Can B Corp Certification Help You Raise Capital?

Ryan Honeyman | Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is the eighth in a weekly series of excerpts from the upcoming book “The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good”(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 13, 2014). Click here to read the rest of the series.

InvestorsBy Ryan Honeyman

Ahh–the perennial debate: will becoming a Certified B Corp help or hurt my ability to raise capital?

Like most things in life, it’s not a 100% black or white answer. It depends on where (and from whom) you are trying to raise capital. In my opinion, however, it is starting to look pretty good for B Corps (just ask CircleUp, which recently partnered with Collaborative Fund to invest $4 million exclusively in Certified B Corporations).

While researching and writing “The B Corp Handbook,” I found that B Corp certification can help you attract: mission-driven or impact investors who consider social, environmental and financial criteria in their investment decisions; mainstream investors who are primarily interested in strong financial returns; and larger companies interested in acquiring a cutting-edge and innovative brand.

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CDP Connects Climate Action and Financial Results

RP Siegel | Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

586px-New_York_Stock_Exchange_EntranceLike it or not, most decisions today are based on economics. It’s the way our system is put together and it has been, in many ways, successful in generating innovation and prosperity, for many if not for all. That fact is not one that is likely to change easily, though the system’s shortfalls are beginning to show up like cracks in a once impenetrable façade. Prominent questions that arise, for anyone when pondering a choice, whether it’s an individual or a large company, tend to fall along the lines of:

  • Can I afford it?
  • Is it a good investment?
  • Will taking this action lead to more prosperity?

When we talk about large-scale change, we can talk about two kinds of change — one that works within this paradigm, or one that challenges it. I’m not here today to argue the respective benefits of each, but instead to acknowledge the fact that working within the system, if possible, has distinct advantages, given the deep interdependencies between the financial world and the world at large.

So, within this context, looking at an issue like climate change and the large-scale actions required to adequately address it, the question of whether these actions can have an economic upside is critical. If we had to rely strictly on a sense of civic duty and social responsibility, that would surely be a harder road.

With that in mind, the CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report 2014, from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is good news.

CDP was engaged by a group of 767 major investors representing an enormous amount of money, some $92 trillion, to assess all the companies in the S&P 500 Index based on two things:

  • Their level of disclosure regarding carbon emissions
  • Their performance in responding to the need for action.

If you think that’s a lot of money, you’re right. In fact, if there is no double-counting here, $92 trillion represents over 38 percent of all the money in the world. So if the group of people and institutions representing 38 percent of the world’s wealth want to know, as investors, what the companies in the S&P 500 are doing about climate change, that ought to give some people pause as to how truly important this is.

So what did they find out? After looking at these metrics and correlating them with the financial metrics of the companies that participated, CDP made the following statement.

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Sierra Club Takes Coal Fight to Supreme Court

| Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Dunkirk1 The Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign recently scored a big victory in Indiana. The Indiana chapter of Beyond Coal was a central player in putting together the coalition of grassroots groups that managed to prod Indiana Power & Light to stop burning coal at its Harding Street power plant — the only coal-fired power plant remaining within the limits of a major Midwestern city. The campaign isn’t stopping there.

On Sept. 26, the Sierra Club announced it was joining with Ratepayer and Community Intervenors to file a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court that challenges a Public Service Commission ruling that would levy a $140 million subsidy on state residents’ electricity bills to upgrade and expand the Dunkirk coal-fired power plant in Chautauqua County. The plaintiffs are being represented by Earthjustice.

Deeming it a “bailout” at ratepayers’ expense, the upgrade and expansion plan “would result in a plant three times larger than necessary to maintain reliable operation of the region’s power grid,” Sierra states in a news release. Moreover, at a time when the EPA is readying President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the plant – though it would be able to burn both coal and natural gas – would add greenhouse gases and air pollution in the region, contributing to climate change, the environmental NGO highlights.

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McKinsey Touts Bioenergy as Coal Replacement

Bill DiBenedetto | Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Bioenergy_510x175While coal goes kicking and screaming into a dark and pollution-filled goodnight, it is becoming more evident and economically plausible that biomass energy, or bioenergy —energy derived from organic matter —can replace it.

McKinsey & Co., a global management consulting firm, makes this point in a recent article — “Can bioenergy replace coal?” — that examines the situation in Europe.

