Lost in all the talk about whether or when nations and industries will have emissions targets, is the question of who, exactly, is going to measure those targets.
Without a pool of trained and certified professional GHG managers, climate change initiatives — from the United Nations Framework down to the sustainability plan for the shop around the corner — could stall.
Worse, a lack of accountability could turn the “greenhouse gas expert” into the snake oil salesman of the 21st century, peddling a dubious product whose ingredients change from one bottle to the next.
Enter the Greenhouse Gas Management Institute. The Institute provides professional training in greenhouse gas accounting and verification, primarily online, and its ultimate goal is to create a professional society for greenhouse gas accountants and verifiers, similar to the way other fields — architecture, law, medicine, accounting — have national or international certification bodies.
The Institute was launched in 2007 as a non-profit by Michael Gillenwater and Tom Baumann, two recognized experts in emissions measurement, who realized that there was an emerging need for standardization in their field.
One of the subject matters that we’ve been working on covering more often is that of healthcare. Never mind the politics, the working of hospitals, health insurers, company health programs and so-on should be deeply entwined into the conversation on sustainability.
On December 3rd, The Learning Forum is bringing together employee benefits experts, healthcare providers, health insurance executives and others who are focusing on long-term health strategies. The purpose of the meeting is to share ideas and experience on the emerging trends that link sustainability, wellness and productive workplaces.
The all day event will be held at the Institute For the Future in Palo Alto, CA and is limited in size to 20 firms to ensure a private, collegial and candid set of meetings. Attendees will include folks from Humana, the CDC, Burger King, Stanford University Hospitals, Nokia, Ascension Health, Steelcase.
By Ali Hart In the past decade, green products have infiltrated the mainstream consumer market, and I’d argue that the biggest splash has been in the “luxury green” market. When I first noticed this happening, I was appalled–I’m not a luxury brand buyer and I don’t want sustainability to be associated with “upscale and expensive.” Sustainability, after all, is supposed to be inclusive, not exclusive.
Green products were initially in the niche “health and wellness” space, and some of these products carry a “hippie” stigma (I’m from New England so bear with me, West Coasters). This stigma is related to the perception of the environmentalist movement as liberal, activist, and hippie – hardly mainstream. In order for green to hit its tipping point, it had to be more accessible to the masses–this is the job of a marketer.
At the Green Business Conference, Joey Shepp, founder of Earthsite, a boutique web design and strategy company, gave his presentation for best tips in using social media for sustainable businesses. This includes social networking, blogging, online reviews, and direct communications devices. The statistics are a bit surprising, even to someone like me who uses social media on a fairly regular basis.
Four out of five people are using social media to interact with companies.
Two thirds of people feel they can use social media to influence companies.
Twenty percent of people trust advertising, 60 percent trust editorials, and 80 percent trust reviews written by their peers.
Shepp’s advice for businesses to take advantage of these trends?
Green America‘s Green Business Conference is going on today and tomorrow in beautiful San Francisco, CA, in advance of the weekend’s Green Festival. The conference opened with a talk by Bob Johansen, author of Leaders Make the Future, and futurist with the Palo Alto based Institute for the Future.
According to Johansen, businesses today are operating in a society that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. It’s a VUCA world, in short. The Institute studies the business community and its leaders, and finds that what we want in the business community is 1) clarity for where we’re going, and 2) flexibility on how we get there. The Institute has characterized 10 leadership skillsets for living and thriving in this VUCA world and achieving these aims. These will help business leaders clarifying goals on where their business is heading, and how they can get there.
The leadership skills go from the most common and simplest to achieve, to the most complex and actualized of intangible assets:
The maker instinct: that intuition we have to ‘build something.’
Clarity: ability to see past the noise and have a vision of what the future may look like.
Constructive depolarizing: ability to calm a tense situation, reestablish broken lines of communication, and branch divergent interests together.
There are so many great things about bananas. In addition to being an important source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium, they’re naturally wrapped, so companies that sell them don’t have to worry about packaging. That is, unless that company is 7-Eleven.
Last month, 7-Eleven tested a new plastic wrap to keep single bananas yellow and firm for five days (more than double the two-day shelf life for unwrapped bananas), according to an article from ABC news. This is no small matter, as the chain will sell more than 27 million bananas this year.
That means 27 million individual plastic wrappers that are entirely unnecessary. But the question is, who is the culprit here?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, for every 100 units of energy piped into a typical data center, only three are used for useful computing. These inefficiencies are the result of very low (~10 percent) utilization of the data center’s computing servers which creates intolerable heat and energy issues as well as sprawling space requirements.
To make matters worse, experts predict the number of servers to double or even triple over the next few years as a result of booming demand for Internet capacity. Fortunately, the emergence of advanced component technologies, such as multi-core processors, low-latency interconnects, and flash memory, hold the promise to transform the data center through radical improvements in performance, scalability and power consumption.
Blue Financial, a South African microfinance institution, just launched its Cashxpress product in Rwanda. The service is intended to help employed, yet low-income, individuals borrow money in emergency situations. According to the Blue Financial website, Cashexpress is unique since it will disburse unsecured loans of between 100 and 5,000 Rands ($13 to $677 USD) to existing customers who are faced with difficult financial situations, an opportunity that has thus far been the domain of loan sharks in the developing world. From press and company descriptions, Blue’s product operates similarly to payday loans common in the United States, a service that is often criticized because of the high interest payments charged to borrowers.
