As 2014 ends and 2015 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 they think will be exciting in the new year.
Most of their responses can be grouped into three big trends. They'll be embedding sustainability actions more widely and deeply within their organizations. They'll speed up efforts through focused collaboration and coalitions. And many will seek to increase the engagement of customers and consumers to drive revenue that rewards their sustainability efforts.
Here's what they said when we asked: What are you excited about as you look ahead in 2015?
Bob Langert, corporate VP, CSR/Sustainability, McDonald's Corporation
The big sustainability nut to crack is reaching and engaging the consumer. This type of work excites me, both within McDonald's and with others, too, facing the same challenges. I see the next BIG leap in the sustainability "movement" in this area: Harnessing the innate CSR values that most consumers have at their core, and engaging them to actually choose purchasing from brands and companies that have differentiated, positive CSR performance. I am excited about helping to make this happen, and then this "movement" is no longer a movement, but mainstream and the norm.
Vince Digneo, sustainability specialist, Adobe
Three efforts: Adobe's product sustainability, employee involvement and collaborations with our peers. Our products enable our customers to be more sustainable and create sustainable change — we will be talking more about this in 2015. Also, we have some interesting programs with our employees to reduce Scope 3 emissions, to get involved with renewable energy, and to learn how to offset their personal carbon footprint and get an Adobe Matching Grant to do it. Last, collaborations such as BSR's Future of Internet Power
group, WRI & WWF's Corporate Renewable Energy Buying
group, the USGBC's Building Health Initiative
team, and GBEN are all instrumental in being "tides that raise all ships." To make impact we simply can't operate as an island. We have great peers in this space and we work well together.
Asheen Phansey, environmental sustainability manager, Dassault Systèmes
In 2015 I hope we actually complete our trailblazing work on "Handprint" (positive impact methodology) and are able to detail at least a portion of our corporate Handprint alongside our Footprint in our annual report. (Here's to hoping that the difference means that we're net positive! But I hope we'll report it either way.) I'm also psyched to work with Janine Benyus and crew at Biomimicry 3.8
, and the Higg Index folks at the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, on technology collaborations that will hopefully help to move these industries forward.
Jeff Rehm, senior manager, corporate facilities and global sustainability, W. W. Grainger
Creating a sustainability council. The council will include representatives from all of the relevant business units and serve to provide direction to our strategy. Our hope is by engaging a broader group of leaders, we will be able to solve the middle management conundrum.
Brandy Wilson, director of sustainability, CH2MHill
I am excited to blow the doors off of green infrastructure and natural capital, truly revolutionizing our approach to engineering risk and opportunity. Six months ago, we signed a five-year Collaborative Agreement to work with The Nature Conservancy
on promoting and designing green infrastructure solutions. I believe this partnership between for-profit and non-profit leaders in science and engineering will help propel green infrastructure forward in a big way in 2015.
John Schulz, AVP of sustainability operations, AT&T
Technology companies like AT&T have tremendous potential to provide consumers with new products and services that can empower them to be more efficient and productive. In 2015 I am excited about our efforts to work with customers to harness the power and potential of technology to use less energy, create less waste and contribute to a better world.
Jenny Cross, vice president corporate sustainability, Mohawk Industries
Mohawk instituted a zero process waste to landfill initiative in late 2012 for our Carpet segment. Through the end of 2014, we have eliminated all the process waste going to landfills at about 25 U.S. sites. In 2015, we are expanding the reach of the program to the North American operations of all three of our segments. Obviously, I am excited about the environmental impact that the program has, but my excitement extends well beyond that. You see, this isn't a program instituted by the sustainability team. The initiative was employee driven and implemented by an operations team that saw a problem and wanted to fix it. So now as it expands to the other businesses, we have best practices being shared from employee to employee and ownership at the floor level. It is a prime example of cultural change and what every sustainability professional strives for — education, understanding and progress.
Andy Wu, principal, corporate social responsibility, CA Technologies
In 2015, operational efficiencies will continue to be an integral part of reaching our 2020 carbon reduction target. We're also excited about how information technology can be an enabler of energy efficiency and more specifically how the application economy can drive systemic shifts for businesses and consumers.
