Further Evidence of a Sustainability VS Profitability Dilemma?

On the heels of BuiltWorlds' annual Venture East Conference in Miami, Florida, we look back at a central theme that arises in nearly every circle and conversation within the built world — the convergence, or lack thereof, sustainability and profitability. During the Venture East event, Ben Price from Orbia Ventures, Kevin Cardona from Leonard (VINCI), and Michael Gilbert from Fairstead Ventures toyed with the potential that we’re finally reaching a point where sustainability initiatives and climate pledges are catalyzing meaningful change within corporations. Beyond environmental pledges, the group discussed the outcome of various mandates and subsidies, in addition to expressing caution based on the need for expensive "deep tech" to reach the industry's lofty goals. For a more in-depth understanding, watch the “How Sustainability & Profitability Collide in The Built World” recording here!

Despite the panel above’s optimism, and the recent climate tech boom in regard to overall funding, there are signs that the road forward may not be without its obstacles. In recent months, many organizations have been finding ways out of their climate pledges or altering goals/target dates. Of course, the reason for pulling back previous commitments will vary, whether it be financial or competitive pressures, leadership priorities shifting, client influence, some combination of these, or otherwise. Regardless of their reasoning, reeling back commitments depicts a rather clear moral dilemma between acting in the best interest of the environment and the bottom line.

This is not a universal shift, though. Walmart, the world's largest company by revenue, is doubling down on its promise. An interview with MIT Sloan School of Management highlighted that “the company is targeting zero emissions across its global operations by 2040 and has committed to help protect, manage, or restore 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030.” In this instance, sustainability initiatives are a conscious and continuous effort from the top down. Often, these types of initiatives, when performed correctly, can positively impact overall business function and efficiency, but identifying and implementing the right technology for the job becomes increasingly important.

Moving forward, BuiltWorlds will continue to track and report on emerging climate tech and other related technologies, enabling AECO companies to make informed decisions regarding technology solutions. Hopefully, these conversations will deter industries from following big oil, who have committed to “decrease oil and gas production and slash their emissions,” but are finding ways to work themselves out of climate pledges.

For further coverage of how sustainability technology is impacting the industry, BuiltWorlds’ Analysts Team is offering three different research tracks. The Building Tech Track includes coverage of advanced materials, tools for planning more sustainable buildings, and sustainability in building operations. Construction tech looks at the net zero job site, while the Infrastructure Track, launching in 2024, will look at advanced materials, tools for planning more sustainable infrastructure, and sustainability technology for infrastructure maintenance and operations. Click here for more information.