The UN Global Compact’s guidance on supply chain sustainability, to be unveiled at the Leaders Summit later this month, is the first of a string of standards that will affect companies aiming to lead on energy conservation with suppliers.

Other upcoming initiatives include the ISO 50001 guidance on facility energy management and the GHG Protocol “Scope 3” guidance for managing GHG in supply chains. Closely related policies are also in the works, including the U.S. Supply Star Act of 2010 and a possible carbon tax in China’s 12th Five Year Plan. The Carbon Disclosure Project is also continually raising investors’ expectations for transparency on supplier energy and carbon management with its annually updated Supply Chain initiative and Investor Questionnaire.

Within the next few years, the China Energy and Climate Registry and the UN Clean Development Mechanism are likely to create new protocols for measuring energy and carbon reductions in business settings. And companies already charging ahead like Walmart—with its massive carbon reduction commitment—are creating precedents for others to build upon in the future.

Businesses that want to lead on supplier energy conservation should keep an eye on these standards, and when they can, give input on their development. They should also be aware of where there will still be gaps: For example, there is little consensus in sight about expectations for how companies should communicate about a supplier’s progress on energy-efficiency improvements, how to compare suppliers against each other, and how to cost-effectively verify results—especially in low-infrastructure, high-context places like China.

With all of this in mind, BSR is happy to unveil the Energy Efficiency Partnership (EEP), our newest working group. Eight forerunners on supplier energy management—Gap, H&M, HP, Li & Fung, Levi’s, Nike, Starbucks, and Timberland—and around 65 of their suppliers have signed up for this collaborative effort to share perspectives and connect resources across industries.

Our vision is to move the cutting-edge of supplier energy management forward by navigating and influencing the emerging norms, while also becoming more competitive and opening doors for suppliers. Ultimately, participants will go from coping with a poor standards environment to thriving in one.

Stay tuned to hear what the Energy Efficiency Partnership produces in the coming months—and if you are interested to learn more, contact me at connect@bsr.org.