Contributor: Noah Bunnell
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Derek Eisel, the Director of Sales for Scope 5, a Seattle-based software company and signatory onto the Washington Business Climate Declaration. We talked about the importance of sustainability reporting, holding companies accountable for their environmental impact, and increasing organizational support for sustainability professionals.
Why did Scope 5 sign WBCA’s Climate Declaration?
We signed on because we believe that some kind of price on carbon is good for the world and also good for our business. My boss started this company because he was concerned about the welfare of his kids. And I joined the company after working in sustainability for many years at Expeditors, because I wanted to help other companies become more sustainable. Our hearts are truly in this, and we support any legislation that’s going to hold companies more accountable.
Scope 5 is a software company. How do you help clients track and improve their sustainability?
We talk to our clients to understand what environmental goals they have and then help them measure and report their progress towards those goals. We take our clients’ data from spreadsheets – from electricity and fuel bills — pull that data into an online dashboard so they can see how much they’re consuming over time, and give them the tools to use data to support and report their work.
It’s helpful to have that data in a format that you can share across the organization. Our team can look at the data and say, “Let’s save money by reducing our electricity used in this data center because it costs us $400,000 a year and we could save a lot of carbon there as well.”
How do consumers know if a company is sustainable and how can companies be held accountable for their commitments?
I call it the three Rs of sustainability just for simplicity’s sake. So instead of reading, writing, and arithmetic, it’s role, reporting, and results.
If I’m shopping and I want to know if a company is sustainable, I’ll do an online search for that company and the word “sustainability” to see if they’ve published a sustainability report. And if yes, I’ll look to see if they’ve included their Scope 1 and 2 emissions — their Scope 1 emissions being any fuel that they’re burning in their operations, and their Scope 2 being any electricity that they’re purchasing.
Then, I’ll see if they have a role — a sustainability manager or a sustainability director — and if they’re reporting to an outside agency like the Carbon Disclosure Project or producing an annual sustainability report. And if in those reports they’re showing some results where they’re reducing their footprint or saving electricity, then I feel like they’re at least on a path to sustainability. I can feel comfortable buying something from them.
What do you hope to see happen long-term in your industry and others?
For me the long-term goal is for sustainability as a profession to become just as legitimate as accounting. I would like to see sustainability professionals in every corporation just like you find accountants in every corporation. And I’d like to see every corporation publishing sustainability data alongside their financial data.
If we’re going to be truly sustainable as a society, then we have to change the way we do business, which means supporting the profession of sustainability within business as well.
This interview has been condensed and edited.