In response to some questions asked in class at Swinburne University, I thought I would share my experience moving toward a sustainable future within Stokes Rousseau, a company where I am both a managing director and shareholder.
Stokes Rousseau works primarily with government representatives in the field of construction management. These contracts are typically awarded by a tender process that takes into account many factors, including quite often, sustainability.
Although the construction industry is not often associated with sustainability, I believe that it is headed toward a heavy involvement as public awareness increases, and pressure is applied through all avenues of government expenditure.
The key challenges I see in becoming sustainable are twofold: accountability and knowledge. Keeping track of our footprint is difficult, so we have to rely on estimates from websites, offers from suppliers to offset carbon dioxide emissions (eg flights) and simple estimates based on km travelled by car, etc.
The vast majority of our impact on the planet comes from greenhouse gas emissions, which is why we are focusing primarily on carbon emissions at the moment.
Knowledge needs to be spread not only through the organisation, but through the supplier base and even our customer base. To meet this challenge we rely heavily on our website content, to educate customers and employees alike, with links to calculation websites like http://www.wwf.org.au/footprint/calculator/
I am only just scratching the surface of my company’s impact on the planet, but I think it is worth pointing out that there are free tools out there that can make the challenge of sustainability a bit easier. To me sustainability is not an option, just part of setting up any modern company, similar to getting insurance or paying tax.