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Press Room

News on GRI Sustainability Reporting, Verification & Assurance, CDP Reporting

31 Jan


CSR In Focus, Annual Sustainability Reports analysis

January 31, 2015 | By |


San Diego, CA | January 31, 2015:

In an age of continuous improvement, performance evaluations and endless surveys, we may ask, “How many more sustainability reports do we actually need?” But when it comes to sustainability reporting and the critical need for transparency in this arena, perhaps the answer should be, “Yes, please.” In early 2010, ISOS Group launched CSR in Focus, which summarizes the sustainability performance of a selection of leading brands, as disclosed in their annual sustainability or corporate social responsibility reports. But tell you what: these reports are in high demand …here’s why!

CSR in Focus reinforces the competencies of our recently trained professionals in Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – based sustainability reporting, while generating functional assessments of published reports. With potential evaluators lined up, our challenge was developing a scoring rubric for participants that accounts for the critical components of GRI and sustainability philosophy. The solution arrived as a simple, yet information-rich matrix providing logical and comparable metrics, with greater values indicative of better performance:

• Content and Quality, based directly upon the GRI Framework’s Reporting Principles, participants scored reports on the aptitude with which the framework was applied to the report

• Commitment to Sustainability, linking organizational impacts to the triple bottom line, this factor serves to show where (and how) the “rubber meets the road”– ensuring policies, procedures and practices in place support sustainability commitments

Each metric was then broken down in a way that could be easily understood and numerically assessed, resulting in 14 individually evaluated principles:

• Report Content: Materiality (External); Materiality (Internal); Stakeholder Engagement; Sustainability Context; Completeness; Reliability.

• Report Quality: Clarity; Balance; Comparability; Accuracy; Timeliness.

• Commitment to Sustainability: Economic Integrity; Commitment to Society and Protection of Human Rights; Demonstrated implementation of Environmental Protection Policies.

The resulting quadrants of the matrix allow us to categorize performance within the upper and lower 50th percentiles, putting a name to the type of reporting we were witnessing: Reports evaluated by participants are selected for recent publication, innovative reporting practices, and adherence to the GRI Framework – and our sample represents everyone from the world’s largest multinationals, to the World Bank, San Diego International Airport, SME’s like Hunter Industries and even academic institutions such as Ball State University. With dozens of individual assessments per selected report, ISOS then crafts customized scorecards for the participating organizations. The aggregate provides a unique overview of how trained readers perceive adherence to the reporting framework and demonstrated organizational commitment to sustainability.

Over our program iterations from 2010-2014, 817 GRI trained sustainability professionals contributed to this analysis of 125 unique reports from over 96 different organizations. For 15 of the organizations, ISOS compared at least two reports year-over-year to determine if lessons learned from previous reporting cycles were incorporated into future issuances. The outcome showed that about 50% improved performance in at least one of the two matrix metrics, while 27% managed to perform better in both.

Through the lens of CSR in Focus, we have generated a new perspective on the “state of reporting,” showing us the average annual performance of each group of evaluated reports. Those figures, when plotted on our matrix, reveal impressive overall levels of performance. However, poor performance in properly applying the concepts of sustainability context, materiality (external factors), balance, and completeness demonstrates the need for further improvement.

That is where CSR in Focus fits in. Interested in having your latest sustainability report considered in our selection process for future CSR in Focus evaluation?

Please contact us today!


Reports assessed in 2014:

Ball State University:

Microsoft 2013 Citizenship Report:

Inter-American Development Bank 2013 Sustainability Report:

International Paper:

WESST: World Bank:



Simple Green:

Caesars Entertainment:


City Hall of Bloomington:

Northrop Grumman (download the full report):

World Bank:


Johnson & Johnson:


HCP, Inc. :

Bank of America 2012 CSR Report (G3.1 B+, Ext. Assured):

Estee Lauder:

Alaska Airlines 2013 Sustainability Report:

UC Berkeley 2013 Campus Sustainability Report(G4):

07 Jul


ISOS releases new GRI G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and LEED v4 Linkage document

July 7, 2014 | By |

San Diego, CA- July 7, 2014

Download Free Publication and Linkage Table

ISOS Group, in collaboration with Susty Pacific LLC, Brightworks, and other LEED and GRI experts— is pleased to announce the release of a new resource document that links the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification Program with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Reporting Guidelines.

The document titled, “Linking up LEED with GRI: How Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) v4 certification program aligns with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines” provides a resource for LEED and GRI practitioners to identify the connections between the two frameworks and integrate the key components of LEED and GRI projects.
GRI is a network-based international nonprofit organization that produces the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework. The GRI Guidelines are used by corporate businesses, public agencies, non-governmental organizations, industry groups, small enterprises, municipal governments and other entities as a basis for providing transparency reporting in the areas of economic, environmental, social and governance performance.

GRI launched its G4 guidelines May of 2013 to address sustainability data requirements in a more straightforward and user-friendly manner. The G4 provides a detailed framework for reporters to convey business goals, risks and impacts to their stakeholders. In addition, the G4 broadens the company’s impact in the supply chain by addressing economic, environmental and social performance. The GRI Disclosures for the environment support the LEED Credits for Sustainable Sites, Water, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality.

LEED is a leading international green building rating and certification system developed and managed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED certification is administered by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), which provides third-party verification of green buildings. It has over 13,000 membership organizations, 77 local chapters, and over 188,000 LEED professionals. There are ten LEED rating systems that were developed to meet the needs of various sectors, building types, and developments.

