By: Michael Nark
November 19, 2015
Taking the Pledge
Leading up to this December’s COP 21, 81 major corporations across the United States signed the American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge, bringing us closer to a low-carbon and sustainable future. With this pledge, we’re seeing companies demonstrate an ongoing commitment to climate action through low-carbon investments, clean energy, and other initiatives.
Household names including American Express, AT&T, Bank of America, Best Buy, and Coca-Cola are among the companies expressing their support. Although these are just a handful of names involved, each of the 81 companies that made the pledge is poised to have a significant impact. All the companies that pledged have operations in each of the 50 states, employ more than 9 million people, represent more than $3 trillion in annual revenue, and have a combined market capitalization of over $5 trillion. Each pledge contains company-specific goals, from reducing emissions by as much as 50 percent or water usage by as much as 80 percent, to achieving zero waste-to-landfill, and purchasing renewable energy.
Stemming from the launch of the pledge in July, the signing on of these 81 companies serves as a major push forward for corporate responsibility and action against climate change.
Establishing SMART Objectives
With countries suffering from droughts, severe weather, enormous storms, wildfires, and some of the hottest years in recorded history, it’s clear that climate change is affecting all of us. While measures are being taken by government bodies on all levels and in all nations, it’s becoming increasingly important for corporations to act. Companies such as Starbucks, Target, Walmart, and UPS not only make up a significant portion of our economy, but they serve as respected and trusted brands. By committing to utilize their resources to achieve ambitious efficiency goals, they live up to the reputations we have given them and serve as shining examples of the rest of the world.
The most impressive pledges are the ones that align with SMART criteria —Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-Related. Meaning, they have specific numbers and actions associated with them. It is one thing to pledge to reduce energy consumption and another to pledge to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent within the next year. In order to reach future targets, companies need to be specific with their goals and include a timeframe. Unfortunately, over the last couple of years we’ve seen a lot of companies announce intentions to increase sustainability without following through with the necessary actions to turn it into a reality.
Measurement and reporting tools are crucial for starting off on the right foot and will play an important role for these companies. It may seem obvious, but it is necessary for any company that wants to make a change to establish a baseline in order to create a clear understanding of current energy usage, water consumption, or carbon outputs. This will allow them to determine the factors influencing these figures.
Leveraging Existing Assets
Some corporations such as Dell, Facebook, and Google have vowed to do more specifically in terms of managing and reducing their carbon footprints. This includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, powering operations with clean energy sources and committing to using less energy overall. To meet these goals, companies will need to work strategically and determine which investments will deliver the most return. While some may choose to undertake massive overhauls or additions to current infrastructure to meet objectives, innovative clean technologies can offer cost-effective and scalable solutions.
When it comes to energy goals, it makes more sense to start by optimizing current assets, rather than pursuing major projects. For example, heating and cooling operations make up a significant portion of energy consumption for most businesses. Whether an HVAC system is new or old, it would make sense to implement BuildingIQ’s platform to get the most out of this asset. It’s like in sports when a team hires a championship-quality coach instead of replacing players. It’s less time-consuming and more economical to improve the team’s performance by implementing a winning strategy as opposed to overhauling the team itself.
BuildingIQ is the championship-quality coach learning in real-time in order to make automatic adjustments that will get the most out of a building’s performance. Major companies monitor and adjust their supply chains, inventory, production and more all in real-time. Why should energy and water usage be any different?
Turning to the Cloud
Cloud technologies are leading the way when it comes to improving the performance of current assets. Many of the companies making the pledge can experience instant returns by using these types of solutions. The cloud offers the advantage of scalability, something the 81 leading companies have mastered in order to grow to their size and influence.
Strategies that can easily be ramped up or down have a big advantage over one-off projects. BuildingIQ’s platform can be used in one building or a whole portfolio of buildings. Successful strategies should be replicated when discovered and cloud technology lends itself to this concept.
We at BuildingIQ commend the 81 companies that have taken the pledge to create a more sustainable future and hope their actions inspire other companies to join in this pursuit as well. Climate change isn’t something that will be fixed easily or quickly, but we realize how important it is for corporations to come together and take that first step.