The decision will take effect on Oct. 1, 2014, following the launch of a smoking cessation program this spring, with the goal of helping millions of Americans quit smoking.
“Every day, we are helping millions of patients manage chronic conditions, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and all these conditions are made worse by smoking,” says Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark. “Tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered. When we asked ourselves where we expect to be in the future as a health care company, it became clear that removing tobacco products from our stores is the right thing to do.”
Fossil fuels have long held an advantage over renewables in that they provide a combined energy source and storage medium in one substance, be it gasoline, coal, oil or natural gas. The fact that you can save it, store it, then use it continuously whenever you need it is a tremendous convenience.
That gap is now being closed with the advent of combined solar-storage systems. These new systems not only match the capability of fossil fuels, but can actually go them one better. How? By taking advantage of the separation between energy source and storage medium, a number of new suppliers are now inserting intelligence between the two, allowing users to effectively blend their renewable resources with conventional ones in ways that are most advantageous.
Take, for example, Green Charge Networks (GCN), who provides battery storage combined with solar panels in a system that employs predictive algorithms to anticipate a building’s demand for electricity on a moment-by-moment basis. This information is then used to smooth out demand, resulting in significant savings in demand charges. The company just reached a milestone this week of 1 MW of installed capacity.
So what are demand charges and what are they for?
The utilities explain it with a single word: capacity.
For many of us, our cell phone is our lifeline to the outside world. These days we can use mobile technology to pay bills, make a reservation, reorder medications or check for callbacks from a prospective employer or a future landlord. We can monitor our checking account, keep up with news and local happenings and stay in moment-to-moment contact with loved ones at home.
While it’s hard at times to think of life without our little transportable backup, the truth is mobile technology has revolutionized the way we live our lives, both at home and while on the go.
Mobile Technology and Homeless Populations
And it also plays an indispensable role in the daily lives of those who don’t have a place to call their own. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are more than 600,000 people without a home in which to sleep on any given night. That includes not only people who live on the street or in shelters for long periods of time due to unemployment, illness or financial problems, but those who are temporarily without a place to live. For the homeless, the tangible access to a phone can mean the chance to reserve a bed in a shelter or find a place to get a warm meal. It ensures a way to call for help in distress or medical need. And it means that someone who doesn’t have an address to put down on an application can receive that all-important call for work that may give them the funds to eventually find a place of their own.
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.
TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Nichole Lecher: I am proud to serve as the director of strategic philanthropy and community relations at Northwestern Mutual. My work with the Northwestern Mutual Foundation drives sustainable social impact in the communities in which our employees and financial representatives live and work.
Two years ago, I came to the Northwestern Mutual Foundation to spearhead the strategic development and launch of the Childhood Cancer Program, our first-ever national signature initiative. Our program is dedicated to accelerate the search for a cure to childhood cancer and to provide support to kids and families facing the daily struggles of this disease. In just two years, we have brought this program to more than 10,000 Northwestern Mutual financial representatives and staff, as well as 5,000 employees at our corporate headquarters in Milwaukee.
In addition, my work includes oversight of the Foundation’s strategy, operations and other relationships with key nonprofit partners.
3p: How has the CSR program evolved at your company?
NL: Northwestern Mutual has always had a “do what’s right” ethos, which was applied in all areas of our business and community relationships.
Organic food producers and environmental organizations have a persuasive request for President Obama: Require labeling for GMO foods.
As voter-led initiatives ramp up nationwide, some of the country’s largest environmental organizations and most popular organic brands are leading their own campaign to urge federal labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMO).
More than 200 of the country’s largest and smallest voices in the environmental movement have penned a letter calling on the federal government to require labeling of GMO foods. Food manufacturers like Amy’s Kitchen, Ben & Jerry’s and Eden Foods have been joined by environmental farming, research and advocacy groups that include As You Sow, Oregon Tilth, Sierra Club and Center for Environmental Health in this latest call for federal oversight.
Whether it’s enhancing water infrastructure, greening the urban landscape and improving residents’ quality of life by building new parks; providing solar-powered, highly energy efficient mixed-income housing; lowering the risk of floods while building a riverfront park; or revitalizing inner-city neighborhoods through community-driven redevelopment, this year’s EPA Smart Growth award winners demonstrate the compound effects and cross-cutting social, environmental and economic benefits that can result from well thought-out, inclusive and equitable sustainability initiatives.
