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10 Things a Sustainability Manager Should Focus On

What exactly is a sustainability manager, why is the role of a sustainability manager important, and what are 10 things that a sustainability manager should do in order to ensure that a company is able to meet all of their climate goals while still adhering to their values?

Climate change has opened up several new kinds of jobs, some of which are becoming essential to the success of businesses – such as a sustainability manager.

What exactly is a sustainability manager, why is the role of a sustainability manager important, and what are 10 things that a sustainability manager should do in order to ensure that a company is able to meet all of their climate goals while still adhering to their values?

What is a sustainability manager?

A sustainability manager is someone who oversees all of the environmental and sustainability issues within a company. The main role of a sustainability manager is to create and employ strategies that will help to encourage better eco-friendly tactics, social equality, and financial success for the company. 

The tasks of a sustainability manager are likely to vary depending on the line of work they are in, but usually – sustainability managers are responsible for the following:

  • Completing environmental impact research assessments, such as by completing the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) to help ameliorate water consumption, energy usage, waste management, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Developing new strategy plans that will align with the company’s goals and values;
  • Engage stakeholders in the company’s mission towards greater sustainability;
  • Ensure that the company is complying with all new environmental regulations to date;
  • Train employees when necessary to improve their sustainability impact, as each role is likely to have a different kind of impact on the company in terms of sustainability;
  • Seek to be innovative in exploring new technologies or methods that could help the company to achieve their sustainability goals;

Practice CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility, such as by engaging with the surrounding community, engaging in philanthropy, offering volunteering programs to employees, and committing to ethical sourcing practices.

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In addition to these duties, a good sustainability manager is usually well-versed in the following as well:

  • Good mathematical skills
  • Demonstrates good analytical thinking
  • Basic knowledge of geography
  • Exceptional verbal communication skills to communicate with other employees
  • Good written communication skills
  • Pays attention to detail
  • Passionate about succeeding and helping the company achieve its goals

👉 Did you know that a sustainability manager in the U.S. makes on average $90,000 a year? Not only does being a sustainability manager help to save the planet and promote equality within the workplace – but it pays well, too!

A sustainability manager is key to ensure that a company is able to implement all of their desired sustainable practices into their business, cultivating a smooth decision-making process, and helping to rectify overall business strategy. Ultimately, a sustainability manager succeeds in doing this by seeking to take environmental, social, and economic matters into account to be more sustainable and reduce emissions at the same time.

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Why is a sustainability manager important?

A sustainability manager is important as it helps companies to achieve their sustainability goals and make sure that they don’t get swept under the rug.

💡Think of it this way: most people start out their new year with a resolution but often forget to keep it – a sustainability manager can help companies to make sure they stick to their sustainability goals.  

A sustainability manager can help companies to keep better track of their employees' efforts and tasks towards achieving these various goals, and ultimately – a sustainability manager can help take charge and prioritize working towards these targets. This can help to relieve stress off of other employees, as a sustainability manager can help to support the rest of the staff to focus their efforts where they are most effective.

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In addition to this, a sustainability manager can help companies to become more eco-friendly, reduce emissions, and appeal to new customers and investors – all essential for future business success in the midst of global warming. Also, hiring a sustainability manager could be good for the company’s brand image and reputation – as having a sustainability manager on their payroll can demonstrate a company’s commitment to curating greater sustainability.

Lastly, a sustainability manager is important as this specific job role can help make sure that work conditions are up-to-date and safe – which help to promote DEI practices in the workplace.

However, perhaps the most important part of a sustainability manager is how they help to facilitate communication between different departments and employees.

👉 One of the biggest reasons why a sustainability manager is important because they help to create awareness and develop ways to take an active approach to achieve a goal. While sustainability is still everyone’s responsibility, a sustainability manager can help to take the lead in executing this value.

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What are 10 Things a Sustainability Manager Should Do?

To become a good sustainability manager, multivarious skills are required to truly succeed at the job. We’ve picked out our top ten things a sustainability manager should focus on at their company.

Demonstrate Leadership

A sustainability manager is expected to take the lead and encourage various departments to implement sustainability where they can. For example, a sustainability manager might be responsible for training their employees the importance of making use of renewable energy sources or how to reduce water usage to reduce the company’s environmental impact. 

👉 Think of a sustainability manager as a team captain for a club or the coach for a basketball team – it’s their job to motivate everyone else!

