Building a greener future: Sustainability across industries

April 29, 2024

Over the past few years, environmental sustainability has risen to the top of the global priority list. Despite macroeconomic headwinds including supply chain disruptions, a global talent shortage, economic uncertainty, and geopolitical instability, climate change is still ranked as a “top three issue” by C-suite executives across industries.

While there is a wide range of sustainability performance within industries, many companies and sectors are moving the needle toward Net Zero in new and exciting ways. 

At CIM, we understand the importance of learning from diverse industries to inspire and refine our own sustainability strategies. This post will explore some of the most impressive sustainability strategies currently being executed across various sectors, including key insights and innovations that we can all draw from. We delce into retail, agriculture, hospitality and financial services.


Driven by the circular economy model, the retail industry is redefining product life cycles to emphasise recycling, reuse, and repair. This model is helping to dramatically reduce waste and transform consumer behaviour by changing the ways in which products are consumed and thrown away.

Sustainable supply chains are another path to offsetting carbon emissions in retail. According to Deloitte, the retail supply chain currently contributes to 25% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Processes like enhancing product traceability and minimising waste are becoming more prevalent, thanks in part to technological developments such as blockchain and AI. The estimated potential value of AI to design out food waste alone using a circular model is up to $127 billion per year by 2030. 

The resale market is also flourishing, driven by consumer demand for sustainable buying methods. Even retail giants like Amazon and Walmart are integrating resale into their business models, allowing them to reduce carbon emissions through lower production while also boosting profits.


As the world’s largest industry, agriculture is perhaps one of the most innovative sectors in the sustainability space. Agriculture employs more than one billion people worldwide, while pasture and cropland make up roughly half of habitable land. Currently, over 70% of food-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the agriculture industry.

But new technology is helping small growers and big companies alike to shift that trend. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors now provide farmers with real-time data on crop conditions, including moisture levels, nutrient requirements, and the impact of weather events, allowing farmers to optimise resources and reduce waste.

As urban areas expand, vertical farming presents another sustainable solution that reduces land use, water consumption, and chemical inputs such as fertilisers. Vertical farming involves growing crops in stacked layers within a controlled environment, maximising space and reducing water usage up to 98% by recycling water through the system. Vertical farms also eliminate the need for pesticides and reduce carbon emissions from transportation by helping scale local food production.

Sustainable land management practices represent another opportunity within agriculture. Major initiatives like the Truterra carbon programme reward growers for adopting practices that improve soil health and reduce GHG emissions. Such practices include nutrient management, using cover crops, and reduced tillage, all of which help sequester carbon and shrink a farm’s environmental footprint. 


Hoteliers around the globe are setting ambitious carbon reduction targets in response to concerns from businesses and consumers about reducing Scope 3 emissions. The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance has warned that the sector must drastically reduce per-room emissions by at least 66% by 2030 as compared to 2010 levels.

Renewable energy sources are one route to Net Zero that many hospitality providers are exploring. Chalet Hotels in India became the first hospitality company to join Climate Group’s initiatives to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2031. Anticipated savings in grid power will provide electricity to around 17 rural Indian villages for a year.

Beyond renewable energy, the industry is also tackling food and packaging waste, which contributes to environmental degradation. Marriott International has shifted from single-use toiletry bottles to larger, pump-topped bottles to reduce plastic waste, while MGM Resorts has diverted over 263,000 tons of food waste from landfills, repurposing it into animal feed and biofuel.

The operational changes hotels are making will look familiar to REITs and property managers, with optimised energy consumption and temperature control from smarter building systems management. Many are also transitioning to LED lighting and high-efficiency water fixtures to conserve resources.

Financial services

The financial services sector is also doing its part to help drive sustainability trends. New regulatory frameworks like the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) mandate comprehensive environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting for large companies and financial institutions within the EU. CSRD and similar regulations aim to enhance transparency for investors who want to evaluate the sustainability impacts of their investments.

Financial institutions have also integrated sustainability into their core operations. Numerous “green” financial products have emerged on global markets, including sustainability-linked loans and green bonds, used to support sustainable initiatives such as clean transportation and renewable energy.

Incentive-based programmes are also on the rise. International grocery chain Tesco partnered with Santander Bank to become the first UK retailer to offer sustainability-linked supply chain finance incentives. Tesco offers preferential payment conditions to suppliers willing to disclose their carbon data and set targets, granting better benefits based on tiered sustainability performance. The top tier requires suppliers to submit accurate carbon data, set reduction targets, and track those reductions annually. Some of Tesco’s largest suppliers have saved as much as €2-3 million a year under this programme, which has also encouraged smaller suppliers to join the race to Net Zero.


These and other industries—commercial real estate among them—have done more than adopt superficial changes in the name of sustainability. Driven by regulatory pressures, consumer behaviour, and a global recognition of our shared environmental responsibility, many industries are deeply embedding sustainability into their business models and operational strategies. 

Sustainability is a core component of CIM’s mission. Watch a demo to learn how we help our customers along the path to Net Zero.

Antonious Mickaeal
April 29, 2024