Green business

Becoming a Change Agent for Sustainability

Read the full post at the Community College Sustainability Collaborative.

A few summers ago, I attended a week-long training on campus sustainability at the University of Vermont. It was one of the best trainings I’ve ever attended and the facilitator (Debra Rowe) at one point, after I had described some of the things I had accomplished in my career, congratulated me on being a successful activist for sustainability. That’s when the trouble started; you see I have never considered myself an activist, to me an activist spends way too much time screaming and making other people feel bad. I have always preferred to consider myself a subversive, someone who works somewhat under the radar to make change. The fact is though, that the term subversive carries a heavy negative connotation so it’s not a label I use for myself very often. In Vermont our disagreement resulted in me coming to a change in how I should refer to myself, so I’ve come around to the term change agent. I don’t think that labels are nearly as important as actions but this particular label got me thinking in a couple of ways. First, really what is a change agent? Secondly, at the encouragement of the facilitator, to really take a look at how in fact you do make change happen within an organization or community. The result of course is what follows.

Here’s help with solving the new ‘sustainability math’

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Last week I went surfing for the first time. The quote on my instructor’s shirt read : “Life, like surfing, is all about wave selection and balance.” For me, finding the right balance and wave was not easy — as continuous adjustments are needed to remain on the board.

Companies are facing similar challenges adapting to the “new sustainability math” as finding the right balance between investor, consumer and stakeholders interests is riddled with complexity and confusion. Which sustainability reporting standards to adopt? Which rating survey to respond to? Which environmental initiative to engage with?

At the core of this challenge is finding the sweet spot between providing investors with the quantitative demonstration of the direct link between sustainability initiatives and value creation, while authentically telling consumers the company’s sustainability story through qualitative communication.

GEMS study uncovers leaders, laggards in environmental management

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Calls for greater transparency and meaningful advancements in sustainability and corporate responsibility continue to grow. It is important to consider the extent to which U.S. corporations disclose meaningful information on their environmental policies, practices and performance.

Along with my data provider, IW Financial, I have just released a newly updated and expanded study, “2014 GEMS Benchmarking Analysis of U.S. Corporate Environmental Practices.” It identifies the U.S. firms with the strongest reported environmental policies and infrastructure and finds that — notwithstanding noteworthy improvements during the past several years — many publicly traded companies have limited discernible capability with which to manage complex environmental and sustainability issues.

3p Weekend: 7 Companies Investing in Sustainable Packaging

Read the full story at Triple Pundit.

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

As waste continues to pile up in our landfills, a growing number of companies are taking a second look at product packaging and devising creative ways to cut back. From mushrooms and potatoes to the quest for a recyclable toothpaste tube, this week we’re tipping our hats to seven companies that are leading the charge in sustainable packaging design.

The agony and ecstasy of a life-cycle design mentality

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Make every decision with the future in mind. In essence, that’s the definition of sustainability. It means doing our part to ensure that our great-grandchildren — and their great-grandchildren — will have the resources they’ll need to maintain a high quality of life.

But for such a simple concept, sustainability requires considerable effort, far more than most people realize. Easy choices are propagated through advertising and media, helping consumers feel good about simple actions such as buying a hybrid SUV or using compostable cups at the coffee shop.

Such actions can offer advantages over traditional alternatives, but they’re just one piece of the sustainability puzzle. Hybrid vehicles do use less fuel per mile, but that benefit can be lost if you drive more because you have an efficient vehicle. Compostable cups are great, but only if they’re actually composted.

To truly understand the pros or cons of our decisions, we must weigh them against other options and measure impact over time. Making sustainable choices requires learning about products — where they come from, how they’re made and where they go when we’re done using them. We have to look holistically at the full life cycle.

How to green the Feds’ supply chains? First, think ink

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

This article originally appeared at IW Financial.

President Obama first issued an order directing federal agencies to incorporate sustainability into their procurement operations in 2009. He laid out a series of ambitious goals, calling for direct U.S. government greenhouse gas emissions to fall 28 percent below 2008 levels by 2020.

Indirect emissions, including those generated by federal contractors and suppliers, were targeted for a 13 percent reduction. The following year, a working group recommended that GHG emissions form a key part of the criteria used in procurement decisions.

The General Services Administration is leading the effort to incorporate environmental factors into the federal procurement process. The agency is taking multiple steps to promote sustainability, including adding language to contracts issued under the OASIS program, requiring contractors to disclose pertinent information through the Global Reporting Initiative framework.