State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

MS Alums Identify Ways to Improve Sustainability Data Management

Taken on the rooftop of Manufacture NY, a hybrid fashion incubator and factory and pilot partner of the Tennaxia CSR Data Solution. (From left to right: Kristina Alnes ’14, Charlotte Peyraud ‘14, Christopher Economides ’14, Angeline Kong anticipated ‘15)
Taken on the rooftop of Manufacture NY, a hybrid fashion incubator and factory and pilot partner of the Tennaxia CSR Data Solution. (From left to right: Kristina Alnes ’14, Charlotte Peyraud ‘14, Christopher Economides ’14, Angeline Kong ‘15) (Photo: Charlotte Peyraud)

Over the past few months, three 2014 graduates of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program Kristina Alnes, Charlotte Peyraud, and Christopher Economides along with current MSSM student Angeline Kong have been studying the U.S. market for sustainability and CSR data management solutions.  The team—dubbed the ReScore Project Group— published their finding this week in the report, titled Effective CSR Data Management: How Software Solutions Can Drive A Sustainable Future. 

The whitepaper examines the US market for CSR data management tools and finds that many US companies are relying on outdated and ill-suited systems for tracking sustainability data. Improved CSR data tracking can allow for a deeper understanding of CSR performance and unlock new business opportunities while helping to minimize risks.

“The main focus of our research was to assess the key market drivers pushing U.S. companies to report sustainability data. We also identified what sustainability professionals are looking for in CSR data solutions and analyzed the current market for CSR reporting tools,” stated Kristina Alnes, a lead author of the report.

While preparing this report, the team surveyed and interviewed sustainability professionals from 50 companies. Of the companies surveyed more than half reported using either Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or a combination of Excel and other software to track CSR data. While Excel appears to be a low-cost option for tracking CSR data, study authors conclude that relying on basic spreadsheet software will actually cost more annually in staff time, inefficient workflows and errors.

Team member Charlotte Peyraud believes that this research only served to justify her opinion that transparency and reporting are an integral part of moving towards a sustainable future. “Based on our findings, we believe that the widespread adoption of quality CSR data management tools is vital to driving sustainable business performance and ultimately reaching collective sustainability goals. While these tools are readily available to help companies simplify and accelerate tracking and reporting sustainability data, many companies have not taken the leap.”

This study was made possible with support from from Triana Group,Inc., 2020 Strategies and Tennaxia. You can read more about the group’s work in the November 4, 2014 edition of the Sustainable Brands News Section. You can download the full version of the report here.

The M.S. in Sustainability Management, co-sponsored by the Earth Institute and Columbia’s School of Continuing Education, trains students to tackle complex and pressing environmental and managerial challenges. The program requires the successful completion of 36 credit points. Those credit points are divided among five comprehensive content areas: integrative sustainability management, economics and quantitative analysis, the physical dimensions of sustainability, the public policy environment of sustainability management, and general and financial management. Visit our website to learn more.  

 

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