You may remember when Triple Pundit ran a short article last month about the green transformation of New York City’s Empire State Building. To refresh your memory, the Empire State Building was built during the Great Depression in the 1930’s, and became an icon for progress, technology and American industry. Today the building is still iconic, but is has also become symbolic of New York City’s unbelievable consumption of energy and the fact that buildings contribute almost 80% towards the city’s total Greenhouse Gas emissions. In April, the owners of the building announced a major undertaking: the Empire State Building is going green and earning back its previous reputation for modernity and technological progress. The project will cost $25 million, but the investment will be recouped by savings on energy bills within 5 years. The fifth floor of the building is being turned into an on-site “factory” where the original windows will be taken for thermal-resistant glazing. The radiators will all be altered to ensure that heat stays trapped in the building, rather than being released into NYC. The most notable detail about the revamp plan is the fact that the city is investing in making efficiency improvements to an older building, rather than tearing it down and building something new and flashy. It begs the question- what makes a bigger impact? Erecting huge, inspirational and iconic buildings that scream “sustainable progress” from their living rooftops? Or investing time and money into existing buildings to make them more environmentally efficient? San Francisco’s mayor Gavin Newsom might like to weigh in on this question. Click to continue reading »
By Marie Perriard All economic production depends on our scarce natural resources and we can apply insights from physics and ecology to help us examine our economic system.1 As resources are depleted, waste is generated, and the continuous loop regenerates itself as long as 1) throughput is within capacity of the system and 2) the scale of the economy is relative to the size of the ecosystem. This “steady-state” economy strives for balance because, otherwise, growth beyond its limits will lead to instability and destruction of the very ecosystem that supports all economic production.
It’s no secret that Microsoft is often on my list as examples of big corporations still wrapped in an old way of thinking under the guise of faux consciousness. And I haven’t been overly impressed with Microsoft’s innovation platform or social responsibility efforts… until now. With the launch of their new decision engine (and the hefty 7-figure advertising budget that goes with it), bada BING, they finally seem to be getting it. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. At first I was skeptical of an ad spend in the multi-millions to promote Bing, but now that they’re using a sizable portion of it to give back, Mr. Gates is starting to sway me. Plus, their integration with video and entertainment experiences also hints at things to come. Could the pocket-protector wearing PC geek protecting his piggy bank finally be re-emerging as the charismatic captain of the football team with the coolness factor and a philanthropic spirit? Click to continue reading »
Thirteen years after a case was filed against Shell Oil for being complicit in the executions of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Nigerian social and environmental activists, the oil major earlier this week settled out of court just as the case was set to go to trial. Shell will pay $15.5 million, including $5 million into a trust for the benefit of communities in Nigeria’s Ogoni territory where the activists lived. Social and environmental justice organizations including Friends of the Earth have been steadfast in their coverage and activism in support of the Nigerian plaintiffs. While they’re hailing the out of court settlement as a success, they continue to seek to raise public awareness, alarm and action to counter ongoing and prevent future human rights and environmental abuses in West Africa as new discoveries and relative political stability have set the stage for a regional “oil rush.” Click to continue reading »
It’s no secret that the very existence of “big box” stores that plant themselves in giant parking lots to bring cheaply manufactured goods from third-world countries to America (and around the world) is unsustainable. However, with its almost 8,000 stores, 2 million associates, over 100,000 suppliers and 200 million customers, any step in the right direction from the world’s biggest corporation has a huge influence. And Walmart has been making some definite steps in the right direction. Walmart’s environmental goals are clear: “To be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy; to create zero waste; and to sell products that sustain our resources and the environment.” So how close is Walmart to achieving these goals? I’m glad you asked. I have just the place for you to find out: Walmart’s 2009 Sustainability Report, released this week. Walmart has made some impressive leading environmental moves in some areas while also falling short in others. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Gwen Ruta, the vice president of corporate partnerships at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), commented on the latest from Walmart on EDF’s Innovation Exchange blog. Click to continue reading »
Currently, carbon emissions from IT and communication technologies represent 2% of global CO2 output, which puts information technology (IT) on par with the aviation industry in terms of carbon pollution. With an average increase in emissions of roughly 12% per year, IT has become the fastest growing industry for contributing to the carbon content in our Earth’s atmosphere. However, where consumption is highest, you can also typically find the greatest opportunities to conserve. Businesses of all sizes are starting to turn to their IT departments for strategies to reduce their carbon footprint while also improving services and cutting costs. Being identified as one of the most successful arenas to adopt efficiencies and to improve services through sustainability strategies, corporate IT departments are now enabled to emerge as the green thought leaders within their companies. Click to continue reading »
People, when asked, generally want to do the right thing. But outside their own desire and a vague sense of “you should,” how much and how fast do people change their behavior when it comes shopping? For many, not fast enough. How can that change? One promising answer is Ecounit, one of the top 10 startups featured in last week’s New Venture Exchange at the Sustainable Brands Conference. Ecounit is building on a simple, well thought out premise: Most stores want to save money on operations. Most want to make their customers happy and make more money. Ecounit’s first project seems to be helping them do all of these, well.
