THE ARCHITECTURE OF SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS

                                                                    By Laércio B...
crosscutting initiatives. These initiatives correspond to their practical ramifications:
management programs and field pro...
associations, schools and universities, employees of the company, shareholders,
consumers, suppliers, just to name some of...
presentation of the Sustainability Report in specific periods, disseminating the
regularity and continuity of its sustaina...
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The Architecture Of Sustainable Business

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The Architecture Of Sustainable Business

  1. 1. THE ARCHITECTURE OF SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS By Laércio Bruno Filho The following article aims to serve as an additional insight in the debate on the issue of Sustainable Business and its interfaces. Architecture: term that comes from the Greek arche - αρχή - meaning "first" or "principal" and tékton - τέχνη - meaning "construction" and that refers to the art and technique of designing and building the environment inhabited by humans. In this sense, architecture is prominently about the organization of space and its elements: ultimately, architecture deals with any questions of agency, organization, aesthetics and ordering of components in any state of spatial arrangement. However, architecture is typically associated directly to the problem of organization of man in space (especially in urban space ). Source: Wikipedia. Sustainability: The Brundtland Report (1987), sustainability is "meet the needs of the present generation without affecting the ability of future generations to meet theirs." More directly: sustainability is to provide the best (resources?) for people and the environment both now and for the indefinite future. Source: Wikipedia. The Architecture of Sustainability is the art of designing and building the environment inhabited by humans in communion with the 4 dimensions that form Sustainable Development. The result of this action must create a situation: 1 - ecologically correct; 2 - economically viable; 3 - socially just and 4 - culturally accepted. In line with these dimensions we will discuss Business Sustainable Architecture. This will lead us to reflect on how to structure the link between Business Strategy and Sustainability Policy. Companies aiming to establish its strategic positioning guided by the incorporation of values and concepts contained in a policy of sustainability must transmit to its public an image of effective and concrete that they acting full alignment with the sustainability principles in all their relationships and clearly showing that this is not an isolated action, but it is the reference point of their business. Under this assumption, a comprehensive and inclusive Sustainability Policy can be designed in accordance with the following model: The initial step of development should be the full understanding and evaluation of the existing culture, in a process that will examine the mission and values of the company, identifying the degree of dedication to social and environmental issues. Then the Business Plan evaluation, aiming to understand how the business targets will be achieved in the medium and long term, and the relationship with the pragmatic dimensions of TBL (triple bottom line). After that the annual results report (P&L) will must assess where and how the social-environmental actives & liabilities are allocated, and finally the operational and managerial reports detailing the production processes, to understand the regularity and the matter reported. The existence of regular reports concerning the actions of sustainability, or even a socio-environmental balance, may indicate a path already "cleared" within the company for the design and implementation of a comprehensive policy pervaded by
  2. 2. crosscutting initiatives. These initiatives correspond to their practical ramifications: management programs and field projects. The Sustainability Policy should be created within the environmental, social and economic dimensions (TBL), and considering that the cultural issue will be addressed within the social dimension. Targets should be designed observing the absorption capacity and maturity of the sustainability culture by the company. This means that there some concrete results that can be monitored and evaluated already in the short term, by the end of the first two years. The major part of results should be identified and evaluated in the medium and long term, from the third year onwards. Results are continuous since the primordial feature of sustainability is a virtuous cycle that periodically returns to the beginning to improve goals and objectives. Considering that those three dimensions are concurrent, a variety of crosscutting initiatives can coexist at the same time. The following paragraphs comment on some of these initiatives: - Energy Management: actions to review strategies and redesign processes that may result on adoption of initiatives optimizing the use of energy. An intense energy usage requires a great amount of water resources, and flooded land that means additional money and environmental costs and additional GHG emissions (when addressing thermoelectric energy). So rationalizing its usage is primarily important for all. - Waste Management: adoption of initiatives that introduce the best practices in the treatment of waste residues generated before, during and after productive processes. Collection, transport and appropriate final disposal can reduce the costs of the operation and compliance with environmental legislation, and contribute to the preservation of natural resources. - Water Management: Water is a limited and expensive resource. Some actions can reduce its usage and cost, for example, the deployment of sewage treatment stations, the capture and use of rainwater, the reuse of water, the adoption of more efficient equipment like taps and valves for