The article notes that like all renewable energy options in the European Union, “bioenergy has struggled against low-priced coal imports, low carbon dioxide prices in the emissions-trading system, and an economic and regulatory backlash against renewable-energy policies, including substantial cuts in government support.” But McKinsey writers Marco Albani, Nicolas Denis and Anna Granskog assert that biomass-based energy should not be counted out just yet. “Although today it fails to compete on cost with other renewables such as wind and solar, we believe bioenergy not only has the potential to significantly improve but could even become cost competitive with coal.”

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Revitalizing Rural Communities: How One Small Town Gained a Huge Economic Boost

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Russell Currier of Stockholm is cheered on by a large crowd Sunday during the men's pursuit competition at the Biathlon Junior World Championships at the Nordic Heritage Ski Center in Presque Isle.

Russell Currier of Stockholm is cheered on by a large crowd on Sunday during the Biathlon Junior World Championships at the Nordic Heritage Ski Center in Presque Isle.

By Leah B. Thibault

Adam Cyr’s story began in a fashion typical of his generation in rural America. Before leaving for college, Adam planned to join the family business in northern Maine after graduation. Following college, however, he landed a management position at a nationally branded hotel downstate, in the city of Portland. That opportunity for reliable employment led Adam to leave his rural roots and pursue a promising career in hospitality, an option not available back home. He joined the ranks of thousands of young Americans who are leaving their rural homes in pursuit of job security and diverse opportunities in cities, in a movement referred to as ‘outmigration.’

Adam grew up near Presque Isle, a town of less than 9,700 in northern Aroostook County, where agriculture and forestry are the primary industries. The region lacks the economic diversity to weather a mill closing or bad crop – when jobs go, there is no other industry or enterprise to pick up the slack in its shallow economy. For this reason, Presque Isle has experienced a high outmigration rate for years. In fact, Aroostook County has lost more than 10 percent of its population over the last two decades. Maine’s northern region is not alone: The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, nationwide, rural counties as a whole lost population between 2010 and 2012.

Yet rural communities, which are home to only 20 percent of our country’s population but comprise 75 percent of the country’s land mass, support a wealth of extremely valuable resources. Rural America provides nearly all of the clean water to urban centers, provides the majority of domestic energy production and is the primary source of food production.

Investing in rural economies is vital to sustaining these resources, but finding the means to do so can prove challenging, as there are low levels of available and affordable bank and investment capital to support business growth in these often remote areas.

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Work Exchange Brings New Meaning to ‘Made in China’

3p Contributor | Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters employees learn how Keurig brewers are made while touring a manufacturing facility in

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters employees learn how Keurig brewers are made while touring a manufacturing facility in Shenzhen, China.

By Lise Cloutier

There are few experiences in life that take you out of your comfort zone, force you to think differently about the world and actually have the potential to impact the work you do every day. Recently, I had one of those experiences.

I have been with Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. (Keurig) for nine years. I am responsible for quality control in the company’s hometown of Waterbury, Vermont, where I ensure that our brewers and beverage packs are ready to be distributed to our foodservice customers. I also capture data about the lifecycle of our coffee, such as when it was roasted, where it’s headed and what time it left our facility. I know what it takes to get our products into our customers’ hands and deliver a high-quality product. Turns out – for the past nine years, I’ve only known the half of it.

Earlier this year, Keurig sent me and eight of my colleagues on a week-long trip with stops in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, where we visited our co-manufacturers – meeting supply chain partners and touring their facilities. The purpose of this trip was to give us a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into building our brewers, from design and assembly to the finished product that ends up on kitchen counters. Few companies invest in truly hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for their employees, and in addition, it is very rare to get a window into manufacturing operations – especially in Asia.

Keurig knows a thing or two about source trips: The company has been sponsoring employee trips to coffee farms since the early 1990s – giving employees a chance to learn about coffee production while meeting our coffee suppliers and their families. This year, the company decided to expand its employee experience, sending nearly 70 employees to coffee farms in Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru and other coffee-growing countries, as well as the trip I took to Asia-Pacific – a very first for the company.

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Budapest: Europe’s Little Known Cycling City

Sarah Lozanova | Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

budapest bikerAfter spending some time in Eastern Europe, I was pleasantly surprised by the social acceptance and visionary advocacy of the bicycle in Budapest, Hungary. It is common to see businessmen, tourists and trendy 20-somethings zooming around the city on two wheels. Budapest is a leading emerging bicycle city, and it seems to have found the winning formula.