The “Linking up LEED with GRI” document includes descriptions of GRI and LEED. It provides narrative summaries that compare GRI sustainability reporting and LEED certification, describes synergies, and includes areas where the two frameworks overlap. In addition, users can download an extensive, comprehensive GRI-LEED linkage table that shows the direct overlap and relationships between GRI indicators and LEED credits.
The connections identified in the document provide a reference for GRI sustainability reporters (and reporting organizations) to track and disclose performance related to LEED more efficiently. It can also serve as an aid for LEED planning to align with organizational reporting, disclosure priorities, and selected performance indicators.

Susty Pacific will be presenting the document at the 2014 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in New Orleans in October 22-24. They also plan to present this document in Honolulu this fall and begin offering training on corporate and organizational sustainability in 2015.

A summary of “Linking Up LEED with GRI” can be downloaded free of charge. More detailed tables and additional tools that reference the GRI G3.1, G4, and other LEED checklists can be downloaded for a fee at http:

About ISOS Group:

ISOS Group is a leading sustainability services agency. They work with organizations of all sizes and business sectors across the globe to provide tools and guidance in integrated sustainability reporting. Their expertise includes training and certification, consultancy to guide organizations throughout the reporting cycle, stakeholder engagement and materiality, content development, branding and design, third party assurance and external recognition. ISOS Group is a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Certified Training Partner and a CDP Silver Education and Training Partner in the U.S.

About Susty Pacific:

Susty Pacific LLC is a Hawaii-based firm specializing in responsible business and sustainability consulting. Their expertise and knowledge combine business competency with sustainability to develop tangible solutions that address the reality of business needs while positively impacting the local culture, community, and natural ecosystem—what they refer to as the Quadruple Bottom Line (QBL). To learn more about Susty Pacific, visit

About Brightworks:

Brightworks helps organizations of all types capture and create lasting value by aligning their efforts with basic principles of ecological, social, and economic sustainability. To learn more about Brightworks, visit

06 Jun


ISOS releases new GRI G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and EICC Code of Conduct 4.0 Linkage document

June 6, 2014 | By |

San Diego, CA- June 6, 2014

Download Free Publication and Linkage Table

ISOS Group, in association with academics, consultants and electronic industry sustainability experts— is pleased to announce the release of a new resource document that highlights synergies between the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) Code of Conduct with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Reporting Guidelines.  This is the first is a series of documents aimed at linking leading initiatives, protocols and standards with the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G4 Guidelines.

As a leading provider of GRI Certified Sustainability Reporting Trainings and expert practice, ISOS is in the unique position to deliver knowledge and tools to help pave the way for the sustainability field.  Though the development of the document entitled, “Linking up EICC with GRI: How the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition’s (EICC®) Code of Conduct aligns with the GRI G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines” was led by ISOS — it is really the product of a multi-stakeholder process taken over the last 9 months.  The goal is to provide a go-to resource highlighting the interplay between GRI and the EICC Code, which will reduce the burden of sorting through lengthy documents and lost time associated with drawing alignment to each commitment.

The EICC Code of Conduct provides social, ethical and environmental guidelines for the electronics industry, just as GRI has provided a detailed framework for reporters to convey business goals, risks and impacts to their stakeholders. From early on, the world’s leading electronics companies, which formed the EICC coalition, realized that their greatest risks lie in their supply chain abroad and that change required a collaborative approach. They have since been instrumental in mobilizing companies to improve operating efficiency and raise levels of responsibility for social, ethical and environmental impact throughout the global electronics supply chain.

As the world’s most widely used sustainability reporting framework, corporate businesses, public agencies, nongovernmental organizations, industry groups, small enterprises, municipal governments and other entities across sectors realized the need to broaden the GRI Guidelines to address supply chain impacts as well. The 4th Generation of the GRI Guidelines released in May 2013 does just that. Disclosure items are aimed to expand the scope of responsibility outside an organization’s operational control. The new supply chain focus supports the EICC Code in a way not seen before, as the Code weighs heavily on supply chain management.

“Linking up EICC with GRI” includes descriptions and comparisons of each sustainability guidelines’ implementation strategies, purposes, tools and resources, sustainability principles, requirements and frameworks. In addition to case studies from Dell, IBM, Intel, and Qualcomm, the report includes tables that list EICC Code components with GRI G4 indicators that contain similar sustainability information and requirements. By effectively linking the EICC Code and the GRI G4, a company producing an annual sustainability report will experience a higher quality and more efficient reporting process.

This publication, released by ISOS, comes at an important time when many in the electronics industry are being required to file conflict mineral reports in addition to their voluntary annual sustainability reports.  It is with great hope that users of this document and the more detailed linkage worksheet will be able to streamline efforts – when time can be best spent implementing improvement measures.

A summary of “Linking Up EICC with GRI” can be downloaded free of charge. And the linkage table (listing all GRI indicators and linkages to corresponding EICC Code principles) can be downloaded for a fee at http:

About ISOS Group:

ISOS Group is a leading sustainability services agency. They work with organizations of all sizes and business sectors across the globe to provide tools and guidance in integrated sustainability reporting. Their expertise includes training and certification, consultancy to guide organizations throughout the reporting cycle, stakeholder engagement and materiality, content development, branding and design, third party assurance and external recognition. ISOS Group is a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Certified Training Partner and a CDP Silver Education and Training Partner in the U.S.


