Month <span class=March 2016" src="/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/cropped-office-building-secondary-1.jpg">

Month March 2016

Find Sustainability Mentors to Help Guide You

The SSC Team March 22, 2016 Tags: , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Everyone talks about mentoring, some with an eye roll and some with awed reverence of that one person who changed me forever. If you’re a sustainability consultant, you should be looking for mentors in places you may not have thought to look.

The obvious places we look for sustainability mentors: other consultants, professors, sustainability leaders.

But running a consultancy is more about sustainability, it’s about business skills. And, therefore, looking for mentors across the spectrum to help you build the support skills to run a business is crucial. And, even more interesting, you don’t even have to know your mentor to learn from her.

Look to people outside of sustainability and use best-practice from other fields to improve your own business as a sustainability consultant.

You’ll need much more than sustainability knowledge for your consultancy to succeed as a viable, profitable business. You’ll need to know how to sell, manage employees, manage clients, work with media, and keep up-to-date on everything from small-business taxes to major moves in sustainability reporting and policy.

It’s a big job, and you’re going to need all the help you can get!

Do you have a great “virtual mentor”? Tell us who it is in the comments.

 

 

TED Talks Sustainability: Metali and Isabel Wijsen: Our campaign to ban plastic bags in Bali

The SSC Team March 17, 2016 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Nothing inspires us like a good TED talk, and here’s one of our favorites. Enjoy it!

About the speaker: Sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen launched an island-wide campaign to ban plastic bags, inspired by bag bans in other parts of the world. They share their inspirational story that has resulting in a commitment from Bali’s governor to ban bags by 2018. What will they tackle next?

About the talk: If you live in the middle of the ocean, then ocean health is always a consideration of daily life. When teen sisters Metali and Isabel Wijsen realized the harm that plastic bags were doing to their island home of Bali, they went on strike – literally a hunger strike – to push the Balinese governor to ban plastic bags. Their inspirational message about sustainability and activism is shared in this great TED talk.


TED Talks Sustainability: Metali and Isabel Wijsen: Our campaign to ban plastic bags in Bali

The SSC Team March 17, 2016 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Nothing inspires us like a good TED talk, and here’s one of our favorites. Enjoy it!

About the speaker: Sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen launched an island-wide campaign to ban plastic bags, inspired by bag bans in other parts of the world. They share their inspirational story that has resulting in a commitment from Bali’s governor to ban bags by 2018. What will they tackle next?

About the talk: If you live in the middle of the ocean, then ocean health is always a consideration of daily life. When teen sisters Metali and Isabel Wijsen realized the harm that plastic bags were doing to their island home of Bali, they went on strike – literally a hunger strike – to push the Balinese governor to ban plastic bags. Their inspirational message about sustainability and activism is shared in this great TED talk.


Green practices to hit your sustainability goals

Tara Hughes March 16, 2016 Distinguished Programs No comments

Source: Hotelmanagement.net

inside washing machine macro shot

Sustainability has been on the minds of hoteliers for as long as it has affected hotel guests, but it wasn’t until the late 2000s that the switch to sustainable business practices was profitable enough for the idea to “tip” in the eyes of operators.

Ronald Lewis, associate brand manager at The Dial Corporation, a producer of personal care and cleaning products for hotels, said that hotels are more interested in sustainable products than ever before, with the majority of attention being paid to recyclable materials in the hotel guestroom and strategies to reduce water useage and the overall carbon footprint.

For Dial, the biggest shift has been in the reduction of packaging used in bar soap and bath-related products in the guestroom, which often contain scarce amounts of actual product but take up a sizable space in the hotel dumpster after a guest’s stay. Simple switches, such as eliminating plastic bags from packaging and switching to biodegradable materials such as cardboard boxes or recyclable goods are very attractive for hotels.

Read More at Hotelmanagement.net

Are Google and Amazon Underestimating Their Own Carbon Footprints?

The SSC Team March 15, 2016 Tags: , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Two of the world’s leading technology companies are under fire for underestimating data centers’ carbon footprints amid claims they use an obsolete tool for calculating emissions from electricity they purchase off the power grid.  

Lux Research, an independent research and advisory firm, went after the two tech giants for using tools that make broad generalizations about power production in the regions where Google and Amazon have large data facilities – reporting that the two companies may be underestimating their carbon footprints by 42,000 MT CO2e per year and 85,000 MT CO2e per year, respectively.

It’s pretty clear that Lux is using Google’s and Amazon’s data – data based on the EPA’s Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) – to tout its own analytical tool that estimates GHG emissions from electricity use.

