In the past decade, more and more companies have shared their sustainability initiatives to reduce water, fuel, electricity and waste and minimize their greenhouse gas emissions.

However, according to a study of five Australian companies involving more than 70 managers, some companies go through three stages of sustainability, with the last stage, dialing back their initiatives.

Here are the three sustainability stages some companies travel through:

Framing. This is when senior management believes strongly in adopting corporate sustainability initiatives.

Localizing. This is when the initiatives are actually put into place.

Normalizing. This is when the sustainability program is placed on the back burner.

“There are many reasons why ‘normalizing’ happens,” says Stephen Ashkin, president of the Ashkin Group, the Los Angeles-based provider of the study. “One of the most common is when there is a change of leadership at the top.”

Other reasons may include the following:

•   The company is experiencing financial difficulties.

•   The company is prioritizing other initiatives not related to sustainability.

•   The firm has not been able to accomplish its sustainability goals or enjoyed the cost savings they expected.

“Sometimes companies do not realize how well they are doing because they do not have benchmarks or do not have an effective way to measure their accomplishments,” says Ashkin. “Companies must have key performance indicators (KPIs). When they see their KPI progress and the cost savings that result, invariably they put even more sustainability initiatives into place.”