In late 2009, Regenerative Ventures Inc. developed a tool we call the “Regenerative Balance Sheet” (RBS) for analyzing, comparing and selecting prospective members of the RegenNetwork. The RBS considers 254 indicators of performance to evaluate a company’s environmental and social performance. (The third leg of the “Triple Bottom Line,” fiscal performance and health, is a fundamental prerequisite.) The RBS assesses all aspects of company performance, not just the attributes specific to a range of ‘green’ products.

The Network uses the RBS to identify leaders, best practices, low hanging fruit, and deeper opportunities. It has proven very effective at differentiating performance between companies. It can also be a valuable tool for identifying potential improvements in a company’s environmental performance, and then planning, managing, and tracking actions to achieve those improvements.

Since sustainability is an absolute concept, not a relative one, the RBS assesses performance in absolute terms; the principle is “benchmark against perfection.” Initial scores are developed from publicly available information only; for this reason, the RBS doesn’t work well for privately held companies that do not report their performance. However, once a company is a member we can work with together to make its results more accurate. RBS scores are kept confidential, even between Network members.

By December 2010, Regenerative Ventures had used the RBS to benchmark 80 companies. While typically we no longer do a full RBS on candidates for Network membership, the basic structure and the things we learned from doing 80 RBSs informs our appraisals of all potential members.