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Research methodology: Why wait to pursue net zero? Build a sustainable business model now

In our third year of researching organisations about energy and sustainability, learn about the methodology behind our new report.

In our new report – Why wait to pursue net zero? Build a sustainable business model now we researched 1,000 executives and benchmarked their sustainability efforts in five key areas.

Respondents were from UK and Ireland (25%), Belgium (13%), Italy (13%), Mexico (13%), the Netherlands (13%) and the US (25%).

They came from a broad range of industry sectors: manufacturing (35%, including 20% from food and beverage manufacturers), retail (19%), healthcare (15%), construction (10%), education (10%), hospitality (5%), property and real estate (5%) and horticulture (1%). In terms of the seniority of respondents, 70% were manager-level while the remaining 30% came from the c-suite.

Based on their responses, we divided respondents into two groups: leaders (20%), and the organisations that have yet to embrace sustainability fully, which we call followers (80%).

Their sustainability efforts were benchmarked based on 14 indicators across five key areas:

Pillar 1: Sustainable business focus

Looking at sustainable business energy focus, we explored what the term ‘sustainability’ meant to our respondents. We asked about their organisations’ main priorities, the substantial risks they face on zero carbon and how they would characterise their organisations’ approach to growth and energy transition.

Pillar 2: Policy-risk preparedness

We analysed how aware respondents were about their corporate sustainability and upcoming decarbonisation regulations around reducing their business carbon footprint, and whether they were in-line or ahead of future policy requirements goals. Our research also explored how effectively they’re harnessing data to reduce their emissions; their awareness of Scope 3 emissions; and how comprehensive their current decarbonisation strategy is.

Pillar 3: Organisational capabilities

Respondents were asked a range of questions around how effectively their organisation manages sustainability. The questions explored how they’re building a zero carbon culture; the steps they’re taking to educate, engage and inspire their teams on sustainability; how sustainability is impacting their governance model, recruitment strategies, and supplier procurement and evaluation processes.

Pillar 4: Technical adoption

We asked respondents how they’re using low carbon technology as part of their sustainability journey. We explored the low carbon tech they already have and the benefits these are delivering today, alongside reviewing what technologies they plan to invest in over the coming years. We also looked at how their organisations are supporting "going green" across their supply chain as well as their commercial energy supply.

Pillar 5: Financial readiness

Our research on renewable energy funding explored how effectively respondents are making the business case for investing in low carbon technologies. We explored the barriers that are holding them back from making investments, and the approaches that are helping them to fund their journey to net zero. Read more by downloading our sustainability report.