3p Contributor: Andrea Newell

Andrea Newell has more than ten years of experience designing, developing and writing ERP e-learning materials for large corporations in several industries. She was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers and a contract consultant for companies like IBM, BP, Marathon Oil, Pfizer, and Steelcase, among others. She is a writer and former editor at TriplePundit. She has contributed to In Good Company (Vault's CSR blog), Evolved Employer, The Glass Hammer, EcoLocalizer and CSRwire. You can reach her at andrea.g.newell@gmail.com and @anewell3p on Twitter.

Recent Articles

Cool Planet’s Biochar Reduces Water Use, Increases Crop Yield

| Monday March 2nd, 2015 | 1 Comment

biocharIn the past several years, Cool Planet has rocketed from inception to the pilot stage to producing commercially available biochar, a product that could have a significant impact on California’s severe drought conditions. Farmers that use Cool Planet’s biochar can use up to 40 percent less water on the same crop surface area and maintain the same yield, or use the same amount of water and harvest a significantly bigger yield.

The enhanced biochar (the commercial name is CoolTerra) is created from biomass, which can include agricultural waste but the preferred source is wood chips, Cool Planet’s Commercial Director, Neil Wahlgren, explains. Living trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere, but when the tree dies, the carbon is released back into the air. Cool Planet’s biochar process uses locally sourced biomass (within 30-50 miles of each plant, reducing transportation) and captures the carbon, keeping it permanently in the soil so it is not released back into the atmosphere. This helps reduce the total amount of greenhouse gases.

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Michigan Municipal Leaders Protest Rate Increase for LED Lights

| Thursday February 26th, 2015 | 4 Comments

LED streetlightEarlier this month, DTE Energy announced a rate hike for LED lights. The decision sparked anger in Michigan city officials involved in municipal streetlight conversions, who would see their financial incentives for energy conservation diminish. At the same time, DTE plans to lower its rates on sodium lighting, which can use up to three times more electricity than LED.

In 2014 Ypsilanti, best known as the home of Eastern Michigan University, converted all 1,100 of its streetlights to LED — making it the first Michigan municipality to do so. City leaders worked with DTE Energy on the project and expected to see substantial annual energy savings. In the first year, the municipality’s DTE energy bill was 29 percent lower, saving $176,000. Now, with DTE’s proposed rate increase, Ypsilanti’s city leaders are seeing their expected savings disappear.

To pay for the streetlight conversion, Ypsilanti required all homeowners to contribute $114 per parcel, a fee that was hard for residents to swallow, but the city was sure would result in future savings. Now, city leaders feel misled by DTE, saying the company never mentioned the rate increase during the conversion project.

“We worked with DTE Energy for more than a year on the switch to LED streetlights and at no point in the discussion did they warn us that LED lights would cost more than old high-pressure sodium lights. If this rate hike happens, we’ll really feel like this was a bait and switch,” Ypsilanti City Council Member Brian Robb told MLive.

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Conscious Design Can Drive Systemic Change in the Fashion Industry

| Tuesday February 3rd, 2015 | 1 Comment

banner-mobile-innovationRead more in this series

Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator (part of the Pratt Institute).

The fashion industry as a whole doesn’t have a great reputation. Consider the culture of overconsumption and the growing tidal wave of low-quality, rock-bottom-priced products. How can it ever become truly sustainable?

Many companies have made strides in water conservation, eco-labels and have even engaged with consumers to talk about consumption. However, there is another avenue that can effect more widespread change: making better choices in the design phase.

To get more information, I spoke with Holly McQuillan, senior lecturer at Ngā Pae Māhutonga – the School of Design, and Debera Johnson and Tara St. James of the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator (BF+DA, part of the Pratt Institute), to discuss challenges in fashion and how change at the design level could impact the industry.

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Battle Climate Change With Sustain:Green’s New MasterCard

| Wednesday January 21st, 2015 | 0 Comments

Green MastercardYesterday, Sustain:Green launched a MasterCard that rewards its users with carbon offsets, giving individuals a way to reduce their carbon footprint and fund the Mata No Peito rainforest preservation project in Brazil.

Numerous studies point to manmade emissions as being one of the biggest factors in global climate change, and on the heels of the hottest year on record, Sustain:Green’s CEO, Arthur Newman, believes that a biodegradable credit card with carbon offset rewards is a welcome solution for customers looking for another way to live more sustainably.

After recycling, reusable grocery bags, and turning down the thermostat, the options most people have to reduce their carbon footprint usually fall into three categories, too difficult, too expensive, or not possible,” Newman said in a press release. “Just by using our card for purchases they would make anyway, consumers can shrink their carbon footprint for free, every day, while also helping to preserve rainforests critical to combatting climate change. We hope they will use the card in conjunction with other carbon reduction lifestyle changes, such as fuel efficient transportation choices.”