What is important to note here is: the world of sustainability tools out there is rapidly moving. What you report today can be disputed tomorrow as new analytical tools, calculators, and data sets are developed.  

It’s not that eGRID is a terrible tool, or that Lux has built a surefire new solution, it’s more about choosing the right tool, at the right time, and at the right level of detail for your individual case.

Not every company needs a power-plant-by-power-plant analysis of its power sourcing, as the cost of a microscopic look at GHG emissions in this area may outweigh the overall variation in results. In other words, for many companies, the eGRID analysis would be absolutely acceptable based on moderate use of electricity in a given area as the overall data is within an acceptable margin of error.

However, power-intense companies like Google and Amazing, using vast amounts of energy, should absolutely be looking for the most refined and detailed tool to analyze power use impact. Being off by just a small percentage can represent tens of thousands of tons of CO2 being left un-reported, and more accurate data should help inform locations of future data centers to optimize clean power use.

If an organization is new to sustainability reporting, GHG calculating or meeting industry standards for environmental data, it is highly unlikely that that organization is going to be able to navigate these ever-changing waters without help.

Partnering with an experienced consulting firm like SSC, with the background knowledge and experience, to choose the best-fit reporting tool for every individual case is critical. Contact us today to talk about your carbon footprint analysis.  

 

 

Are Google and Amazon Underestimating Their Own Carbon Footprints?

The SSC Team March 15, 2016 Tags: , , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Two of the world’s leading technology companies are under fire for underestimating data centers’ carbon footprints amid claims they use an obsolete tool for calculating emissions from electricity they purchase off the power grid.  

Lux Research, an independent research and advisory firm, went after the two tech giants for using tools that make broad generalizations about power production in the regions where Google and Amazon have large data facilities – reporting that the two companies may be underestimating their carbon footprints by 42,000 MT CO2e per year and 85,000 MT CO2e per year, respectively.

It’s pretty clear that Lux is using Google’s and Amazon’s data – data based on the EPA’s Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) – to tout its own analytical tool that estimates GHG emissions from electricity use.

What is important to note here is: the world of sustainability tools out there is rapidly moving. What you report today can be disputed tomorrow as new analytical tools, calculators, and data sets are developed.  

It’s not that eGRID is a terrible tool, or that Lux has built a surefire new solution, it’s more about choosing the right tool, at the right time, and at the right level of detail for your individual case.

Not every company needs a power-plant-by-power-plant analysis of its power sourcing, as the cost of a microscopic look at GHG emissions in this area may outweigh the overall variation in results. In other words, for many companies, the eGRID analysis would be absolutely acceptable based on moderate use of electricity in a given area as the overall data is within an acceptable margin of error.

However, power-intense companies like Google and Amazing, using vast amounts of energy, should absolutely be looking for the most refined and detailed tool to analyze power use impact. Being off by just a small percentage can represent tens of thousands of tons of CO2 being left un-reported, and more accurate data should help inform locations of future data centers to optimize clean power use.

If an organization is new to sustainability reporting, GHG calculating or meeting industry standards for environmental data, it is highly unlikely that that organization is going to be able to navigate these ever-changing waters without help.

Partnering with an experienced consulting firm like SSC, with the background knowledge and experience, to choose the best-fit reporting tool for every individual case is critical. Contact us today to talk about your carbon footprint analysis.  

 

 

Eileen Fisher’s 3 Lessons Learned at the Transparency in Supply Chains Act

The SSC Team March 10, 2016 Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Enjoy this post from the SSC archives: 

Today, we look back at how women's clothing company Eileen Fisher has responded to California's "Transparency in Supply Chain Act," which requires retailers and manufacturers with annual sales of $100 million or more that do business in California to disclose their efforts to eliminate human trafficking and slavery from their supply chain.

Among the California requirements are actions to ensure disclosure of "to what extent if any" a company engages in the five following activities: verification, auditing, certification, internal accountability, and training.

In Social Accountability International's February 2012 newsletter, Eileen Fisher's Human Rights Associate Lina Lee reflected on what the new law meant to the company. We thought it was interesting because Eileen Fisher is already known for its commitment to sustainability and wasn't starting from scratch. It's also a midsize business, and so it doesn't have the resources of a Nike or Adidas to ensure that human rights are respected throughout its supply chain. What lessons might other midsize companies take from Eileen Fisher's example?

