If you’re interested in natural and environmental sciences, you might want to consider being a sustainability analyst. Sustainability is about allowing natural resources to replenish themselves. Regulatory requirements exist because sustainability is critical to our survival. In order to meet these requirements -- and to keep a positive public image -- many companies have established these positions.
Sustainability analysts help companies address corporate social responsibility, or CSR. Business leaders who recognize the importance of building a positive public image commit time and resources not only to meeting regulatory requirements, but also to CSR. They take responsibility for how their operations affect communities. They also market their commitment to CSR through websites that describe their CSR efforts. These efforts require teams of resources, including roles such as sustainability analysts and chief sustainability officers.
A sustainability analyst might be responsible for developing, auditing or complying with a company’s environmental management system, or EMS. A management system in general is a chain of policies and processes that control how things are done in the company, while an EMS is a management system that focuses on delivering environmentally friendly processes. Developing an EMS requires a sustainability analyst to know environmental standards such as the ISO-14000 series, in addition to regulatory requirements related to the types of impacts the company can have on the environment.
Environmental impacts can relate to manufacturing waste, product and raw material disposal, greenhouse gas emissions and other effects of operations. The sustainability analyst assesses operational processes to identify all potential environmental impacts. The analyst then determines the likelihood of each process causing these impacts, establishes control methods so potential impacts don’t happen and monitors the processes to make sure the controls continue to be effective.
A sustainability analyst collects data relating to sustainability measures, such as the quantity of waste being generated and disposed of, the usage rate of electricity and other natural resources and the volume of waste products that are successfully being recycled. The analyst uses this data to write technical reports and recommend improvement objectives. The analyst might also perform environmental audits. These audits verify that EMS requirements are being followed and are effectively preventing environmental impacts, and whether improvement objectives are being met.
Sustainability Research Analyst
A different type of sustainability analyst also exists in the finance industry: Sustainability research analysts. Calvert Investments employs sustainability research analysts to evaluate companies and rate them based on the Calvert Social Index, an investment industry benchmark in socially responsible investing. Index ratings address the environmental impacts of a company’s operations and products, as well as other social responsibility standards, such as fair employment practices and community relations. Investors use these ratings to make investment decisions.
- EPA: What is Sustainability?
- EPA: What is an EMS?
- Sequence Staffing: Sustainability Analyst
- Science Buddies: Sustainability Specialist
- Calvert Investments: The Calvert Social Index Frequently Asked Questions
- Graziadio Business Review: The Moral and Financial Conflict of Socially Responsible Investing
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.