Sustainability has been an often-mentioned goal of companies yet measuring the business advantages of sustainability while maintaining a profit and growth can be difficult. To truly embrace sustainability, a mindset shift needs to happen.
Sustainability is much more than “going green”. It is an all-encompassing approach to a framework called the triple bottom line, which is a venn diagram where three key factors, people, planet and profit, come together and where they intersect, is sustainability.
Unlike other construction materials, asphalt is 100% reusable and is the most recycled product in the United States. In fact, asphalt producers recycled 97 million tons of old pavements in 2019.
“A quality pavement is a sustainable pavement,” says J. Richard Willis, PH.D. vice president of engineering, research and technology for NAPA. “But recycling is just one reason that asphalt is the most sustainable pavement. Our industry continuously explores methods and practices to contribute to a sustainable infrastructure and a healthy environment for generations to come.”
The Biden administration believes the Green New Deal is a crucial plan for meeting climate challenges along with ensuring the U.S. achieves a clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050.
“I recommend idling the paver for five less minutes tomorrow,” says Vince Hafeli, president, Ajax Paving Industries. “Small incremental changes can improve quality of life for our communities.”
Other examples would be to implement energy saving policies at a job like maintain proper tire pressure – this can adversely affect fuel efficiency on a machine, right size a machine to the job – too much or too little horsepower can drastically affect fuel efficiency, effectively plan your jobsite patterns to reduce idling and minimizing turns.
The up-and-coming workforce is primarily made up of millennials and Generation Z, which brings on added stress to a company to adapt to changing hiring methods. These two generations have a differentiating factor compared to other age groups, they care about company culture and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
A survey from Sourcing Journal says 87 % of millennials believe that companies should address pressing social and environmental issues.
These generations are putting a higher priority on sustainability than any generation before them. In December 2019, First Insight surveyed consumers in the U.S. on how sustainable practices are impacting shopping habits and purchase decision. The vast majority of Generation Z shopper prefer to buy sustainable brands and they are willing to spend 10% or more on sustainable products.
“There is a business opportunity there, we can take advantage of it,” says Willis.
Sustainability initiatives can be challenging to measure because returns may be divided across many parts of the business, and some, such as improved reputation are indirect benefits.
“Neighbors will recognize the energy star label,” says Hafeli. “They will see you as a responsible organization and that will keep them happy.”
Every company sets different goals for profitability and sustainability efforts. There are areas of a business that can and should be reviewed when doing an analysis. Which areas are more important or should be focused on will depend upon the company. They key is to be looking at these areas often and evaluate performance on the set goals. It is also a fluid situation, meaning things will be changing as the business changes.
Business as Usual
This holds a new meaning and may no longer suffice in the eyes of employees and customers. Understanding and operating through a triple bottom line framework offers opportunities for innovation and improvement across the industry.
To succeed, sustainability efforts need to be an organizational priority, from the top, down, addressing important issues in a way that creates value.
Willis concluded, “That is where we are going, we want to be good stewards of our industry, customers, businesses and for those who are coming.”