07 Mar


ISOS Group offering CDP training on Climate Change reporting

March 7, 2014 | By |

March 7, 2014

San Diego, CA- March 7, 2014: In building upon its success as a GRI Certified Training Partner, ISOS Group, LLC intends to launch CDP training sessions across the United States following CDP’s 8th Annual Spring Workshop slated for March 17th.  As the world’s largest voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reporting organization, CDP works on behalf of 767 institutional investors representing US$92 trillion in assets to assess risk across a broad spectrum of sustainability considerations, including climate change risk in their investment portfolios. CDP provides a transformative global system for thousands of companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share environmental information.  As an official Silver Consultancy Education & Training Partner, ISOS is set to deliver full day (8 hour) in-person sessions aimed at facilitating improvements in climate change disclosure.

“CDP has created a lot of traction in the US and the time is ripe for taking environmental disclosure to the next level. Environmental reporting Education is key to better understanding CDP’s guidance documents, scoring criteria and best-practices,” says ISOS Co-Founder, Alexandru Georgescu.

Since 2008, ISOS has trained nearly 2,000 in GRI-based Sustainability Reporting- ranging from corporate representatives, non-profits, government agencies, academics and consultants. Nancy Mancilla, ISOS Co-Founder and lead educator adds, “We are excited about being able to help satisfy the growing appetite for practical knowledge in this space and look forward to serving CDP – just as we have done for GRI over the years.”

“ISOS Group’s excellent track record in providing guidance and instruction to a wide variety of stakeholders on sustainability reporting make them an ideal partner to provide these new CDP education & training sessions, which are designed to help companies improve the quality of their CDP climate change disclosure.” says Stephen Donofrio, Vice President, Partnerships & Innovation at CDP.

CDP has opened this pilot initiative up to only a handful of entities. Committed to building a more sustainable economy, ISOS feels honored to play a role in expanding CDP’s mission. In addition to ISOS’ ongoing team of trainers, GHG inventory experts Coto-Consulting and climate risk consultancy Four Twenty Seven LLC will contribute to course content and delivery on greenhouse gas accounting, verification and risk mitigation.

April 18: San Diego @ ISOS/CoMerge

April 21: San Francisco @ Baker & McKenzie

April 25: NYC @ L’Oreal USA

May 7: Seattle @ Alaska Air

To reserve your seat, sign up at:

CDP is an independent not-for-profit organization providing a global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share climate change and water information. Over 4,000 organizations across the world’s largest economies disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and assessment of climate change and water risk and opportunity through CDP, so that they can set reduction targets and make performance improvements.  CDP’s mission is to transform the global economic system to prevent dangerous climate change and value our natural resources by putting relevant information at the heart of business, investment and policy decisions.Its homepage is

ISOS Group, LLC is an innovative, fully integrated sustainability consultancy, serving the needs of organizations across all industries. From its office in California, one of the largest economies in the world and leaders in climate change policy, ISOS Group is well positioned to provide added value to the growing market. Our team of GRI Certified practitioners offers an unmatched blend of skills in sustainability reporting, external assurance of CSR, carbon reporting, third-party GHG verification and stakeholder engagement. This acknowledgement comes as an extension to ISOS’ status as GRI Certified Training Partner in the U.S. for nearly 6 years and U.S. and a CDP Silver Consultancy Partner since 2012. Its homepage is

07 Jan


Green Purchasing by Uncle Sam – Are You a Federal Government Supplier – Contractor?

January 7, 2014 | By |

by Hank Boerner, Chairman, G&A Institute

The United States Government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the U.S.A., and some project, in the world. (US$500 billion in the latest budget.) So – if you are selling to Uncle Sam, tune in to the guidelines recently published the Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). In December EPA proposed (in draft form) rules for “greener and safer” products to be purchased by the Federal government.

The public comment period is open but expect that sometime soon we will see the official guidelines for supplier companies to follow. Part of the initiative is to assess the growing number of “eco-labels” in use by trade associations, NGOs, standard setters, etc.

Says EPA: “These guidelines will make it easier for Federal purchasors to meet the existing goal of 95 percent sustainable purchases, while spurring consumers and private sector to use and demand greener and safer products…” The EPA and the GSA (General Services Administration) created the guidelines for agencies and departments to use in their sourcing.

To emphasize: The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to ensure 95 percent of new contracts to be “green.”

The EPA/GSA initiative is one of the most recent steps in a continuing journey toward greater sustainability by the Federal government. Executive Order #13514 got this journey going in earnest in October 2009, soon after President Barack Obama got his administration up and running and cabinet posts filled. It’s officially the “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance” mandate for all government agencies to follow.

Haven’t been following this EO? How about the one in August 2012 — “Accelerating Investment in Industrial Energy Efficiency?” There’s sure to be lots of risk and opportunities inherent in this EO, which addresses the US industrial sector use of energy (30% of the total usage). The Feds will encourage investment in combined heat and power systems (CHP); the effort involves key departments — Energy, Commerce, Agriculture, EPA, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

There’s lots going on at the Federal government level, and in similar activities in the trickle down into state and municipal governments, as some of the spate of EO’s call for assistance to public agencies at local levels.

We’ll be visiting the Federal government’s dramatic journey to greater sustainability to bring you more news and details…that could present risk or opportunity to your organization.

And in February (25 and 26) at the World Bank in Washington DC, Governance & Accountability Institute and partners, ISOS Group, will present a 2-day, interactive sustainability materiality and reporting workshop for public sector agencies and their suppliers and contractors. This is the kick off of the GRI Business Transparency Program in the USA for the Public Sector (all levels). Participants will receive certification and will enjoy specialized guidance during the 6 months that follow by G&A and ISOS.

For more information on registration —

Sector-specific sessions are now scheduled for Food & Agriculture, Beauty & Chemical, Energy & Utilities, Hotels & Tourism. Details are at the above web site page.