According to Lionel Barber, the Editor-in-Chief of the Financial Times, “The financial crisis has necessitated a re-assessment of the way in which banks and investment houses operate.” The UK-based publication holds an annual sustainable banking conference, recognizing the banks and financial institutions that exhibit leadership and innovation in integrating social, environmental, and CSR issues into their operations. “The winners of these awards are radically changing the industry’s approach to risk and opportunity,” added Barber. The Dutch bank Triodos was named the Sustainable Bank of the Year last week, in part for its management of three microfinance funds the bank lends to and invests in over 85 microfinance institutions in 38 countries, across Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Click to continue reading »
The first annual Carbon Salary Survey provides a valuable global snapshot of salaries and opportunities for those interested in entering a climate change-related field. A few of the results: Men are making an average of 23% more than women, more than three-fourths report feeling satisfied with their jobs, and 68% feel equally or more secure in their jobs than they did a year ago. The report – put out by Acona, a consulting firm; Acre Resources, a recruitment firm; and Thomson Reuters – draws on responses from 1,157 participants to paint a general picture of opportunities in a wide range of climate change roles, including energy efficiency, biomass, project development, and power generation. The sample includes individuals from multiple industry sectors, a variety of functions, and from around the globe. The report includes short (and general) job descriptions of the top ten roles, looks at team size (80% of respondents work on teams of ten people or less), and education (23% of respondents have a bachelor degree in a climate change-related subject, 44% in a non-related subject, and 67% have higher degrees). And the salaries? The average across the sample was $75,901, with half the respondents making between $40,000 and $100,000. In North America, the average salary was just shy of $100,000 ($99,995). In Australasia, the average salary was $92,812, and it was $77,291 in the UK, $78,059 in Europe, and $56,609 in Africa. Learn more about carbon careers by reading Emerging Opportunities: Carbon Markets.
As someone who’s committed to giving back, and who also writes a blog series spotlighting change agents, I often seek out kindred spirits whose work is truly making a difference in the world. And I’ve been fortunate to connect with cause innovators like Lee Fox, Andy Sternberg, Joe Waters, Michael Hoffman, Scott Henderson, Chris Noble, Joey Leslie and Brian Powell. I was going to end that sentence with “to name a few,” but wow, that’s a lot! And I could rattle off at least a dozen others, but that would prolong getting to the philanthropic superwoman I am proud to feature today. Sloane Berrent is by far one of the most amazing individuals you’ll ever encounter (and she may actually be the first genetically-engineered social change cyborg). Literally everything she does is focused on good — not only seeing it in the world and sharing her infectious inspiration with everyone around her, but truly embodying the change we all wish to see. The ultimate “doer,” she has worked tirelessly to help nonprofits achieve their mission through her philanthropic consulting, and spent the spring working in New Orleans as part of the ongoing Katrina efforts. If you were following her on Twitter at the time, her voice carried far above the social noise as she shared vivid and touching moments of her experience in the trenches, rebuilding and connecting with those devastated by the hurricane. So it wasn’t surprising when she was selected as part of the Kiva Fellows program, which will bring her to the Phillipines to fill the next chapter in an autobiography worth of good. If there’s a cause in need or a change-related activity, chances are you’ll run into Sloane. Or if she’s not there, just reach out to her, and you can bet she’ll be on the next boat, plane, train or intergalactic spacecraft to lend a helping hand.
