Cargill Releases First Palm Oil Progress Report

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Thursday November 20th, 2014 | 0 Comments

palm oil plantationCargill Tropical Palm released its first progress report on sustainable palm oil this week. The report, released on Monday, details the company’s plan to achieve a sustainable supply chain.

Part of that plan is its pledge to deforestation-free palm oil, a commitment the company first announced in July. It repeated that pledge at the United Nations Climate Summit in September in New York City. Specifically, Cargill pledged not to develop palm oil on peatland, not to exploit the rights of indigenous people and local communities, and to include smallholders.

At the U.N. Climate Summit, Cargill signed the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge. Signers of the pledge committed to sustainable practices concerning palm oil. Cargill recently announced that it is on track to trace 80 percent of its palm oil in key markets back to the mills it came from, and that figure will reach 100 percent by December of next year, according to company estimates.

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Carbon Offsets: Start with the Footprint

RP Siegel | Wednesday November 19th, 2014 | 1 Comment

6405158215_96e38281b8_zAs part of our ongoing series on carbon offsets, it’s time to peel back another layer and look at how entities determine exactly what their carbon footprint is, so that they know how much they want to offset, whether it’s for a specific action (like an overseas flight) or an overall operation.

Simply put, carbon emissions generally occur as the result of energy consumption in one form or another. More specifically they emanate from the combustion of fossil fuels, though there are certain industries, like concrete production, that give off CO2 as a byproduct of different kinds of chemical reactions.

Figuring out the carbon emitted by various fuels is straightforward. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) created a chart that provides the number of pounds of CO2 emitted for a variety of common fuels.

So, for example, it tells us that a gallon of gasoline emits 19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide when burned. It doesn’t tell us that, based on each vehicle’s efficiency, the amount of carbon emitted per mile will vary. For example, a Prius will emit 0.39 pounds per mile, while something like a Jeep Grand Cherokee will emit 1.03 pounds per mile. Still, a company that owns a fleet of vehicles can simply add up the amount of fuel purchased, from which the carbon footprint can easily be computed. Diesel fuel emits 22.6 pounds of carbon per gallon. There are other considerations, such as where the gasoline came from, how the oil was extracted and refined and how far it was transported, but these are generally ignored since it would be extremely difficult to track.

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Video: Cecily Joseph of Symantec Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Wednesday November 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

SYM_Vert_RGB-72dpi-300x290“Diversity has been around companies for many years,” Cecily Joseph, VP of corporate responsibility and chief diversity officer for Symantec, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis this month. “And unfortunately I don’t feel we’ve made … the kind of progress that we need to make to be successful and to have an impact.

“If we adopt diversity as a [corporate social responsibility (CSR)] issue and use the same framework that we use to drive other sustainability issues through our organization, I think we’re going to be a lot more effective.”

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Joseph goes on to provide three tactics for doing this, as well as the business case for diversity, in this two-minute clip.

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U.N. Association Representative: Climate Change and War Are Linked

Hannah Miller | Wednesday November 19th, 2014 | 9 Comments
Zuza Bohley makes the link from Colorado to the UN. Photo by Lee Buchsbaum.

Zuza Bohley makes the link from Colorado to the U.N.

During the Cold War, when Zuza Bohley was growing up in East Germany, being a pacifist was a crime. It was considered treason.

Treason, as in: Her entire family, made up of politically active pacifists, was subject to surveillance. Their home was watched by the Stasi, the East German secret police. Her father was imprisoned. At age 13, Bohley was taken captive at a friend’s birthday party and interrogated for four hours.

“I was terrified to tell anyone,” she recounts now.   “I was so, so worried that I had said something that would incriminate my family.”

A year later, her family was deported from their home at gunpoint and traded to West Germany as political prisoners for cash. (The East German government received 50,000 marks.) “We never asked to leave,” she remembers. “We wanted to change things from within.”

In West Germany, Bohley was bullied and spit on in school, this time being called “communist,” and eventually made her way to the U.S. Now she works for multiple NGOs striving to create peace and sustainability — focusing on youth, especially from marginalized groups. As regional representative to the United Nations Association for the Rocky Mountain Region, she says that climate change and peace are intertwined.