You can also learn more about the agencies that you do business with as they publish their progress reports on sustainability. These are due this month (all agencies are supposed to report in January of each year). Also, the largest of the Federal contractors – think of Lockheed Martin or General Dynamics – are publishing sustainability reports.

Also – look at the US Postal Service and the US Army sustainability reports to get an idea of what your customers are saying about their role in the Federal sustainability journey.

Watch this space for news & updates on Federal government actions…especially as the White House issues Executive Orders in President Obama’s second (and last) term in office.

24 May


UN Global Compact (UNGC) and U.S. Companies

May 24, 2013 | By |

By Cristina Garza @isosgroup

Since its launch in July 2000, the UN Global Compact (UNGC) has grown to more than 10,000 participants from 145 countries. Its current base of more than 7,000 signatory businesses, as of October 2012, makes it the largest transnational organization in the world. However, it lacks the power to globally convene and influence relevant social actors including companies, governments, labor, and civil society organizations, especially in the U.S., despite the fact that it specifically seeks to influence these parties.

The number of U.S. companies adhering to the UN´s call for corporate responsibility is noticeably behind the total number of signatories of other nations. This is even more evident in relative terms, when we consider the percentage of signatories out of the total number of a country’s companies. Why are U.S. companies not compelled to participate? Do they not perceive value in adhering to the Global Compact?


A number U.S. companies are being delisted from the Global Compact because they do not meet the Communication on Progress (COP) requirements. As of this May, out of 499 U.S. participants, 6 percent (19 out of 277) large companies have been delisted. This number seems low compared to the 23 percent of small and medium-seized enterprises or SMEs (62 out of 268 registered companies) that have been delisted. In other words, it seems that smaller firms, which outnumber large companies by a wide margin, do not perceive sufficient value in allocating resources to comply with the Global Compact´s requirements. This is in part because small-to- medium sized enterprises (SMEs) do not have the necessity to fill the governability gaps that result from operating in less developed countries. Corporate legitimacy is usually questioned when a company extends its supply chain and manufacturing into countries lacking appropriate regulations regarding labor, human rights, the environment and anti-corruption. Hence, companies operating abroad (which usually translate into large companies) seek to regulate their operations through adherence to the UNGC´s principles and subsequently report on their CSR activities. This pattern also occurs with domestically oriented firms, which perceive no real benefit from a membership to the UN Global Compact as they operate in their well regulated homeland.

Still, CSR initiatives are increasingly being required by institutional investors and large business customers, and it appears that U.S.-based companies are opting for other frameworks, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (read a summary of the new guidelines here). More than 53 percent of S&P 500 companies reported according to this framework in 2012. In Steen Knudsen’s words, “the UN Global Compact offers a ´one seize fits all solution regarding CSR reporting.” It is a principles-based, flexible initiative with no specific compliance indicators.


The flexibility of the standard has meant that companies have been opting to shift towards other reporting standards that better fit their needs, usually those providing specific, measurable indicators that adapt to the seize of the company and its sector, and that provide the possibility to select the most suitable reporting parameters.

In the case of larger firms, some argue that it is the nature of the UNGC’s principles that is preventing them from becoming members, especially because, even though it is non-binding, it is presented to legally-oriented firms. For example, Principle 3 states that: “Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.” Dow Chemicals resisted becoming a member because they considered this principle would cast them as pro-union, thus setting up the possibility of lawsuits from activists. Also, General Electric avoided becoming a member because they faced pressures from activists in relation to their anti-discriminatory pledges. GE and other U.S. firms have been working in advancing human rights through specific business initiatives and have helped the UN reassign responsibility of human rights to national governments, while keeping businesses a partner in implementing such principles into their practices.

There is no doubt that the UNGC has proven its success in becoming the world’s largest transnational initiative, its challenge lies now not in attracting more participants, but to retain them. There are a small number of U.S. based companies now signing up, and signatories keep being delisted. Continuation of this pattern will create a rigorous reporting paradigm, and make it easier for organizations to report their commitments. Despite new guidance on how to meet COP requirements by way of a GRI-based Sustainability Report and the Global Compact Differentiation Program, many organizations still don’t have the resources to meet COP requirements UNGC is a great instrument to compensate regulation voids for companies operating abroad, and should focus on these types of companies instead of seeking to recruit all types of members who not always perceive value in adhering to its principles. It may be that the value of adherence provides a launching pad for strategic sustainability that is to follow.

22 May


Global Reporting Initiative-GRI G4

May 22, 2013 | By |

Previous iterations of the Global Reporting Initiative’s standards have been all-inclusive, encouraging reporters to report widely on their environmental, social and governance issues.  Some critics of the G3.1 and G3 standards complained that they rewarded breadth over depth by categorizing reports into three levels (A, B and C) – with the “best grade” given to the reports with the biggest scope. 

G4 represents a big shift in the standard – away from “put it all out there” to “less is more” – so long as what gets reported is material to the organization. The new standards ask reporters to use the sustainability report to document what really matters- a big shift away from reporting on everything the company monitors.

First things first. The G4 is split into two complementary documents: a manual consisting of the principles and standard disclosures themselves and a separate implementation manual to help reporters make their way through the process. The second document details the necessary steps a reporter needs to take to launch and manage a sustainability reporting process within any organization, regardless of their level of experience. The first document offers flexibility for preparers to choose which disclosures to focus on and how to align efforts to local/regional report requirements and frameworks. In addition, new clarifications on how to report on shared supply chain impacts outside of operational control will hopefully support organizations in taking additional responsibility for supply chain sustainability and governance.

