The Chief Sustainability Officer is one of the most interesting roles within organizations today. A relatively new addition to the C-suite, the CSO has picked up steam in recent years due to the growing preference among consumers and investors to spend their money on environmentally conscious organizations.

But the CSO is far more than just a talking head meant to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. The CSO is actually in a very strategic position to help organizations not only attract environmentally conscious consumers and investors, but also lower costs and drive innovation by reducing resource consumption.

It’s the Best of Times and Worst of Times for CSOs

As a recent article from GreenBiz contends: CSOs are in a pickle. That’s because on the one hand, it’s the best of time for CSOs, as the world is well aware of the risk of climate change, the C-suite finally “gets” the value of sustainability, the possibility of creating value from sustainability initiatives is high and the opportunities to do so are plenty.

On the other hand, it’s the worst of times for CSOs, as these executives often struggle to get face-time with and buy-in from their C-suite peers and typically have a limited budget and few resources with which to develop and execute on any agendas.

Fortunately, opportunities exist for CSOs to capitalize on “the best of times” and say goodbye to “the worst of times” — but it all comes down to the data.

The CSO’s Answer is Hiding in Plain Sight: Breaking Down the Value of Utility Data

From identifying and executing opportunities to improve sustainability (which are plenty) to getting face-time with and buy-in from the rest of the C-suite (which has proven challenging), all with minimal resources, CSOs must turn to utility data.

Although the CSO and utility data seem like an obvious match, far too often the executives in charge of sustainability don’t have proper access to the very data that they need to do their jobs effectively. Whether utility data gets stuck in accounting or it’s simply unmanageable due to a lack of proper aggregation and standardization efforts, CSOs often must make due without utility data. But that lack of access and insight is exactly what’s causing many of the problems CSOs face today.

Check out The Corporate Sustainability Professional’s Guide to Better Data Management to unlock the full potential of your data.

With proper utility data management, including automated utility data aggregation that allows for timely access to complete and accurate utility data that’s standardized across providers, the opportunities are endless for CSOs. Specifically, this proper data management arms CSOs with the ammunition they need to get face-time with the rest of the C-suite and ultimately get their buy-in on new initiatives. Additionally, because the entire process is automated, it is less resource-intensive and time consuming, making it far easier for CSOs with limited budgets and resources to manage.

Ultimately, proper utility data management can help CSOs:

Unlock Sustainability Insights From Financial Data

With so many opportunities for improvement, it’s often hard for CSOs to identify the best place to start. Having proper insight into utility data can help in this regard by providing CSOs with concrete insight into where waste exists and the types of projects that will provide the biggest returns on investment.

Access to aggregated utility bill data can also help CSOs set a baseline, track performance over time and set goals for continued improvement.

Make the Financial Case for Sustainability Initiatives

When it comes to getting face-time with and buy-in from the rest of the C-suite, many CSOs struggle because they don’t have the proper data to make the strongest case possible for the initiatives they want to tackle.

Once again, utility data can make all the difference. It does so by allowing CSOs to clearly illustrate wasted spend on energy consumption and quantify the return that the organization can expect to see by taking on certain efforts. In other words, it arms CSOs with the data they need to make a strong, unassailable case to take on energy initiatives that will provide value for the business.

Set a Standard for Reporting and Transparency

Lastly, CSOs need utility data to handle reporting and provide transparency into sustainability initiatives for the rest of the C-suite, consumers and investors.

This type of reporting and transparency can help CSOs share progress of sustainability initiatives, justify spend, quantify return for stakeholders and investors, continue to identify areas for improvement and make more informed decisions. In turn, this transparency can help CSOs attract and retain buy-in from the rest of the C-suite and perhaps even lay the groundwork for an expanded budget.

Making it Purely the Best of Times for CSOs

Although it might seem obvious that CSOs need utility data to do their jobs effectively, far too often these executives must make do without the insight that this data can provide. However, if CSOs can gain access to utility data and ensure proper management for that data, they will be well on their way to tackling many of the biggest challenges they face today.