From large corporations to smaller businesses, companies of all sizes are producing sustainability reports because today’s consumers are beginning to demand this type of information. However, one company’s sustainability report might look completely different from another's, which makes it difficult for consumers to decipher the data. This is where Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) steps in. GRI’s helps companies provide this information with consistency. Last week, GRI opened a New York office and launched the Focal Point USA initiative.

GRI’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report framework is used by companies around the world to provide comprehensive data about energy use, social responsibility issues, greenhouse gas emissions and more in a consistent manner. Although 80 percent of the Global Fortune 250 produce an ESG report, only 30 percent of the Forbes Global 2000 do so. GRI would like to see this number increase dramatically, to the point that ESG reporting is commonplace, on a global level, by 2015.

GRI chief executive Ernst Ligteringen said, “We believe the new Focal Point will help drive an increase in the number of U.S. organizations that produce, and therefore reap the benefits of, ESG reports. Also, by working more closely with U.S. companies and organizations, we will be able to learn from their expertise and opinions, which will assist in the continuous process of refining our reporting framework for the benefit of organizations worldwide.”

The New York office just opened but GRI has been working with U.S. companies for the past year to help merge ESG data into a company’s financial reporting. As the go green movement continues to grow, more companies are seeing the importance of reporting on triple bottom line issues – people, planet and profit. GRI and other organizations are working on making the integration of environmental data and financial data a more seamless process.

GRI’s Focal Point USA is made possible thanks to donations by the nation’s Big Four accounting firms, Deloitte, Ernst & Young LLP, KPMG and PwC U.S for the first two years of the U.S. program. Additionally, the Conference Board, a 501(c)(3) independent business membership and research association, will host GRI on a pro-bono basis for the same two year time period.

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