Here are the key changes reporters need to know about from G4:


Gone are the lettered reporting levels (A, B, and C) that encouraged American reporters to go for that A+. There will now be an “in accordance” system with two distinct tracks: an entry level track for General disclosures and a more Comprehensive track.

The concept of full or partial coverage will no longer be relevant. Now, reports can only be “in accordance” or not. If a company does not have all the data available, in order to be “in accordance,” it now must disclose omissions using detailed guidance within the G4.

Organizations can still determine the depth of reporting they wish to undertake. For the immediate future (approximately three months), GRI will continue to offer Application Level Checks. The board of directors will then meet in September to discuss continuation and/or approach to offering this service now that the levels are going away.

What happens to companies that choose not to be “in accordance”? Reporters that refer to GRI as a guide, but do not fully implement the principles and components are not required to publish a Content Index. They are however, encouraged to state that the Guidelines were referred to.


Materiality will continue to be emphasized in prompts throughout the guidelines. Where issues are deemed material, reporters will be required to disclose on those issues.

When organizations are unable to measure and/or track all material aspects or indicators, they will need to acknowledge the relevance and admit limitations in data availablility.

G4 will not require a reporting organization to discuss each indicator – as with the previous A level scenario. Now reporters only need to discuss those that relate to a material aspect. That means that organizations with a large staff of knowledge workers in the U.S. and no physical products, probably do not need to spend much time addressing supply chain issues. For new reporters, this may make things easier as only one indicator from each material aspect requires a response. However, it may require more preparation as going through the materiality process is essential and more details may be required.

Materiality Revisited: It is likely that organizations will be asked to select aspects solely within one or a pair of categories, as opposed to the many different aspects A level reporters were previously expected to report on. This means that some of the reporting process will be a judgment call since organizations need to determine what they can feasibly report on.


DMAs will now be more focused at the Aspect level (GRI’s term for general fields of sustainability performance, like Energy Use or Labor/Management Relations) – meaning that companies will disclose on how they manage each Aspect separately. Makes sense, right? More Generic DMAs will allow for several aspects to be grouped together and addressed at the Category level (one step up). Three distinct elements will help guide reporters in reporting. First, organizations will explain why an Aspect is material and which impacts make it material, second, how the organization manages impacts, and third, which mechanisms are in place for evaluating the management approach.

Though a General Disclosure item will also prompt organizations to describe the supply chain and shared impacts, supply chain mapping as proposed in the exposure drafts will not be a required step in the process. Considering shared impacts across the supply chain and determining who is affected will be an integral concept fed throughout.


Current Sector Supplements (specific reporting guidelines for various industries) will be adapted to Sector Disclosure Tables- starting with Financial Services and Mining & Metals. All others will be adapted soon after along with additional sectors developed in time.


The guidelines now allow for external (third party) assurance to be conducted by different organizations for different impact areas. Disclosures about the assurance should be indicated in the Content Index accordingly.


All in all, these changes will make the G4 much more straightforward and easy for newcomers and experience reporters alike. The development of the guidelines took two years, and GRI went through nearly one thousand drafts to reach these final edits. The development of these guidelines required extensive stakeholder consultation. Working Groups from across the world contributed feedback as did thousands of individuals around the world. GRI should be applauded for conducting such a thorough process and using this enormous amount of feedback effectively to produce a simple and effective guideline for reporting.

If you want to learn more about the G4, a bridging module on the G4 will be incorporated into all the ISOS Group GRI certified sustainability reporter trainings happening after July 1st. A free webinar will also be available (soon!) for ISOS Group’s past course participants. Visit our GRI training page to sign up for a full course.

16 Jan


GRI Sustainability Reporting in Public Agencies

January 16, 2013 | By |

While conducting the GRI Certified Sustainability Reporting trainings, ISOS Group has had the great fortune of meeting sustainability champions all across the U.S. When we first started down this path almost five years ago, we found that the GRI Framework was largely embraced by multinational corporations headquartered on American soil. Though that is no longer the case, we continue to receive questions about the breadth of application. In addition to a wide array of corporations, we have started to see an uptake in solely domestic enterprises, including small-to-medium sized businesses, academic institutions and even public agencies within the federal sphere, state agencies and even municipalities more recently. Therefore, our answer is always:

“Yes, GRI is applicable to organizations of all sizes and the flexibility of the framework allows organizations to tell their story and describe what exactly sustainability means for them.”

In thinking about the feedback received during our courses in 2012, one thing seems clear- we are witnessing a paradigm shift and it’s our belief that the stories of the public agencies will surface much more readily over the coming year. One of our recent speakers, Linda Glasier from the Washington Department of Ecology put it best when describing initial hurdles her agency had to overcome in producing their first GRI report:

“Public agencies factor in both commitment to mission and caution in breaking new ground when we start to discuss transparency and sustainability”.

Why is that? Our public agencies owe the populous solutions to our societal ills. The citizenry wants and needs to be part of the solution. We all want to make our states and our nation greater right? Answers to these questions lay at the very heart of sustainability principles regardless of framework used. Initial steps require a sometimes new and self exploratory process to determine relevant impacts that can be addressed. Engagement is essential whether it is internal or external. Ultimately, people want to feel like their voices count.

During the same panel discussion held during our recent training just outside Portland, Cindy Dolezel, Beaverton-Oregon’s Sustainability Manager, added:

“A community is empowered when they see that the City is listening to their voices and completing actions they have requested. The City of Beaverton strives to engage with the community around sustainability issues and to emphasize the need for a holistic approach that considers the community, environment, and the economy. Through these efforts we have gained trust from the community about the City’s approach to sustainability.”