“Most of the world’s wars are fought over resources,”  Bohley said. “The U.S. involvement in the Middle East is because of oil. The Ukranian crisis … because of dependence on Russian oil.”

This year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warned about the probability of climate change-fueled civil wars and inter-group conflict. In the case of Syria, this has already happened.

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Cloud-Based Solar Robotics Platform Cleans PV Panels Without Water

| Wednesday November 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Ecoppia-Israel-Self-Cleaning-Solar-Park-2From sustainable agriculture and water resource management to solar photovoltaics, Israeli companies have been at the forefront of developing new means of forging sustainable societies amid harsh and changing conditions. A strong, homegrown clean tech venture capital community is helping innovative young Israeli clean-tech companies make their mark locally and in markets around the world.

A drive on the part of solar PV industry participants to reduce balance-of-system (BoS) and “soft” costs is underway as governments in key markets such as the European Union and U.S. cut back or eliminate renewable energy R&D funding, tariffs and other incentives.

Operations and maintenance (O&M) makes up a significant portion of running solar PV power generation assets. According to a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), fixed O&M costs for solar PV systems ranging from 1 to 10 megawatts averaged $20 +/- $10 per kilowatt-hour of energy in 2013.

Aiming to boost efficiency as well as drive those costs down significantly, Israeli clean tech startup Ecoppia has developed a high-tech means of cleaning and maintaining solar PV panels on a utility scale. Ecoppia’s solution comes in the form of a cloud-based solar robotics platform that’s not only highly efficient and effective, but also energy-independent and water-free. That’s an important attribute not only in arid and desert regions, but also anywhere in the world where pressures on water resources threaten or may threaten water supplies.

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Could Sportswear Be the Tipping Point for Sustainable Apparel?

Presidio Sports
Presidio Sports | Wednesday November 19th, 2014 | 3 Comments

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.

2651954763_bfa850bc9c_zBy Jill Stoneberg

For several years leading sports apparel brands, including Nike, Adidas and Puma, have touted the use of sustainable manufacturing practices and recycled materials.  From Nike shirts made from waterless dyes, to certified cradle-to-cradle shoes made by Puma, sportswear has taken great sustainability strides.  Needless to say, this shift to integrate product creation with sustainable design principles has not emerged solely for the altruistic purpose of saving the planet.  Nor has it been driven solely to realize cost savings associated with less resource-intensive manufacturing practices. 

Rather, sustainability for some sports apparel companies has been embraced and marketed to spur innovation and deliver superior products.   As a result, apparel manufactured with sustainability in mind is becoming increasingly available in the sportswear industry.  Avid sports fans, as well as consumers who wear casual sports attire, are each connected to the sustainable apparel movement — even if they are not consciously aware of it.

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Video: Sol Salinas of Accenture Talks Diversity at Net Impact ’14

| Wednesday November 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

10297727_10154080571610374_8250599455945505293_n“Diversity for me is actually a very personal topic,” Sol Salinas, managing director of global strategy and sustainability for Accenture, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference earlier this month.

Salinas was born in Nicaragua and came to the United States when he was 7 years old. He was, as he put it, the “recipient” of many other people’s efforts — efforts that ultimately gave him a chance to succeed.

With those experiences in his back pocket, Salinas has a unique vantage point from which to consider diversity issues: “The least productive meeting that one can have is if everybody sits around the room and nods their head,” he continued. “With lack of diversity, you’re more likely to have that sort of result.”

As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Salinas goes on to describe the ‘most productive’ type of business meeting — and how to achieve it through diversity and inclusion — in this three-minute clip.

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Solar LED Lamps Enhance Literacy, Livelihoods Around the World

| Wednesday November 19th, 2014 | 1 Comment

unite to light logoJoining a list of legendary physicists that includes Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and former Obama administration Energy Secretary Steven Chu, physics professor Shuji Nakamura was one of three physicists who shared in the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in October awarded this year’s physics prize to Nakamura, of University of California, Santa Barbara, and Nagoya University‘s Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amanao for their invention of the blue light-emitting diode (LED).

Enabling LEDs to produce white light for the first time, the invention of the blue LED in the late 1990s paved the way for a revolution in lighting. As is often the case with such groundbreaking innovations, the three physicists’ invention led to a rising tide of interest and efforts to build on their work.

