Help Wanted: Corporate (Parking) Sustainability Officer

I believe there are three primary drivers of sustainability especially among corporate entities: profitability (when businesses see that pursuing sustainable practices does not mean profits must be sacrificed); convenience (when businesses make and sell the connection between sustainability and convenience); and a balance of carrots and sticks (when government sets the rules so there is an even playing field and incentives and penalties help businesses transition to a more sustainable way of doing business). If this is the “what” in the next wave of sustainability, the next logical question might be who will bring about this change.

The presence of corporate (or chief) sustainability officers (CSOs) is becoming commonplace among the most successful companies. AccountAbility CEO Sunil A. Misser offers that CSOs are typically responsible for reducing costs by improving energy, supply chain, and resource efficiencies; establishing processes to monitor, manage, and mitigate sustainability-related risks; managing and monitoring stakeholder engagement processes that spearhead innovations to increase revenue; and enhancing the reputation of the company and the value of the brand. Misser goes on to point out that the number of CSOs has increased recently for three main reasons:

  1. CEOs and business leaders have realized there is tremendous value to be gained by mainstreaming sustainability into business practices.
  2. Companies are increasingly approaching sustainability with the same level of discipline (i.e. planning, execution, measurement, reporting) that is demanded in every other functional area.
  3. Companies have been pressured to elevate sustainability to the C-suite by regulators, media, shareholders, consumers, competitors, and other stakeholders.

Sustainability is expanding rapidly into the parking industry, and great work is being done in many places. But it may be that we haven’t yet resourced our efforts appropriately until we do as many successful corporate entities have by adding the strategic position of corporate or chief sustainability officer to our leadership teams. From parking management company to manufacturer and service provider, now might be the time to add a CSO to your leadership team to ensure that you make the most of your sustainability efforts.

About Casey Jones, CAPP

Casey Jones, CAPP is vice president of institutional services at SP Plus. He is IPI’s immediate past chair and serves on the IPI Advisory Council, IPI Scholars/Fellows Task Force, and the Professional Development Task Force.

Comments

  1. John Oglesby says:

    Casey – Great article. I would add that your readers may find some excellent tools within the Green Parking Council thay may assist all of us working to continue to grow the Sustainability Movement! Check out Greenparkingcouncil.org

  2. Rick Decker says:

    Casey,

    Great points that need to be made, understood and acted upon.

    I’m concerned that service providing/facilities based organizations like airports have assumed departments like Planning and Development or Facilities will take the lead in this effort. While perhaps well intended, these professional do not understand the impact of the parking operation on the organization and may well ignore sustainability efforts in this direction.

    I agree sustainability efforts in the parking realm must be elevated within organizations to have the very positive impacts you describe and we desire for our organizations and communities. This is but another example of our need to be at the decision making table and how critical that our professional contributions be recognized for the value they add to the bottom line.

    Thanks for bringing this concept into our thoughts and discussions.

  3. Helen Sullivan says:

    In related trade media, the topic of creating management positions that focus on sustainability is surfacing more often. A letter from Greg Zimmerman, editor of Building Operating Management magazine touches on this subject: http://bit.ly/WJAFWH

  4. Glenn says:

    Not meaning to toot my own horn but I have been playing that role at Lanier Parking Solutions for the past 10 years. My official title is Executive Vice President of Alternative Transportation Solutions but I could be called EVP of Transportation and Sustainability or Chief Innovation Officer. They all lead to the same place and that is what you and Sunil Misser have so eloquently laid out in your article. I am glad to see the rest of the parking industry begin to catch on. Coo-dos to the Green Parking Council for their efforts as well as colleges and universities who have often lead in this arena. Great article!

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