Bicycle infrastructure

With 5,072 bike routes around the city, including some dedicated lanes across intersections, the city is impressive. Considering most of the city streets were designed without even the automobile in mind, much less the bicycle, this seems like a feat.

Trains have bike racks, encouraging bike travel, and numerous bikers can be seen traversing the train station. Bike maps are available at some metro stations and to make biking and skateboarding super fun, there are park ramps set-up around the city.

Bike sharing

BuBi is a bike sharing network with 1,100 bicycles at 75 docking stations throughout the city. Riders can borrow and return bikes at these solar-powered terminals, and the first 30-minutes are free. Bikers either pay a registration fee, or pay a deposit that is returned with the bike.

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Mars is On Track to Meet Its Sustainable Palm Oil Sourcing Commitments

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday September 30th, 2014 | 0 Comments

palmoilMars, Inc. launched a new palm oil policy six months ago and recently released an update on its progress. The food manufacturer best known for its chocolate committed to developing a palm oil supply chain that is both sustainable and traceable by the end of this year. The company requires palm oil to be traced back to known mills and for its suppliers to confirm they will comply with its sourcing charter by the end of 2015. It is currently on track to meet its commitment to achieve 100 percent traceability of its palm oil supplies by the end of this year.

Mars is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) . By the end of 2013, it purchased all of its palm oil from RSPO-certified sources through the “mass balance” program. Mass balance requires processors to purchase palm oil from certified sources, but allows them to mix it with conventional palm oil. As a result, some of the palm oil in its supply chain is from non-certified sources. Tracing palm oil back to known mills allows the company to assess the environmental and social practices of the plantations and farms the mills source from and see that improvements are made.

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Two Years After Sandy: NYC Plans for Transportation Resiliency

Alexis Petru
| Monday September 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a short series on creating resilient cities, sponsored by Siemens. Please join us for a live Google Hangout with Siemens and Arup on October 1, where we’ll talk about this issue live! RSVP here.

New York City Transit employees pump water out of the subway tunnels, after flooding from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

New York City Transit employees pump water out of the subway tunnels after flooding from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

When Superstorm Sandy swept through New York City on Oct. 29, 2012, the storm completely upended one of the busiest transportation networks in the country — flooding and cutting off power to streets, tunnels, subway stations and airports. Even after the flood waters receded, it took city workers up to two weeks after the storm hit to get almost all of the Big Apple’s transit network up and running again – although some services, including portions of the subway system, are still out of commission to this day.

According to the city’s estimates, Superstorm Sandy resulted in a whopping $8 million of physical damage to the region’s transportation infrastructure and affected nearly 8.5 million public transit riders, 4.2 million drivers and 1 million air travelers.

But nearly two years after Sandy, New York City has not only worked to repair and restore its transportation infrastructure from the storm’s damage, but is also taking steps to improve the resiliency of its transit network. The city outlined its plan to better prepare for future natural disasters – including the effects of climate change – in its report, A Stronger, More Resilient New York, released in June 2013.

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New Metrics 2014: 3 Ways Companies Bridge Consumer Environmental Concern and Action

Sarah Lozanova | Monday September 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

New MetricsAccording to the 2014 Greendex Study, 61 percent of consumers say they are ‘very concerned’ about environmental problems. Unfortunately, this concern isn’t translating into concrete actions and behaviors, according to the study that spans six years, 18 countries and 18,000 respondents. One of the million dollar questions raised at the New Metrics 2014 conference last week in Boston is how to bridge the gap between environmental concerns and action. Numerous speakers touched on this topic and some of the themes that emerged were:

1. Make progress effortless for consumers

Jenny Rushmore, director for responsible travel at TripAdvisor, spoke about implementing a green rating system for GreenLeaders. Hotels that meet certain criteria qualify for a gold, silver or bronze rating, and consumers are asked to rate hotels based on their green impressions. Predictably, green initiatives that are most interactive are more noticed by consumers. For example, recycling bins in guest bedrooms got more feedback than a hotel restaurant composting behind the scenes.

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General Electric Powers Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge

| Monday September 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Africa Off-Grid Energy ChallengeIt’s barely 18 months old, but President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative is already in position to help propel African nations into a renewable energy future. In the latest development, Power Africa has announced 22 renewable energy innovators who have received grants of up to $100,000 each under the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge. The grants are partly funded by General Electric.

If you take a peek behind the curtain, though, you’ll see that natural gas also plays a featured role in the broader Power Africa initiative. That doevetails with GE’s involvement, since aside from funding renewable energy projects the company has also begun to market a fossil-powered, transportable generating unit in Africa under its Ecomagination energy innovation program.

