USDA to Help 821 Rural Small Businesses Boost Renewable Energy Use, Save on Energy Costs

Read the full story from the USDA.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for 821 projects across the nation that will help rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy usage and costs in their operations. The funding is available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and will be used to make energy efficiency improvements and install renewable energy systems.

Study: Role of chief sustainability officers projected to shrink

Read the full story in WasteDive.

  • A study by the consulting firm Verdantix predicts spending on consulting services by sustainability officers will drop 2.4% from $417 million this year to $369 million in 2021.
  • This trend is expected to occur at the same as sustainable practices become more common in other departments and the need for a specific job title decreases. Verdantix predicts that the global sustainability consulting market will increase from $912 million to $1.1 billion by 2021.
  • The survey was conducted with 312 environment, health and safety executives in late 2015.

Mattel Plans to Cut Utility Bills 40% Using Recycled Water

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Mattel recently became a California water agency’s newest recycled water customer, which will save about 2 million gallons of drinking water per year in the drought-stricken state.

The global toy maker, whose brands include Barbie, Fisher-Price and Hot Wheels, among others, told Environmental Leader that using recycled water for irrigation at its El Segundo corporate campus will also save money.

Why ‘aha’ moments don’t drive sustainability innovation

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

“Innovation is starting to not only be embedded as part of an employee engagement strategy around sustainability but also is one of the biggest business benefits that comes from engaging employees around sustainability programs,” said Susan Hunt Stevens, founder and CEO of WeSpire, during a recent GreenBiz webinar on innovation in employee sustainability initiatives.

Innovation typically isn’t the product of some random “aha” moment, she said. Instead, it comes from a process that, if managed carefully, can engage employees, bring new opportunities, improve operations and create customer value. And employee-led innovation can catalyze positive change.

There’s a solid business benefit from engaging employees on corporate sustainability initiatives: If employees feel they are working towards a good cause, it can increase their productivity by up to 30 percent, according to a study by the Center for Economic Studies.

That’s why companies including Apple and Levi’s are investing in employee and other stakeholder engagement programs across their operations. Some 73 percent of companies are engaging employees across their organization about corporate sustainability goals, according to a 2014 GreenBiz survey.