Tuesday night, sustainability leaders from all over the Bay Area made their way to the Berkeley facility of Clif Bar and Company to hear Gary Erickson, Kit Crawford (the husband and wife co-owners of the pioneering Clif Bar and Company) and Gary Hirshberg (President and CE-Yo of the tremendously successful and equally pioneering organic dairy producer Stonyfield Farms). The event, organized by the Good Business Network aimed to reveal the stories behind entrepreneurs who built wildly successful companies, from both financial and non-financial perspectives.
The stories they shared were inspirational, of course, many of which I’d heard before or read in their books, Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World, published this year by Hirshberg, and Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business: The Story of Clif Bar & Co. I left convinced, however, that Clif Bar and Company and Hirshberg fundamentally disagree on the role of social responsibility in a company. The event by no means turned into a bloody fist fight (in which case my money would have been on on Kit), but left at least a few of us with an unsettled feeling that even some of the most respected people behind values-driven companies aren’t really working together.
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line & Sustainable Business News
UK scientists have developed new technology which they claim can reduce their country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 4%. The method they devised converts waste carbon dioxide into cyclic carbonates, a chemical compound, which is in high demand by paint manufacturers and biodegradable packaging producers.Click to continue reading »
Sustainability is a journey, not a destination
3P SoundBite emerged from our desire to show that entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in sustainability come from all different walks of life…they could be people you know, or they could even be you! Every Thursday, we bring you a new profile and a new perspective.
Recently, I talked to Brian T. Mullis, a former tour operator who co-founded Sustainable Travel International with Peter Krahenbuhl. Learn more about what Brian has to say about being an entrepreneur and the non-profit’s choice to be a 501(c)(3) organization.
Earlier this week, Hilary Clinton stood in front of a crowd of steel workers in a small town in Indiana and spoke of the mettle of the country. “So this is not just about steel,” she exhorted, alluding to the famous poem inscribed on a wall in the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles to the south, Chilean presidential candidate, Sebasti√°n Pi√±era was equally inciting famous passages of his own.
Often known to quote former British PM Margaret Thatcher and Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Pi√±era has lately been proponing his Nuevo Trato, or New Deal, which is likened to FDR’s infamous namesake nearly a century ago. It is comprised of sweeping social, political, and economic changes for a country that is still constructing its identity in the decades after the Pinochet dictatorship. From both sides of the political spectrum, it is difficult to consider Pi√±era anything short of a visionary. A child who grew from rags to riches, he is now a billionaire business impresario, and a veteran of the country’s increasingly growing elite class. He was the first to bring credit cards to the country in the late 70’s and if you ask most Chilenos about Pi√±era, they will likely tell you he is a majority stakeholder in the largest airline in country. Others might tell you he is one of the owners of Colo-Colo, Chile’s most successful football team of late. What you might not as easily hear is he is also one of the largest protectors of Chilean wildlife.
Generation Investment Management has closed $638Million in initial funding for its Climate Solutions Fund. The company is chaired by former vice president Al Gore and serves to be a leader in investing in sustainable enterprises with a slant toward solving various environmental problems.
According to the Financial Times:
The fund will be focused on equity investments in small companies in four sectors: renewable energy; energy efficiency technologies; energy from biofuels and biomass; and the carbon trading markets.
Although a chorus of cynics can be heard claiming this is Gore’s way of capitalizing on hysteria, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that investing in clean energy, efficiency, and solutions to problems is a good idea with a sizable long-term payoff. If Al Gore makes a lot of money of this type of investment, my glass is raised to him. I might even throw a few bucks in myself.
They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well in the case of P2P Rescue, they’ve done just that, making Tsunami Birdhouses. Come again? Yes, first begun when multiple countries suffered from the effects of the December 2004 tsunami, they are selling birdhouses made from materials scavenged from the wreckage of that tsunami in Sri Lanka. Though the tsunami is long gone, people’s troubles are not, as ethnic conflicts with the Tamil population continue to cause unnecessary loss of life.
What’s in a name? As they put it so well,
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“P2P” is a well-known acronym in technology circles standing for “peer-to-peer” networking, or digital communication between two or more roughly equal computers or networks. P2P (People-to-People) Rescue was created to provide support to people in need with an emphasis on a similar notion of equality coupled with innovation.
Those that have been instrumental in building the institutional edifice to mitigate climate change and facilitate greenhouse gas emissions reductions come in for a severe and thorough verbal lashing in Down to Earth, a publication put out by New Delhi’s Centre for Science and Environment.
As climate change, environmental degradation and economic development have gained currency the resulting international processes and organizational structures have been hijacked by the international political, media and corporate jet set, CSE claims. Worse, the resulting measures taken to date are not only ineffectual but serve only to further enrich those that are primarily responsible for these problems in the first place, i.e. the captains of multinational business, industry, political leaders and the media.
Despite the advent of bluetooth-enabled blackberries and other modern technologies, the ritual of handing out business cards remains an integral part of establishing business relationships. When I was working on TreeHugger.com, Graham Hill designed a sexy card which used half the paper of a regular business card, and (but of course) was printed on 100% post consumer paper with soy based ink. To top it off, all the cards were generic – you had to manually write your name in a box on the card.
The latter bit proved to be a bit laborious, but added a nice personal touch which, coupled with the cute size of the card, made them hard to forget.
Getting creative and making a ‘green’ statement may cost extra money, but can be well worth it.
1001 Standards: Who writes them, who approves them, and what are they for? ClimatePULSE with ClimateCHECK
Within the greenhouse gas market, not only are there a lot of different standards, they’re also referred to as protocols, methodologies, and guidelines. There are far too many standards to cover in this post, so please excuse us if we don’t mention your favorite here – this post explains many of the different types of standards, whereas future posts will discuss specific standards in more detail.
