Sustainability Audit – why your business should undertake
In recent years many companies have become more concerned with issues of sustainability and their impact on the environment. Whilst many new companies have been founded in order to cater to consumers and clients who value issues such as sustainability and environmental impact, a large number of existing companies have incorporated these values into their company identity.
Although many companies want to become more ‘green’ and adopt new environmentally friendly processes, it can be difficult to know where to begin. In order to fully understand the company’s impact on the environment, it is often recommended that companies undertake a sustainability audit. Although this can be conducted in-house, many businesses rely on external consultants to complete a sustainability audit on their behalf. Exactly what the sustainability audit covers varies depending on the type of business, the aim of the audit and the consultant(s) carrying out the sustainability audit. Some companies may choose to commission a sustainability audit focusing solely on their carbon emissions or ‘carbon footprint’ whilst others may need to assess the potential sustainability of a new venture or investment. For companies aiming to devise an effective sustainability strategy, the most useful information will be found following a fully comprehensive sustainability audit.
As society has become more aware of environmental issues, our expectations have risen in terms of corporate social responsibility. If a company ignores their environmental responsibility and continues to impact upon the environment in an unnecessarily harmful way it is likely that they will receive unwanted negative media attention in addition to damage to their reputation. This alone can be persuasive enough for companies to commit to taking matters of sustainability serious and incorporating sustainability strategies within the business.
A sustainability audit allows chief executives, managing directors and key decision makers to see what impact their business has on the environment and determine whether this could be improved if changes were made to the working methods within the company. Issues such as whether the company currently has sustainability issues among its core values will be assessed, as will issues such as stakeholder views on sustainability and the use of current company resources in terms of sustainability. Quantitative data such as energy consumption and carbon footprint can also be recorded and analysed as part of a sustainability audit.
Although the content of a sustainability audit may vary depending on the company, the information derived from a sustainability audit will always prove beneficial to those running the company. Often the data produced as a result of a sustainability audit is the only way to access crucial information regarding a company’s environmental impact and determine the company’s biggest and most damaging effect on the environment. Only by using this data in an appropriate manner can the company adopt genuine and effective techniques and strategies to reduce their negative environmental impacts and increase sustainability for the future.
Whilst addressing issues of sustainability may have once been optional for companies, the increasing amount of policy and regulation regarding corporate sustainability and tax incentives for greener companies coupled with increasing public awareness of the importance of sustainability means that companies can no longer ignore the issue. In order to ensure that management are aware of their economic and environmental responsibilities, a sustainability audit can be seen as essential for success in today’s economic and environmental climate.
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