Regis professor says business must be sustainable |

Regis professor says business must be sustainable

— By 2050, the average daily temperature across the world may be 5.4 degrees higher than it is today, the global population will top 9.6 billion and forest wildfires will be up between 50 and 175 percent.

Such were the sobering scientific predictions shared by Regis University assistant accounting professor Kris Brands during presentations at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs this week.

“You look outside, and nothing looks like it’s going wrong, but terrible things are happening,” said Brands, who spoke at a public forum Wednesday evening and again at a business club luncheon on campus Thursday.

She said that by 2050, half of the places that have historically hosted the winter Olympics would no longer be able to do so, because they wouldn’t have enough snow.

Brands emphasized the important role that business can play in moving toward a sustainable future.

“We should have zero impact, and that’s a game changer, a culture changer,” Brands said. “The way things happened in the past are not how they will happen in the future, and that’s a game changer.”

Businesses that implement integrated thinking and share sustainable goals with the public are commendable and will improve their own reputations, she said.

Examples of corporations that have done this include IKEA, German software corporation SAP and Starbucks.

The popular coffee chain with multiple locations in Steamboat has publicized its efforts to have 100 percent ethically sourced coffee by this year and set a goal of reducing waste by making at least 5 percent of drinks with reusable cups.

Their attempt to better communicate sustainability efforts with the public is a step in the right direction for the business, Brands said.

Using Procter & Gamble as an example, Brands said as a consumer, she would be pleased to see an advertisement about the company’s efforts to reduce water use by 40 percent, especially if she was in a location going through a drought and conserving water at the time.

“We can support or we can boycott companies based on whether they have buy-in for this,” she said.

Brands said that for businesses, sustainable goals are more significant and take more time than financial goals, viewed on a quarterly basis.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, scheduled to take place this December, could be a promising step for sustainable efforts, Brands said.

“We need a higher power, through the UN, to set the standards,” she said. “If we don’t have global buy-in, we’re going to be in even bigger trouble.”

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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