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World's First True Sustainability Index(TM) Announced

Submitted by: Center for Sustainable Organizations

Categories: Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Mar 24, 2009 – 11:59 PM EST


Mar. 24 /CSRwire/ - THETFORD CENTER, VT. - March 24, 2009 - The non-profit Center for Sustainable Innovation (CSI) announced today the release of a new model for measuring and reporting corporate sustainability performance. Referred to as the True Sustainability Index(TM) (TSI), CSI's model consists of only 15 indicators that sustainability managers can use to assess the full triple bottom line performance of organizations. SRI professionals and third-party analysts will also find the TSI useful in their attempts to understand, rate and rank the sustainability performance of organizations as a basis for making investment decisions.

Unlike other sustainability indexes, the TSI is made up of metrics that are context-based, meaning that they express organizational performance relative to actual social and environmental conditions in the world. Water consumption, for example, is measured against renewable supplies; solid wastes are measured against landfill capacities; and impacts on social and economic conditions are measured against societal needs. The model released today is an early prototype – an 80-percent solution – and remains a work in progress.

CSI's context-based approach to measuring and reporting organizational sustainability stands in stark contrast to other mainstream reporting methods and indexes, most of which are context-free. Even the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which unequivocally advocates for the inclusion of sustainability context in related reports, fails to provide guidelines for how to do so. Most, if not all, GRI reports are therefore devoid of context, and rarely make it possible to understand the true sustainability performance of the organizations they describe.

GRI, in its 'G3' Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, explains the importance of sustainability context as follows:

  • Performance information should be placed in context.

  • The underlying question of sustainability reporting is how an organization contributes to the improvement or deterioration of economic, environmental, and social conditions at the local, regional, or global level.

  • Simply reporting on trends in individual performance (or the efficiency of the organization) will fail to respond to this underlying question.

  • Reporting organizations should therefore seek ways to express their individual performance in relation to broader environmental and social sustainability.
CSI's Executive Director, Mark W. McElroy, Ph.D., had this to say about today's announcement: "The development of the True Sustainability Index(TM) is arguably a watershed event in sustainability reporting, in the sense that metrics are finally available that express the real triple bottom line performance of organizations, instead of only their triple top line. Whereas GRI has long advocated for the inclusion of context in non-financial reporting, we have finally found a way to do it, and at the same time have reduced GRI-type reporting from 150 metrics to 15!"

Parties interested in learning more about the True Sustainability Index(TM), or in working with CSI to further its development, are encouraged to contact Mr. McElroy here.

About the Center for Sustainable Innovation

The Center for Sustainable Innovation is a non-profit NGO located in Thetford Center, VT. It was founded in 2004 with a vision of working for sustainability, both within and by means of innovation. Most of CSI's efforts have been applied to the development of an advanced approach for measuring and reporting the social and environmental sustainability performance of organizations, and to devising tools and methods for operationalizing triple bottom line management. CSI's founder and Executive Director, Mark W. McElroy, Ph.D., can be reached at More information about CSI, the True Sustainability Index(TM), and other context-based metrics can be found at CSI's website.

For more information, please contact:

Mark W. McElroy, Ph.D. Center for Sustainable Innovation
Phone: 802-785-2293

For more from this organization:

Center for Sustainable Organizations


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