Not so long ago, sustainability was widely regarded as little more than a buzzword. It was a trendy concept, reserved mainly for small, progressive businesses. Fast forward to here and now, and it’s clear the example these pioneers set has more than caught on. Many companies today embrace sustainable business practices as standard business practices—essential for sustaining the growth and success of the company itself.
In 2015, the United Nations (UN) issued a universal call to action known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), formally urging countries and organizations to do their part in helping to protect the planet and its people. Many corporations have committed to addressing the 17 SDGs in terms of three key metrics: environmental, social and governance (corporate transparency). These metrics, collectively known as ESG, have a place in every business’s operation. In this blog, we’ll examine how your business can drive them.
When sustainability first made its way into both public and corporate consciousness, it was primarily associated with the environment (and friendliness, when you consider its interchangeability with “earth-friendly,” “environmentally friendly” and “ecofriendly” practices). The association makes sense and remains valid, as concern for natural resources is relevant to all SDGs. As the UN states, “climate change is already impacting public health, food and water security, migration, peace and security.”
Meeting the environmental metric is largely about making changes to reduce your carbon footprint—that is, going green. Measures might include:
- Exploring use of renewable energy sources, such as solar, for heat and power
- Implementing energy-efficient fixtures, from LED lighting to low-flow toilets, throughout your facility
- Working toward a “zero waste to landfill” policy, starting by researching the life cycles of supplies and products you choose (the cycle of paper itself might surprise you).
Facilities of every size and function have checked several environmental boxes simply by replacing paper towels with XLERATOR® Hand Dryers or other models from our high-speed, energy-efficient product line. Using 80% less energy than conventional hand dryers, XLERATOR has been shown to reduce a facility’s carbon footprint by 50%–75% when compared to traditional electric hand dryers and paper towels (virgin and 100% recycled content), and helps facilities qualify for the most LEED v4 credits of any hand dryer on the market. So, when it comes to treating the earth right, you can’t go wrong by throwing in the towel.
With its definition of “sustainable development”—“development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”—the UN makes clear that sustainable business practices are, at their core, about people. In addition to minding their carbon footprint, companies must consider how their culture, policies and physical spaces can affect their employees’ well-being and even the greater community.
One sure way to address the social metric is to take a human-centric approach to green design, as Excel Dryer did with our recently completed building expansion [LINK to Green Building/Green Product blog once posted]. Prioritizing elements such as MERV 13 air filters, UVGI lamps, a sound-masking system, living walls and skylights, we ensured the renovation would make our facility a healthier, more comfortable and inspiring place to be. These measures also allowed us to achieve our WELL Building Standard® certification, a strict industry standard focused on all aspects of human health.
No less important, making a positive social impact also means ensuring fair treatment among employees, supporting charitable causes and engaging in volunteer efforts, especially as a corporate team. (Read about our own local and global pandemic-response initiatives here.)
Governance (Corporate Transparency)
The third focus area relates to how your business is run. Positive governance is about ethical, collaborative, transparent operation, from major decision making to balancing the books.
We feel that in manufacturing, this responsibility extends to product transparency. It’s the reason we worked with UL Environment to create the hand dryer industry’s first global Product Category Rule (PCR), which established an internationally recognized set of requirements and guidelines to test and report on a product’s environmental impact. Excel Dryer was also the first to publish verified, third-party Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPDs) for the hand dryer industry. All these endeavors serve to help specifiers and consumers make more informed buying decisions, supporting fairness in commerce and a stronger economy.
Just as they need insurance or a user-friendly website, every business today can and must adopt sustainable business practices. So, get to know your ESGs—and make them work for you.