For businesses to remain economically competitive, today's business climate demands sustainability. Sustainability is defined as our ability to meet the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. For businesses, sustainability means conducting business in a way that supports the bottom line as well as the world in which it exists. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a guiding principle for sustainable business practices - practices that strive for accountability for all stakeholders in all operations and activities.
Already common throughout the European business community, sustainability has more recently become widely adopted throughout the U.S., with many top companies managing sustainability programs and efforts. Membership on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for U.S. companies now stands at about 80 of the Fortune 500 companies. The DJSI rates only those companies that show excellence amongst their peers in pursuing sustainability; many others are trying to gain the listing.
Businesses concerned about their responsibilities as corporate citizens are promoting sustainability programs for a number of reasons; reduced building operation costs, conservation of natural resources, improved shareholder relations, and reduced risk of stock fluctuations from external forces such as from the advocacy community are all drivers for sustainability initiatives.
Sustainability also provides a focus for good property management. For many companies, sustainability programs provide a backbone for reducing consumption of energy, water, and other resources, or reducing costs for services such as waste removal, through good recycling practices.
Finally, sustainability programs are very well supported by the staff and the public, who see the initiative as representative of a commitment to a common good, and respond accordingly.