For every dollar they spend, Sustain:Green reduces card users’ carbon footprints by two pounds (fine print excludes cash advances and returned merchandise), and by an initial 5,000 pounds upon first use (within 90 days). There is a personal online dashboard where users can track their carbon offset credits and calculate their carbon footprint. The rewards are automatically recorded on the American Carbon Registry and 100 percent of the money spent buying carbon offsets to reduce users’ carbon footprints is allocated to the Mata No Peito project to preserve, protect and reforest Brazilian rainforests.

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Indiana’s First Single Bin, Energy-from-Waste System

| Friday October 3rd, 2014 | 0 Comments

CovantaCovanta is making a $45M investment in a single-bin, recycling system paired with an energy-from-waste facility, the first complete solution of its kind in North America. This might not be news somewhere like San Francisco or Austin, both cities have high recycling rates and are often held up as municipal examples to follow, but Covanta is making this large investment in Indianapolis, in the middle of the Rust Belt, where the current city recycling rate is less than 10 percent.

Covanta operates or has an ownership stake in more than 40 energy-from-waste facilities in North America, Italy and China, but this is the first time it has combined a single stream recycling solution (Covanta Advanced Recycling Center) with its already existing energy-from-waste facility (Covanta Indianapolis Energy-from-Waste Facility) that has been supplying the city of Indianapolis with steam power since 1988.

Covanta’s Director of Communications, James Regan, explained that Covanta is always striving for more advanced ways to dispose of waste that “are a sustainable alternative to landfilling.” In addition to the commonly heard mantra, “reduce, reuse, recycle,” the company adds a fourth R: “recover energy.”

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Founder of Lonely Planet on Heritage Preservation

| Friday August 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment
The entrance to Ciudad Perdida itself can only be reached via a climb of over 1,000 stone steps.

The entrance to Ciudad Perdida itself can only be reached via a climb of over 1,000 stone steps.

In far-flung places around the globe, there are endangered cultural sites in need of preservation, which spurs tourism and economic enrichment in nearby communities. Heritage conservation not only preserves historical record, but it can also open up a previously difficult-to-visit location to travelers and give them a whole new view of the region and its culture.

Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet and board member of Global Heritage Fund, has been to many “dangerous” sites on the planet, whether they are located in regions where there was a history of civil unrest or environmental hazards. But his aim, along with Vince Michael, executive director of Global Heritage Fund, is to encourage travelers (intrepid and armchair) to expand their horizons and explore these areas, many of which are heritage development sites that ultimately benefit local communities with tourism income.

Global tourism is responsible for 8.7 percent of the world’s employment, making it one of the biggest global job creators, according to the 2012 report, The Comparative Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism, by the World Travel & Tourism Council. “At 9.1 percent of global GDP, Travel & Tourism generates more economic output than automotive manufacturing (7.9 percent), mining (8.0 percent) and chemicals manufacturing (9.0 percent).”

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Wells Fargo, Grameen Foundation Partner to Expand International Volunteer Program

| Monday August 11th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Wells FargoOn August 5, Wells Fargo announced that it is partnering with the Grameen Foundation to expand its international volunteer Global Fellows program, formed in 2008. Through the Grameen Foundation’s Bankers Without Borders, Wells Fargo employees will have more opportunities to volunteer their time and skills on projects for microfinance and poverty-focused nonprofits around the world as the organization matches Wells Fargo employees with the nonprofits in their network.

This expanded Global Fellows program is starting on a pilot basis, featuring 12 spots, six volunteers each for two yet-to-be-identified nonprofits in Colombia and India. Four volunteers will work on-site, while eight volunteers will support the project virtually. The on-site volunteers will be in place for up to six weeks, while the virtual volunteers will donate up to 60 hours each. “We’re going to look to see how well it does and see if there is room for expansion moving forward. There are only 12 spots this time, but there is opportunity for growth in the future,” said Dasha Ross, vice president of corporate social responsibility communications for Wells Fargo.

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Reports Predict Disaster If Enbridge Pipeline Ruptures in Great Lakes

| Thursday July 31st, 2014 | 6 Comments
View of the Mackinac Bridge from Mackinac Island.

View of the Mackinac Bridge from Mackinac Island.

A recent report by the University of Michigan illustrates the devastation that could occur if a 60-year-old pipeline carrying 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas fluids every day were to rupture in the Great Lakes, one of the largest sources of fresh water in the world.

