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Steel City Businesses Like IKEA Say Sustainability Jacks Up Financial Performance, Launch ‘CEOs for Sustainability’

Seventeen businesses in the Pittsburgh area believe sustainable practices will improve their bottom lines and attract more businesses to the area, to the extent that they have launched CEOs for Sustainability, an initiative meant to “heighten awareness that sustainable business practices are a must thing to do, not just a nice thing to do.” Members say they recognize the strong link between business sustainability performance, financial performance, and regional quality of life. As an initial demonstration of their commitment, all participating companies have completed the Southwestern Pennsylvania Sustainable Business Compact On Ramp, a business sustainability performance self-assessment used to track and report progress over time, the group says.


The market is shifting to favor companies that are high performers in the sustainability arena, says WindStax Energy CEO Ron Gdovic, one of the co-founders. Businesses focusing on these core areas gain competitive advantages in terms of winning contracts, customers, employees, and reputational benefits. “The benefits for long-term financial performance are proven, from better stock valuation and access to capital to market access and revenue growth,” he says.

The group is backing up its claim that sustainability efforts can improve business performance by presenting case studies (available for download at CEOsforSustainability.org) that talk about how such efforts have enabled companies to thrive.

Current member companies include Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, Thar Energy, eLoop, WindStax Energy, Oxford Development Company, PITT OHIO, Optimus Technologies , Covestro, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seven Springs, LANXESS, IKEA, Montgomery & Rust Inc., Burns & Scalo, Environmental Planning & Design, Aquatech International, Sota Construction Services Inc., and DMI Companies. CEOs for Sustainability is supported by Sustainable Pittsburgh.

The group backs up its claim that sustainability is a valuable business tactic by pointing out that in 2016, 82% of S&P 500 companies issued corporate sustainability reports.

A recent report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEE), Pittsburgh was named the 17th most energy efficient city in the country. The report points out that the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan and the subsequent Climate Action Plan v2.0 include specific actions that community, business, and higher education sectors of Pittsburgh have adopted and outlines recommendations for achieving energy and climate goals. The city’s primary focus is increasing energy efficiency, improving recycling and waste management, transportation, green building practices, and citizen engagement. The Office of Sustainability, situated in the Mayor’s Department of Innovation & Performance is responsible for coordinating citywide and internal departmental efforts toward achieving regional and government operational goals.


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