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2012 Insider Knowledge Report Shares Lessons from McDonald’s, Unilever, 130 Others

Environmental Leader has launched its 2012 Insider Knowledge Report, sharing lessons learned from 132 corporate environmental, energy and sustainability decision-makers.

The second annual report gives real-world examples of how sustainability initiatives are making a difference at companies including 3M, Diageo, Duke Energy, Fujitsu, GM, IBM, Intel, McDonald’s, Marriott, Nike, Staples, Unilever, Walmart and Yahoo!. Topics covered include energy management, auditing and reporting, strategy and leadership, supply chain, water management and waste and recycling.

Environmental Leader released the report at an EL webinar yesterday, which featured Matthew Littlefield, president and principal analyst at LNS Research; Rick Swionteck, senior energy manager at Johnson Controls; and Michael D. Smith, senior vice president of green initiatives at report sponsor Constellation Energy.

In the webinar, Littlefield advised companies to establish sustainability as a key strategic objective at a corporate level and to start their initiatives with the biggest opportunity for impact – which most often means cutting energy use in industrial settings.

But contributions to the report reveal that companies are often not just driving sustainability from the top, but also looking for innovation from employees. A sampling of their findings:

Duke Energy cautions that sustainability is not a synonym for employee-numbing directives to “cut their budgets” and “do more with less,” especially during tough economic times. Sustainability and innovation are more creative and positive approaches, the utility says.

Shari’s restaurant chain allowed its managers to calculate bonuses related to utility expense savings. The results included $750,000 in saving from a temporary adjustment of the menu that did not require the use of gas broilers. Redesigning the heated water dipperwell for ice cream scoops is expected to save $200,000 annually.

Intel calls on companies to heed the “fourth stakeholder,” saying that there is business risk that comes from disregarding the greater community needs related to the supply chain, human rights, and environmental causes.

UL Environment, after a two-year process to publish its UL 880: Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations, says that corporate sustainability standards nowadays are like safety testing and standardization a hundred years ago. “It makes sense, and it’s the wave of the future, but the way in which individual companies begin the implementation will vary.”

Diageo installed a “liquid ring and chiller” system in its bottle filling systems at its Huntingwood, Australia facility, to save 36,000,000 liters of water a year.

Walmart recommends setting challenging goals, because, “even if you are not sure how or when you will achieve them, you will usually accomplish more than you ever thought possible.”

Lotic Water Marketing sends a reminder that the message is as important as the means, advising: “Tell your story. Simply.”

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