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Center for Sustainable Business | Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI™)

CSB Research

Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI™) Methodology

ROSI is used by corporate leaders and investors to bridge the gap between sustainability strategies and financial performance.

Proving Sustainable Business is Good Business

Sustainability drives business and societal success, yet the challenge most businesses face is proving the monetary impact of their sustainability efforts as they seek to address environmental, social, and governance (ESG) related issues.

CSB has developed our Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI) methodology to bridge the gap between sustainability strategies and financial performance, helping to build a better business case for both current and planned sustainability initiatives.

ROSI for Corporate Management and Investors

For corporate management, ROSI drives better-performing business - socially, environmentally, and financially - by embedding sustainability into core business strategy, decision-making, and accounting and quantifying the full range of costs and benefits, including intangibles.

For investors, ROSI improves decision-making, valuation, and communications - by better understanding ESG data, assessing where relative value exists in corporate strategies and investments, and better integrating, measuring, and reporting on financial performance driven by ESG strategies.


Futuristic squares with blue spotlights

ROSI™ Research Database

CSB aims to provide practitioners and academics with research, insights, and thought leadership on the relationship between sustainability/ESG and financial performance.
In the course of our research, we have examined more than 1,000 articles on the direct relationship between sustainability (or ESG) and financial performance.

ROSI™ Industry Frameworks


Healthcare Delivery Systems Decarbonization Framework

Leveraging the Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI™) methodology developed by NYU Stern CSB, the Healthcare Delivery Systems Decarbonization Framework identifies 8 decarbonization strategies that healthcare delivery systems understand which decarbonization options fit with their budget and decarbonization journey and how to calculate the value associated with each practice and make the internal business case for decarbonization to secure resources.

Field of wheat

Food & Agriculture Sustainable Strategies Framework

The Food and Agriculture Sustainable Strategies Framework was designed applying the ROSI methodology in three HSBC-funded projects with Anheuser-Busch, Hero Group, and Ingredion as well as various independently-funded corporate engagements. The framework identifies 12 strategies across the value chain, as well as practices and monetization models to address critical environmental and social challenges, build more resilient organizations, and drive financial value. 

Apparel Industry Sustainable Strategies Framework

With support from HSBC Bank USA, NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business partnered with a set of apparel companies on the ROSI methodology to estimate the value of tangible and intangible benefits that apparel companies can accrue by making strategic investments in more sustainable business practices. We engaged companies including EILEEN FISHER, Reformation, and REI in the project, and conducted both primary and secondary research leveraging industry experts, company contacts, and academic literature to inform our framework.

Resources for Understanding and Implementing ROSI

CSB offers extensive resources on ROSI for current and future business leaders to better understand how sustainability drives financial performance, including:

> An in-depth step-by-step overview of the ROSI process
> Original research publications in top tier academic and corporate journals
> Case studies on implementing ROSI in industries such as automotive, utilities, and agriculture
> Excel tools for testing ROSI focused on risk, talent, and operational efficiency
> A free online course module on building the case for sustainability

Collaborate with CSB on a ROSI Research Project

CSB partners with companies to deploy ROSI and unlock financial value within organizations. During the ROSI collaboration process, we will:
> Identify strategies and key practices to explore
> Conduct research and interviews to determine benefits and construct monetization frameworks
> Analyze company data and perform monetization analyses and investigations
> Deliver key project findings that can be leveraged in core business strategy moving forward
> Educate and train senior leadership on applying ROSI internally throughout the firm

Reports and Papers

How to Talk to Your CFO About Sustainability – January 2021

By now most companies have committed to sustainability efforts—and yet many CFOs still see those efforts as a cost rather than a source of value. That makes it hard to unlock the internal financing needed to scale them up. In this article, the director and a senior scholar at the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business demonstrate how the Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI) analytic tool can help CFOs measure the financial returns on their sustainability activities. 

Complementary Solutions for Holistic Impact Valuation: Return on Sustainable Investment (ROSI™) and Impact-Weighted Accounting (IWA) – October 2021

This article describes how CSB's Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI) framework and  Harvard Business School's Impact-Weighted Accounting (IWA) can be used together to provide managers with a comprehensive assessment of financial, social, and environmental impact using the common language of currency.

Building the Financial Case for ROSI™

At the 2020 CSB Practice Forum, Director Tensie Whelan presents how companies are using ROSI™ to identify, track, and monetize sustainability returns driven by innovation, operational efficiency, employee engagement, brand enhancement, and risk mitigation.


CSB has collaborated with over 20 corporate and research partners to date on building and implementing ROSI. To learn more about bringing ROSI to your organization, reach out to
ALO Advisors
Aston Martin
Capital Power
Cargill Event
Rich's Food