Amazon to Power Data Centers With Renewable Energy

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 1 Comment

amazon packagingFor years, Amazon has received criticism of its environmental policies. In 2012, an article published in the Guardian pointed out that Amazon hadn’t published a sustainability report. Try looking for one on Amazon’s website, and you still can’t find it. However, last summer Amazon hired Kara Hartnett Hurst, CEO of the Sustainability Consortium, as its first sustainability executive. And this month, the company made a big announcement concerning renewable energy.

Amazon Web Services is planning to buy the energy generated by a 150 megawatt wind farm in Benton County, Indiana, the company announced last week. The wind farm, called the Amazon Web Services Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge), is expected to start generating power by January 2016. It will generate enough electricity, 500,000 megawatt hours, to power about 46,000 homes a year, and will be used to run both current and future AWS Cloud data centers.

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A New Vocabulary for Responsible Business: Words That Encourage

3p Contributor | Thursday January 29th, 2015 | 2 Comments

6826303487_b1e529a4f7_mBy Mark Brownlie

Are you tired of re-conceptualizing the paradigm to optimize competencies? Sometimes the words we use at work do more to baffle than to communicate clearly.

In reality, we speak many languages in our companies — legalese, engineering 301, advanced human resources, fluent finance — all sorts of corporate-speak.

If we keep using language that doesn’t communicate well, or worse, that gives the wrong impression, we’ll continue to have problems in becoming better businesses and a better society. I’m not proposing that we adopt a new language, but we do need to infuse our current lingo with some words and concepts that encourage a better future.

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A Sustainable Supply Chain “Race to the Top”

Michael Kourabas
| Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 2 Comments

Levi StraussLevi Strauss is hoping that, by incentivizing its worldwide web of suppliers to operate more responsibly, it can create what it is calling a sustainability “race to the top” in its supply chain.  The program, which the world’s most-recognized jeans maker and the World Bank jointly unveiled last November, is startling simple.  In exchange for improving their performance across a number of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) metrics, Levi Strauss’s suppliers will be able to access a sliding-scale of lower-cost financing arranged by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).

If the program succeeds, the IFC could eventually expand it sector-wide, fundamentally changing the way the garment industry operates.  Yet, even if the program significantly improves the behavior of Levi Strauss’s suppliers, the program’s real success may be measured by the impact it has on the company itself.

An overview of the incentive program

The Levi Strauss-IFC program is being rolled out country by country, beginning in South Asia — a particularly problematic region and where many of Levi Strauss’s suppliers are based. The IFC recently held an explanatory meeting in Pakistan for all of the Levi Strauss vendors in Pakistan, for instance, at which the IFC explained the incentive program and answered questions from suppliers.  Once the program is introduced in a country, any vendor is eligible to participate, and thus far participation levels have been encouraging.

According to Levi Strauss VP of sustainability, Michael Kobori, all of Levi Strauss’s suppliers based in Bangladesh and Pakistan have expressed interest in the program.

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New Investment Fund Finds Promising Startups in Sustainable Fish Farming

RP Siegel | Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Calysta feed

Calysta Microbial Protein Feed

In many ways, the sustainability journey is one of growing our capacity to provide critical production outputs like energy, food and water in a manner that does not deplete the natural resources upon which they depend. This needs to be done in a way that also does not produce unwanted byproducts that challenge the carrying capacity of the environment.

Exciting new innovations are being developed and introduced every day. One area that really seems to be heating up is aquaculture. Fish are becoming more and more popular due to their lower fat than other meats, but as their popularity and our population continue to grow, overfishing is becoming a problem. We have written about sustainable fisheries, and the growing community supported fishery (CSF) movement, but there seems to be little doubt that farming fish in a controlled environment can be far more productive than catching it in the wild.

For example, Lake Erie, which encompasses some 4,000 square miles, produces around 11 million pounds of yellow perch per year (down from about 38 million pounds 50 years ago).  According to Norman McCowan of Bell Aquaculture, a sustainable operation in Indiana we wrote extensively about last summer, 11 million pounds of perch could be raised indoors on about 7 acres.