Enbridge, the same company still cleaning up the Kalamazoo River four years after the biggest inland spill in U.S. history, has two 20-inch pipelines running from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario, directly through the Straits of Mackinac between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. In July 2013, the company completed $100 million in upgrades in order to increase flow from 490,000 barrels per day to 540,000, but did not replace any of the aging pipeline.

The main problem with an oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac is that the currents shift from east to west and back again every few days, and peak flow can be up to 10 times as fast as the Niagra River. The U of M report and animation shows how an oil spill would reach tourist destination Mackinac Island within 12 hours, and after 20 days, it would reach as far as Beaver Island in Lake Michigan and Rogers City in Lake Huron.

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PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi Weighs In on Work/Life Balance

| Thursday July 17th, 2014 | 0 Comments
PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi

David Bradley, owner of The Atlantic, recently interviewed PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and she gave some frank answers to his questions about ‘having it all’ that coincide more with Anne-Marie Slaughter than Sheryl Sandberg. As in, work/life balance? At the c-suite level, there isn’t any. “You know, stay-at-home mothering was a full-time job. Being a CEO for a company is three full-time jobs rolled into one. How can you do justice to all? You can’t,” Nooyi said.

Interestingly, Anne-Marie Slaughter herself was in the audience at the time, and Nooyi said she was a big fan of her Atlantic piece, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. In it, Slaughter talks about her decision to pull back from a high-powered career in Washington, D.C. to return to Princeton University to teach and spend more time with her family. Slaughter believes that it isn’t a lack of ambition that holds women back, but a lack of workplace policies that could make work more balanced for everyone, not just employees with children.

Nooyi sums up the conflicts that so many women are facing today.

…The biological clock and the career clock are in total conflict with each other. Total, complete conflict. When you have to have kids you have to build your career. Just as you’re rising to middle management your kids need you because they’re teenagers, they need you for the teenage years. And that’s the time your husband becomes a teenager too, so he needs you (laughing). They need you too. What do you do? And as you grow even more, your parents need you because they’re aging. So we’re screwed. We have no… we cannot have it all.

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Fortune: Female-Led Businesses Beat the Stock Market, But Their Numbers Remain Low

| Wednesday July 16th, 2014 | 1 Comment
Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO, Xerox. Photograph by Stuart Isett/Fortune Most Powerful Women

Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO, Xerox.

According to a recent Fortune study, the number of women CEOs in the Fortune 500 is at its highest total yet at 24 (51 in the Fortune 1,000).

Despite this overall low number, Fortune illustrated some interesting trends, including data that shows that women-led businesses posted better returns than the stock market and generated more than their share of Fortune 1,000 revenue. However, the number of women CEOs has risen extremely slowly in the past decade, and the number of women on boards has stagnated despite an abundance of evidence that women-led companies fare better and that women make good leaders.

Fortune reports:

  • Only 5 percent of Fortune 1,000 companies have female CEOs, but they are responsible for 7 percent of the total Fortune 1,000 revenue. The biggest woman-led company is General Motors (Mary Barra) coming in at No. 7 on the 2014 Fortune 500 List ($155 billion in 2013 revenue).
  • Fortune 1,000 companies led by women outperformed the S&P 500 Index during their respective tenures. The average return was 69.5 percent, whereas female CEOs posted an average return of 103.4 percent. Home Shopping Network’s Mindy Grossman and TJX’s Carol Meyrowitz are two of the CEOs who reported the highest returns during their time as chief.
  • Fewer than half of female CEOs have a graduate business degree; the most common degree is engineering (another solid reason to encourage girls to pursue STEM careers).

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Walmart Highlights Products From Women-Owned Businesses

| Thursday July 10th, 2014 | 0 Comments

women-ownedThe latest initiative by Walmart to support women-owned businesses involves calling out their products on its shelves. Starting this fall, women-owned businesses can qualify for a special logo to be placed on their products through Women’s Enterprise National Council and WEConnect International. Once a women-owned business is certified by one of these organizations, meaning it is 51 percent owned, operated and controlled by a woman or group of women, the product can feature the new logo.

Companies like Sexy & Smart, a lingerie brand, and Maggie’s Salsa already plan to use the logo, and with the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. at more than 8.6 million, Walmart is betting that number will increase. According to Growing Under the Radar, American Express’s 2013 update of its annual study of women-owned businesses, from 1997 to 2013 the number of women-owned companies increased by 59 percent, while revenues grew by 63 percent.

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Save the Children, IKEA Foundation Redouble Efforts Against Child Labor

| Thursday June 12th, 2014 | 1 Comment
High Res Image

Tejas and his family. This 10-year-old  was forced to leave school and work in the cotton fields in India alongside his parents to supplement the family’s earnings. Today, thanks to a Child Protection Committee established in his village, Tejas goes to school regularly.