That speaks volumes for public agencies, particularly during a time when the health of our economy and political system is not what we would like it to be. Now, although the city of Beaverton is not currently producing a GRI-based sustainability report, they have joined the likes of other cities across the country, such as Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Atlanta that instituted a sustainability framework. Beaverton has a clear understanding that collaboration and working across disciplines is essential in their efforts to move forward. Through internal collaboration, the City has managed to leverage several grants to aid in sustainability initiatives.

“Once the City had a few big wins under its belt, Beaverton started to clearly see what could be done and what was still needed. We quickly realized the need for a cohesive strategy to move toward targeted goals. To do this, we created an internal plan to integrate sustainability into City operations and day-to-day activities.”- Cindy Dolezel

The tempo at which we plunge into the world of sustainability, is different. For Linda Glasier, she came into a project that had already been initiated. However, it was stalled. She had to quickly assume the role of mediator to help translate methodic principles between different personalities, and agencies, while uncovering the fire that would lead the agency to their goal of releasing the first ever state environmental public agency GRI report. Besides the need to meet EPA grant requirements, the agency was driven to build greater relationships with the business community that they regulate- many of which are producing GRI reports. Glasier argued,

“We need to speak the same language, so that we can work together to build a better state!”

Though these reports are just as different as you and me, there are a few commonalities not only within public agencies, but across all sectors of the economy. Issues related to environmental management of energy, waste and water, labor or “ethics”, and financial health tend to be common points for public agencies. Green procurement, however, is not only the most common, it is the most influential and most widely used to manage any intuitions footprint. Like the saying, you are what you eat, in sustainability, your footprint is what you buy. How might all this sustainability activity influence the suppliers to these sorts of entities?

When looking through the crystal ball for 2013, the possibility of growth in sustainability reporting from public agencies seems endless, including throughout their supply chains. Others have already pioneered this space and we can all learn from their experiences and leadership examples. Fall River, Massachusetts has just published the very first A level GRI report for a U.S. City. Linda Glasier helped spearhead the publication of the Washington State Department of Ecology’s first GRI report. The San Diego Regional Airport Authority and the Port of Los Angeles have released ground-breaking GRI reports within their sector. The U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Army, NREL and PNNL have also been instrumental in influencing others within their value chain that have even appeared at our courses.

In closing, we would like to leave you with a few words of advice from our recent Vancouver, Washington guest presenters…..

“This type of transformative change, takes time. Use techniques like the Natural Step to determine your vision for what you want to achieve. Backcasting will help envision the steps needed to get there.” / Scott Lewis, CEO, Brightworks

“Share your successes, struggles, and future goals with the stakeholders. As you engage with people, find ways to give them ownership and listen to their voices. Every organization is different, but I encourage everyone to start big – focus internally and on engaging the community at the same time – remember your goal and understand that the process will unfold to get you there.” / Cindy Dolezel,  Sustainability Manager, City of Beaverton

“Be prepared to receive mixed feedback. Acknowledge that there are lessons in all feedback.” / Linda Glasier, Environmental Specialist, WA State Department of Ecology.

01 Jan


GRI G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines

January 1, 2013 | By |


GRI will publish the fourth version of its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (G4) at the end of May 2013. For those interested in using the G4 Guidelines as soon as possible, the Global Reporting Initiative strongly recommends that you complete the current G3.1 GRI Certified Training Course now, and then sign up for the G4 Bridging Module course in mid-2013.

Here’s how it works:

MAY 2013: GRI will launch the G4 Guidelines at its Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting in Amsterdam beginning on May 22, 2013, with a special pre-conference training exclusively for the GRI Certified Training Partners around the world, including ISOS Group.

JUNE 2013: After the public announcement of the G4 Guidelines, GRI will release the GRI Certified G4 Bridging Module, specifically designed for those who have already completed the GRI Certified G3.1 Training.

SUMMER 2013: ISOS Group will offer two ways to get trained on G4:

  • A webinar will highlight the key differences between the G3/G3.1 and the G4 Guidelines.
  • GRI Certified G4 Bridging Module will be offered as an add-on option (priced separately) to our regular two-day trainings, providing more in-depth coverage of G4.

All attendees of ISOS Group G3.1 training courses offered through May 2013 will automatically qualify for a FREE webinar and/or a 50% DISCOUNT on the GRI Certified G4 Bridging Module.

FALL 2013: After the release of the official G4 Bridging Module to its training partners, GRI will finalize and release the full two-day GRI Certified G4 Training course materials. ISOS expects to introduce the G4 course in the last quarter of 2013.

Additionally, the G3.1 Guidelines will be in effect for another two years, providing G3.1 reporters ample time to transition to the G4 Guidelines.


Sign up now for one of the upcoming GRI Certified Sustainability Reporting Trainings in your town @TRAINING EVENTS.

28 Dec


HCP Inc. (NYSE:HCP) announces publication of its inaugural GRI Sustainability Report

December 28, 2012 | By |

img_gri_hcpiHCP Inc. (NYSE:HCP), a leading health care real estate investment trust (REIT), announced the publication of its inaugural GRI Sustainability Report: Growing Business, Promoting Sustainability, Building Partnerships, covering calendar year 2011. The report was developed in accordance with the internationally recognized Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G3.1 sustainability reporting framework at a B Level. HCP’s Sustainability Report demonstrates the Company’s commitment to integrating sustainability practices into its core business strategy.

