The business value of sustainability

The concept of sustainable development is gaining a lot of attention

The concept of sustainable development is gaining a lot of attention. Yet, it is intriguing to note that there are still many business enterprises that are unable to fully grasp the underlying principle or the benefits.

Such companies simply fail to understand the business dimension of sustainability, which they consider more of a burden than a benefit. The indifference stems from a seeming conflict of interest: it is difficult to reconcile the pursuit of sustainability with the objective of increasing profits.

Many enterprises still believe it requires a substantial sacrifice in profits and ultimately a decrease in shareholder value, which certainly runs counter to the primary aim of running a business.

I believe that the problem emanates from misinformation and the lack of awareness. Moreover, driven by the lack of understanding, these businesses further choose to disassociate themselves from the sustainability bandwagon and even try to resist efforts by advocates to engage in discussions.

Losing out opportunities

Contrary to their beliefs, these misinformed businesses actually lose out on a huge opportunity to directly link enterprise sustainability to the creation of shareholder value.

To be sure, «sustainable business» is not an oxymoron. This is particularly true with the emergence of a new business paradigm — the so-called «triple bottom-line» — that advocates greater accountability as well as social and environmental sensitivity of businesses.

It describes a sustainable business enterprise that contributes to sustainable development by simultaneously delivering economic, social and environmental benefits in a manner that meets the needs of the present generation. Nor does it compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In my view, the growing demand for integrated facilities management (FM) is one big manifestation that the triple bottom-line concept is rapidly gaining traction. Facilities management plays an important role in maintaining the delicate balance between progress and sustainability by providing custom-built solutions that improve energy efficiency.

Moreover, facilities managers serve as role models in the sustainable upkeep of society, thereby empowering the FM industry to lead the way in cultivating a culture of accountability and social responsibility in the business community.

And one does not need to look far to see and appreciate the impact of facilities management in promoting sustainability, particularly the triple bottom-line concept among business enterprises.

The motivation factor

Based on our experience at Imdaad, it is important to realise that the growing clamour for sustainability can serve as a motivation for businesses to identify strategies and practices that contribute to the development of a sustainable society.

The knowledge base of facilities managers can certainly be of great value to businesses. This is especially true in light of new economic realities; I believe that consumers are now becoming more value-driven in their choices.

In many projects, for instance, property value has remained stable mainly because of the quality of services and the integration of sustainable practices. Nowadays, I strongly believe that customers appreciate value more than ever, and this mentality opens an exciting business proposition to business enterprises.

Businesses, especially those that are just beginning to embrace the sustainability concept, certainly do not have to face trade-offs when dealing with the transition to sustainable business practices. I must admit though that it would definitely require a new business orientation and a change in attitude to be able to harmonise sustainability practices with economic considerations.

But I am, nonetheless, confident that the business community — and the community at large — has more to gain in the long term.

The writer is the CEO of Imdaad, the facilities management company.

Source / Fuente: gulfnews.com

Author / Autor: Jamal Abdulla Lootah, Special to Gulf News

Date / Fecha: 20/01/12

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