Bloomington, IN—Earlier this year, Deloitte Resources released its 2017 study on U.S. consumer and business attitudes and practices towards sustainability and the use of natural resources. Based on more than 700 online interviews with business decision makers at companies with more than 250 employees in various industries, the study found that more companies are employing sustainability initiatives, particularly energy management, to remain competitive and reap other benefits—including improving resiliency in the face of energy price swings and extreme weather events.
The business consumers surveyed indicated that they reduced their energy consumption by 19 percent in 2016, compared to 15 percent in 2015 and 14 percent in 2014. Half of the companies surveyed reported that they now have documented energy/mission statements.
According to Stephen Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in “greening” the cleaning industry, and CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, which helps distributors, facilities, and others monitor and measure their use of natural resources: “The gist of what they found was that companies are getting much more involved in resource and energy management. In fact, it has been increasing in increments for nearly a decade.”
As to why these companies are moving in this direction, 54 percent said cutting costs was the primary factor. “However, they found something else evolving,” adds Ashkin. “According to the study, more than eight in 10 now say they are shifting from merely focusing on cost reduction to risk reduction.” Reducing risk, he says, is how companies can be more resilient to unexpected price increases in energy, fuel, and water, or survive significant storms.
The study also found that 61 percent of business decision makers indicated that customers are driving demand for sustainability and transitioning to renewable resources. That demand is part of the reason that 65 percent of business decision makers in the study reported that their companies are actively publicizing the fact that they are turning to renewable energy sources, effectively using their sustainability efforts also as a marketing tool.
“On the consumer side,” Ashkin says, “the researchers found that Millennials are strongly behind sustainability initiatives. They promote and share innovations on social media and are willing to put their money where their values are.”