Sustainability ROI Workbook – FAQs


Q: What is it?

A: Sustainability ROI Workbook is a free, open-source “book” cleverly disguised as an Excel workbook. The comprehensive, fill-in-the-blanks Excel workbook is the e-book. Explanatory text and graphics are baked into the Excel worksheets and into comments that guide users on how to fill in blank cells that require user input. It helps quantify a comprehensive portfolio of possible business case elements, synthesized from over 15 leading sustainability business case frameworks.


Q: Who is it for?

A: Sustainability ROI Workbook is intended for use by internal sustainability champions seeking executive support for more aggressive company action on sustainability issues.

It is also a useful tool for external sustainability consultants who want to do the same and help their client companies reap their sustainability advantage – that is, capture the complete suite of potential benefits identified in the business case.


Q: What problem is it solving?

A: We are besieged with urgent environmental and social issues that threaten a flourishing human civilization on our finite planet. Some threats, like climate destabilization, are precariously close to a tipping point. Some companies are making good progress on reducing and eliminating their direct and indirect negative environmental and social impacts, but not enough companies, fast enough.

Creating a Comprehensive & Compelling Cost-Benefit Analysis

Executives require a robust, hard-nosed business case to support more aggressive sustainability initiatives. So far, sustainability champions have failed to create a comprehensive-enough and compelling-enough cost-benefit analysis for their proposals to convince decision-makers to take necessary and sufficient action on sustainability issues. They have not been able to show that sustainability initiatives are good for the company, as well as for the environment and society.

It’s time that sustainability champions had a tool that quantifies the value of sustainability initiatives that fulfill the company’s purpose, capture revenue and expense-saving opportunities, and / or mitigate risks of inaction. The Sustainability ROI Workbook is that business case tool.


Q: Why is it free and open-source?

A: Bob’s mission is to ensure that his children and grandchildren have the opportunity to enjoy a quality of life that is at least as good as he has enjoyed. But the wellbeing of the environment and society are in rapid decline, caused largely by unsustainable environmental and social practices by the business community.

His vision is that senior business executives want to improve their sustainability performance, quickly.

His “mission impossible” goal is that by the end of 2018, the global legions of sustainability champions know about, and can use, the Sustainability ROI Workbook business case tool to help them convince business executives that responsible environmental and social practices are good for business, as well as for the environment and society.

To expedite its ubiquitous deployment, the Workbook is a self-published, free, open-source resource. Others are encouraged to use it as a foundation on which to create additional tailored versions for specific sectors or users, for other technology platforms, in other languages, and in simpler formats. We need to get it out there in whatever forms are most useful for sustainability champions.


Q: How is it a “Swiss army knife” tool for sustainability champions?


  1. It is a sustainability literacy tool that helps executives understand global sustainability megaforces that could threaten the company and / or present emerging opportunities.
  2. It is an integrated thinking tool that helps senior managers connect the dots between the “so what” of creating external environmental and social value and creating internal company
  3. It is an initiative vetting tool that provides a complete checklist of project dimensions that should to be thought through by sustainability champions: timeframe to reap the benefits, up-front and ongoing expenses, resources required, payback period, and so on.
  4. It is a business model assessment tool that reveals how the company’s current business model enables or inhibits reaping the full benefits of improved environmental or social performance.
  5. It is a trust-building tool that helps to build a long-term foundation of trust and credibility of sustainability champions with more senior decision makers as they show that sustainability initiatives are smart business
  6. It is a leadership development tool that immerses sustainability champions in a just-in-time leadership development learning lab. They improve their own business and financial literacies as they learn how to “talk accounting” with MBA-trained business leaders with whom they co-create the business case. They prove to themselves and others that they are ready to take on additional business responsibilities.
  7. It is a downsizing protection tool that helps internal sustainability champions show that they contribute short- and long-term value to the company. They can use business cases for approved sustainability initiatives to build a compelling business case for their department.


Q: How can I ensure that I am working with the latest and greatest version?

A: The Sustainability ROI Workbook will be published in May 2017. It is an open-source resource that always will be a freely downloadable e-book. A good feature of a self-published e-book is that it can be continuously enhanced to reflect evolving best practices, new research studies, and tips gleaned from users.

Sustainability champions can subscribe to a service that always gives them the latest version with its updated guidance and usability enhancements. Every three months, subscribers are alerted that a new release of the Workbook and its companion comprehensive slide deck, so they always enjoy the latest post-publication enhancements. See the “Latest Workbook and Slides” button on the top menu for more details