So, does this mean GE is competing with itself, or are there other factors at play in the Africa off-grid energy market?

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9 CSR Lessons from Clinton Global Initiative Members

3p Conferences
| Monday September 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

CGI logoBy Cindy Mehallow

What makes the efforts of Clinton Global Initiative (GCI) members so successful? CGI members include foundations, corporations and NGOs that have made tangible progress in tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems. From 2005 through 2013, CGI community members have made 2,872 Commitments to Action that have affected the lives of 430 million people across 180 countries. Their efforts have helped rebuild Haiti, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fight food insecurity, and promote education and economic opportunity for women and girls — to name a few of their initiatives.

So, how do they achieve these results? Listening to presenters during the recent CGI annual meeting in New York, I paid more attention to how they drove change than to what they accomplished.

As the meeting progressed, several themes began to emerge. Many of the ideas and principles described by presenters echoed success factors I’ve observed firsthand through my work with sustainability reporting clients and my pro-bono work on the municipal level. Even though I’d heard much of this advice before, it was a valuable reminder of some essential principles.

Here is a distillation of their wisdom for assessing your own corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability efforts.

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Zagster Aims a For a New Bike Sharing Model in Cleveland

Leon Kaye | Monday September 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments
Zagster, bike sharing, bicycling, Cleveland, bicycle sharing, public transportation, Ohio City, Leon Kaye

Bike Share for the city of Cleveland is entirely privately-funded and operated.

It did not attract as much attention as the bicycle sharing programs in Washington, D.C. and New York City, but earlier this month Zagster and several partners launched a program Cleveland, Ohio.

Part of the reason for the lack of coverage is that this pilot program is only in one part of the city. Meanwhile D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare had scored much attention for its extensiveness, while CitiBank’s big check to sponsor New York’s raised many eyebrows in the Big Apple. With the constant handwringing over whether bikesharing can survive in the long run, is Cleveland taking a risk — especially considering the cold temperatures several months out of the year?

But for Zagster, Cleveland offered an opportunity to complement the company’s success on corporate and academic campuses. Already boasting of clients including DTE Energy, GM, Quicken Loans and most recently, Duke University, this Cambridge-based company is bullish on the future of bike sharing — with a few caveats.

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Hershey Sweetens Up Its Palm Oil Sourcing Policy

Lauren Zanolli
| Monday September 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

hershey's chocolate barThe Hershey Co. last week announced updates to its palm oil sourcing policy that provide more specific standards for growers to meet under its 2013 commitment to 100 percent sustainable and traceable palm oil. The updates fall largely in line with existing industry standards on sustainable growing practices but, with the help of a nonprofit supply chain consultant, denote an increased focus on traceability — a growing trend across the consumer products industry.

The new supplier standards include clarifications on previous commitments to avoid environmentally impactful growing practices like deforestation and peat farming. They also help to define best practices through international labor and human rights standards from the United Nations and the International Labor Organization. Hershey’s updated standards match existing standards for responsible farming from the industry’s leading certification group, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which Hershey joined in 2011.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania-based company said it had met its goal of buying 100 percent “mass balance” RSPO certified palm oil — a mixture of sustainable-certified and conventional palm oils — a year ahead of its stated 2015 goal. Last year, the confectionery company announced it would commit to buying only fully traceable palm oil by the end of 2014.

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Caesars Entertainment’s Environmental Stewardship Sparkles

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday September 29th, 2014 | 0 Comments

149539626_b11347df12_zCaesars Entertainment touts its commitment to environmental stewardship, but the company’s latest Corporate Citizenship Report demonstrates that it is more than just a mere boast.

The company achieved a 12.6 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2013, surpassing its goal of a 10 percent reduction. Caesars surpassed other goals including its goal for water reduction. The hotel chain reduced water use by 18 percent per air conditioned 1,000 square feet in 2013. The goal was to reduce water use by 10 percent by 2015 and 15 percent by 2020.

Environmental stewardship is a long-term strategy Caesars developed about six years ago, Gwen Migita, vice president of corporate citizenship and sustainability, told me. The company is currently in the next stage of its five-year strategy. “Environmental stewardship was a long-term strategy we really developed about six years ago,” Migita said. “From the top down, our CEO has made a commitment to sponsor and support our sustainability strategy.”

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