sanitary vessels, and the creation and implementation of methods and indicators measuring accurately the amount of water resources used in production processes. Recent studies of life-cycle analysis (LCA) indicate that water resources are spent much more than we imagine and that these resources are improperly accounted for in the costing of products. - Management of the GHG emissions (gases that cause the greenhouse effect resulting in global warming of the planet): developing the inventory and management of the reduction of GHG emissions. These can be developed through the revision or improvement of industrial processes and are monitored by specific methodologies adopted by the UNFCCC. These projects are known as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project activities, and projects of Joint Implementation (JI, mostly generated in Europe), Voluntary Carbon Standard ( VCS), projects for Reductions of Emissions by Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD) or offset project for the Chicago Stock Exchange (CCX). These activities can generate environmental assets called carbon credits with high value added and which are tradable in futures and spot markets, creating additional revenue for companies that implement them. - Stakeholder Management: the social agenda of sustainability. The following can be considered stakeholders in the framework of a project: communities, neighborhood associations, legal groups, public prosecutors, religious
  3. 3. associations, schools and universities, employees of the company, shareholders, consumers, suppliers, just to name some of them. Several initiatives can be designed and implemented in this area. For the Internal Public: benefits such as creation and adoption of policies for remuneration and recognition, career plans, health-care assistance, support for professional specialization and upgrading. For the external public: creation of strategies and actions for the dissemination of concepts and best practices of sustainability. For example, enabling the surrounding communities, suppliers and consumers to deal with issues such as consumption, conservation and utilization of natural resources, environmental impacts, and appropriate disposal of waste and citizenship practices. Internally in the company the satisfaction of employees in participating in these initiatives becomes perceptible. These are factors that increase the individual and collective productivity and entail a competitive differential for the company and employees. - Corporate Governance: adoption of an integrated set of key indicators that aim to give a transparent and accessible representation of the business performance. It is guided by ethical attitudes and concrete sustainable actions. In practice is supported by a set of operational and managerial indicators that permeate the company, in a crosscutting action, showing the actual involvement with economic, social and environmental issues. Some indexes such as ISE- Indice de Sustentabilidade Empresarial, DJSI-Down Jones Sustainability Index aggregate companies that meet the sustainability pre- requirements, thus contributing real value for them. - Green IT: social and environmental initiatives implemented in the IT area, which are aimed to reduce materials and natural resources consumption. The operational flows are generally optimized through reassessment and redesign, reducing entire processes and the resources utilized in these, while increasing the level of usage of some equipment such as Servers. This may result a significant reduction of operational costs or even cutting off financial resources on future investments. Alternatives such as adoption of more efficient software solutions (power- management or mapping of heat in datacenters) or hardware (faster microprocessors), can offer lower power consumption and also reduction of operational costs. The implementation and improvement of actions for technology waste recycling or environmental criteria for purchasing new electronic equipment (EPEAT) are also alternatives well known and already in use. With the implementation of some of these actions is possible to identify savings opportunities from the reduction of materials and equipments usage, like paper, printer ink , Toner, hardware, software and natural resources as energy and water. The environmental benefits could include reducing GHG emissions, the preservation of forests, rivers and lakes, improvement of air quality, reduction of areas for landfills. In addition to social benefits like generation of new jobs, retraining of professionals, creating new technologies and services. – The Market Communication Plan : The communication plan is a vehicle for interaction and information between the company and its markets. The formal position of the company towards the market is expressed by the
  4. 4. presentation of the Sustainability Report in specific periods, disseminating the regularity and continuity of its sustainability policy and, in addition, through advertising campaigns and marketing. The communication plan will contribute directly so that the market, which is represented by all the stakeholders, understands the created social and economic values and encourages the committed companies to the continuity of its actions. The Success in adopting the policy of sustainability, as a strategic direction, contributes with real value for the products, the company, individuals and finally to the community that recognizes and rewards it. The great reward for the company will be the preference awarded by the market. At the moment of purchase the product that presents the lowest "socio-environmental footprint" in its label will be chosen to be purchased. This will bring real value added for the company and will contribute to its continuity and permanence in the market, creating a continuous virtuous circle. The biggest award will be even the more effective contribution to the preservation of the planet and the quality of life of future generations.

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