On Wednesday June 3rd, we had our third Webinar Wednesday of the spring. Bob Willard joined us from Sustainability Advantage to educate our attendees on how to make a business case for sustainability. Want to make your business operations more sustainable? Read on to learn how to make the case using the free and open-source resource, the Sustainability ROI Workbook!

As the population grows new businesses and economies arise, there are more businesses and people working than ever before. However, sustainability falls back on businesses, meaning businesses need to focus on how they’re going to create more environmentally-friendly processes. 

Need for Business Action: 

Nested Interdependencies

Society and Businesses are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the environment. Businesses have impacted both society and the environment, but there are also implications for the planet. Unfortunately, as we are growing more in population and many businesses are coming into fruition, the impacts of this growth is becoming more negative on the environment. That impact has a boomerang effect on businesses as resources are becoming scarce. 

It’s important to look at your business and ensure that it is contributing in a positive way to the environment and our society. Today, businesses are now more inclined to become more sustainable because they’re starting to see the risks of unsustainable operations in their industry as resources become harder to find. Not having the resources to build a product is not ideal for businesses, so putting the lens on risk is a great way to evaluate and educate businesses.

Diagram from Sustainability ROI Workbook

Global Risks  

Every year, research is done to see what risks can be posed to the economy. Each  year, the results of this particular World Economic Forum study is put out to gauge the risk of universal emergencies. The study is typically done the year before and put out at the beginning of a new year. Before March of this year, the forecasted global risks were mainly climate-related with climate failure, extreme weather, and human-made environmental disasters at the top of the list. 

This is still true, however, this forecast serves as a reminder that this can all change very quickly. For perspective, a global pandemic was lower on the list in terms of impact and risk when this list forecasted 2020. We’ve seen countless businesses being proactive to re-tool to meet business demands for a new world, however we’ve also seen some businesses be reactive instead of proactive and struggle when met with the challenges of a global pandemic. When it comes to the climate it’s important to assess risk and create sustainable solutions from the get-go to ensure a company can weather all sorts of emergencies. Take a look at the forecasted chart below to see what other risks may affect your own operations!

Graph from the World Economic Forum

Making the Case: Sustainability Pot of Gold

If you’re curious on how to make a case for sustainability to your employer, look at companies in and out of your industry and take bits and pieces of their plans and try to incorporate some of their solutions into your own business plan. Adding sustainable practices at a business level can increase profit from 50-80%. You don’t have to implement all of your sustainability goals all at once, but try to split up various initiatives into projects. Check out the Sustainability Advantage workbook to learn more!

Example: Justifying Green Buildings

One way to incorporate sustainability into your business is to invest in a green building. Some consumers look for this type of commitment in their own buying decisions. Plus, it makes your employer eligible for a host of grants! The executives of your company may decide that they want to build a new headquarters building. This may be a good opportunity to convince your leaders to incorporate “green building” design. Think about the top three benefits of green buildings that you will use to convince your CFO that the extra expense is worth it. 

The Costs of Green Buildings

While green buildings may have a bit of a premium expense to build, the extra costs will be worth it in the long run, especially if a building is LEED certified. Costs can have anywhere from 0 to 4.5% in extra building costs, but is well worth it. A LEED certified building is a verification that the building was designed to improve performance in energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, and improved indoor environmental quality. The chart below outlines some of the cost savings that can be had when a building is constructed sustainably. Check out the image below to see the possible reduced maintenance costs.

Productivity in Green Buildings

Green buildings not only help the environment and contribute to reduced operating costs but it also increases the productivity of a company’s employees. Here are 8 features to keep in mind when creating a more sustainable workspace. 

Graphic from: The World Green Building Council

Why Would a Business Want a Green Building?


  • Because of a building’s green features, the building can be sold at a higher price
  • Lower design and construction costs help the developer turn more of a profit
  • Quicker sales because the building will save owners money in the long run


  • The health and well-being
  • Increased productivity
  • Can charge more to sell or lease a space because green buildings are in high demand as companies know that green buildings benefit employees   


  • Slower depreciation
  • Increased occupancy rates
  • Lower exit yield

How Does Sustainability Affect the Company As a Whole?

A company who has pivoted to more sustainable operations will gain a better reputation, which leads to more loyal customers, and greater revenue growth. Plus, your employees will be more engaged, which will fuel higher productivity, hiring, and attrition savings. Environmentally friendly companies have easier access to capital and increased market and brand value.

CFO Business Case Form

Want to get started on your pitch sustainability to your own business? Download the 20th Century CAPEX Request Form to help funnel your sustainability pitch appropriately. 

With this new information on how to pitch sustainability operations to your employer, your company will run much more efficiently. Plus, consumers will gain an appreciation for your business because of the company’s commitment to sustainability. 

Want to learn more about sustainability in the workplace? Keep up with our blog and events pages to learn more about our Webinar Wednesdays!