When talking about Coca-Cola, you’re talking about 300 different companies in over 200 countries with over 1 million employees. You’re talking about a balance sheet larger than most nations’ GDPs. It is a massive organism, and when things start changing at a place like that, the ripple effects can be powerful and many. From hokey ads in the 70’s that promoted recycling and diversity to being one of the first CPG companies to introduce recycled content into packaging in the early 90’s, Coke has always recognized their connection to consumers and the communities around them. Throughout the world. However, these praiseworthy elements have for a long time been mired by scandal, with lawsuits like this one contributing to the conventional wisdom that large, multinational corporations destroy local economies, communities, and habitats. And with an increasing preponderance of the latter, up until recently, many said the company had lost its way. Click to continue reading »
Continuing a line of previous posts on terrific eco-stats coming from David Suzuki’s Green Guide (on energy, food, and travel), here is a summary of eco-stats related to the production, consumption, and disposal of STUFF that can be used by any green business in the STUFF industry. Americans generate 189,200 pounds of waste and pollution annually. Our economy uses three times each person’s body weight per person per day in resources. 1980 spending on advertising to children in America: $100 M 2004 spending on advertising to children in America: $15 B Children see an average of 40,000 commercials per year. Continued…
If I mentioned Sustainable Medicine to you, you’d probably have a whole host of ideas about what that means: affordable health care for everyone, preventative treatment, direct connection with a doctor, healthy food served in hospitals and reduced toxics in medical supplies. Kaiser Permanente was well represented at Sustainable Brands conference in Monterey with both a plenary on their marketing campaign and several breakout sessions. Kaiser claims to set the bar high, with their Thrive advertising campaign which makes the connection between environmental health and personal health. As examples of this groundbreaking systemic approach to health, presenters touted their 35 farmers markets at their hospitals, their green purchasing campaign to reduce toxics in the medical supplies they use, and increased use of green cleaning products in clinical settings. The speakers I heard were not particularly passionate or excited or even experienced talking about the wonderful things happening at Kaiser, so as a listener, I was left unimpressed. Click to continue reading »
Over 650 business and brand strategists, designers and sustainability executives gathered in Monterey, CA last week for the Sustainable Brands ‚Äò09 conference. The three-day event brought together attendees from all over the world representing a broad blend of industries and experience levels. The program offered equal measures of education and inspiration for everyone, from beginners on the path to those already proving the connection between sustainability and building brand value. Sustainable Life Media (SLM) produced the conference, which this year attracted companies like: Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Clorox, Coca-Cola, Dell, eBay, Frito Lay, HP, Kaiser Permanente, Nestle Purina, Office Depot, REI, SC Johnson, NASA, Starbucks, Williams Sonoma, Yahoo and many other brand leaders, consultants and media representatives.
Sending a message in a bottle might conjure up all kinds of romantic notions about chance and opportunity, but it’s not a very effective way to communicate with another party. Much more effective is to print a message right smack on a bottle and send it through the US Mail. This greatly improves your chances of being heard. That’s just what Swobo, a Sausalito, Calif.-based seller of bikes and bike accessories, is hoping you’ll do. Check out this water-bottle-slash-tool-for-social-change. For six bucks, you buy a water bottle for your bike (or for whatever). You probably buy a new bottle every once in a while, any way–after your current vessel springs a leak or looses its top or just gets too gross to drink out of anymore, right?
Los Angeles: Oct 28 – Oct 31 Sustainatopia Consisting of 5 Conferences and a broad-ranging Festival, SUSTAINATOPIA brings together the global ecosystem of social, financial and environmental sustainability like no other single event. Register here.
London: Nov 3 – Nov 5 Sustainable Brands London 2014 Connect with Sustainability Executives, Brand Strategists, and Design & Innovation Leaders as the Sustainable Brands London Conference convenes to drive the innovation that leads to enhanced business. Discount with code: NW3pSB14LRegister here.
New York: Nov 4 – Nov 6 BSR Conference 2014 BSR 2014 will explore how transparency can transform supply chains, energy and climate, consumer engagement, community impacts, and more. Register here.
Redwood City: Nov 12 Corporate Philanthropy Institute 2014 Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Northern California Grantmakers bring together many of the country’s leading CSR professionals to discuss changing expectations of corporate citizenship, strategic local and global programs and assessing the impact of community investments. Register here.
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