42% of American firms engaged in serious sustainability efforts

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42% of American firms engaged in serious sustainability efforts

Greentech Lead America: The percentage of American firms
that are highly engaged in sustainability has risen from 18 percent in 2006 to
42 percent in 2012 study, according to the 2012 Greening of Corporate America
study conducted by Siemens, in conjunction with McGraw-Hill Construction.

Also, the percentage of firms viewing environmental
initiatives as costs or required based on legal obligations alone fell from 33
percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2012.

This is the third in a series of reports initiated in
2006 to investigate the emerging trend of corporate sustainability. The survey
was conducted to determine how corporate sustainability has continued to evolve
and understand how the nation’s largest companies are institutionalizing
sustainability into business policy and practice.

“Since 2006 we’ve seen a dramatic shift in how corporate
sustainability is transforming business,” said Ari Kobb, director,
Sustainability and Green Building Solutions, Siemens Building Technologies
division. “In only six years, it has grown from being a fledgling concept to
becoming a standard element of corporate strategy. Companies are no longer
incorporating sustainability simply out of obligation.”

The study shows that corporate America shows continued
progress along the Corporate Green Spectrum from 2006 to 2012.

In 2006 there was a fundamental shift in the attitudes
and practices of leading corporations regarding the greening of their
operations and commitments to sustainability. By 2009, the new Corporate
Sustainability Officer position had emerged within corporations and standard
sustainability practices were being integrated into everyday operations and
business growth.

In 2012, the influence of the Chief Sustainability
Officer position continues to rise, as does the creation of dedicated
sustainability budgets.

Energy and cost savings remain the most important drivers
encouraging sustainability in Corporate America, while financial considerations
such as the state of the economy and budget issues are the greatest obstacles
to broader adoption.

“It is exciting to see that corporate America’s
investments in sustainability continue to grow and that it is becoming more
integrated within their business practices,” said Harvey M. Bernstein, vice
president of Industry Insights & Alliances at McGraw-Hill Construction.

“It is also important to note that corporate leaders are
increasingly expecting significant social and health benefits from
sustainability that move beyond operating cost savings,” Bernstein said. “About
half of the executives we surveyed expect both lower healthcare costs and
greater worker productivity as a result of their sustainability investments.”

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