The Performance of Sustainability Information

Information is a form of power, as it can encourage people to do things they would not otherwise do.  Sustainability information can encourage companies to improve their environmental practices, consumers to buy more “sustainable” products, government agencies to protect the environment more effectively, and advocacy organizations to reward and penalize the best and worst actors in a sector.

The extent to which these goals are actually accomplished and tangible benefits are produced from the provision of particular forms of sustainability information depends on many factors, not least of which is the information’s validity.  Information that accurately measures the sustainability performance of products, companies, and other entities is more likely to produce positive environmental and social outcomes.  A major component of the research at SIL is focused on the “performance of sustainability information,” both in terms of its methodological validity and the outcomes it catalyzes.

Click on the links below to learn more about our projects that are related to this area of research:

  • Making the Grade: This paper examines the comprehensiveness of higher education sustainability ratings.
  • The Ecology of Electronics Eco-Labels: Using concepts from community ecology and evolutionary biology, this project explores the relationships between eco-labels and ratings in the electronics sector.
  • Responsible Consumers Club: This initiative is piloting innovative ways to help consumers find products that best match their values.
  • Tracking Outcomes: This project is investigating the “outcome transparency” of eco-labels and ratings — what types of environmental and social benefits are these programs claiming to create?