Sustainability leaders on how 2017 will be different

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What changes will the new year bring for the world of sustainability?

This article is part 2 of a three-part series. Read part 1 and part 3.

As 2016 ends and 2017 begins, we asked members of the GreenBiz Executive Network, our member-based, peer-to-peer learning forum for sustainability professionals, to tell us what will change in terms of their organization’s efforts.

Here's what our members said when we asked: How will your company’s sustainability efforts be different in 2017 than in 2016?

Keith Kenny, VP global sustainability, McDonald's

We will be more focused on fewer things that are more material to our brand. We know better now where we are best positioned to make a real difference and also what our customers expect. We made great strides in 2016, but with greater focus in 2017 we will achieve results faster.

Patrick Flynn, director, sustainability, Salesforce

Over time, the Salesforce sustainability program has expanded our focus from simply doing less environmental harm to driving positive change. In addition to integrating sustainability principles into our operations, we've taken a leading role in industry collaborations such as the Colo Buyers' Principles and Business Renewable Center. 

We're also seeing more examples of our customers using Salesforce to drive environmental success. From environmental NGOs such as the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy and Project Mirador to providing the technology for the EPA to for-profit sustainability leaders such as Schneider, Coca-Cola and Unilever, we hope to build additional tools and spread best-in-class use of our product to drive positive change.

Alexis Ludwig-Vogen, ‎director, corporate responsibility and sustainability, Best Buy

While Best Buy continues to focus on key environmental issues such as climate change and e-waste, you will see us put even more emphasis on social issues. Our business success is a direct result of a highly engaged workforce and the health of the communities we serve.

We are committed to attracting and developing the best talent as well as making a positive impact on the communities in which we operate. Demonstrating this commitment, we just announced plans to nearly double the number of Best Buy Teen Tech Centers across the U.S. to a total 20, giving thousands more teens the opportunity to explore technology and discover new interests, collaborate with one another and prepare for the future.

Charles Herget, AVP-sustainability integration, AT&T

In 2016, we established ways to further engage AT&T’s employees and transform our workspaces to be more sustainable, which we will act on in 2017. AT&T also continued to integrate sustainability into business practices, and identified collaborative opportunities with business peers, civil society and municipalities so we could combine resources to advance shared priorities. We are excited to execute on these relationships in 2017, including continuing our work with the Net Positive Project.

Going forward, our work will help enable businesses to reduce their carbon footprints and bring smart technology solutions to municipalities across the country.

Emilio Tenuta, vice president, corporate sustainability, Ecolab

Our goal going into 2017 is to help shift mindsets and practices to significantly increase the proportion of wastewater that is reused by industry. Water can no longer be considered an inexpensive, "use and dispose" commodity. It must be valued as a reusable asset and growth enabler. The concept and practice of reusing and repurposing water is not new. Broad adoption and activation of circular water management, however, is new.

We aim to help bring the principles of circularity to scale by helping customers retrofit circularity into existing processes and designing "circularity" into solutions and processes right from the start.

Paul Holdredge, manager, resources strategies, General Electric

Leveraging Big Data to develop energy management insights through our Predix operating platform is a huge productivity and resource efficiency opportunity that will be focused on realizing in 2017.

In 2016 we began deploying GE EPM6100 Multilin energy meters and building our energy data experience at several facilities In 2017, we will be focusing even more attention on how to best use these types of digital industrial applications in our sustainability program.

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