Sustainable organizations: Evaluating the Environmental Sustainability of Schools and Companies in a Regional Centre of Expertise

In International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability
Volume (Issue): 7 (6)
Peer-reviewed Article

The principal goal of sustainability is attaining a state where the planet’s resource extraction,
use and the resultant pollution, particularly by humans residing or operating in it will be within its
(the Earth’s) carrying capacity. Organizations, homes and communities are pivotal in the sustainability
transition as they serve as “frameworks” for facilitating the acquisition of relevant knowledge, values,
attitudes and skills towards sustainable living. The organizations in the education and corporate sectors
especially serve as important stakeholders in a locality or within a regional centre of expertise (RCE),
which was set up primarily to advance the objectives of the UN’s Decade for Education for Sustainable
Development (DESD). However, these sectors currently are not fully involved in an RCE’s target objectives
to meet its DESD goals, partly because generally, sustainability as a concept has not been
wholly incorporated into the mainstream activities and programs of most organizations. The objectives
of the study were to evaluate the level of sustainability of schools and companies using certain environmental
sustainability performance indicators in order to determine whether they are “sustainable’’
or “sustainability-friendly” enough to contribute meaningfully to the RCE Greater Sendai (RCEGS)
target objectives to meets its DESD goals. The study also evaluated respondents’ preferences for some
suggested education for sustainable development (ESD) approaches and also, to identify some opportunities
for implementing ESD in schools and companies. Respondents comprising company employees
and teachers were sampled from ten firms and fifteen schools, respectively using survey questionnaires
based on some environmental performance indicators. Results showed that some aspects of the sectors’
activities were moderately sustainable while others were less sustainable and hence needed improvement.
The results also suggested differences in perception between management and workers in the
firms regarding several of the indicators used. Sectoral differences in preference for the suggested
ESD approaches towards increased sustainability were observed. It was argued that making use of
some activities within the organization for sustainability awareness creation and also, strengthening
some already-existing “sustainable” activities especially in schools would be a good start. The importance
of the contribution of the two sectors towards envisioning the path towards sustainability and
eventually, the actualization of a sustainable, low-carbon society were discussed.

Shimano Satoshi