This week brought an announcement out of Holland of a new investment fund called Aqua-Spark that is focused exclusively on sustainable aquaculture. The fund was launched in 2013 and has since raised $10 million. This week, Aqua-Spark announced its first two investments.

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Why Stella Artois Wants You to “Buy a Lady a Drink”

Leon Kaye | Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 1 Comment
Water scarcity, water.org, Stella Artois, buy a lady a drink, Matt Damon, Leon Kaye, India, microfinance, cause marketing

Stella Artois wants you to buy a lady a drink

At first glance this campaign reminds you of the 1980s bar scene and may elicit an eye roll. But in too many parts of the world, the thirst for water and hours put into collecting it trumps political correctness. To that end, the Belgian brewer Stella Artois has partnered with Water.org to launch an eye-catching campaign to halt one of the most onerous tasks faced by women in developing nations: the hours-long daily route of hauling water, usually by foot, over long distances. The “Buy a Lady a Drink” campaign opened last week at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

Indeed, this cause marketing campaign is a knife in a massive gunfight as NGOs, private companies and governments try to find ways to expand access to clean water in an era of growing water scarcity. Nevertheless, more knives like that of Stella Artois’ initiative are needed. The statistics are overwhelming. At least 760 million people lack access to safe, secure and clean water. Women and children spend about 140 million hours a day collecting water. And while mobile technology has opened more economic doors, one disturbing fact is that more people worldwide own a cell phone than own a toilet. Stella Artois’ campaign, which enlists Water.org’s founders Matt Damon and Gary White, is a step in raising awareness about this massive problem.

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Report: Pollution is the Leading Cause of Death in the Developing World

Alexis Petru
| Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 1 Comment

Indian PollutionIt was only after Seynabou Mbengue saw five of her 10 children die that she realized the culprit: her job extracting lead from used batteries by hand. The Senegalese mother watched as her five youngest children, all born after she started her toxic recycling job, began to have seizures and convulsions until they finally passed away before their second birthdays.

Unfortunately, the tragic deaths of Mbengue’s children are not uncommon. Pollution is the leading cause of death in low- and middle-income countries, according to a report from the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), an organization whose members include the World Bank, Columbia University’s Earth Institute, and various United Nations’ bodies and national governments.

In 2012, pollution – in the form of contaminated soil, water, and both indoor and outdoor air – was responsible for 8.4 million deaths in developing countries, finds Pollution: The Silent Killer of Millions in Poor Countries. That’s almost three times more deaths than those caused by malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined: Malaria claimed 600,000 lives in 2012, HIV/AIDS caused 1.5 million deaths and tuberculosis killed 900,000 individuals.

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Sustainability Ranking for Large Companies Announced at World Economic Forum

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 1 Comment

biogen_idec_sustainableFraming the perfectly sustainable company has always been a challenge, but never one that Toronto-based Corporate Knights has shied away from. The well-known media and financial products company released its eighth annual tally of the top 100 multi-billion-dollar companies this week. And there was no better place to announce the findings than the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland.

It’s a heady list of who’s-who from every corner of the industrialized world. The U.S., which was represented by 20 companies, took the lion’s share of kudos.

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Boomers’ Sustainability Diet: What Not To Do

Bill Roth | Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 2 Comments

Editor’s Note: 3p correspondent Bill Roth used sustainability principles to get healthy, lose 20 pounds and keep it off. He documented his experience — and what he calls the Boomers’ Sustainability Diet — in a three-part series. This post is part three. In case you missed them, you can read the first part here and the second part here.

The new thinner Bill Roth!

The new, thinner Bill Roth!

I have lost 20 pounds and kept it off by incorporating core principals of sustainability into my diet and lifestyle. My Boomers’ Sustainability Diet is the easiest diet you have ever considered.

In my last article, I explained how I have lost weight by eating all I want of good food that I like to eat. I lost weight without being hungry! I even get to enjoy my happy hours. This diet is what we baby boomers are all about: You can still live life to the fullest while addressing health concerns tied to tummy fat.

