3p Contributor: Deborah Fleischer

Deborah Fleischer is founder and president of Green Impact, a strategic sustainability consulting practice that helps companies walk the green talk. She helps companies design and launch new green strategies and programs, as well as communicate about successes. She is a GRI-certified sustainability reporter and LEED AP with a Master in Environmental Studies from Yale University and over 20-years of direct experience working on sustainability-related challenges in both the public and private sectors. She brings deep expertise in sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement, program development and written communications.Deborah has helped to design and implement numerous successful cross-sector partnerships and new green initiatives, including the California Environmental Dialogue, Curb Your Carbon and the Institute at the Golden Gate.She has helped create lasting alliances among such organizations as Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy with companies such as Disney, Arco, Bank of America and Passport Resorts.You can follow her occasional tweet @GreenImpact or contact her directly at Deborah@greenimpact.com.

Recent Articles

Sustainability Change Agent: Three Tips for Changing the World

| Monday December 14th, 2009 | 0 Comments
Change Agentbig

(all images from Alan AtKisson)

I had the pleasure of attending Sustainable Silicon Valley‘s (SSV) two-day Sustainability Change Agent Training with Alan AtKisson, November 16th and 17th. It was a packed workshop full of information and interactive exercises.  Parts of it fully engaged me and parts of it left me feeling frustrated, so I decided to wait a few weeks before writing about it.  I wanted to see which concepts and tips stuck with me.

AtKisson, a sustainability consultant and author, has built the workshop around the principles explored in his recent book, The ISIS Agreement:  How Sustainability Can Improve Organizational Performance and Transform the World. Chapters 7-10 cover much of the information presented in the workshop.  The unique thing about the training, and where the real learning took place for me, is AtKisson’s interactive approach that included story telling, singing and small group and one-on-one exercises.

More than 70 participants from a range of sectors participated. Sustainability directors from large Silicon Valley companies such as Intel, Yahoo! and Palm, sustainability managers working for municipalities, NGOs and consultants gathered to learn about the ISIS Method–a methodology for transformation that integrates indicators, systems, innovation and strategy.

After letting things percolate a few weeks, my favorite three tips to be a more effective sustainability change include:

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Business NGO Working Group: Building the Market for Safer Products

| Thursday December 10th, 2009 | 0 Comments

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I have been a big proponent of cross-sector dialogue for years and believe that when businesses, NGOs and governmental agencies can work together, more innovative and creative solutions can emerge.  My pet peeve with such dialogues is that they often are all talk and no action.

Tuesday, at meeting at Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland office, I and a two other members of the press had the opportunity to sit down and chat with a few members of the Business NGO Working Group, a project of Clean Production Action, whose mission is to “design and deliver strategic solutions for green chemicals, sustainable materials and environmentally preferable products.” Its lively International Director Beverly Thorpe stressed that the Working Group members really do roll up their sleeves and work through the tough issues. And with a current focus on implementation and policy reform, they are a group worth paying attention to.

Business representatives from Kaiser Permanente, Catholic HealthCare West, Seventh Generation and Staples attended the meeting, to update us on the group’s current projects and future direction.

The Working Group is a unique collaboration of business and NGO leaders who “are creating a roadmap to the widespread use of safer chemicals in consumer products.” They were here in the Bay Area this week for their annual meeting. Starting in 2006, with twenty-two organizations from the environmental community and the electronics, health care, furnishing and retail sectors, today the group has grown to 170 participants, working on three key initiatives:  Safer Chemicals, sustainable materials and public policy reform.

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Hewlett Packard: What Does it Take to Be #1?

| Tuesday December 8th, 2009 | 1 Comment

#1I was recently asked to highlight some of Hewlett-Packard’s environmental printing programs, but after reviewing the materials the PR folks sent, I decided the more interesting story was to reflect on how HP got listed #1 in Newsweek’s recent rankings of green companies, as well as ranked highest in the category of electronics by Climate Counts.

So to find out why, I referred to an interview I conducted (for a piece I did on Tips for Getting Your Sustainability Project Off the Ground) earlier this year with Bonnie Nixon, HP’s director of environmental sustainability.   I went back to those notes to help answer the question, “What Does it Take to Be #1?”

Fast Company reflected on this same question last month and concluded, “What was confirmed to me is that behind every major corporate transformation story is a truly heroic man or woman. While I am sure HP has a team of hundreds who have contributed strongly to this position as number one on the Newsweek list, I was certain after spending more time with Nixon that she was an integral part of it.”

Five critical factors make a company like HP stand out:

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Hara and Sustainable Silicon Valley Announce a New Partnership

| Monday December 7th, 2009 | 0 Comments

SSVHaralogo_smallSustainable Silicon Valley (SSV), a cross-sector collaboration of more than 100 leading businesses, governmental agencies and NGOs working to improve Silicon Valley’s environmental quality, and Hara, the providers of a comprehensive carbon and water footprint tool (click here to read an earlier 3P post on Hara), today announced a new partnership at SSV’s Water Summit. The partnership is aimed at helping SSV partners reduce carbon emissions, water use and waste.

