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Sustainability – An Introduction to Strategic Action

In the latest Alliance U meeting, we discussed sustainability and strategic action with speaker Pournamasi Rath, director of sustainability at Ettinger Engineering Associates.

The Alliance U is a monthly meeting where we deep dive into a topic with our members. One of the many benefits of being a member of the NY Alliance is that we learn directly from our members, who are experts in their fields. On this occasion, we discussed sustainability and strategic action with speaker Pournamasi Rath, director of sustainability at Ettinger Engineering Associates.

What’s Driving Sustainability?

Sustainability bottles down to meeting our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It focuses on three pillars: economic, environmental, and social. These pillars are also known as people, planet, and profits. If we had to break these down, the basics would follow.

The environmental pillar:
  • Is getting most of our attention at the moment
  • Focuses on reducing carbon footprint, packaging waste, water usage, and our overall effect on the environment
The social pillar:
  • It’s all about treating employees fairly
  • Focuses on being a good community member, a good role model for society, both locally and globally
The economic pillar:
  • It looks at how businesses incorporate sustainability while being profitable
  • Focuses on compliance, proper leadership, risk management, and strategic action

Sustainability in NYC

New York City emissions per capita are one-third of the US average. NYC is implementing policies and programs to reduce GHG emissions and meet its goals. For NYC, their strategic action involves making changes in:

  • Energy: replacing fossil-fuel energy sources with renewable-based grids
  • Buildings: electrification for heating and hot water
  • Transportation: reduce miles and switch to electric or clean fuel vehicles

Your Carbon Footprint

Organizations of all sizes can set up strategic action plans to focus on sustainability. Whereas that’s already part of your company’s long-term goals or not, sustainability is an excellent way to create a more conscious workplace that talent wants to be part of. Many organizations have looked at sustainability in the hopes of fighting the Great Resignation movement. Typical sustainability strategies include:

  • Switching to electric HVAC systems
  • Opting for renewable energy sources like PVs on rooftops and co-gen systems
  • Investing in lighting updates like motion sensors and daylight sensors
  • Increasing air-tightness and weather stripping

On the flip side, some alternative means of compliance don’t involve building investments. For example, organizations can join a strategic plan for greenhouse house offsets or earn renewable energy credits elsewhere. 

Different organizations can help your business learn more about local laws, programs, and opportunities to take strategic action on sustainability when in doubt. Some fantastic resources in the city to get started include:

  • NYC Accelerator
  • New York State of Opportunity (NYSERDA)
  • Nationalgrid
  • Beex
  • conEdison


For more details and the specifics about this NY Alliance U recap, learn more about becoming a member to get access to our ever-growing library of resources. If you or your business is ready to start taking strategic actions on sustainability, Rath and her team are always available to answer questions.