Video: Jacques-Philippe Piverger of MPOWERD Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Wednesday November 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments

JP “The topic of diversity is thrown around quite a bit. I think oftentimes we don’t fully appreciate or understand what it’s really about,” Jacques-Philippe Piverger, co-founder and CEO of MPOWERD, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference last month.

“Diversity comes down to the core topic of appreciation and love, and fully accepting all people for all that they are and the way that they operate,” he continued. “Whether it’s about your personal relationships or a business that one creates, I don’t think it can reach its full potential unless we’re really open and accepting of others.”

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Piverger goes on to make the business case for diversity and explain why it matters to MPOWERD, a New York City-based company providing solar solutions to customers on and off the grid, in this two-minute clip.

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VW on Track to Meet 2018 ‘Think Blue. Factory.’ Sustainability Goals

| Wednesday November 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments

vorschau1 From the boardroom and executive suite through the ranks of management, down to the factory floor and across its global network of dealers and suppliers, Volkswagen AG (VW) has been at the forefront of auto industry efforts to make ecological sustainability and social responsibility a strategic motivating force.

On Nov. 18, VW announced that its ‘Think Blue. Factory.‘ environmental sustainability program is on track for success. Per Think Blue. Factory’s targets, a total of some 5,000 individual measures are to be taken by 2018 as VW aims to reduce energy and water consumption, as well as waste, carbon dioxide (CO2) and solvent emissions, across all its factories 25 percent.

VW has already carried out more than 2,700 environmental sustainability projects at its factories, resulting in production processes that are 17 percent “more environmentally compatible over the past three years,” according to a team of more than 250 environmental experts that conducted an interim evaluation of VW’s ecological sustainability program.

A few days later, on Nov. 21, VW Group announced that it would invest €85.6 billion (~US$106.46 billion) to develop “new models, environmentally friendly technology and production facilities over the coming five years.” Around two-thirds of the total will be invested in developing “increasingly efficient vehicles.

“We will continue to invest in the future to become the leading automotive group in both ecological and economic terms – with the best and most sustainable products,” Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, VW AG chairman of the Board of Management, stated during an address at VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

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Healing After Typhoon Haiyan Through Basketball

Presidio Sports
Presidio Sports | Wednesday November 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing student blogging series entitled The Business Of Sports & Sustainability. This “micro-blog” is the product of the nations first MBA/MPA certificate program dedicated to sustainability in the sports industry. You can follow the series here.

A reclaimed basketball court in Tacloban, Philippines, six months after Typhoon Haiyan.

A reclaimed basketball court in Tacloban, Philippines, six months after Typhoon Haiyan.

By Ny-Ann Nolasco

On Nov. 8, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines with winds reaching 280 kilometers per hour (175 mph). It was not only the 30th storm to hit the country in 2013 alone, but it was also the strongest storm recorded. More than 6,300 of our people, our teammates, died. People who’ve never heard of climate change are now all too aware of its impacts. Nearing the first anniversary of this catastrophic disaster, I would like to remember the lives lost and the role of basketball in rebuilding lives.

Shaquille O’Neal, then center for Los Angeles Lakers, jersey #34, came to visit the Philippines in 1997 and was quoted as saying that he found no other place in the world who loved basketball as much as Filipinos do. And it’s true; it has always been both a pastime and an obsession. Basketball is something Filipinos do without a court, without being taught the rules of the game, or a care if they’re any good at it. Basketball is a part of life. Basketball hoops are one of the few items that will never reach landfills in the Philippines because there is always someone ready to take a free hoop. If none is available, any circular object that resembles a hoop will do. Even wire hangers are sometimes reshaped and repurposed as basketball hoops.