SSV partners are encouraged to measure and report on sustainability efforts and resource consumption through a regional registry. With today’s announcement, SSV will be transitioning to a data collection system powered by Hara’s Environmental and Energy Management (EEM) solution.

According to the Hara web site, the EEM gives organizations “auditable transparency and control of their ‘organizational metabolism’ — the collective resources consumed and expended by an organization — including energy, water, waste, carbon and other natural resources.”

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The Eight Biggest Myths About Sustainability in Business

| Tuesday November 24th, 2009 | 1 Comment


Vijay Kanal of
Kanal Consulting just posted a piece on GreenBiz.com titled The Eight Biggest Myths about Sustainability in Business.

He kicks the piece off by saying, “Sustainability should be considered not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because it makes business sense. If an initiative cannot be justified from a strategic, financial, operational, marketing, or employee recruitment/retention perspective, don’t do it. But we have found that in almost every corner of an organization there is a fundamental business reason for being more sustainable.”

For each of the eight myths identified he presents details from companies in the green trenches, such as HP, P&G and Numi Tea, to counter the misrepresentations.

The short piece is a great overview of the business case for going green.

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Speed Dating Meets Green Business at Green America’s Conference

| Thursday November 12th, 2009 | 5 Comments

speeddatingBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

Green America’s Green Business Conference was the yenta of the green business world yesterday when it hosted its Product Expo:  Marketplace and Community Connections.  Participants were invited to set up a business display at this product expo that was modeled after the ever so popular speed dating concept.

The idea last night was to get all the conference attendees networking and doing business with each other.  One of my complaints about conferences is that they don’t do enough to promote networking and Green America has done a great job at this conference on integrating creative ways to encourage us to meet each other.

At a traditional speed dating event, you spend only three minutes speaking to a potential love interest and then move on.  If there is mutual interest, you follow-up on your own after the event. While the networking last night was a bit less structured, we were encouraged to circulate and meet as many businesses as possible.

Since Scott Cooney has been doing a great job of highlighting some of the sessions, I thought I would focus on a few of the businesses that made it onto my final dance card last night.

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Transit and Trails: Connecting People to Nature on Public Transit

| Saturday October 31st, 2009 | 4 Comments

City bus gg80_to_sf_webNature pic sunset_matt_davis_fog2_web

Don’t own a car, but want to get out to one of the Bay Area’s hundreds of parks and trails? Or perhaps, you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint and wondering how to get to your favorite hike without using your car?

Transit and Trails is a new resource for outdoor enthusiasts who want to leave their cars behind and easily get information on how to take the bus (or ferry) to reach Bay Area hiking trails and campgrounds.

A project of the Bay Area Open Space Council (BAOSC), the new interactive website identifies hundreds of trailheads and 150 campgrounds to explore across the Bay Area’s 1.2 million acres of preserved lands. Just enter your starting location, and roughly how far you want to venture, and the site suggests possible hikes and featured trips. Once you decide where you want to go, it connects with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s 511 Transit Trip Planner to provide a detailed trip itinerary, complete with a map, transit times, fares and walking directions to and from the transit stop.

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Employee Engagement: AngelPoints and Saatchi S Launch New PSP Tool

| Tuesday October 27th, 2009 | 0 Comments

Slide3As part of a corporate sustainability strategy, there is a growing trend to engage employees on multiple levels, both at work and at home. More and more companies are providing their employees advice and tips on how to green their personal lives. But a key challenge is how to measure and track the benefits of these programs.

AngelPoints, a provider of enterprise software solutions for employee engagement, has recently partnered with Saatchi & Saatchi S, the sustainability strategy firm that helped Wal-Mart create their Personal Sustainability Project (PSP) program, to create a new web-based platform to help make it easier to engage employees in sustainability and to track their progress.

As reported on CSRwire, “The newly launched PSP platform enables employees to chart individual and collective progress on a secure and reliable site easily accessed through a company’s intranet.”

The theory is if you can get employees engaged and excited about being greener in their personal lives, they will bring this excitement and energy to their jobs as well.

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BSR 2009: Top Strategies for Getting Employees Behind Sustainability

| Monday October 26th, 2009 | 5 Comments

employee-engagement2At BSR 2009 last week, a missing piece on the agenda was employee engagement. Yet, at the session on Internal Communications:  Making the Case for CSR’s Value, all of the speakers acknowledged the challenge of getting both employees and senior management behind sustainability.

The panel included Christopher Corpuel, Vice President, Sustainability at Hilton Hotels, Silvia Garrigo, Manager of Global Issues and Policy at Chevron and Kevin Moss, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at BT Americas Inc. The session, moderated by Eric Olson, Senior Vice President, at BSR, was formatted to allow for deeper dialogue and discussion–much appreciated by everyone!

