performance relative to the corporations that Corporate Knights magazine tracks in its annual rankings, including those in the S&P 500. 

The iOS app taps into 4,000 companies across 24 sectors, and is designed to help a company create and expand sustainability goals in a way that hasn’t been done before.

Although Ranker is primarily for small and medium size businesses, larger corporations can take a test drive as well. Fortune 500 companies, however, already have a number of options when it comes to reporting and measuring their sustainability efforts, including Environmental Leader and Lean Six Sigma.

CK Ranker allows companies to gauge their sustainability performance by privately entering 15 key indicators that includes energy consumption, water use, waste and other points.

"We basically walk the company through those steps by helping them input data that's set toward standard measurements," said Tyler Hamilton, editor and associate publisher at Corporate Knights Media"It will say where you will rank relative to your peers."

If a company lacks information on a particular indicator, CK Ranker can enter a zero in that category.

Although a company can enter its numbers privately, Hamilton said Corporate Knights is encouraging participants to make their Ranker numbers public.

The app has been useful for printing company EarthColor, said its sustainability director David Podmayersky.

"There are only a few tools out there to help a company my size by comparing apples to apples," he said. "I was very impressed with the methodology. They've got an interface that's really simple, which I liked."

While Podmayersky said CK Ranker still has a few kinks to work out, overall the app was extremely helpful in setting environmental goals.

Hamilton welcomes feedback from the app's users. "We're trying to encourage companies to go out there and kick the tires and give us feedback on how we can make it better," he said.

"There's nothing in the market that compares to this. There's no app out there for small and medium businesses to compare key performance indicators with their peers. This is a great chance for companies to stick their foot in the sustainability water and begin to establish a baseline for the company. They can see where they are at and how they can make things better."

In addition, companies can examine sustainability goals in a more holistic way. For example, the app can help to guide a company’s reporting approach when it comes to environmental, social and governance information.

The first 1,000 downloads of the basic services are free. For $9.99 per month, businesses can sign up for a more expanded version. CK Ranker works on the iPad and iPhone.

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