While Nakamura continues his research as a materials professor and chair of the Cree Center for Solid State Lighting and Displays, his innovation has been embraced at UC Santa Barbara and in the Santa Barbara community. Nonprofit Unite to Light is leveraging LED lighting, as well as the work of other university researchers in developing more efficient solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and battery technology, to deliver solar-powered LED lamps to organizations working to improve living conditions in under-served, developing communities around the world.

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Belfast Ecovillage Completes Largest Community-Initiated Solar Purchase in Maine

Sarah Lozanova | Wednesday November 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments

Home solarMembers of Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage, a tight-knit community in Midcoast Maine, are experienced in working together. When a child is born or an illness strikes, members lend a hand and provide home-cooked meals. Sharing cars, child care and even house-swapping when life circumstances change are all common occurrences in this community, which values sustainability and multi-generational living. The recent 11-home community solar purchase was a perfect fit with the ecovillage culture.

All of the photovoltaic solar systems use Axitec 250-watt photovoltaic modules with Enphase microinverters, allowing members to receive wholesale rates on the purchase of the panels and components. They were drop-shipped, and onsite construction equipment for the common house and unfinished units helped transport the panels to each home. Customized rooftop safety equipment was reused, saving time and money.

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RECAP: Stories & Beer – Sustainability and the 50th NFL Super Bowl

Marissa Rosen
| Tuesday November 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

storiesandbeerlogoWe hosted our monthly Stories and Beer Fireside Chat on November 18th at the Impact HUB San Francisco – and online via web cam. 

Few things short of religion capture as many people’s attention as major sporting events – with the National Football League’s Super Bowl being amongst the greatest spectacles of them all.  In 2016, the Super Bowl will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, and the team is already preparing to celebrate.  A well thought-out strategy to “green” the event is underway and, perhaps more importantly, fans are now invited into a sustainability conversation like never before.

Our special guest at this Fireside Chat, Neill Duffy is Co-Chair of the Sustainability Sub Committee and Sustainability Advisor to the Super Bowl 50 host committee!

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Why Taking Care of Your Apparel Workers is Good for Business

| Tuesday November 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

bangladesh_users When the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory took the lives of more than 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh last year, the world’s eyes were fixed on what multinational apparel companies would do to ensure that a similar tragedy would not reoccur.

In the wake of the calamity, agreements to improve factory working conditions – such as the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the corporate-led initiative the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety – were created, building retrofits and renovations were jump-started, and reparations were made. Notwithstanding the progress that Western companies, labor unions and local government continue to make to secure safe working conditions Bangladesh, several social enterprises are helping to advance the sustainability of the global apparel supply chain beyond safety compliance and toward a considered focus on business ROI and social impact.

The multi-trillion dollar global apparel industry – of which Bangladesh is the second largest garment exporter (after China) – employs about 25 million garment factory workers, 80 percent of which are women. Historically, the conditions at a factory such as Rana Plaza have been less than ideal: Workers endure low wages, long hours and unexpected changes in daily schedules. Even more, in most societies that are home to low-wage garment factories, workers are culturally discouraged to complain when working conditions are trying – especially if you are a woman. Unfortunately, those cultural barriers and lack of communication channels have often been costly for factories. (Evidence suggests that Rana Plaza could have been avoided if factory management had listened to worker concerns.)

Organizations such as LaborVoices work to prevent just that. Using basic mobile phone technology, LaborVoices provides a platform for garment factory workers from various countries (as well as workers in other industries) to provide real-time feedback about working conditions at specific sites: Employees can call or text a dedicated line 24/7, free of charge, to anonymously complete a brief survey and also have the option to leave a voice recording with anecdotal feedback. This valuable information is then shared with apparel brands and factory management to help them solve problems in their supply chain before they become bigger issues.

LaborVoices not only gives workers a voice, literally, and supports supply chain transparency – it’s also a useful business tool.

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Talking Diversity at Net Impact ’14

Mary Mazzoni
| Tuesday November 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

net impactThree years ago, Forbes Insights surveyed companies with more than $500 million in revenue and asked them about innovation and company culture. Of 321 polled, 85 percent agreed or strongly agreed that diversity was key to driving innovation in the workplace. A study released in October, this one co-authored by economists from MIT and George Washington University, found that gender diversity in the workplace helps firms be more productive. A 2013 Deloitte study concluded that cultivating “diversity of thought” at an organization increases innovation and problem solving. I could go on.

