Tim Talks: Sustainability Data and the Bottom Line

Amy Hou  |  July 12, 2018  |  Energy & Sustainability  

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This week, the world saw something truly special: two Tims coming together to share expertise on corporate sustainability initiatives. On the latest episode of Tim Talks, a quick live webcast from Environmental Leader and Energy Manager Today, Tim Hermes sat down with Urjanet’s Tim Porter to get his take on how sustainability data impacts the bottom line. Here’s what Tim had to say.

Watch the full Tim Talk on demand.

How much should a small, medium, or large company care about implementing sustainability? What’s the true value in corporate sustainability initiatives?

Businesses should care for the same reason they care about their other business objectives. It’s profitable. It’s about conserving resources, which helps you save money, which everyone running a business loves to do. Interestingly, I think people are realizing after they’ve begun to implement a sustainability initiative that there’s a top-line impact as well. There’s marketing value you can get out of being an environmentally sustainable company, by building brand loyalty. It’s not just the bottom line; sustainability can contribute to the top line as well. And then when you align sustainability goals with business objectives, that’s where the rubber really starts to hit the road.

Do you think more private businesses and SMEs are making sustainability a core business objective? Is it still a couple years down the road for them? Internally, it must be a pretty tough sell.

So far, the research that’s been coming out this year says yes. The medium and small-sized businesses are caring about this as well. An EDF survey interviewed executives at companies with $500 million or more in revenue (so not quite at Fortune 500 level). 72 percent of those executives said their sustainability goals and business objectives are truly aligning. Even more interestingly, 77 percent said they saw sustainability goals providing some form of competitive advantage as well.

So it does seem like it’s trickling down from just the big guys to the smaller guys as well. And that was one of the big struggles in the beginning for sustainability. It used to be limited to the backroom activists that didn’t get much of an audience at the executive table, and that’s changing now. Now it’s picking up the ear of corner office people.

What technologies are the most relevant for business right now?

The same survey asked that question as well, and people brought up hot topics like mobility and blockchain. But the two things that tied for first were data analytics and automation. 87 percent of executives said data analytics and automation are the two most important pieces of technology needed to build a trustable sustainability program. Of course, we loved to hear that as a data company that automates things.

87 percent of executives said data analytics and automation are the two most important technologies needed to build a trustable sustainability program.

With data analytics, it’s not that surprising. You need to know how you stack up against your industry peers. You need to know how the decisions you made in the past are panning out. Having that insight — visualizing and seeing that data, and trusting the data you’re seeing — allows you to start making decisions, making plans. It justifies what you’re doing to shareholders and consumers.

Watch our webcast with Measurabl and Shorenstein to learn how to be sure you can trust the data you use for sustainability reporting.

Do you think data-driven decisions are critical for companies to gain a competitive advantage in this space?

When you’re talking to consumers who are looking at your products and services, they trust numbers and statistics a whole lot more than they trust buzzwords or greenspeak (if that’s even a word). Take lower energy consumption as an example. When occupancy falls in a building after business hours, you can see that reduction in energy use in plain and simple numbers.

Recently, I heard a cool idea: Movie theaters are looking to change when they offer deals, like summer matinees, because the afternoon is the most expensive time to cool the theater. They’re looking at shifting matinees to other times of day, when it’s cooler and cheaper. Suddenly, they’re doing something different from all the other theaters in the city. Those types of data-driven decisions are now differentiating them and getting them to really innovate.

You are a subject matter expert. Give our subscribers — whether they’re deep into a sustainability initiative right now or kicking the tires — a couple nuggets of wisdom.

If you’re not looking at sustainability, and aligning your sustainability initiatives with business goals, really count on the fact that your competitors are. It can be done in a way that’s trustworthy, and it should be done because it’s profitable for your business, in addition to being the responsible thing to do.

You have 15 seconds: tell us about Urjanet.

Urjanet is the utility data provider to the world. We’ve built integrations for thousands of utilities across the globe, all to make gaining access to trustworthy sustainability data as easy as possible for businesses. We’re data plumbers; plain and simple.

To learn more about how the Urjanet Utility Data Platform works to streamline efficiency and enhance sustainability reporting, check out our solutions sheet. If you have more questions for Tim Porter, you can reach him at tim.porter@qa.urjanet.com.

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About Amy Hou

Amy Hou is a Marketing Manager at Urjanet, overseeing content and communications. She enjoys writing about the latest industry updates in sustainability, energy efficiency, and data innovation.