We often hear that sustainability is a hot mess of acronyms that are intimidating to newcomers. We agree. Here’s a comprehensive list of acronyms and abbreviations every sustainability professional should know.
A non-binding, voluntarily-implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development.
The Asset Owners Disclosure Project survey of investors on climate actions
Sometimes people call Benefit Corporations “B corps,” too. A benefit corporation is a legal business construct, like an LLC or C Corp, except it has sustainability at its core.
Building Research Establishment Global’s Environmental Assessment Method for green building
BSR is a global nonprofit organization with member companies and a widely attended annual conference.
Carbon capture and storage (or sequester) projects
Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project (now just CDP); issues corporate surveys on climate change, water and forestry, with additional supply chain reporting guidance.
Climate Disclosure Standards Board; provides guidance on climate reporting, and proposed stock exchange listing rule on climate emissions reporting.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
Carbon dioxide equivalent — frequently used in emissions reporting.
Communication on progress — a reporting requirement of being a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact.
CSR or CR
Corporate social responsibility or corporate responsibility, commonly used interchangeably
Declaration on fundamental principals and rights to work
Dow Jones Sustainability Index
Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition: a code of conduct for the electronics supply chain
Environmental Impact Assessment
Environmental product declaration
Environment, social and governance disclosure. Used interchangeably with CSR.
Feed-in tariff, the price renewable energy generators are paid by utility companies for their energy
Fair Labor Association
Forest Stewardship Council, creates standards for sustainably-harvested woods and fibers.
Global reporting initiative’s third generation of sustainability reporting guidelines
Global reporting initiative’s fourth generation of sustainability reporting guidelines
(for more info check out our courses)
Gender equality principals
Greenhouse gas protocol for emissions reporting
Global impact investing rating system; third-party ratings for impact investments
Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings
Global Reporting Initiative
International Labor Organization core labor standards
Integrated reporting framework of the International Integrated Reporting Council
International Standards Organization’s Environmental Management System
ISO social responsibility standard
ISO risk management standard
International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find
pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges
See also ICUN Red List of threatened species
Key performance indicator
Lifecycle assessment or Lifecycle analysis
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for green buildings
United Nations Millennium Development Goals
U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, provides standards for workplace safety
Renewable Energy Credits — similar to carbon offsets, but just for renewable energy
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, a U.N. forestry program
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
Sustainability Accounting Standards Board; offers sustainability accounting standards by industry
Strategic Environmental Assessment
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
U.N. Sustainable Development Goals
UL Environment, a standards board
United Nations Declaration on Human Rights
U.N. Global Compact; companies endorse and report on their progress in meeting 10 CSR principals
U.S. Green Building Council; responsible for the LEED standard for green building
Verified carbon standard, carbon offset certification body
Bonus lists for related industries
Clean Energy Finance 101 from the Yale Center for Business and the Environment
Glossary of Energy Efficiency Terms from Conservation Energy Group
For the science behind the energy sector from the University of Calgary
All right, you made it this far. What am I missing? Tweet @jenboynton to send me your suggestions, and I’ll add them to the list!
h/t to Tracey Rembert who shared a version of this list with Ceres participants
Image credit: DAVID MELCHOR DIAZ, Flickr