In recent years, basketball has also become a forum for healing, bringing laughter and glee in the wake of a lineup of worsening natural disasters. It surprises foreign journalists such as Todd Pittman, who wrote in “Signs of life amid misery reveal Filipino’s spirit” that basketball hoops are usually one of the first, if not the first, structure to come up after a storm. Pittman writes, “As a foreign correspondent working in the middle of a horrendous disaster zone, I didn’t expect to see people having a good time — or asking me to play ball. I was even more stunned when I learned that the basketball goal was one of the first things this neighborhood rebuilt … It took a moment for me to realize that it made all the sense in the world.”

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U.K. Supermarkets Change Newspaper Display Stands After Social Media Protests

Leon Kaye | Wednesday November 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment
No More Page 3, Child Eyes, Waitrose, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, United Kingdom, tabloids, newspapers, Leon Kaye, social media, twitter, Kathy McGuinness, Claire Riseborough

No More Page 3 invites users to submit artwork to protest retailers’ newspaper displays.

One of the curiosities of visiting the United Kingdom is to gape and guffaw at newspaper displays while walking around town. After all, the content in tabloid displays, thanks to such fine publications as The Sun, Daily Mirror and Star, make American tabloids look like Reader’s Digest. But not everyone is amused, including the advocacy groups Child Eyes and No More Page 3, and they in turn launched successful social media protests. Some of Britain’s largest supermarkets then took notice.

Both organizations claimed victory as supermarket chains Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have announced they will alter their newspaper displays so that they are no longer in the line of sight of children. The U.K. government recently passed new guidelines over how retailers should display newspapers after commissioning a report that attacked the country’s overly sexualized “wallpaper” surrounding children, but the largest chains in the country continued to display magazines and newspapers in full view of all customers.

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Video: Judith Weisinger of Mills College Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Wednesday November 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Judith “Given all of the corporate crises [we’ve seen] over the past several decades, it’s important for businesses to step up and emphasize ethics and socially responsible leadership,” Judith Weisinger, associate professor of business at Mills College, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis last month.

“The demographics suggest that the nation is becoming increasingly multicultural, and the nexus between business and society is ever-increasingly important. Therefore, an emphasis on diversity is really imperative,” she continued. “It’s not really an option anymore.”

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Weisinger goes on to explain how diversity matters at the Mills College Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Management, where she teaches the new generation of business leaders, in this 90-second clip.

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Renewable Energy ‘Poop Bus’ Begins Operating in the U.K.

Bill DiBenedetto | Wednesday November 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Bio-Bus_Press_1 (640x463)Here’s a new renewable energy twist on the old bumper sticker — circa the 1970s oil crisis — “Eat More Beans, We Need the Gas!” Take the “Poop Bus!”

Today, that’s not so silly or outlandish, because public transport powered by human waste and sewage could be coming to a bus stop near you before too long. In fact there’s one operating now in the U.K. on a trial run basis.

Billed as the “next big trend in sustainable energy,” according to The Guardian, the U.K.’s ‘Bio-Bus’ runs entirely on biomethane gas generated through the treatment of sewage, as well as food waste that’s unfit for human consumption. The waste and sewage is treated at a plant run by the recycling and renewable energy company GENeco. The 40-seat Bio-Bus can travel up to 186 miles on one tank of gas, which takes the annual waste of around five people to produce.

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General Mills Announces New Water Conservation Efforts

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday November 26th, 2014 | 0 Comments

cerealGeneral Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell declared the company’s commitment to water conservation at the the Nature Conservancy (TNC) Global Water Summit in Chicago last week. Powell talked about the company’s efforts of “uber-collaboration” with stakeholders to improve watersheds around the world.  General Mills aims to preserve freshwater supplies in particular.

“As a food company, food security is important to us, and we’re tied tightly to nature,” said Powell in a statement. “We know that without healthy water for land, ecosystems and wildlife, agriculture simply does not work. Businesses languish. Economies falter. People suffer.”

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What Defines a Social Innovator Anyway?

