rfu’s Sustainability Model

The “technological heart” of our activities is the rfu Sustainability Model, which has its origin in the 1990’s. Continual optimization of the methodology, criteria and the research process born by inputs from scientific research projects as well as more than 1000 fold practical use have helped to create one of the most mature tools for external rating of corporate sustainability.

An analyzing and rating model for corporate sustainability is to acquire the ecological, social and economic quality of an object to be analyzed and to make it measurable as precisely as possible. Comprehensive (positive and negative) criteria, which are embedded in a basic sustainability concept, operationalize the complex matter in terms of natural and social sciences and enable rating that is well-founded and traceable and can be used for investment and management decisions profitably (i.e. with positive performance or risk effects).

rfu’s Sustainability Model is made up of two levels of criteria: exclusion criteria as well as stakeholder and product criteria.

Exclusion Criteria

Exclusion criteria include activities, technologies and practices that are incompatible with the principles of sustainability. In the standard method, six groups of exclusionary screens will be used, and these criteria can also be adapted specifically to the customers:

  • Armament
  • Nuclear energy
  • Addictive drugs
  • Gambling
  • Problematic gene technology
  • Other activities and practices with strongly adverse ethical, social or ecological effects (e.g. violations of human rights)

Stakeholder & Product Criteria

The stakeholder and product criteria are based on the stakeholder model, which is supplemented by a value chain analysis of the products or services. The criteria are entered in a matrix with four managerial levels and six stakeholder groups:

  • Principles & strategies
  • Management systems
  • Programmes, activities & results
  • Products & services
  • Employees
  • Society
  • Customers
  • Market partners
  • Investors
  • Environment

Each intersection of the matrix forms a rating field, to which criteria are assigned. On the whole, rfu’s Sustainability Model includes 100 single criteria, which are operationalized by approx. 400 quantitative and qualitative indicators.

Weighting & Aggregation

Weighting of the single rating fields depends on the relevance for the respective company (e.g. due to affiliation to a sector, regional structure or position in the value chain).

The features of the criteria will, over several levels, be aggregated to one overall rating on a scale from C- to A+ or – in case of a restricted amount of data – to an indicative rating from a to c.

Attestation of Performance

rfu’s Sustainability Model has stood the test and established itself on the market for many years:

  • Such index products as VÖNIX impressively show the positive performance effect of rfu’s Sustainability Model.
  • By now our research is incorporated into the investment policies of portfolios with an overall volume of several billions of Euro.
  • Labels and awards (e.g. Austrian Environmental Label) for products on the basis of our concepts demonstrate high credibility and expressiveness.
  • Companies endeavour to be included in our indices and investment universes and use this in their presentation to the outer world.