This last article in my three-part series explains why good intentions are not enough. There are things we have been doing our entire lives that have gotten us into this situation where we are overweight and confronting serious health challenges because of our diets. Here is the list of five things you just have to stop eating if you are going to achieve sustained weight loss and improved health.

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5 Ways to Make Sustainability Reporting More Sustainable

Elaine Cohen
Elaine Cohen | Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: A version of this post originally appeared on the CSR-Reporting blog

6350818930_b2896dc9a7_zIs sustainability reporting sustainable?

There are some that think it is. The practice is now more widespread than ever before, and legislation in different parts of the world is supporting increased non-financial disclosure. This would indicate that reporting is here to stay.

On the other hand, there are some that think it isn’t. There are those who subordinate sustainability reporting to the new financial reporting trend called integrated reporting, while others advocate online interactive disclosures instead of reports.

As we move into 2015 and face another year of corporate efforts to improve impacts, manage risk and engage with the new opportunities that sustainability brings, amid a flurry of surveys and reports that support the case for or against sustainability reporting, what can companies do to embed reporting practice in a sustainable manner? In addition to the predictable list of things we already know — focus, clarity, materiality, relevance, balance, frameworks, etc. — here are some more creative approaches that companies might like to consider.

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Engaged Employees: The Catalysts of Your Company

3p Contributor | Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 2 Comments
Ford executive chairman Bill Ford and Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, join Dearborn Truck Plant employees to celebrate production start of the 2015 F-150.

Ford executive chairman Bill Ford and Mark Fields, Ford president and CEO, join Dearborn Truck Plant employees to celebrate production start of the 2015 F-150.

By Daryl Horney

Organizations that really stand out from the crowd deliver on their brand promises every time you interact with them. From thoughtful advertising and a clear, easy online experience to the way they talk or write to you.

Lets face it, though: It’s not easy to do, and few organizations achieve this. At my firm, Instinctif Partners, it’s our belief that being able to display these attributes consistently requires engaged employees — people who understand the end customer and are behind the brand they are working for.

It appears that the Ford Motor Co. is one of those few organizations; you only have to look at the automaker’s numerous awards for its product line-up and the record revenue it has achieved in the past two years to know Ford has got it right.

The company is also the leader in the auto industry when it comes to winning awards and accolades in sustainability, diversity and corporate responsibility. The secret of Ford’s success is simple: transparency and trust, open dialogue across and up and down the business, and a clear vision. The net result is: Employees are more aligned with their organizational goals and strategy, and they become emotionally tied to their products and brand … for now.

What we don’t know is whether they have achieved the ‘living brand.’ How often does the promise made by a company in its marketing and advertising fail to match up to the real customer experience? That’s the brand gap. And where one exists, the credibility and fortunes of any business is at risk.

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Palm Oil Giant Launches Web Portal to Make Its Supply Chain Transparent

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday January 28th, 2015 | 0 Comments

palm oil plantationWilmar International Ltd., the largest palm oil producer in the world, is the first industry player to make its palm oil supply chain transparent via an online platform. The decision is expected to help the palm oil company achieve its goal of eliminating deforestation and exploitation from its operations.

Wilmar mapped out its supply chain and listed all of its palm oil mill suppliers in Indonesia and Malaysia on a dashboard website. The dashboard, which went live last week, is a result of a collaboration with the Forest Trust. The company’s supply chain map shows where its refineries in Indonesia and Malaysia are located, and includes a traceability summary for each one.

The dashboard includes a mechanism to report improper activities. All concerns are logged under the Grievances Procedure, and progress and findings will be reported on the dashboard.

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Copenhagen Reveals World’s First Neighborhood Adapted for Climate Change

Leon Kaye | Tuesday January 27th, 2015 | 1 Comment
Copenhagen, Denmark, Tredje Natur, climate adaptation, smart cities, Leon Kaye, St. Kjeld, climate change

Rendering of St. Kjeld after its complete redesign.