Be Determined to Learn New Technologies

Technology plays a big role in sustainability, and as new technologies are developed – it’s up to sustainability managers to stay motivated to learn about these new technologies and understand how these technologies can help their companies to be more sustainable or their employees to be more efficient.

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Facilitating Good Communication

One of the biggest challenges and key roles of a sustainability manager is to encourage good communication between different stakeholders and employees – most importantly, being able to pontificate the importance of protecting the environment. Therefore sustainability managers should strive to use the best diction and communication skills possible to better convey to their business partners or other business leaders regarding their current environmental predicaments.

Knowledgeable in the Business World

Even though a sustainability manager is more concerned with environmental and social problems in the workplace, it isn’t to forget that sustainability managers are also responsible for ensuring the company is economically viable. Having knowledge of business practices that can help their company to comply with ongoing and future regulations can help a business to be more proactive than reactive, prevent greenwashing, and achieve their sustainability goals faster.

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Be Solution Oriented

Demonstrating good problem solving skills are a must for any sustainability manager – as they’ll often have to work together with other businesses or government agencies to find a solution to some sort of issue: whether it be a social issue in the workplace or an environmental one.

Use Critical Thinking Skills

A sustainability manager will need to use critical thinking skills in order to determine the best choices to reduce a company’s emissions or prevent it from harming the planet. For instance, a sustainability manager will have to determine which materials will reduce the company’s environmental impact in the long run.

Knowledgeable on Basic Science 

Being a sustainability manager means needing to lead the company towards greater eco-friendly measures, which requires an understanding of science-related concepts such as biology, physics, or chemistry. This allows a sustainability manager to better communicate with engineers or other entities part of the company that can help to create new inventions or designs to reduce the company’s environmental impact.

Acquire Financial Literacy

Given part of the job of a sustainability manager is to ensure the company is economically successful, a sustainability manager should have a basic knowledge of economics and finance. This is why many sustainability managers are likely to succeed if they have a degree in business, or at minimum choose to take a course on business ethics. Sustainability managers are also often responsible to create budgets for the company to achieve their sustainability goals without breaking the bank – demonstrating how knowledge in both economics and business could prove useful.

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Learn About Construction & Architecture

Much of sustainability starts at the root of construction and the blueprints drawn up by architects for a project. A sustainability manager would serve well to understand the basic concepts of architecture and construction in order to better negotiate with future builders for the company. This is because construction and overall design of a company building can result in excess emissions, and if a sustainability manager has a better understanding of construction and architecture – they can prevent future projects that could have a negative impact on the environment. For example, a sustainability manager could help designers to implement the use of more energy efficient designs.

Keep Posted on Newest Environmental Regulations

One of the most tedious components to cultivating a sustainable company in today’s world is keeping up-to-date with the newest environmental regulations. A sustainability manager should take charge and make sure their company is keeping up with all of the new relevant requirements they are expected to comply with in their state or region.

How can you become a sustainability manager?

There are many ways someone can become a sustainability manager, however – it will require work and dedication to becoming properly qualified to succeed in the position.

Here are some of the main points and requirements to become a sustainability manager:

For this position you will usually be expected to have a university degree, however you could also complete a college course, an apprenticeship, or apply directly to an employer if you have relevant experience.  

  • Expected to have a bachelor’s degree of some kind, but a college course is often the minimum. Areas of study can often include environmental science, sustainability, and business. For example, a double major in business and environmental science could serve well for someone looking to become a sustainability manager.
  • Complete the appropriate apprenticeships, internships, and work experience. Real-life skills are essential for someone looking to become a sustainability manager.
  • Acquire certifications such as LEED Green Associate or the Certified Sustainability Professional (ISSP-CSP) to help demonstrate your commitment to sustainability.
  • Network to find the most qualified and relevant opportunities for you. This can be done by joining programs like the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) or the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

👉 It is important to remember while all of these skills can prove useful and beneficial to those looking to become a sustainability manager, employers may be interested in passionate employees who are willing to learn these skills along the way. 

Ultimately, a sustainability manager is a key way to ensure that your company is on track to meet all of its sustainability goals and also ensure that environmental, social, and economic protocols are up-to-date. Being a successful sustainability manager is no easy task, but it could prove lucrative to both you and your company in the long run.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about 10 things a sustainability manager should do to improve their company’s sustainability has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

It can be hard to determine all of the responsibilities of your employees to make sure that your company is able to meet its climate goals, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to keep you up to date on all of the latest climate news

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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