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

21 Apr

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Bringing Sustainability “Home”

April 21, 2009 | By |

The term Sustainability has recently come to the surface as a sense of moral obligation that determines our ability to meet the needs of the present without sacrificing the needs of the future. What was first considered as a business development strategy, has now gained momentum in the policy arena as policymakers seek ways to sustain growth and enhance the living standard for the public. Environmentally focused legislative acts, such as AB 32 (The Global Warming Solutions Act) will require action from the general public to play their part in meeting California’s greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2020. In other words, escaping from our responsibilities to future generations is no longer an option.

However, environmental aspects shouldn’t be isolated when considering strategic development mechanisms. Therefore, the assurance of human rights, and fair and equal treatment in the workplace, in addition to education, healthcare and safety in order to maintain peace and security need to remain a priority among policy makers.

As we advance towards a new, more sustainable order, it will be ever more important to begin to understand what our impacts on the economy, society, and environment are so that we can also play a vital role in meeting personal and collective targets. Indicators related to the three dimensions of sustainability can be an important tool for city level, industrial, organizational or even household level purposes.The protocol developed by the Global Reporting Initiative has been most utilized internationally in adapting a sustainability reporting structure to the needs of diverse entities.

ISOS Group, LLC has created a modified version of this model to reflect household sustainability issues, while David Bainbridge, educator and long time sustainability champion has opted to become the subject of the study. David Bainbridge’s desire to assess his overall sustainability stems from a commitment he made in 1978 to reduce his energy consumption. Thirty years later, he is able to look back on his achievements, assess his position, and identify approaches for moving forward. Documentation of his efforts to reduce his overall impacts, coupled with his responses to a Household Sustainability Survey drafted by ISOS, served as justification for his lifestyle choices, conditions, and objectives. Tallied survey responses measured performance in each area and weaknesses expose further steps towards achieving optimal sustainability performance.

Like most Americans, Bainbridge feels that the economy and natural resource supplies could present numerous risks to household sustainability. Since David Bainbridge’s public comment on his Confessions as an Energy Professional, when the United States was experiencing another energy and economic crisis, he has managed to uphold his pledge to relieve himself of his guilt by reducing his energy consumption to a third of the US average and one-fifth of the average California household. His overall results of the study have clearly demonstrated his commitment and ability to positively impact the society in which he lives and operates. Recognizing that all things are interconnected, he has not only made significant efforts to maintain a low carbon lifestyle, but he has managed to extend his sphere influence in ways that have positively benefited his economic and social performance as well.

Living beyond our means has extensive implications for our entire community, its ecosystem and equally to those who service us or are serviced by us. Achieving sustainability starts with assessing one’s impacts, as conducted through this assessment, and setting targets for which to strive for. Long-term goals are based on continued efforts. To live a low impact lifestyle is not impossible, but it takes a firm acknowledgement of our activities both inside and outside the home. Sustainability doesn’t come from sacrificing all luxuries, but from dismissing unnecessary components from our daily activities, finding the means to mitigate impacts, and actively contributing to one’s community to ensure a comprehensive level of sustainability.

Not only is it necessary for companies to begin thinking about their triple-bottom line. During tough economic times, there is a lot more that affects household sustainability than just our monthly income!

Contact ISOS Group to find out more about our Sustainability Services.