For consumers and companies that want to purchase carbon offset credits the “quality” of those offsets is of utmost importance. This seemingly routine detail is not actually that routine, and it can affect the validity of business claims to be “carbon neutral” and can compromise the good will of voluntary carbon offset market participants. In the carbon market there are standards and protocols, broadly “what you are required to do” and “how you do it” but those lines frequently get blurred. This week’s ClimatePulse with ClimateCHECK will help you sift through the carbon standards world.
Sydney-based Ecocho founder Tim Macdonald had an idea; build a search engine based on Google and Yahoo technology and use the ad revenue to plant two trees for every 1,000 searches, offsetting tons of carbon dioxide.
However, the practice of “compensating users for viewing ads or performing searches, or promise compensation to a third party for such behavior” is a violation of Google AdSense policy and Google decided to pull support of the site, on Earth Day no less. Macdonald claims Google is not enforcing its rules to other “green” search engines such as Blackle, though Blackle is not making the same claims.
Pablo has addressed the effectiveness of Blackle in the past. And while stopping support for Ecocho on Earth Day may seem heartless, rules are rules. And besides, Google is addressing energy and carbon issues on a much larger scale. Google claims their data centers use half the energy of a similarly sized data center and that they are conducting energy audits and investing in carbon offsets. They made a big splash in November when they announced an R&D team was working to produce 1 gigawatt of renewable energy at a price cheaper than coal. They are giving grants to renewable energy companies like eSolar Inc. and Makani Power Inc. to meet this goal. Killing off smaller, seemingly well-intentioned search engines may make Google look monolithic and draconian, but Google is able to fund sustainability initiatives in ways Ecocho would never be able to. It’s not really about who is greener anyway; it all boils down to an untimely and unfortunate violation of policy.
On the one hand climate change portends nothing less than the cataclysmic end of civilization as we know it. On the other it is simply the most insidious hoax foisted upon mankind in the history of humanity.
If you’re a CEO or business leader it really doesn’t matter what you believe about the science of global warming, because in the business world climate change is coming and if you aren’t prepared for it your business will suffer.
This is the focus of “Climate Change: What’s Your Business Strategy?” a new book due out on May 1st from Harvard Business Publishing.
The book, at only 97 pages, leaves off the science of climate change and gets right down to business.
Authors and MBA professors Andrew Hoffman and John Woody contend that an effective business strategy doesn’t necessarily require any particular point of view regarding the science of global warming. What is required is an understanding of the changes and opportunities that come with a changing business environment.Click to continue reading »
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City governments are a partner with developers in building communities within city borders. Just as with any other partner in business, the parties must have a common goal, and be able to communicate effectively to achieve success. In many places, communication on green development remains poor and education on both sides of the fence is not uniform.
For example, a developer might propose to use a new wall system to construct his buildings that the city engineers are not familiar with. Therefore the city must be educated accordingly and the developer will be informed by the city that this new material may require new ordinances, building codes, or inspection guidelines – a quagmire that might make the developer feel it’s too much trouble to bother with.
EPEAT, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, is like LEED certification for electronics; it monitors the environmental impact of electronics much like LEED monitors buildings. Products are ranked either bronze, silver, or gold, depending on how many of the 51 criteria they meet. Criteria include recycling programs for products, the labeling of plastic parts for recycling, the elimination of “environmentally sensitive” material, ENERGY STAR®, RoHS, and WEEE compliance, among others. Companies are taking a serious look at the certification now that at least 95% of federal agency electronic purchases must be EPEAT-registered.
Naturally, the EPEAT website has a list of all certified products on their site, but now Softchoice, a major IT provider, is including the EPEAT ranking within the technical specifications of all available products. Softchoice is making an important step here; increasing the visibility of EPEAT as well as explaining its importance.
Computer manufacturers are doing a great job of implementing the EPEAT standards. HP, Dell, Toshiba, and Lenovo all have EPEAT gold certified products. But much like the Eco TV, marketing does not seem geared toward these environmental efforts.
Not so long ago the thinking was “drive ‘till you qualify” – but it’s a brave new world, with a barrel of oil costing $118.10 (as of this writing) and gallon of gas reaching up for the $4.00 per gallon threshold, that thinking just doesn’t work like it used to. Home owners and developers are having second thoughts about that nice little three-bedroom split-level gleaming in the distant suburban sun – or put another way, that house miles from anywhere you need to be (other than home) that’s worth less than you paid for it.
A recent report on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition talks of tumbling home prices in a “slowed” economy (just don’t call it a recession), and to a phenomenon in the housing market that is best summed up in three words:
There’s a new metric in town when it comes to buying a home, and it’s one we’re already familiar with: miles per gallon.Click to continue reading »
Click to continue reading »
A study by the Kenexa Research Institute indicates that organizations environmental initiatives significantly influence employee motivation and their opinions of senior management. Fifty-four percent of employees surveyed in a cross-culture study that spanned 13 countries looked favorably on their organizations’ “green” initiatives. More Indian workers (63%) looked favorably on their organization’s environmental initiatives than their counterparts in Russia (42%) and Japan (40%), where the two least favorable ratings were recorded.
The research results indicate that an organization’s record of environmental responsibility can significantly and positively influence employees’ opinions of management and the company they work for, their overall job satisfaction, intentions to stay with the company and recommend it to others as a good place to work, according to Kenexa.
“Those organizations committed to the environment demonstrate this by routinely recycling, conserving energy and working with vendors who share similar values. This sets them apart from their competition by creating a positive employment brand, and establishes an emotional tie between the employee and organization,” Anne Herman, a Kenexa research consultant stated in a media release.