Other sustainability Highlights of key sustainability efforts and accomplishments achieved by the Company, many of which are detailed further in the 2012 GRI Sustainability Report, include:

  • Achieved leadership in the number of Medical Office Building (MOB) ENERGY STAR certifications for facili­ ties (inside and outside our boundary) with a total of 17 ENERGY STAR labels. In the second quarter of 2011, HCP was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as having the most ENERGY STAR certifications in the MOB category by any property owner.Reduced energy consumption by 3% in 2011, and 13% since the beginning of our participation in the ENERGY STAR program in 2006, across all prop­ erties benchmarked in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.
  • Decreased utility expenses in 2011 by $1.4 million on a same­property basis versus 2010 in our MOB portfolio.
  • Received awards from the Leader in the Light program, sponsored by the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT), in five of the last six years, including the Innovator of the Year Award in 2011. The award recognizes its member companies that have demonstrated superior portfolio-wide energy use practices and sustainability initiatives. HCP received the highest score among all healthcare REITs and real estate companies that comprised the healthcare sector in the 2012 competition.
  • Finished first (1st) in the MOB category and eighth (8th) overall out of 245 build­ ings in ENERGY STAR’s 2011 National Building Competition with our Thornton MOB in Thornton, Colorado. This build­ ing reduced energy consumption by nearly 34% year over year, resulting in more than $100,000 in energy savings.
  • Released Investor Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) reports for 2011.

The GRI report was developed with the assistance of ISOS Group, one of the leading sustainability and carbon reporting consultancies in the United States. To view HCP’s 2012 GRI Sustainability Report, visit

02 Oct


ISOS Group becomes Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Silver consultancy partner in the U.S.

October 2, 2012 | By |



San Diego, CA- October 2, 2012: ISOS Group, LLC is pleased to announce its recent status as a Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Silver Consultancy Partner in the U.S. As the world’s largest voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reporting organization, CDP works on behalf of 655 institutional investors representing US78 trillion in assets to assess risk across a broad spectrum of sustainability considerations, including climate change risk in their investment portfolios. CDP provides a transformative global system for thousands of companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share environmental information.

“ISOS Group has an excellent track record in carbon and sustainability reporting and we are pleased to welcome them as a silver consultancy partner in the U.S.” says Paul Robins, Head of Corporate Partnerships at CDP.

cdp-linkedin-logo-largeCDP invites a limited number of organizations as partners and ISOS feels honored to join the ranks of those worldwide that have demonstrated a commitment to building a more sustainable economy. Building upon its successes in facilitating awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and advising organizations of all sizes in developing and publishing GRI-based sustainability reports, ISOS Group’s team of experts is equipped to further drive the adoption of the CDP process across all sectors in the US.

In addition to its current sustainability reporting services, ISOS will provide clients with a full suite of services including CDP Response Check and guidance on corporate approaches to reporting on and reducing greenhouse gases.

Alexandru Georgescu and Nancy Mancilla, founders of ISOS Group note that:

“Operating out of California, one of the largest economies in the world and leaders in climate change policy in the U.S., ISOS Group is well positioned to support CDP’s mission towards greater transparency around carbon reporting. We have established an industry position in this field, and we believe that this partnership with CDP further enhances our value proposition to our corporate clients, allowing us to better respond to their carbon and water reporting needs and validate compliance with the relevant standards, be they regulatory or voluntary”.

The Carbon Disclosure Project is an independent not-for-profit organization providing a global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share climate change and water information. Over 4,000 organizations across the world’s largest economies disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and assessment of climate change and water risk and opportunity through CDP, in order that they can set reduction targets and make performance improvements.  CDP’s mission is to transform the global economic system to prevent dangerous climate change and value our natural resources by putting relevant information at the heart of business, investment and policy decisions. Its homepage is

ISOS Group is an innovative, fully integrated sustainability consultancy, serving the needs of organizations across all industries. Our team of GRI certified practitioners offers an unmatched blend of skills in sustainability reporting, external assurance of CSR, carbon reporting, third party GHG verification and stakeholder engagement. ISOS is a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Certified Training Partner and a Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Silver Consultancy Partner in the U.S. Its homepage is



Further Information:

Alexandru Georgescu, CFO and Co-Founder
619 866-ISOS (4764)
ISOS Group |

18 Aug


Using GRI to Compare Apples to Apples in Sustainability Reporting

August 18, 2011 | By |

It will not come as news to sustainability readers that social and environmental issues can have a short and long term impact on the financial performance of a company. But, objectively measuring a company’s sustainability performance is easier said than done.

Sustainability reports are as different as each of us. They vary in format, material issues selected, boundary and scope, and cultural orientation which makes it very difficult to judge performance based on a common set of indicators.

Investment institutions like Bloomberg, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index or FTSE4Good have some of the more widely recognized methods of reviewing corporate sustainability. But they aren’t the only companies in the game.

Groups like CSRHUB and Sustainability HQ have a deep knowledge of sustainability principals. They have successfully developed systems that make it possible to query a full range of sustainability data and share it with a broad audience. CSRHUB Cofounder Cynthia Figge says, “We aggregate data from more than 100 sources to provide our users with a comprehensive source of CSR information on nearly 5,000 publicly traded companies in 65 countries.”

ISOS Group has capitalized on the standardization of the GRI reporting framework to create another measurement system.

Since the GRI framework is standardized, a true apples to apples comparison is possible. ISOS Group has developed a framework to quantitatively measure the strength of a GRI report, and we have collected dozens of reviews of reports using the framework. These all add up to a strong body of data that allows us to compare companies between sectors on the basis of the quality of their reporting.

