Day: May 22, 2012

3M’s Sustainability Innovation Machine

Read the full story in BusinessWeek.

Planes are now held together by tape, not bolts. It’s really, really strong tape, but still. Who knew the maker of Post-It Notes could help keep aircraft aloft?

This somewhat frightening factoid is just one of the fascinating things I learned in a recent visit to the St. Paul, Minnesota, headquarters of the perennial innovation leader, 3M. During my daylong visit, I observed a quiet, longtime sustainability leader plugging away, creating new products that will help the world save energy, water, waste… and lots of money.

Which Corporate Sustainability Activities are Associated with Greater Financial Payoffs?

Note that the projects studied in the paper fall into one of four categories: clean technology, pollution prevention, products stewardship, or community focus.

Brent Kurapatskie and Nicole Darnall (2012). “Which Corporate Sustainability Activities are Associated with Greater Financial Payoffs?” Business Strategy and the Environment Article first published online: 14 MAY 2012. DOI: 10.1002/bse.1735.

Abstract: While many company managers and academic researchers have argued that businesses that develop a sustainability focus also may improve their financial performance, little information is known about whether firms’ different types of sustainability activities are related to varying degrees of financial gain. This paper assesses the economic relationship between two types of sustainability activities – lower- and higher-order – derived from the sustainability value framework of Hart and Milstein (2003). Our analysis reveals that both types of sustainability activities are similarly associated with firms’ financial performance in terms of direction and trend. However, the average level of financial benefits related to firms’ higher-order sustainability activities (which develop new products and processes) is greater than the average level of financial benefits related to firms’ lower-order sustainability activities (which modify existing products and processes). These findings offer initial evidence that companies that reach further by developing higher-order sustainability activities may reap greater financial benefits, while improving the natural environment to a greater degree.

The Case for Sustainability Case Studies

Read the full post from CSR Reporting.

How can you use Case Studies to galvanize markets? I have two fine examples from my personal experience this week in Eastern Europe. The first: Ukraine. The second: Romania.

On Monday 14th May, I was pleased to attend the launch of the Fourth Annual National Case Study Contest in Kiev, Ukraine. On Wednesday 16th May, I was also pleased to attend the second day of the European CSR Lessons Conference in Bucharest, Romania. Both events show how the development of Case Studies are contributing to increasing awareness, recognition and sharing of best practice as a platform for market development in these two fabulous and energetic markets where CSR is emerging with the help of committed and dynamic leaders.

What is the value  of a Sustainability Case Study?


Intersecting Lean, CSR & Procurement: Nike’s New Supplier Sustainability Index and Program (Part 3)

Read the full story at Spend Matters.

Please click here for the first and second posts in this series.

In the initial posts in this series, we shared what Nike is up to in revisiting how it measures and manages suppliers to include a range of CSR elements tied to overall lean sourcing and supply chain efforts, not just check-the-box sustainability-type initiatives. Hannah Jones, Nike’s vice president of sustainable business and innovation, was featured in an excellent interview in (which we link to in the previous posts). She notes changing the DNA to link lean to CSR is key: “We have been rewiring the conversation internally and rewiring the conversation with our suppliers in which we really explain to them that there are some new rules of engagement.”

A Pickup Truck Grows an Educational Mini-Farm

Read the full post from GOOD.

A literal “food truck,” Truck Farm Chicago is a nonprofit organization that uses a 1994 Ford F-250 named Petunia to chauffeur a miniature farm. The project, which revved into gear on Earth Day, is a collaboration between sustainable development nonprofit Seven Generations Ahead and eco-friendly book-printer Green Sugar Press, a recent GOOD Maker finalist whose co-founders Shari Brown and Tim Magner were inspired by King Corn director Ian Cheney’s first truck farm in Brooklyn, NY.

Shaheen-Portman and INCAAA: An Important First Step

Read the full post from ACEEE.

Although Congress has been unable to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation so far, there is hope for energy efficiency legislation in the not-too-distant future. Energy efficiency is cost-effective and has the potential to give the economy a boost. And importantly, energy efficiency has bipartisan support.

This week, ACEEE released a white paper analyzing two pending energy efficiency bills: the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011, which was introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Rob Portman, and the Implementation of National Consensus Appliance Agreement Act of 2011 (or INCAAA), which was introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman.

For more information on the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011, see:


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