“This year’s winning projects show that smart growth approaches are having a visible impact on communities across the country— large and small, cities and suburbs, towns and rural places,” McCarthy said in a pre-ceremony message. “They show that the choices communities make about how they develop can protect people’s health and the environment while contributing to local economic growth. Most importantly, they show other communities that the path to a sustainable future is just around the corner.”
Every Wednesday, TriplePundit founder Nick Aster will take 30 minutes or so to chat with an interesting leader in the sustainable business movement. These chats are broadcast on our Google+ channel and embedded via YouTube right here on 3p.
On Wednesday, February 5th, an audience far and wide tuned in to a live chat with Susan McPherson - a serial connector, passionate cause marketer, angel investor and corporate responsibility expert. Recently, she launched McPherson Strategies, a communications consultancy focusing on the intersection between brands and social good, and continues to consult for Fenton as a strategic advisor.
If you missed the conversation you can watch it now on our YouTube stream (above).
The green investment organization Ceres has just released a new report on oil and gas fracking in the U.S., and it adds to the red flags that have been popping up over the fracking industry for the last couple of years. The report, “Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers,” underscores the urgency of addressing the risk that fossil fuel extraction poses to water resources – and to the investment community.
The report comes on the heels of the Ceres 2014 Investor Summit on Climate Risk in January. That event launched the organization’s Clean Trillion Campaign, which aims to prod the investment community in a climate-ethical direction by exposing emerging risks and indicating the path to more financially sustainable strategies.
Popular ridesharing companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have long-operated in a legal gray zone. While the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) unanimous approval of new regulations around ridesharing services last September helped to clear some of the ambiguity, scores of questions remain. Chief of these are liability issues — just who is to blame when things go wrong with ridesharing?
Last Monday, Uber found itself slapped with the first wrongful death lawsuit ever brought against a Transportation Networking Company (TNC) after one of its drivers, Syed Muzzafar, hit and killed a 6-year-old girl on New Years Eve in San Francisco.
“This tragedy did not involve a vehicle or provider doing a trip on the Uber system,” the company said. Uber spokesman Andrew Noyes said the company had no comment on the lawsuit.
While at first it may seem that Uber has a point — Muzzafar was not driving on the Uber clock at the time of the accident — companies can be found responsible for causing wrongful death and emotional distress even if the party that committed the crime is a completely independent third party.
PandoDaily cites the case of Weirum et al. vs. RKO General, Inc., where a radio station sponsored a contest involving one of its DJs driving around town and having teenagers “find” him for a prize. This resulted in reckless teen driving that culminated in the death of an innocent man, and the radio station was held responsible.
Haas students attend a “Lean In” event together at Facebook Headquarters last year.
By Kellie McElhaney, Haas School of Business
This past fall, I offered my Women in Business course at the MBA level, for the second year in a row. Again, the course filled, and again, males enrolled in the class as well as females. The fact that our male students see the value of investing in women globally exemplifies our culture of Beyond Yourself and Question the Status Quo.
This year, a male student applied and lobbied hard to be my graduate student instructor, so I gave him a shot. He was brilliant, not only in the structure, attention and small group discussions that he added to the class, but also in the perspectives he offered to me as the instructor. A theme that strongly emerged from the course readings, lectures and discussions this year was the critical need to bring men into this hard work, both to raise awareness of and to educate them on the data, value and opportunities of investing in women, but also to include them in solutions and efforts.
At this year’s Super Bowl, “Goodvertising” fared as well as the Broncos – left out in the cold and wondering where it all went wrong. And while the clash on the field was more obvious, there’s a subtle power struggle happening in the world’s most expensive commercial break: Advertising as usual versus the world-bettering messages of Goodvertising.
For most companies, the Super Bowl is merely a way of imprinting their brand on your mind; like the branding of old: cowboys burning their name on their cattle, to show ownership. Or so the cattle wouldn’t end up stray or rounded up by a competing farm. These brands definitely won’t want you to stray from the consumerist dream of shop-till-you-drop – they own you.