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Day 1 at the BSR Conference: Reset Economy. Reset World.

| Thursday October 22nd, 2009 | 0 Comments

BSR 2009_web_banner_300_revisedBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

After a weekend at Bioneers, with luminaries such as Michael Pollan and Joanna Macy,  yesterday I headed to the Hyatt in San Francisco for BSR’s conferenceReset Economy. Reset World:  Delivering Business Value by Thinking Big and Embracing Long-Term Sustainability Trends.

BSR works with a global network of more than 250 member companies to develop sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research and cross-sector collaboration. Upon entering, the sea of black suits, high heels and ties reminded me I was no longer hanging out with activists and social change professionals.

Overall, the attendees I met were sustainability professionals at the conference to network (some were skipping the sessions all together), while others were hungry to learn about best practices and new sustainability tools.

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Bioneers: Morph or Die–The Transformation of Journalism and Media

| Monday October 19th, 2009 | 0 Comments

morphBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

I have to say I’m chuckling at myself this morning. I was a bit of a Bioneers consumer yesterday. As I ponder what highlights from Bioneers would be of most interest to Triple Pundit readers, I am listening to the new world beat CD I purchased from Sound Spaces, after trying a few drop of  a healing plant-based tonic made by Al-kemi.

Morph or Die–The Transformation of Journalism and Media

One of my favorite sessions, called “Morph or Die–The Transformation of Journalism and Media,” was hosted by Mother Jones and its publisher Jay Harris. The panel included Annie Leonard, the creator of Story of Stuff, Ken Rother from TreeHugger and Josh Silver of Free Press, a media reform organization.

The gist of the session wasn’t new news–we are living through a fast moving transformation of  how we receive our news. But the session was lively and had a few interesting takeaways:

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Michael Pollan at Bioneers: How Much Oil Are We Eating?

| Saturday October 17th, 2009 | 3 Comments

burgeroilBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

The 20th Bioneers, a three day conference celebrating breakthrough sustainability solutions, kicked off on Friday in Marin. The agenda is chock full of speakers on a wide range of topics, from the arts, indigenous knowledge and restoring our ecosystems to youth and women’s leadership.

I was excited to hear Michael Pollan speak, a leading critic of our industrial food system and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire (you can listen to his talk here). For those of you who aren’t attending, you can catch some of the keynotes via live webcast.

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How A Sustainability “Change Agent” Workshop Works

| Wednesday October 14th, 2009 | 2 Comments

change-agent-300x225By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

Ever since I studied adaptive leadership with Ronald Heifetz at Harvard, I have been interested in the intersection between organizational change, systems theory and sustainability issues.  Many sustainability professionals seem to lack an understanding of what it takes to create enduring, lasting change within an organization or system. As illustrated with the recent departure of Van Jones from the White House, a change agent needs a strategic understanding of how to navigate the dangers of leading change without getting scapegoated or sidelined.

I recently learned that Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV) is offering a two-day Sustainability Change Agent Training with Alan AtKisson, November 16th and 17th. I’m excited that I will have the chance to attend (I will be attending to cover the event for Triple Pundit).

I realize many of us have “workshop-itis” these days after attending a few too many workshops and conferences.  But I feel this topic has not been well covered at past green trainings. And Sustainable Silicon Valley is offering Triple Pundit readers a discount of $100 off the registration fee (applies only to SSV partner and non-partner rates). Go to the registration page and use the code “triplepundit” when registering.

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Creating Change: The Fostering Sustainable Behavior Workshop

| Monday October 12th, 2009 | 1 Comment

FosteringSustainableBehaviorBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

We all know that a key to creating a greener future is to foster more sustainable behavior at work and in our lives.  Be it a green team working to increase recycling rates or reduce paper waste or a corporate sustainability officer working to reduce a carbon footprint, a key challenge is how to encourage changes in our decisions and actions. But we also know that change is not always easy to foster.

To date, most programs to achieve green changes have relied upon disseminating information. Research demonstrates, however, that simply providing information has little or no effect on what individuals or businesses do. But if not ads, brochures or booklets, then what?

Over the last two decades a new approach, community-based social marketing, has emerged as an effective alternative for promoting sustainable behavior.

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Armageddon Energy: Taking the Pain Out of Home Solar Systems

| Friday September 25th, 2009 | 2 Comments

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armageddonsolar4By Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

When you think of installing a solar system on your home, what is the first thought that comes to mind?  It will cost too much?  It will be complicated to install?  Or perhaps, you like the idea, but think solar panels are ugly?

A new start-up Armageddon Energy is working to remove these barriers and bring to market a “plug and play,” modular solar system that is visually appealing, smaller and cheaper than a standard home system and will possibly do for the home solar industry what Ikea did for home furnishings.

The business model?  Make it easy, accessible and affordable to sell small home solar system to the masses in a “big box” retail setting.

One of the most promising start-ups to watch

While the name, which alludes to the final battle between the forces of good and evil, has been a bit more controversial then CEO Mark Goldman expected, the company was named one of the five most promising start-ups to watch at the Clean Tech Open by Fast Company.

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