Environmental Lessons from the Super Bowl: Set Big Goals and Play to Win

We'll hear plenty of amateur quarterbacking about this year’s Super Bowl, but there’s a lesson from the game that applies equally to sports and to business: set an aggressive goal and you’ll accomplish more than you ever thought possible.superbowl 2014

Cutting carbon emissions is no different. In our experience, the most successful companies set stretch goals that they don’t yet know how to achieve. In doing so, they unleash a wave of creativity and innovation within their organizations, and reap far bigger financial and environmental rewards than if they had played it safe.

For example, once GE grasped the enormous opportunity it had to improve energy efficiency in its operations, the company increased its greenhouse gas reduction goal from 1 percent to 2.5 percent annually. Similarly, Sprint's CEO bumped up the firm's initial carbon reduction goal from 12 to 15 percent over ten years, which helped the company find new ways to cut costs and emissions. The company has since increased its ten-year absolute carbon reduction goal to 20 percent.

EDF has worked with a wide range of companies to set and achieve climate and energy goals. With the world’s largest retailer, we are working to eliminate 20 million metric tons of carbon pollution from the company’s supply chain by 2015. And through EDF Climate Corps, we have helped scores of organizations – including Clark Atlanta University, Cummins, Dunkin' Brands, and Syniverse – set meaningful targets for improved energy performance and identify the projects to achieve them.

Big goals are not only good for business in the short term. They are what’s urgently needed – across the economy – to turn the corner toward a stable climate. To help organizations get started, WWF provides a handy Carbon Target and Profit Calculator to determine the potential savings your organization can realize by setting an ambitious 2020 carbon reduction target.

So give it a try. Set a stretch goal and see where it takes you. Grab the ball and run. You might end up with the ultimate win – a healthy bottom line and healthy planet.