3p Conferences
| Tuesday November 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 8.53.55 PMBy Maura Dilley

Conferences that explore emerging thought leadership are an enjoyable place for a cultural ethnographer. We understand the world through common language, metaphors and reference points. When you’re making something new, like social innovation, you invite an intellectual struggle to organize ideas in our collective mind. Results being the occasional euphoria of a new idea, as well as the confusion of speaking at crossed purposes. The spectrum of self-identified social innovators on parade at the Social Innovation Summit Silicon Valley 2014 gives up much for study.

Understanding the spectrum of self-identified social innovators

First, we have “social innovation natives” like Kiva, Code for America and DonorsChoose.org. In my mind, these organizations define social innovation; they are dedicated to designing products, services and, indeed, companies that fundamentally improve society by re-designing its operating systems. Social innovation is their modus operandi. And there “social innovation re-modelers” — companies, foundations and philanthropists very large and somewhat small, drawn to identify with social innovation for a variety of curious reasons. Parsing these out was an entertaining exercise.

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A True ‘Plug-and-Play’ PV System is Closer Than You Think

| Tuesday November 25th, 2014 | 11 Comments

Fraunhofer CSE plug and play PV systemBack in the spring of 2012, the Energy Department announced a $5 million, five-year initiative aimed at producing a true rooftop ‘plug-and-play’ photovoltaic system, meaning a solar panel that you could pick up at your local building supply store, plant on your roof, and have it soaking up the photons all within the same day.

The concept of a solar appliance that is just as easy to install as any other appliance sounds reasonable enough, but the residential and small business solar market faces a unique set of obstacles. We’ve been covering plug-and-play PV developments since at least 2009, and generally speaking they still involve more time and effort than, say, installing a new fridge.

That’s partly because retail solar systems are relatively new. Standardization is just beginning to emerge, and in the meantime solar customers have to put a lot of elbow grease into the process.

Contrast that with the rest of the retail appliance industry: It is a mature field with a firm platform of standardization, which accounts for why you can buy practically any kind of new stove from just about anywhere without having to think about getting special permits or making other special arrangements.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a new plug-and-play system, developed by the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE) with funding from the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, and see how close we are to a true plug-and-play system for solar.

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Video: Tawanna Black of Northside Funders Group Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Tuesday November 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Tawanna Black Headshot- Bus.“Simply having diversity does not produce results for the bottom line,” Tawanna Black, executive director of Northside Funders Group, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference last month.

“We’ve known that just mixing people up one way or another doesn’t actually produce results — in fact, sometimes it creates more conflict and more challenges that may hinder business sustainability and growth. But inclusivity does.”

The concept of moving beyond diversity to inclusion came up several times in our Talking Diversity video series. In this two-minute clip, Black makes the business case for going that extra step to ensure inclusivity and why it’s important to allow employees to bring their “whole selves” to work.

“Americans spend more time at work than anywhere else,” Black noted, “so why wouldn’t we want [our workplaces] to be places that we enjoy?”

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Boulder County Proposes Cannabis Carbon “Tax”

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday November 25th, 2014 | 1 Comment

cannabis_carbon_taxMarijuana farms are growing by leaps and bounds in Colorado these days – and so are the concepts of how to capitalize on this new industry. From cannabis growers’ conventions to businesses that build temperature-controlled indoor environments for grass growers, and journalists that rate strains of the new aperitif on their appealing qualities, Colorado’s eastern slope seems to be busting with new ways to harness the impact of this growing industry.

But the new millennia fascination with the herb has also brought some headaches, as Boulder County has discovered over the past year. Located just north of Denver in a valley well known for both its hot, sunny summer weather and its unpredictable storms, Boulder County has become an epicenter of sorts for the New West’s burgeoning industry.

Colorado State Article 18, which went into effect this past January after voters agreed to overhaul the state’s cannabis regulations, allows for both private and commercial growing and use of cannabis within the state. What it didn’t take into account, the county notes, is the carbon emissions that are tied to warehouses with hundreds of thousands of square feet dedicated to hot, bright lighting and plants that normally grow fine outdoors. In hot, sunny climates, that is.

