In a recent 2012 survey of corporate leaders, McGraw Hill Construction (MHC) found that sustainability is becoming “business as usual” with more firms increasing sustainability investments. Firms are expecting significant benefits from sustainability, and sustainability is increasing in its role in corporate financial plans and new product and business development. In fact, 43 percent of firms dedicate funds to sustainability.

These were just a few of the findings presented by Ari Kobb, LEED AP O&M, director, sustainability and green building solutions, Siemens Building Technologies and Harvey Bernstein, vice president, industry insights and alliances, McGraw Hill Construction, during MHC’s recent Annual Outlook Executive Conference. The study is a follow-up to similar studies conducted in 2006 and 2009.

The goal of the study is to:

Assess how sustainability is being practiced in corporations—and what is behind it;

Reveal opinions of top C-suite level executives on sustainability; and

Explore the evolving role of the Corporate Sustainability Officer (CSO).

Some key findings include the fact that the depth of green commitment is increasing; there is a rise in firms that are largely dedicated to green building; and there was a drop in firms that are “moderately involved or less.”

Across the board, all sustainability activities are increasing. For example, recycling is now standard practice, and renewables are increasing, despite the economy, according to the report.

Some of these increases are undoubtedly due to consumer demand: 81 percent of respondents report that the public is expecting sustainability from corporate America—up from 66 percent in 2009.

Companies are also investing in a dedicated sustainability staff, and CSOs are increasing in influence, according to the study.

Respondents also say that sustainability does lead to market differentiation, thus many firms have targeted sustainability goals. Across the board more firms report the use of metrics to measure the effectiveness of their sustainability practices.

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