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Study Shows Evolution of Corporate Sustainability

Siemens and McGraw-Hill Construction recently announced the results of the 2012 Greening of Corporate America study, the third in a series of reports initiated in 2006 to investigate the emerging trend of corporate sustainability.

“Since 2006, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in how corporate sustainability is transforming business,” Ari Kobb, director, Sustainability & Green Building Solutions, Siemens Building Technologies, said. “In only six years, it has grown from being a fledgling concept to becoming a standard element of corporate strategy. Companies are no longer incorporating sustainability simply out of obligation.”

The 2006 study identified a fundamental shift in the attitudes and practices of U.S. corporations toward sustainability. By the 2009 study, the position of corporate sustainability officer had emerged, and sustainability practices were being integrated into everyday operations. Highlights of the 2012 study include:

• The percentage of firms highly engaged in sustainability rose from 18 percent in 2006 to 42 percent in 2012, while the percentage of firms viewing environmental initiatives simply as costs or obligations fell from 33 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2012.

• The influence of the chief sustainability officer continues to rise, as does the creation of dedicated sustainability budgets.

• Energy and cost savings remain the most important drivers of sustainability in corporate America, while financial considerations such as the state of the economy and budget issues are the greatest obstacles to broader adoption.

“It is exciting to see that corporate America’s investments in sustainability continue to grow and that it is becoming more integrated within their business practices,” Harvey M. Bernstein, vice president of Industry Insights & Alliances, McGraw-Hill Construction, said. “It is also important to note that corporate leaders are increasingly expecting significant social and health benefits from sustainability that move beyond operating-cost savings. About half of the executives we surveyed expect both lower health-care costs and greater worker productivity as a result of their sustainability investments.”

To download the report free of charge, click here.

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