How do I adjust sustainability
strategy and action
plans for future resiliency?
These four steps will help you understand where you are, where you need to be and how to get there
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness of and created a desire for a more sustainable approach to how we live and work. It has also shined a light on the need for organisations to embed sustainability into all aspects of their operations. But even those who have set goals, developed strategies and shared them with the public, now find themselves wondering how to move forward with their sustainability initiatives when the world around them and their own priorities have changed.
You need a clear action plan to ensure you’re making progress and, equally as important, to prove you’re making progress. Without this, you risk getting stuck in analysis paralysis or realising too late that you don’t have the necessary data to report results and make good on public commitments.
Breaking the process into steps can make identifying and hitting your targets less overwhelming.
Step 1: Align with specific reporting frameworks
When getting started, it’s important to first determine which reporting frameworks you will participate in and fully understand their requirements. This will inform what you measure and guide your approach to benchmarking, data management and reporting.
Many organisations choose to take part in voluntary sustainability frameworks such as CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark) or the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This can help highlight your commitment to sustainability in the market.
Step 2: Benchmark to have a clearer picture of where you are today
You can’t adjust what hasn’t first been measured. Begin by benchmarking your organisation: Consider measuring things such as monthly utility bill expenses, energy usage, equipment efficiency, water consumption, recycled waste vs. landfill waste, carbon emissions and more. And make sure you have a robust, automated system in place to pull reports and analyse data frequently. A knowledgeable partner can ensure your carbon footprint is measured correctly from the start, saving you headaches later.
Step 3: Develop an action plan
It’s not enough to just set and adjust goals — you also need an action plan for each goal. For instance, if your goal is to achieve net zero carbon emissions, you should:
Prioritise buildings and determine the actions to take inside each one
Prioritising efforts is an effective way to move the needle. If you have 100 buildings in your portfolio, you might need to first focus on the 10 that consume the most energy.
Decide which budgets will fund which actions
Operational expense (OPEX) budgets are better-suited for smaller projects, as they tend to be straightforward and don’t require much involvement beyond onsite teams such as facilities managers. Capital expense (CAPEX) budgets, however, are for larger projects that typically need longer approval times and have more moving parts, such as ordering equipment or scheduling worktimes. This requires mapping out actions and timelines early on as progress can be derailed if timing is off.
Focus on quick wins first, but also plan for long-term opportunities
An effective action plan helps you balance and accomplish both quick wins and long-term opportunities. Your organisation will make progress on its sustainability goals faster if it targets the low-hanging fruit before addressing bigger challenges. For example, energy audits can help identify low- or no-cost opportunities to reduce energy consumption, which can save money while making progress on your larger sustainability goals. But it’s also important to focus on long-term opportunities at the same time; Many of the longer-term investments that have a greater impact require a lot of budgeting and planning far ahead of time.
Step 4: Communicate clearly and regularly
It’s critical to clearly and regularly communicate progress made on your sustainability initiatives both internally and externally. Internally, provide employees with regular updates on key sustainability initiatives and milestones, giving everyone — not just those already passionate about sustainability — the opportunity to become an ambassador for your brand. Externally, publish and distribute progress reports according to your selected standards on a regular basis to ensure investors, customers and others can follow your progress.
Take your sustainability commitment to the next level
Determining where you are, where you need to be, and how to get there is key to achieving your sustainability goals and the process becomes much more manageable when broken into steps.
Learn how JLL helped Majid Al Futtaim, a global real estate and retail company based in Dubai that aspired to become a leader in sustainability, set specific goals, track progress and build awareness for their net positive commitment.