In honor of World Day Against Child Labor (June 12), Save the Children and partners BreakthroughPratham and the IKEA Foundation announced the €7 million second phase of their program to combat child labor and promote education in cotton communities in India. There are an estimated 12.6 million child laborers in India between the ages of 5-14, many who are involved in the cotton industry, working under deplorable conditions sometimes more than 12 hours a day. This program is working to bring children back to their communities and families, put them in school and allow them to be children.

The first phase of this long-term program, started in 2009, impacted more than 1,800 villages and 600,000 children in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The second phase aims to reach more than 790,000 children in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children, said, “We will work closely with panchayat (village) leaders, farmers, teachers, families and Indian state officials, to provide children with access to quality education, improve teacher training and develop local child protection committees and school management committees.” New to phase II, the program will also address gender-based discrimination.

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Women in CSR: Leah Seligmann, NRG Energy

| Thursday May 22nd, 2014 | 0 Comments

Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.

leah seligmanTriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.

Leah Seligmann: I am the Director of Sustainability at NRG Energy. I joined NRG to create a sustainability strategy to support David Crane’s vision for the business. This is characterized by three components:

  1. Develop our strategy (and engage everyone who is needed to deliver on it),
  2. Activate programs that will improve our footprint and social performance, and
  3. Perhaps most importantly—since we cannot do it alone—to identify partners that will join us as first movers in transitioning to a clean energy economy.

While I have only been with NRG for a year, I was raised living and breathing sustainability and have been fortunate to find work that perfectly aligns with my interests.

3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?

LS: Our program grew out of our commitment to the environment and society from a compliance perspective, but it didn’t take us long to realize that the true value in sustainability is when you move beyond compliance into innovation. For NRG, sustainability means growing our business in a way that aligns with our values, and experience shows that this alignment results in cost savings, revenue opportunities, brand value, talent acquisition, and many other benefits. That is why we shifted our approach to action, investing billions of dollars to clean up our fleet and grow our clean energy offerings all the while ensuring that we keep our customers lights on.

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Women in CSR: Nancy Cleveland, Resonate

| Thursday May 15th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.

NSC Headshot 4x5TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.

Nancy Cleveland: My business partner Jennifer Anderson and I founded Resonate in 2010. We wanted to develop a sustainability management consultancy that helped companies focus on being strategic and using sustainability as a management tool to create long-lasting business value. My role and responsibilities range from client services to developing our technology products. I also serve as in-house legal counsel.

3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?

NC: I had been doing sustainability work for several years before founding Resonate. When I started, I was a real estate lawyer, so my primary focus was on green building and LEED. It was clear to me from the start that companies could fairly easily build new buildings to green standards, but understanding and incorporating sustainability into their culture and way of operating a business requires more time and different tools and processes. So I shifted my focus from the built environment to general business consulting and co-founded Resonate. Resonate was founded on the premise that by being more strategic, companies will reap greater value from their sustainability efforts. However, this often requires a consultant’s perspective, especially for companies that are new to sustainability. For medium and smaller companies, consulting is often not an option. So, we started to think about how we could make strategic sustainability concepts more widely accessible through technology. We believe that technology and technology-assisted consulting can streamline and expedite a company’s journey toward strategic sustainability. It can make sustainability management feasible for many more companies.

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Women in CSR: Andrea Learned, Learned On

| Thursday May 8th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.

Andrea2TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.

Andrea Learned: I’m a thought leadership and business development consultant specializing in social content and social media engagement strategies. I work mainly, but not solely, with sustainability and CSR-focused clients. Helping them amplify their work and forward that business movement is my passion. Overall, I’ve been in marketing consulting for 25+ years, which includes about 10 years of deep expertise in marketing to women (I co-authored the book, Don’t Think Pink). Starting in about 2009, I transitioned into my sustainability-focused corporate leadership and B2B communications consulting.

3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?

AL: I am a sole proprietor (Learned On) with an extremely low “company” footprint, so I’ll answer this question with how it has evolved in my thinking. When I first realized how much my personal values were reflected in my own purchases and in the types of clients I worked with, it was all about better communicating the direct message of “green” or “sustainability.” As both my interest and knowledge have deepened, I’ve become more interested in business development strategies and helping corporate leaders “socialize” their sustainability wisdom – so that it is more indirect, or as I often call it: sustainability hidden in plain sight. Also, where I began my career with more of a B2C marketing and messaging focus, I now concentrate on the individual, professional development angle.  This, to me, lends itself to building a “sustainable” pipeline of sustainability and CSR-focused leaders for years to come. I can be much more passionate about socializing sustainability thought leadership than I could be about specific consumer-facing products or services.

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