Dan Probst explores how senior managers are beginning to consider sustainability with a view beyond cost savings. Shareholders and customers alike are seeking assurance that companies are “doing the right thing” with regard to the environment, while employees increasingly prefer a sustainable work environment. Jones Lang LaSalle’s IntelliCommandSM service helps companies benchmark building performance and use their facilities more effectively, thus creating value beyond just energy efficiency and recycling.
Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director of Centre for Liveable Cities, talked about Singapore being voted the third most liveable city in the world. As a Singaporean who has lived away from the country for the last 12 years, Singapore’s liveability is a big draw for me in my consideration to return home. Our focus on education, sophisticated urban development as well as environmental friendliness and sustainable living (who can imagine, we did it with NEWater!) has completely transformed Singapore in the last decade.
The city-state today is very different from the one I grew up in, and this is perhaps the result of how both the public and private sectors have worked hand in hand to develop the country. This reminds me of the need to always reorientate, reignite and even reinvent ourselves for the future – the theme of this year’s Summit. In my humble view, there is no city more apt than Singapore to host this year’s Summit program, because what the country has today is a result of positive change and development over the years.
As Dan Probst wrote earlier, our new book Six Sigma for Sustainability shows executives how they can apply work-process improvement strategies to jump-start their sustainability programs.
Many companies are engaged in sustainability at the tactical level, but embedding these concepts into the corporate culture requires holistic approach that brings together all the players within the firm into a collaborative management model.
When all the right people are engaged, Six Sigma becomes the vehicle for leaders to identify the “transfer function,” the critical few activities that, done well, will meet or exceed the expectations of customers and other key stakeholders. Deploying those strategies in alignment with all the business units and support functions that contribute to a sustainability program creates a “house of quality” that leads to breakthrough success.
I’ve seen Six Sigma used to enhance many types of business processes, but none are better suited than sustainability to Six Sigma’s DMAIC model – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve Control. Sustainability is a recent concept for virtual every company, yet it is a differentiator and key driver of long-term success when it is woven into the corporate fabric. Six Sigma provides the tools to help you get there.
I led Jones Lang LaSalle’s energy services businesses in the Americas long before we expanded our menu to include a broad scope of sustainability services. So, like many in our business, I used to think of energy efficiency as the best way to add value to the corporate bottom line.
Reducing energy use and the associated carbon emissions is still a key part of any corporate sustainability program, but I now see even greater potential value in areas that touch employees more directly, such as health, well-being and job satisfaction, all of which affect productivity. It may be hard to measure the effect on an individual or company, but the correlation between sustainable companies and successful companies is too strong to ignore.
Becoming a sustainable company is more than just recycling and reducing energy, though. To achieve breakthrough performance, companies must create a collaborative process that involves key internal stakeholders from HR and IT to business units, as well as suppliers and customers.
How to create and implement such a process is a subject big enough to fill a book. That’s why my colleagues Tom McCarty, Michael Jordan and I co-authored Six Sigma for Sustainability, published this year by McGraw-Hill. Tom is one of the world’s leading authorities on Six Sigma, having published several books on the subject previously. I offer the sustainability viewpoint, and Michael—both a Six Sigma Black Belt and a LEED AP as well as one of our top consultants on CRE strategy—provides a unique dual perspective.
I’m obviously biased, but I believe there is no greater way for CRE directors to contribute to positive corporate transformation today that through an integrated energy and sustainability program such as we outline in Six Sigma for Sustainability.
Since I am speaking at CoreNet Global SNAP session on corporate branding through sustainability, I want to make the distinction between branding, which relies on a real commitment to sustainability, and greenwashing, which attempts to put a green face on business-as-usual practices.
Business people first heard the terms “sustainability” and “greenwashing” almost simultaneously, because some companies used the trend to falsely promote their products as green, or to make carbon-reduction promises they couldn’t keep. By the time companies recognized the deeper benefits of sustainability, many of their customers had become hardened to skin-deep green claims.
Recent studies indicate that customers and investors are able to differentiate between companies that truly embrace sustainability and those that merely pretend. That’s where the branding opportunity comes in.
Branding uses consistent perceptual cues to create positive associates of a company. The built environment offers many opportunities to reinforce a corporate image. Solar power installations, green roofs and natural vegetative landscaping provide visual reminders to people visiting or passing by a property. It’s also important to engage employees, the group in the best position to confirm or reject a company’s green image.
Check out my session to see how companies leading the sustainability charge are using real estate strategies to reinforce positive images.