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Sustainability Management Explained: What It Is and Why It’s Important

Recently, the New York Times reported that the CEOs of over 300 businesses, including Google, McDonalds, and Walmart, are asking the Biden administration to set a new Paris Agreement goal of slashing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The corporate executives called the target “ambitious and attainable.” If the U.S. is to achieve this goal, sustainability management is likely to be key to getting there. Read on to discover what sustainability management is, how it came to be, why it’s important, and how EnergyWatch’s energy and sustainability management platform can help your organization manage their sustainable practices.

What Is Sustainability Management?

Sustainability management is the synthesis of sustainability and management. Sustainability management applies sustainable practices to businesses, agriculture, facilities, and communities with the goal of lowering emissions and energy use, encouraging growth, and ensuring the availability of resources (and a healthy planet!) for future generations.

Today, the corporate sector is increasingly emphasizing the concept of sustainability and incorporating a triangle of economic, environmental and social viewpoints when making ethical management decisions about corporate growth and development. Sustainability management looks beyond short-term profits and focuses on long-term gain by incorporating the environmental and social costs of doing business into management decisions.

How Sustainability Management Came About

Sustainability management as we know it has come a long way since the early environmental movements of the 1970s. During this period, most of the industry and business management teams only saw sustainability as important in terms of compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) law. In fact, a 1974 conference board survey found that most companies still treated environmental management as a threat to their profit margins rather than an ally. The consensus was that environmental protection was at best a necessary evil.

Throughout the 80s, some companies gradually began to see environmental protection as a social responsibility, although it was still low on the totem pole of company priorities. Then, in 1995, Harvard professor Michael Porter wrote in the Harvard Business Review that environmental protection was actually an opportunity for companies to increase their competitive advantage in the marketplace. Since then, myriad studies have shown the advantages for companies that embrace sustainability, including lower utility costs and increased customer and investor support. Now, sustainability management is the new normal – many organizations, communities, and businesses follow sustainable management plans.

Why Sustainability Management Is Important

As the world grapples with the growing threat of climate change, sustainability management has become increasingly important because it assists companies, cities, and facilities to reduce their emissions while maximizing profit. Increasingly, businesses are finding that being sustainable is necessary if they wish to attract customers, investors, and a good reputation. An example of this is fast fashion companies like Forever 21 and Fashion Nova that mass produce garments and produce high amounts of waste. As a result, there have increasingly been calls for shoppers to buy their clothes from sustainable companies or thrift stores.

How EnergyWatch Helps with Sustainability Management

If you are a director of sustainability, analyst, manager, or anyone else concerned with sustainability management, you know that voluntary reporting, compliance reporting, and meeting your company’s environmental goals are critically important. However, managing your organization’s multi-faceted sustainability plan is becoming more and more challenging with the introduction of new legislation and technology.  EnergyWatch’s sustainability and energy management platform, WatchWire, contains many functionalities that can benefit your sustainability management, including:

As companies begin to make capital upgrades or operational improvements to their facilities to meet new legislative or investor demands, it will be increasingly important for teams to report on their efficiency projects’ successes.  With WatchWire’s measurement & verification module, you can be sure that your projects are meeting your expectations, are compliant with M&V guidelines, and generate reports detailing their savings or ROI.

WatchWire provides an intuitive reporting module offering analytics into various KPIs for relevant stakeholders – one of these being the Greenhouse Gas Emissions report, which provides an overview of CO2 emissions per property, region, and in aggregate for the portfolio.  All reports can be automatically distributed monthly via email.

Additionally, EnergyWatch is an ENERGY STAR Partner and a GRESB Premier Data Provider Partner. WatchWire integrates with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager’s API so you do not have to manually benchmark your building data to comply with local laws in your city or state. Meanwhile, WatchWire’s direct integration with GRESB allows an automatic update of performance data each year with no manual filing.  Our integration with LEED Arc allows you to automate and streamline your data collection to discover potential LEED certifications and meet LEED requirements. These integrations ensure your organization is complying with recent advances in benchmarking legislation and sustainability initiatives.

To learn more about WatchWire, download the WatchWire Fact Sheet. Or, to get the latest information on the current sustainability landscape, check out our e-book, “Utilizing Sustainability Reporting in the Journey Towards Net Zero.”


Hoffman, J. Andrew. From Heresy to Dogma: An Institutional History of Corporate Environmentalism. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press., 2001.