DENVER – CH2M HILL, a global full-service consulting, design, construction and operations firm, released a white paper, “Sustainability Goals that Make an Impact,” focusing on the link between sustainability goal-setting, environmental and financial performance, and stakeholder recognition, making the case for more tangible goals. CH2M HILL conducted research in 2012 and 2013, using their proprietary benchmarking methodology that includes analysis of publicly available sustainability and financial data, third party analysis and rankings, along with interviews with sustainability executives from client organizations.

“Our research shows companies that set measurable sustainability goals and align them with their business processes, strategic priorities, and staff compensation models were not only more effective in improving environmental performance but also sent a strong, positive message to their stakeholders,” CH2M HILL’s Global Sustainability Practice Director Dr. Veli Ivanova said.

Findings in the paper include the following recommendations:

Companies should set multi-year, organization-wide goals. Sustainable development requires long-term thinking, so multi-year goals, coupled with annual targets and milestones most effectively drives performance. In the most sophisticated companies, a goal leader supported by multi-disciplinary teams manages each corporate sustainability goal.

Robust, business-focused progress monitoring processes are critical. Sustainability leaders who employ robust processes to help set, monitor and track progress, with regular reporting to executive leadership, were more successful in making sustainability a top agenda item for their boards. An increasing number of companies tie executive compensation to sustainability goals.

Stakeholders should be involved in goal setting. The goal-setting process brings most business value when it involves a broad group of stakeholders. Internal stakeholders will be responsible for achieving the goals and will be more aligned with them if involved in the process. Fully engaged external stakeholders help calibrate goals, may be more aware of socio-economic trends and can help improve corporate reputation.

Download the full white paper at