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What is Sustainability Consulting?

Learn what sustainability consulting is, who does it, and how it can help your organization take steps toward impactful investing.
sustainability consulting concept

As global businesses recognize the scope and scale of climate-based threats on world economies, they may seek to adopt more sustainable practices. As the concept of corporate social responsibility (“CSR”) grows, more companies are acknowledging their role in the ESG universe and seek to amend their practices.

However, sustainability comes in a variety of forms, and many businesses may not know the best ways to approach implementing sustainability into their framework. Procuring sustainability consulting can help a company carry out targeted sustainability goals with efficiency and thoughtfulness. 

Sustainability Consulting Goals

The main goal of a sustainability consultancy is to build a companies’ capacity for sustainability through strategic planning and implementation. This process contains four key processes: sustainability “current state” assessments, goal definition, sustainability road mapping and strategy implementation. 

It is important to note that building sustainable infrastructure is no small task, requiring change from the inside out. Consultancies address the symptoms of wasteful operation and rebuild a companies’ infrastructure with sustainability at the core. While these strategies invite certain levels of risk in the process of restructuring, contemporary sustainability experts place strong emphasis on both environmental and business-related success. In other words, sustainability consultants keep a companies’ bottom line in focus. 

What Do Sustainability Consultants Do?

The crux of sustainability consulting stands at the crossroads of research, stakeholder engagement and strategy development. Consultancies start by exploring the business as a system. Their activities include some version of the following activities (and more)

  •  Conduct audits of the waste/pollution the company wishes to reduce
  • Analyze extensive amounts of data to compile helpful reports
  • Streamline supply chains (transport and handling)
  • Conduct social impact studies both within and outside of the company
  • Create avenues for healthy workplace environment and open communication networks
  • Building marketing strategies promoting sustainable practices

Types of Sustainability Consultants

Sustainable infrastructure is executed differently depending on the source. Sustainability consulting firms take a few forms, including but not limited to: big consulting companies, boutique consultancies, non-profit organizations and freelance or solo practitioners. 

Choosing the right consultant for your company will likely coincide with the relative size of the company to consultancy, but there are other factors to narrow the choices. Looking for similar past projects covered by a consultancy expert or group can help. Different consultancy firms may focus on a specific area of sustainability growth (i.e. reducing carbon emissions, creating less waste in supply chains, etc.). 

Why Choose a Sustainability Strategy?

Corporate awareness of their contributions to climate change has never been higher, as shown by the more than 50 global giants pledging net-zero emissions by 2040. As interest grows, as do networks and resources for companies of any size to utilize.  

One of the great myths surrounding sustainability implementation is that it lowers return on assets or that it is merely a bull-market phenomenon. However, studies across the past few years challenge this notion, illustrating how companies with greater ESG factors outperformed the market.

Alongside strong performance, great industry interest supported by data supports a move towards sustainability. A 2020 study by the US Sustainable and Responsible Investment Forum found that $1-in-$3 of professionally managed funds followed a ESG related approach. They also found in 2021 that sustainable investing assets total at $17.1 trillion, representing a 42% increase since 2018. These numbers are predicted to rise even higher through the 2020’s as resources become more approachable.


Businesses of any size can benefit from the growing strength and resources offered by sustainability consulting. From reducing waste to improving profitability and efficiency, the benefits of restructuring around sustainability outweigh the costs.  

April 14, 2021

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