Copenhagen, Denmark has long been one of the more proactive cities when it comes to planning for climate change. It also happens to be the capital of the country with one of the most advanced clean energy portfolios on earth. And with most of the city only having an average altitude of 30 feet (9 meters) above sea level, Copenhagen is susceptible to storm surges and its temperamental climate. Cloud bursts over the last few years have smacked the city budget — one heavy storm in 2011 alone cost the city about 6 billion kroner, or over US$1 billion. As part of its climate adaptation plan, the city recently revealed what it says is the first neighborhood redesigned to adapt to climate change.

The district of St. Kjeld features a roundabout circling a main square at which seven streets converge. Long a patchwork of asphalt surfaces, the central plaza was typical of most of Copenhagen’s open spaces during times of extreme weather: worthless. The city’s sewer system had long been at maximum capacity, and therefore rain had nowhere to go, worsening its ongoing flooding problem. To that end, the city engaged the architecture firm Tredje Natur to come up with a plan to revamp and redesign St. Kjeld’s open spaces.

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GE Signs Its Largest Wind Turbine Deal in China

| Tuesday January 27th, 2015 | 1 Comment

wind_ge Renewable energy resources are bound to play a larger and larger role in China’s energy mix as the world’s second largest economy – and largest emitter of greenhouse gases – strives to reduce pollution and forge a healthier, more sustainable economy and society. Renewable energy technology also is playing a growing role in driving growth among U.S. industrial companies – blue-chips as well as fast-growing small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

On Jan. 26, General Electric announced that China’s Huaneng Corp. will install 55 of its GE 2.7-120 Brilliant wind turbines – 151 megawatts worth – at its Huaneng Dali Longquan wind farm in southwestern Yunnan province. The deal, which includes a two-year operations and maintenance service agreement, marks GE’s largest wind turbine order in China to date.

More than 16 gigawatts of wind power capacity was installed in China in 2013. That represented 45 percent of the worldwide total, according to Global Wind Energy Council statistics. Globally, wind, solar and other emissions-free energy resources will prevent 3,800 million tons of CO2 emissions per year out to 2030, the council highlighted in a press released issued during the United Nations’ latest climate treaty negotiations, which took place in Lima, Peru in December.

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Boomers’ Sustainability Diet: Five Steps to Losing 20 Pounds

Bill Roth | Tuesday January 27th, 2015 | 4 Comments

Editor’s Note: 3p correspondent Bill Roth used sustainability principles to get healthy, lose 20 pounds and keep it off. He documented his experience — and what he calls the Boomers’ Sustainability Diet — in a three-part series. This post is part two. In case you missed it, you can read the first part here

The new thinner Bill Roth!

The new, thinner Bill Roth!

I have lost 20 pounds, and kept it off, by adopting sustainable best practices. My secret sauce consists of eating things I like that are good for me and the planet. As I reviewed in my first article, this diet is designed to be easy to follow. It requires no hunger, and I allow myself to sinfully enjoy happy hour and holiday season pies, cookies, stuffing and gravy!

I designed this diet for my generation, the boomer generation. The diet consists of five “do this” and five “stop doing that” steps. This article covers five action items that will help you lose weight sustainably.

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Tech Lowers NOx Emissions in California Oil & Gas Sector

| Tuesday January 27th, 2015 | 0 Comments

US NOx emissions map Achieving further reductions in nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions is a focal point for U.S. oil, gas and industrial businesses, as well as automakers, as state air quality authorities work to follow through on proposed new federal NOx emissions limits. Public air quality authorities in Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley – hubs for oil production in California for over 100 years – are working with industry players to come up with practical, cost-effective solutions.

A new clean combustion technology from Seattle’s ClearSign Combustion Corp. may provide an answer to oil and gas industry players’ and regulators’ search. Retrofitting 62.5 million Btu/hour once-through steam generators at an Aera Energy LLC heavy-oil production site with its Duplex Burner Architecture (DBA) has validated previous, smaller-scale test results. There, ClearSign’s DBA is reducing NOx emissions to levels that meet the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s (SJVAPCD) Rule 4320 on NOx emissions.

On Jan. 22, ClearSign followed the successful Aera Energy field test by announcing an agreement to retrofit a three-burner, 12 million Btu/hour vertical cylindrical heater at a Tricor Refining LLC oil refinery in Bakersfield with its Duplex Burner technology.

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