While microcredit continues to change lives in the developing world, it is worthwhile to consider these high interest rates. The published rate on an income generating loan from the Grameen Bank is 20%. By comparison, Americans pay around 15% on credit card debt. Of course, the proposition of lending money to people without credit histories or stable incomes involves considerable risk and microfinance companies must factor this into rate calculations. However, Kiva, the popular social giving site, recognizes that transaction costs account for a significant portion of expenses that microcredit institutions incur (Kiva, like Blue, does not post actual interest rates, an issue of transparency which may be a subject of a future post). As this field grows in size and popularity, it will be important to search for more efficient ways to deliver loans that ultimately decrease costs for customers.
David Abraham is an MBA candidate at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He is a founder of the Emerging Markets Club at Smith which seeks to build a greater understanding of free-market opportunites in frontier markets.
A California anti-immigration group has created a multimedia ad campaign blaming immigrants for climate change and environmental degradation in California. Californians for Population Stabilization, or CAP, argues that immigrants, legal and illegal, increase their carbon footprint four-fold when they move to the US and “Americanize” their consumption habits, thus exacerbating climate problems.
According to CAP President Diane Hull, “Californians [have] made significant progress in energy conservation over the last couple of decades. However, the progress has been mitigated by massive population growth over the same period, driven by immigration and births to immigrants.” Hull continues:
This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco Libris.
Triple Pundit was thrilled to take part in the green books campaign because we love reading and we especially love reading books that have been produced in an environmentally responsible way.
We reviewed Public Produce: The New Urban Agriculture, a book that lays out the public policy rationale for landscaping public lands with fruit bearing trees. Imagine if that shrub was replaced with an apple tree? It’s a pretty neat idea. Even better, this tome is printed on recycled paper.
At first glance, this doesn’t seem to have much to do with sustainable business, because the book argues for a shift in municipal policy. But Triple Pundit is a place where we love to talk about food and we’ve covered many businesses that deal with food innovation. The policy laid out in Public Produce has all the tenets of an innovative model: cost reduction, life improvement and a healthy a dose of “why haven’t I thought of that.” Author Darrin Norahl lays out all the problems with our current food production and distribution system: the dearth of affordable healthy food in the inner city and its connection to obesity; hunger; the 1500 miles the average piece of produce travels; outbreaks of food borne illness that sicken and kill people country wide and the environmental degradation associated with big ag. Then he provides an elegant solution:
For those who oppose any kind of meaningful action on global climate change, consider the latest findings on the cost of inaction.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world will have to spend an extra $500 billion to cut carbon emissions for each year it delays implementing serious action on global warming. This would be on top of the $10.5 trillion investment needed from 2010 to 2030 to boost renewable energy development and improve energy efficiency.
Of that $10.5 trillion, the IEA states that about 45 percent, or $4.7 trillion in investment will be in transportation. Just one more reason we continue to remain so bullish on the electrification of our transportation infrastructure, mass transit and high speed rail.
Think of it as a support group for data center gurus.
Better yet, think of it as a support group on steroids for data center gurus.
Data Center Pulse (DCP) is a non-profit, open source community where data center end users can share information, voice opinions, define innovative next-generation solutions, and ultimately influence activities and trends in the industry.
Members can participate in LinkedIn discussions, download program proposals and presentations, stay up-to-date with breaking IT news, watch informational videos, network, blog…and more.
Founded only a year ago (in September 2008), DCP already boasts 1,240 members, representing more than 600 companies, spread across 45 different countries. It’s an exclusive group of data center owners, operators and users — and in this uniquely specialized community, consultants or individuals with primary roles in a sales, marketing or business development capacity are noticeably (and purposely) absent.*
By David Zwerin, Sustainability Marketing Consultant
Photo Courtesy of Inhabitat
While researching the sustainability of data centers, I became frustrated with the lack of corporate transparency around the environmental impacts associated with their data centers. Many companies talk about how efficient their data centers are, but stop short at providing hard facts, data, and relevant numbers to authenticate their story.
Data centers have become the new Fort Knox, housing everything from Facebook photos to medical records, and data driven companies are unwilling, or so it appears, to share any environmental impact information about their data center. There is a belief that disclosing this information, competitors will reverse engineer the environmental impact data to shed light on the capacity of a data center to gain a competitive advantage.
As a result, there is an underestimated perception of the true environmental impact of data centers. To truly create innovation in this sector, more transparency is necessary to stimulate an industry-wide discourse on the true environmental risks of data centers, enabling companies to develop effective strategies and best practices for reducing the impact of their data management.
US Infrastructure ran an article last month about how much energy we use to power the Internet. The above is an in interesting representation of what that power consumptions looks like. From updating our Facebook profiles to reading the news to watching last night’s sitcoms, the Internet has subsumed nearly every aspect of our lives.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said this summer it would like to put climate change on a “Scopes trial.” However, the end of climate change denial is over, at least when it comes to the majority of large U.S. corporations. Three-quarters of the executives interviewed for a McGraw Hill study commissioned by Siemens Building Technology view sustainability as consistent with their company’s profit mission and engage in sustainability activities, double the amount in 2006. Over half (58 percent) believe sustainability will serve the financial performance of their company from 31 percent in 2006.
The economic crisis has supported and not deterred sustainability activity in the firms represented in the study. Over half (57 percent) believe sustainability practices are either unaffected or aided by a down economy. Only 32 percent view an economic crisis as an obstacle.
Energy savings is the most important driver toward sustainability, with 75 percent citing it this year, and 73 percent in 2006. Global influences increased as a driver with 38 percent in 2009, and 26 percent in 2006. Government regulations decreased as a driver with only 29 percent citing it, down from 40 percent in 2006. However, 72 percent expect it to become a requirement.
Over 80 percent of larger firms believe sustainability provides market differentiation, and over 70 percent expect sustainability efforts to retain and attract customers, and reduce the costs of doing business. Almost a third reported dedicated funding for sustainability.
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