Sustainability Definition | More than CSR

Posted by Matthew Littlefield on Thu, Mar 01, 2012 @ 05:22 PM

I had the opportunity earlier this week to present on a very exciting and well attended webcast hosted by Environment Leader and sponsored by Constellation Energy. The topic of the webcast was lessons learned from Environmental Leader's recently published 2012 Insider Knowledge Report.

Sustainability Definition

Many of the lessons that could be learned from this report were around how leading companies are taking a new, more holistic approach, to the Sustainability Definition used in their companies. As part of my introduction on the webcast, I shared the LNS Research Sustainability Definition. On the webcast itself I got some interesting feedback, both positive and negative, so I thought anything that created debate was worthy of some real estate on our Blog.

The LNS Research Sustainability Definition

Many companies, regulatory bodies, and non-governmental organizations (NGO's) have many different definitions of what Sustainability means to them. Some talk about the triple bottom line, others base their definitions off of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) framework. At LNS Research we believe these are all relevant but may not be prescriptive enough for companies to start effecting real change.

To address these potential short-comings in other definitions, LNS Research proposes the following Sustainability Definition:

LNS Research defines Corporate Sustainability as the set of leadership, business process, culture, and technology capabilities an organization establishes to maintain its social license for conducting business in a particular community.

For industrial settings, these capabilities general fall into the below buckets:

  • Energy
  • GHG
  • Environmental
  • Health and Safety
  • Operational Risk
  • Product Stewardship
  • Reporting

We expect this to be a working definition and to evolve over time as we conduct more research in the space. We believe it has a good balance of specificity and scope but are always welcoming of feedback. If you would be interesting in participating in future research, please share your email with us at the LNS Research homepage.

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Tags: Sustainability, Operational Excellence