In 2010, we assessed Walmart, Southwest Airlines, Qualcomm Incorporated, Bucyrus, Johnson & Johnson, Holland America, NextEra, Medtronic, Mattel, Citigroup, UPS, Sempra Energy, State Street or HP on all tests associated with the Quality and Content Principles in the GRI reporting framework. Although not all of the selected reports were GRI-based, all had referred to the framework to some degree as a guide for developing their reports and therefore, could undergo a common set of tests.

According to the final results, HP rated highest, while Walmart lagged in all areas. On average, most reporters failed to effectively apply Materiality and Stakeholder Inclusiveness, (which are key components of a GRI report). This shows that we are still in the elementary stages of sustainability reporting and that the best we can do is to educate ourselves on the importance of applying the right principles to the reporting process.

In order to improve in these areas, reporters should consider:

  • Materiality: Moving away from siloed decision-making on relevant performance indicators. Consider your sustainability context and related impacts, gather input from others, prioritize and chart those that are most relevant for the organization. Explain the process! Refer to Symantec or SAP’s Materiality Matrix and description as best-cases.
  • Stakeholder Inclusiveness: First brainstorm all the groups that affect or are affected by your company’s daily activities. Prioritize each group and think about ways that you currently interact with them. Consider methods for obtaining their input on your sustainability related activities. Don’t be afraid of engaging in stakeholder dialogue! Refer to Kimberly Clark’s testament to their interactions with environmental groups for an example on how opportunities can flourish from building deeper relationships with external groups.
  • Balance: A purely positive report doesn’t work to transform business practices. Include both positive and negative performance and set targets for improving efforts in the short and long-term. It’s highly unlikely that you will receive criticism for sharing both the good and the bad. Take a look at Weyerhaeuser or 7th Generation’s report for examples of honest reporting.
  • Comparability: Readers may not be able to determine whether your performance was positive unless they have something to compare it to. Provide some point of comparison for your disclosures, whether it is based on year-to-year performance, industry averages or against your peers. Utilize tools, such as CSRHUB to draw comparable data and include illustrations! Refer to 2010 Qualcomm Social Responsibility report ‘Total Lost Time Injury & Illness Rate’ or ‘Direct Energy Consumption’ disclosures for a quick example of how easily this can be done.
  • Reliability: How reliable is the data when mention of a sound process for tracking and analyzing data is absent from the report? Claims made in the report should be supported by internal controls and systems should be strong enough to undergo possible examination by external parties. Refer to long – time reporter, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) 2010 report under ‘Transparency’ for a great example!
  • Accuracy: Express measurement techniques, estimates, assumptions and bases for calculations so that the reader can trust your claims! Refer to Chevron’s recent report- they do a terrific job at footnoting.

We have already started another round of assessments by looking at 2010 reports from 14 companies with others planned as they come online. In order to build greater value from this education experience, results are then offered to the reporting organizations as critical feedback and to registries, such as CSRHUB.

There is no customary form required by law for this type of reporting, yet there are guidelines we can follow that have been developed and used by thousands of groups globally. Someday, a tool for comparing apples to apples may enter the market. However, until that day comes, we will have to rely on our educated judgment of the GRI to determine the quality of reports and supporting systems. Essentially, mastering the use of GRI’s Quality and Content Principles provides an un-matched authenticity for reporting.

If you want to learn more about the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability framework and become a certified sustainability reporter, consider attending one of ISOS Group’s  GRI certifications in Sustainability Reporting.

22 Mar


Beyond SSPPs: GRI Sustainability Reporting for Federal Agencies

March 22, 2011 | By |

Join us to hear from the nation’s federal agency sustainability leaders and learn how they use the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework for sustainability reporting to enhance and expand their existing Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP) efforts.

Date: Tuesday, March 22, 1:30 PM PST

Format: Moderated panel discussion with audience participation

Audience: Chief Sustainability Officers and federal agency staff responsible for developing Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans (SSPPs); government contractors, sustainability service providers, sustainability reporters, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) stakeholders and U.S. Executive Order 13514 stakeholders, environmental policy analysts.

Hosts: Concept Green and ISOS Group

Registration link:

Participants will gain an overview of GRI reporting standards, explore the linkages (and gaps) between SSPPs and GRI reporting, and hear first-hand from the federal agency early adopters of the GRI reporting framework.

Representatives from the U.S. Army, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences will share how they use the GRI reporting standards to report their social, economic and environmental performance to their stakeholders.

Register now to ensure a space in the webinar. The event is complimentary, but space is limited to the first 100 registrants.

Matthew Holtry, Center for Sustainability, Noblis
John Fittipaldi, Senior Fellow, Army Environmental Policy Institute
Kathleen Judd, Senior Research Scientist, Greenhouse Gas Management and Sustainability, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Trisha Castranio, Sustainability Coordinator, National Institute of
Environmental Health Sciences
Nancy Mancilla, CEO and Co-Founder, ISOS Group
Carrie McChesney, CEO and Founder, Concept Green

About ISOS Group: ISOS Group is an innovative sustainability consultancy firm providing sustainability assessments, GRI sustainability reporting certifications, guidance throughout the reporting process and external assurance of reports in addition to an array of supporting services. ISOS Group is a GRI Certified Trainer for North America and is currently offering GRI Sustainability Reporting certification courses. To find out more about our courses please refer to our CALENDAR.

About Concept Green: Concept Green is sustainability consulting firm that specializes in sustainabiilty reporting, program development and performance measures for large organizations. Concept Green is certified by the Woman’s Business Enterprise National Council as a Woman-Owned Business and is proud to serve as an ISOS Group Collaborating Partner in executing GRI Certified Trainings in the Southwestern region of the U.S.