Dave Stangis, vice president, public affairs and corporate responsibility, Campbell Soup Company; president, Campbell Soup Foundation
Driving sustainability deeper and deeper into Campbell's business strategies and social impact.
Scott Weislow, senior director, environmental services, Best Buy Co., Inc.
We have every intention of continuing to drive awareness to the consumer about our recycling and Trade-In programs
. As the world's largest consumer electronics retailer, we believe it is our responsibility to help customers recycle their old products safely and responsibly when they are upgrading to the latest technology. You can expect some exciting things from us in the coming year.
Deborah Hecker, vice president, sustainability and corporate social responsibility, Sodexo North America
In 2015 we look forward to operationalizing our CGI and PHA commitments across our international and national site operations. We also will explore launching two "engagement initiatives," one for health and wellness and one for waste reduction, and involve our client partners in our efforts to effect positive change in the communities in which we serve.
Timothy C. Lindsey, Ph.D., global director of sustainable development, Caterpillar Inc.
Working with all of our division leaders to fully embed the Sustainability Value into our culture.
Josh Henretig, senior director of energy, environment and cities, Microsoft Corp.
In terms of our own operations, we hope to continue pushing the envelope on renewable energy and energy innovation focused in three primary areas: distributing efficient power generation to the datacenter, delivering new renewable energy projects to the grid and developing the next generation of energy technology. We are also excited about the ways we continue to evolve our Carbon Neutral and Carbon Fee program to maximize the impact we can have as a company.
We also have work underway with cities around the world through Microsoft CityNext. Momentum in the smart city space is building quickly. We will continue to work with world class partners at both the global and local level who can deliver industry expertise and technology innovation that results in real impact for cities around the world. It's hard not to get excited about the transformation happening in cities. I hope that next year at this time we'll have even more stories to share of cities who are finding new ways to manage their natural resources more efficiently and bridge the disparate systems within a city to optimize performance and value creation.
Shannon Schuyler, principal, corporate responsibility leader, PwC; president, PwC Charitable Foundation
We recently invested in
the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
in the belief that voluntarily providing investors with more relevant, transparent non-financial information and metrics to compare companies will help them make better investment decisions. This in turn, will help those companies thrive as better corporate stewards.
We're excited about this partnership with SASB, as we think the standardization of reporting can provide a lot of benefits and move the CR space away from incrementalism and towards greater systemic change.
Brett Illers, program manager, energy efficiency and sustainability, Yahoo
Looking at 2015, Yahoo remains committed to implementing energy efficient strategies whenever possible. We've built incredible momentum in 2014 through projects like the Kansas-based wind energy project with Own Energy, and the partnership with Bloom Energy fuel cells for on-site electrical generation. We look forward to expanding our renewable portfolio where it is both cost-effective and feasible, especially for data centers that power the best experiences for our over 1 billion users worldwide. We will continue to evaluate opportunities for similar partnership models that can help us advance both business objectives and sustainability goals.
Katie Excoffier, sustainability manager, Genentech
We are looking forward to announcing the success we've had in meeting the goals set for USGBCs Best Buildings Challenge
and continuing our participation in the Building Health Initiative
. We are opening a new building on our SSF campus in 2015 which will begin to deliver on our commitments to this initiative and incorporate state-of-the-art sustainable technologies. We know that a commitment to rigorous science, coupled with the power of human curiosity, can help us meet environmental challenges. We are excited about the prospect of using what we've learned over the past years to set new ambitious, 2020 sustainability goals.
Nicola Peill-Moelter, director, environmental sustainability, Akamai Technologies
Decarbonizing our energy through collaboration with other companies using our collective influence to put more renewable energy on the grid.
Tom Carpenter, director, sustainability services, Waste Management
Technology deployment. For many years we have piloted and invested in various technologies that convert hard-to-recycle materials into value streams. In 2015, we are seeking to expand upon those that are most promising and impactful for the marketplace.
Paul Murray, vice president, sustainability and environmental affairs, Shaw Industries
Evergreen Ringgold will be up and running in 2015. This means that next year, we will have a flexible recycling solution capable of recycling both nylon and polyester carpet — converting something that has been primarily seen as waste into a resource.