Here are a few snippets that caught our attention:

Recently, we decided to incorporate a 'social tech' sheet into our fabric and yarn approval process, in addition to the regular tech sheet and eco tech sheet. The purpose of this tech sheet is to gather information related to certain raw materials that might be associated with human rights or animal welfare issues before a bulk order is placed.

Lesson: Consider asking vendors (both current and prospective) about their social protections. What systems do they have in place to prevent underage employment, abusive working conditions, and unfair wages? What are your direct suppliers doing to reach out to *their* suppliers. Simply asking these questions can create momentum all along the supply chain.

We also started participating in design meetings to help inform our designers on issues related to certain raw materials. Since this design for decent work approach is a new process, it will be interesting to see what challenges we will face when we come to the intersection of business versus values.

Lesson: Integrate social sustainability into your product design process. For example, conflict minerals are heating up as a big topic of concern and you need to know if/how those materials may be used in the manufacturing/processing of your products. Talk to your designers to understand how social sustainability overlaps with your current product line, and how to optimize the next iteration of products to better address these issues.

We sent a letter to all of our first tier suppliers (31 total) to inform them about the law, along with some educational materials on the topic and the supplier's country law on the issue. We also asked them to fill out a survey to help us assess where we could be vulnerable to human trafficking and slavery in our supply chain.

Lesson: While *you* might know all about your sustainability obligations, your suppliers may not. Take the time to educate them. And while you're at it, ask them how they can help you. Many times they will WANT to be more proactive, but aren't sure if you care. Make it clear that you would love their help!

We've helped clients address the new requirements of the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. If you'd like to learn more, please contact us for a complimentary consultation to discuss where you are vulnerable, what systems you may need to put in place, and what communications will be required for compliance.

Going Green Goes Mainstream

Tara Hughes March 9, 2016 Distinguished Programs, Industry News No comments
Photo courtesy of treehouse.co

Photo courtesy of treehouse.co

As consumers become more conscious of the environmental impact of their day-to-day lives, entrepreneurs are taking the opportunity to create new businesses and products that enable green living.

Annual green building construction spending in the U.S. is projected to increase 15 percent a year between 2015 to 2018, reaching $224.4 billion in 2018, according to The U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Building Economic Impact Study. Enter TreeHouse, a home-improvement startup in Austin, Texas, that sells eco-friendly construction materials and services. Every product in their store is scored based off of health, performance, corporate responsibility, and sustainability.

The company, which was founded in 2011, received $16 million from investors for expansion, starting with a second store in North Dallas in 2017 with plans for continued growth into new markets. They are currently scouting locations in California, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest.

TreeHouse is the first retailer that Tesla authorized to sell the Powerwall, its home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels. At night, when many utility rates increase because of the additional demand, the battery powers your home independently from the power grid. Homeowners can receive a net zero energy rating—meaning their home produces as much energy as it consumes.

A gym in Portland found another source of green power:

READ MORE at Distinguished.com

SSC Releases Latest Case Study on Life Cycle Assessment for a Global Electronics Manufacturer

The SSC Team March 8, 2016 Tags: , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

SSC is working with Cabot Microelectronics, a top producer of a chemical slurry formulation and mechanical polishing process used to smooth silicon wafers to near-perfection, to gather data to complete the company's first product life-cycle assessment analysis. 

The reporting requirements for component manufacturers in the electronics industry continue to become more detailed as electronics companies demand environmental data from their suppliers to meet consumer demand for transparency and sustainability.

But many manufacturers do not have the in-house expertise to gather data used in carbon footprints, product life-cycle assessments, or even supplier scorecard checklists.

Read our latest case study to see how the SSC team was able to help the client with its baseline life-cycle assessment, help them fully understand the product’s environmental impact, and prepare them for success in reporting accurate, transparent data to their customers.

Contact us to talk about taking the first step toward navigating your industry-specific reporting requirements. 

 

Scope 3 Emissions: Which Ones Matter?

The SSC Team March 3, 2016 Tags: , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Enjoy this post from the SCC Archives: 

If your company is getting ready to calculate its annual carbon footprint (or is thinking about doing it for the first time), you'll definitely want to pay attention:

In this 6-minute video, SSC President Jennifer Woofter provides an overview of the new Scope 3 emissions guide – developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and published on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol website.  Jennifer explains how different companies may choose to approach the 15 categories of Scope 3 emissions, depending on their industry, operating structure, and internal capacity.

 

If your company would like to talk about carbon footprinting or developing a sustainability report, contact us to set up a 15-minute introductory phone assessment today.