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    Sustainable companies have Action Plans. If you don’t – get one NOW. Cities have them as well. Houston developed an Action Plan in 2008, specifically targeting emissions reduction and later energy efficiency. The plan has paid off in many ways from landfill incinerators to green fleets to competing with other cities for best in class.

    An Action Plan identifies areas already part of an organization’s sustainability strategy and highlights stakeholder concerns. The Action Plan then details who needs to sponsor the effort (i.e., identifying civic leaders), a cross-departmental team, which ESG (environment, social, governance) pillars are of greatest importance and how the organization can pull these pieces together over a specific timeframe.

    With an Action plan, an organization can design initiatives and goals for Environment, Local Communities and Services that increase stakeholder value, reduce potential risk and improve performance. The Action Plan often serves as a tool to provide impetus to nascent sustainability efforts.

    If you don’t believe Houston’s Action Plan has paid off, look at the latest government and corporate achievements in diverse areas. Houston companies are exploring sustainable materials for textiles, polyolefins for packaging (with resins from polyethylene and polypropylene), green restaurants, green buildings and working with community health care workers to improve population health.

    These efforts lead to jobs. A quick search of Indeed lists over 500 jobs in sustainability at entry, middle and senior levels, with salaries ranging to over $95,000 a year. Opportunities exist around greater Houston and include various industries like restaurants, finance, real estate, engineering, food services, health, waste, construction, non-profits and even the Zoo!

    The Action Plan Houston started in 2008 focusing on emissions reduction has evolved to include green energy sourcing, climate change adaptation and a vision toward 2030. The variety of ways in which a city, state, SME or major corporation can contribute to sustainability is endless.

    To learn how to complete an Action Plan, attend our next Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Program, Advanced Edition 2019 to be held in Houston, September 26-27, 2019. This course offers pragmatic methodology and tools to implement a corporate sustainability program. This is the “how to” course for identifying stakeholders, material issues, goals, implementation and reporting. Upcoming trainings: San Francisco, Oct. 15-16, 2019, Toronto, Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2019 and Miami, Jan. 16-17, 2020.