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The State of Green Business 2014

State of Green Business 2014

State of Green Business, our seventh annual assessment of corporate sustainability trends and metrics, is just out. It paints a picture that is both optimistic and highly problematic - a perfect metaphor for the sector. First, the good news. The state of the art of corporate sustainability continues to evolve. What's business as usual today was not that long ago innovative, even breakthrough: biobased products, accounting systems that place a realistic value on water and carbon, smart supply chains that optimize transportation and energy, renewable energy that isn't just for show, and more.

Now, the bad news. For all of the advancements and achievements — some of which are chronicled in the more than 1,200 articles we run each year on GreenBiz.com — we're not making much progress. When you actually measure year-on-year progress companies are making, it's a disappointing state of affairs.

That's what we do each year in the report, along with our partners at Trucost plc, which helps companies, investors, governments and others "understand the economic consequences of natural capital dependency." Trucost researches and standardizes the environmental performance disclosures of more than 4,600 companies worldwide, representing 93 percent of global markets by market capitalization.

To create the metrics for State of Green Business, Trucost looked at two subsets: the 500 U.S. companies that make up the Standard & Poor's Index, and the MSCI World Index, covering more than 1,600 companies in 24 developed markets. For most metrics we present, we compare the 500 U.S. companies alongside the larger, 1,600-plus global universe over a five-year period.

In most cases, the progress is incremental. In some cases, it's flat, or even declining. Take carbon, for example. Total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions among both U.S. and global market indices remain flat. For the five-year period between 2008 and 2012, U.S. emissions were essentially unchanged while global emissions ticked up slightly. All told, it’s a wash. > renewable energy

Are we sinking, swimming or just treading water? I'll leave the conclusions up to you. I encourage you to download and read the report. The field of corporate sustainability remains vibrant and alive. Now, all that's needed is progress. (download here)

The trends and metrics in State of Green Business are the basis for GreenBiz Forum, Feb. 18-20 in Phoenix. Many of the sessions and speakers will reflect the topics discussed in the report.

GreenBiz.com - State of Green Business

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