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5 Essential Practices for Retailers, Brand Owners and Suppliers to Transition to Safer Chemicals

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

3p_photo_mallBy Beverley Thorpe

Manufacturers, retailers and suppliers are increasingly being mandated or asked voluntarily to eliminate hazardous chemicals of concern in their products and manufacturing processes.

This is good news. Unfortunately, the alternatives they choose as replacements may not be comprehensively screened for human health and environmental impact. This leads to ‘regrettable substitution,’ a term I find captivating in its understatement, particularly when the substitute ends up being persistent in the environment or a hormone disrupting chemical. Part of the problem is that chosen alternatives are often kept confidential which diminishes the public’s faith that progress to safer chemicals is actually being made.

NGO campaigns have recognized the need to go beyond calls for a simple chemical ban in products. Too often we see hazardous flame retardants in furniture or waterproof coatings on outdoor hiking gear being substituted with similarly hazardous halogenated chemicals. So, how can product manufacturers and retailers protect themselves from the business risk of potentially adopting the next hazardous chemical to be regulated? And how can they show leadership in helping to move our economy to a toxic-free future?

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How a Local Community Wins from Supply Chain Investment

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Bell Bay - Under 400kbBy Phil Preston

Last week, almost by chance, I stumbled on an industrial company that helped build the capacity of a local supplier to compete against an offshore alternative.

What I found most interesting about this and similar examples is the lack of airtime they get. We get blinded by the headlines, which generally only appear when something goes wrong, such as job cuts, accidents or scandals. Meanwhile, there can be greater things going on under the surface.

I had the pleasure of travelling from Sydney to the northern part of my home state, Tasmania (Australia) for a family reunion of sorts. It’s a relatively small island state that has historically relied on forestry, mining and the public sector for employment.

More recently, tourism has accelerated on the back of boutique food, wine and arts attractions, as well as stunning natural scenery. Diversity of industry and employment is critical to its future.

Bell Bay Aluminium

By way of background, the smelting operation began in 1955 and is part of Pacific Aluminium, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto. It’s a large exporter, electricity consumer and (direct and indirect) employer in the state.

While staying nearby at George Town, situated on the north coast, I met up with Lou Clark, community relations specialist at Bell Bay Aluminium. We hadn’t met before, and I was interested in hearing about the company’s community engagement challenges and successes. Like many companies of its size and local importance, Bell Bay provides an array of grants and support for community needs.

It was almost by accident that our conversation drifted onto the company’s local capacity-building initiative.

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Video: Maggie Davies of Net Impact Talks Diversity at NI14

| Tuesday November 25th, 2014 | 0 Comments

MD-headshot 1b“Zooming out entirely: The global challenges that we face are massive and very complex, and it’s going to require everyone being involved,” Maggie Davies, chief of strategy and talent for Net Impact, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis.

“We need diverse people and diverse perspectives in order to be the most effective.”

In this clip, which is part of our Talking Diversity video series, Davies goes on to explain what Net Impact is doing to address diversity, including a recent partnership with Symantec that allowed Net Impact to grow its network, particularly in historically black and women’s colleges. She also shares success stories from participants in those programs, so be sure to stick around for the full two minutes.

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Ikea Joins the Crowd and Heads for Greener Palm Oil Sources

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday November 25th, 2014 | 1 Comment

IKEA_sustainable_palm_oil_OiMaxAn encouraging number of companies have jumped on the bandwagon for sustainable palm oil these days. Unilever, Mars, Nestlé and Starbucks are among some of the larger food companies that have picked up the trend in past years. Some have adopted their own strategies to ensure their sources are sustainable, while others have joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

But food isn’t the only place that palm oil is used, as the latest convert to this sustainable approach demonstrates. According to last month’s press release, Ikea has decided to make the switch.

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