Other brands seem to understand that people are growing increasingly tired of quick laughs and cartoon characters. They’re tired of brands ruining their favorite movies, like Kia kidnapping The Matrix’s Morpheus, for an empty sales pitch about seat warmers. And they’re tired of exploitative emotional porn from Budweiser, with its horse-on-dog (or is that dog-on-horse?) action.
Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a three-part series examining how the global sustainability agenda will boost impact investment in natural resources. Stay tuned for parts two and three – featuring investment trends in minerals, forestry and land.
By Marta Maretich
With sustainability a growth area for world markets — and a priority for many world governments — there is a new focus on impact investing in natural resources. This three-part series examines how the global sustainability movement is driving the markets in four key natural resource sectors — oceans, minerals, forestry and land — and shaping the financial choices of impact investors around the world.
Part I: Oceans
Natural resources have always been precious to mankind, and today they are more in demand than ever. Population growth, climate change and the rising affluence of developing nations are putting a strain on the planet’s limited resources, and there is worldwide concern about future shortages and the destruction of ecosystem services that result from over-exploitation.
But while the pressures on our resources are getting bigger — and the consequences of depleting them are getting clearer — there are positive developments, too. A global movement for sustainability, led by governments, supported by international organizations and driven by public demand, is gathering momentum — and this has important implications for the social and impact investing sector.
A group of 17 leading foundations has announced a new initiative to encourage fossil fuel divestment by the philanthropic community. Called Divest-Invest Philanthropy, the new effort launched Jan. 30 in support of a growing movement among other nonprofit endowments, including academic, health, pension and religious foundations.
Divest-Invest comes at a time when climate-related events are shining a spotlight on the future risks that fossil fuel investors face, as highlighted by the Jan. 15 Ceres Investor Summit on Climate Risk.
The report identified a number of risks and impacts, including several related to environmental justice issues. The next step in the review process promises to be even more interesting, as it includes a public comment period and input from the Environmental Protection Agency and at least seven other federal agencies – the Departments of Defense, Justice, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Energy and Homeland Security.
America’s commercial buildings are on the cusp of being radically redesigned into Prius-like hybrid energy centers. These buildings will create value by guaranteeing lower energy bills, plus increased worker productivity, while also delivering climate-changing environmental impacts.
Like hybrid electric cars, this is a global trend. The cost of enabling technologies is falling - driven by global economies of scale. In the U.S., the only question that impacts when “hybrid electric buildings” will be built in your town is tied to the pace of change in utility and regulatory policies that remove the legacy distinctions between energy solutions that sit “behind the meter” versus those supplied through the utility grid.
Hybrid electric building design
Today’s hybrid electric car uses more than 100 microprocessors to collect data that is feed into a smart operating system. These microprocessors integrate traditional gasoline engines with electric generators and regenerative brakes to achieve superior MPG results. The car’s microprocessors also feed information into dashboards, designed to be productivity tools that coach a driver on how their behaviors can reduce costs and emissions.
Hybrid electric buildings will mirror this design. Like hybrid cars, they will have extensive sensor systems – collecting big data that smart systems will use to optimize integrated design components – like rooftop solar, onsite batteries and load-controlling technologies – to achieve occupant comfort, electrical reliability and lower cost.
Santa Barbara: Apr 2 – Apr 4 ECO:nomics The Wall Street Journal’s celebrated ECO:nomics conference brings together global CEOs, top entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers and environmental experts for discussion and debate about the most critical issues. Register here.
San Diego: Apr 24 – Apr 27 Social Venture Network Spring Conference SVN conferences convene and connect influential, innovative business leaders, impact investors and cultural entrepreneurs to create an experience where attendees can share the ideas and resources they need to succeed and grow. Register here.
New York: May 13 – May 14 Shared Value Leadership Summit For business leaders and problem solvers who see exciting market opportunities at the intersection of business goals and societal challenges, the Shared Value Initiative is the leading community shaping research, partnerships, and practices. Register here.
Southern California: May 19 – May 21 Fortune Brainstorm Green As the premier conference on business, sustainability, and green investing, Brainstorm GREEN delivers fresh thinking, actionable solutions, and unparalleled opportunities to build top-level relationships. Register here.
San Diego: Jun 2 – Jun 5 Sustainable Brands 2014 Discover what happens when brand strategists & designers connect with sustainability teams to drive innovation. 20% discount with code NW3pSB14sd. Register here.
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