New Metrics: A way towards Sustainability

  1. Boston New Metrics 2014


From September 24th to 26th, Sustainable Brands co-presented, along with Sustainability Initiative and MIT Sloan, the 2014 New Metrics edition in Boston, MA. It is the fourth annual conference related to Metrics, and pretends to turn ideas, and share models, tools, and strategies that had been in action by key players in the Sustainability world. The Purpose will be present at the whole convention. This gives us the opportunity to listen directly from key actors at the industry, consultancy and academy world.

On September 24th, there was a series of workshops held at the Stratton Student Center (MIT) in a morning session with three options on Accounting Standards Board, The Maturation of Life Cycle Assessment, and Web Based Tools for Sustainability Professionals. In the afternoon sessions, another three workshops were held on Assigning specific dollar values to ignored impacts like shadow pricing, practical models for employee engagement, and taking Sustainability literally.

I had the chance to personally share and discuss perspectives with Professor Greg Norris from Harvard School of Public Health and Catherine Benoit from New Earth, and introduce some of the activities The Purpose will be working on the Business World, Communications , and Culture Change initiatives.

Professor Greg Norris shared insights on SHINE (Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise) and challenged us to “Think outside the foot”, with a Handprint concept versus the common footprint tracking system, assigned as a measure of the negative impact we cause at CO2 emissions, water use, and unsustainable human practices. We assign footprint values to products, processes or human economic activities. The challenge is to complement that tracking with an inviting concept to assign “change actions” to the actors behind those activities, towards positive impact in general to the world. This sustainability approach and invitation, is based in the simple premise of to be giving more than you are taking.

During the morning session about the Life Cycle Assessment, there were a series of practical tools and metrics exposed, as well as examples of successful implementations for specific industries and world-class companies.

In the afternoon session I had the chance to listen very interesting concepts on Carbon and Water metrics from CDP and ECOLAB on hidden costs and shadow pricing, as tracking measures to realize the impact and risks of emissions (CO2) and the use of a scarce resource (water). There were also very interesting concepts like understanding benefits of efficiencies on some new Sustainability practices certifications, and assigning value to social impact obtained from activities performed by companies and the business world.

This experience let us learn firsthand about world initiatives around sustainability as well as calibrate the emergent initiatives in Guatemala and the projects being developed by  The Purpose. New Metrics are going to be key in the instauration, spreading and implementation of Sustainability. From both sessions I attended, a relevant reflection came out: Not just new metrics, but the right new metrics. This will require asking the right questions, and identifying the relevant risks and meaningful opportunities for an impactful improvement to the world through sustainability practices.

Luis Enrique Solorzano
The Purpose

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