Many organizations are rethinking their processes because of external pressure to meet new sustainability and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals. Basically, sustainability means working in ways that don’t deplete environmental resources while ESG means supporting both environmental and specific social goals, often directly tied to diversity, equality, and inclusion. 

 These trends can have direct impacts on maintenance managers, affecting everything from how you align departmental programs with larger organizational goals to where you source parts and materials. 

First, it’s important to have a good working knowledge of the key terms and concepts. From there, you can see how they fit into or radically change existing programs. 

What is corporate sustainability? 

Traditionally, corporations had one key performance indicator: maximizing value for shareholders. It’s a results-driven way of seeing the world, where the focus is more on the “how much” than the “how.” On the most basic level, corporations are all about making money, and everything they do ties back to that goal.

The benefit of being such a single-minded machine is that it can be relatively easy for investors to know where to put their money. Does this corporation currently maximize value for shareholders or have a good chance of doing so in the future? Good, let’s invest. 

But recently there’s been a shift, and many investors are now looking beyond the immediate or near-future bottom line. So, now the question isn’t just about maximizing value; it’s about maximizing value in ways that encourage long-term, sustainable growth. 

Here are some simple examples: If a company produces paper for a profit, investors want to know about company-led programs to plant more trees. It’s great that the company can mill paper now, but what about in 20 years? Investors also want to know about working conditions up and down the supply chains.

Happy workers likely tend to stay longer and work harder, ensuring future stability and therefore success. Many investors are also looking for programs that focus on diversity and inclusion.

On top of any moral or ethical considerations, it makes good business sense to expand your potential talent pools, ensuring you have access to the best overall candidates. If you only hire from one small demographic, you lower your chances of finding the best people. 

What is the difference between sustainability and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG)? 

The difference is specificity. You can think of sustainability as a blanket term while ESG refers to specific focuses and goals. 

So, environmental is about issues related to a corporation’s commitment to the sustainable use of resources and the protection of the environment. 

Social covers the corporation’s commitment to: 

  • Diversity and inclusion 
  • Human rights 
  • Consumer protection 
  • Animal welfare  

And governance is about the management structure, employee relations, and executive compensation. 

How do sustainability and ESG affect maintenance management? 

Although sustainability and ESG initiatives often start at the highest levels, many departments, from the largest to the smallest, may need to first redefine their goals and then re-evaluate and refine their processes. 

What does this look like in practice? 

The maintenance department already has some of the same metrics and KPIs an ESG initiative 

The good news for maintenance managers is that a lot of their metrics and KPIs stay the same. Basically, managers want to get the most out of each asset by extending its useful life.

They want to keep assets up and running for as long as possible using the smallest number of parts and materials. And that’s on some levels the same goals for sustainability, where the focus is on using resources carefully to reduce waste. 

And facility managers who track energy use are already a step ahead when it comes to ESG goals, because a big part of environmental tracking and reporting is connected to energy and emissions. 

But maintenance might have to introduce some new practices, metrics, and KPIs for ESG programs 

That said, the maintenance department might need to re-evaluate some of its current standard operating procedures, looking for places it could do better. 

For example, if technicians are covering large facilities using ICE vehicles, it might make sense to start switching the fleet over to electric. There might be a lubrication that works well on one asset but is only available from a distant distributor. Switching to a locally produced product of equal quality cuts down on the maintenance department’s collective carbon footprint.

If you have rotating inventory that you’re sending out for repairs, it might make sense to invest in the facilities, tools, and training to do the work in-house, saving on transportation. 

What is ESG software? 

Remember, a big part of sustainability and ESG programs is attracting and satisfying investors, which means proving you did the work is as important as doing it. ESG software helps you collect data from multiple sources to accurately track progress on sustainability and ESG standards and frameworks. A good ESG solution streamlines the process of collecting data and calculating results. 

Corporations can protect themselves from accusations of “greenwashing” 

One of the motivations for implementing ESG software is to avoid accusations of greenwashing, where corporations use clever marketing to convince the public their products or services are environmentally friendly. 

In some cases, the corporations really are switching to greener practices, but those investments are much smaller than the amount of money they’re pouring into publicizing them. In others, companies can re-brand cost-cutting measures as programs to protect the planet.

For example, when some hotels put up signs encouraging reusing towels, the claim was that it was good for the environment. But in many cases, it was better for the bottom line. In fact, the term greenwashing was coined in an article about this exact hotel industry practice. 

What are the differences between ESG software and EAM software? 

There are two important differences. One, you would use ESG software to collect and report on data. So, an organization can use ESG software to track and report on: 

  • Energy use 
  • Carbon emissions 
  • Diversity and inclusion initiatives 
  • Community engagement 
  • Charitable giving 

But you use a modern EAM solution to look after asset maintenance and management, including: 

  • Part and materials control 
  • Work order management 
  • Preventive maintenance scheduling 
  • Maintenance metrics and KPIs tracking 

You could then take the data in your EAM and feed it into the ESG software to help you report on sustainability and environmental goals. 

How can EAM software help with sustainable and ESG goals? 

When it comes to sustainability and the E in ESG, the right EAM solution can help a lot. Remember, with EAM, you have complete visibility on asset management, including data on your parts and materials, standard operating procedures, as well as detailed work order histories for all your critical assets and equipment. 

And once you can accurately see your maintenance operations, you can start to see where you can make improvements, from fine-tuning preventive maintenance inspections and tasks to choosing more environmentally friendly MRO inventory. 

But leveraging your maintenance data into better business intelligence is just the first step. You can then easily share your results with other departments, including any ESG software the organization has implemented.   

Next steps 

Ready to see how ManagerPlus makes hitting sustainability and ESG goals easier? Schedule a demo. 


With increasing pressure to meet sustainability and ESG goals, many organizations are rethinking how they do business and moving away from the traditional single metric of maximizing value for shareholders. With sustainability and environmental initiatives, the aim is to have the smallest possible carbon footprint.

With social and governance initiatives, the target is positive impacts on the community, including efforts to have an inclusive and diverse workforce. Although many of these projects start at the very top, maintenance managers can also find themselves needing to re-examine their existing programs and standard operating procedures.

For example, they might consider greener alternatives for everything from their fleets to their MRO inventory. Because so much of sustainability and ESG is related to public perception, many organizations implement ESG software to easily report on their progress.

That’s different than the EAM software the maintenance department uses, which delivers visibility and business intelligence maintenance managers need.  

About the author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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