A Case Study of BC Hydro’s Approach to Sustainable Decision-Making
This is a case study of BC Hydro’s approach to sustainable decision-making. It reviews the evolution of sustainable decision-making at BC Hydro and describes how BC Hydro is embedding sustainability into business decisions. BC Hydro believes that better business decisions result by looking at social, environmental and economic sustainability together and understanding that what happens in one area has effects on others.
Like other organizations, BC Hydro faces a number of challenges in its sustainability embedment efforts. These challenges include:
- multiple objectives
- multiple stakeholders with different values and priorities
- overlapping regulatory oversight
- risks and uncertainty of impacts
This sustainable decision-making case study tells the story of how BC Hydro’s quest for sustainability decision-making methodology resulted in the adoption of a structured decision-making approach in business case development, project design and day-to-day decisions at the power utility. Structured decision-making is a method for creating a clear and concise summary of a problem and the possible solutions to it so that one can clearly see the consequences of each choice and guide a decision process towards better outcomes.
The framework helps to define the problem under consideration, determine who needs to be involved in the process of developing alternatives (which also helps create a shared understanding of how people with different interests and perspectives view different options), and compare the trade-offs created by each alternative solution to the problem.
The main steps to this process can be summarized as: describing the Problem, stating the Objectives and how they are measured, creating Alternatives, their Consequences and analyzing the Tradeoffs. This framework generates the acronym PrOACT, a reminder to be “proactive” about following these steps in sustainable decision-making.