Despite mounting data that insists diversity is key to the sustainable growth of any business, it has been pigeonholed as an HR function for decades. But as the younger generation enters the workforce — with an expectation of “purpose, not just a paycheck” — companies are beginning to move beyond the status quo and infuse diversity into their core business practices.

“Diversity and inclusion is not a new topic of conversation. We’ve been talking about it for a very long time, but the dialogue is changing,” Cecily Joseph, VP of corporate responsibility and chief diversity officer for Symantec, said in a panel discussion at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis. “[Diversity and inclusion] sat in HR for many years, and I think companies aren’t happy with the end result.”

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Note to Tim Cook: We Need Corporate Action, Not Another ‘It Gets Better’ Story

3p Contributor | Tuesday November 18th, 2014 | 2 Comments

14008636022_fefbb458ec_zBy Peter Grace

Apple CEO Tim Cook finally “came out.” To anyone in the gay community, this was no shocker. He’s been on our radar for some time. He’s topped OUT Magazine’s Power List since 2011. So, what’s the big deal? And why now? Apple is among a number of tech giants that are currently under attack for their dismal diversity data. In many ways, I would argue that Cook’s coming out was a sly, timely PR move by Apple to use its gay CEO to distract from its lack of diversity.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a great thing to happen. I am a firm believer in Harvey Milk’s maxim, “Come out, come out, wherever you are.” The more of us that come out – whether it’s to our coworkers, relatives, strangers – the more likely we’ll be accepted as everyday people. For someone as powerful as Cook to come out is certainly positive visibility for the LGBT community and sends an encouraging signal to other gay business leaders to do the same.

The cascade of positive media coverage that has followed his piece in Bloomberg Businessweek echoes this sentiment. Slate called it a “lovely essay.” HuffPo’s Gay Voices heralded him, listing “the top 12 words that made me tear up.” For a relatively quiet company like Apple to suddenly take a voice on this issue is indeed remarkable – but also suspect.

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‘Friends of Science’ Not So Friendly, Blame Sun for Climate Change

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Tuesday November 18th, 2014 | 12 Comments

Friends_of_Science_snowstorm_climate_changeLast summer, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was embarking on the final stages of its latest synthesis report, a billboard was being quietly erected on the outskirts of Calgary, Alberta. Home to the University of Calgary and the seat of much of the academic research related to oil and gas exploration in this bitumen-rich province, Calgary was the perfect place to pitch a controversial view of climate change.

With a carefully selected cadre of scientists behind it, Friends of Science made rapid headlines when it advertised its explanation for climate change. There was nothing new to scientists challenging the notion of man-made global warming. What snagged the attention of rush-hour motorists was its premise – one that could both explain the debate over a warming climate and seem almost palatable.

“The sun is the direct and indirect driver of climate change. Not you. Not CO2,” the organization asserted. The statement would seem like music to the ears of harried drivers, already dealing with unpredictable floods and diminishing snow pack in Calgary, who are genuinely skeptical of the barrage of political rhetoric coming over the Canada-U.S. border. This was, after all, a Calgary-based organization, near a publicly-funded research university.

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So You’re a Certified B Corporation. Now What?

Ryan Honeyman | Tuesday November 18th, 2014 | 0 Comments

This is a weekly series of excerpts from the new book “The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, October 2014). Click here to read the rest of the excerpts.

B Corp Mountain Graphic copyBy Ryan Honeyman

Here is the final installment of the six-week Quick Start Guide to becoming a Certified B Corporation.

As a refresher, week one focused on getting a baseline assessment of your social and environmental performance; week two focused on motivating and engaging your team; week three was about creating an action plan for B Corp certification; week four discussed how you can raise your B Corp assessment score; and week five was designed to help you power though the B Corp finish line.

Week Six: Celebrate and next steps

OBJECTIVE: By week six, you will have made significant progress toward improving your social and environmental performance. If you have met the requirements to become a Certified B Corporation, congratulations on joining one of the most exciting and dynamic movements in business!

END RESULT: Celebrate, and congratulate your team for taking this journey.

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