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

Month April 2016

Earth Month Spotlight: Restaurants

Tara Hughes April 12, 2016 Distinguished Programs, Industry News No comments

restaurant 1Last week we took a look at hotels that were making major sustainability efforts to reduce their environmental impact. This week we will visit another important hospitality industry that is making major improvements in how they do business. Restaurants are quickly learning the importance of sustainability, from using local and seasonal produce to prioritizing waste management and energy efficiency.

These changes can produce a significant positive impact, not only on the environment but also on a restaurant’s bottom line and employee morale. According to, 80 percent of Americans identify themselves as environmentally concerned. A dedicated sector of this group is driving a 20 percent annual growth in the $11 billion organic food industry—no small potatoes.

Printworks Bistro was the first restaurant in the United States to attain the LEED Platinum certification in 2008, incorporating energy-saving features such as variable speed hoods that set the power according to the kitchen’s needs and adjust to a lower level of operation (typically 25 percent of their full capacity). The hoods’ sensors also detect heat, smoke, or other effluents and increase the fan speed to keep the air fresh. The restaurant used salvaged, solid walnut trees that came down through sickness or storm to construct its bistro bar and uses room service trays (for the adjacent Proximity Hotel) made of bamboo plywood. To top it off, Printworks’ refrigeration equipment uses geothermal energy instead of a standard water-cooled system, saving significant amounts of water.

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Sustainability Regulation and Reporting Refinement: More of Everything in 2016

The SSC Team April 12, 2016 Tags: , , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

From the Paris Climate Talks to changes in the GRI, we keep seeing the needle move toward regulation and refinement in sustainability reporting. We’ve said it before, and we will say it again, sustainability reporting is no longer optional.

Companies that aren’t aligning their strategy around sustainability now are soon going to be left in the dust – or maybe even taken to court as governments are increasingly enacting legislation that requires companies to report on sustainability factors.

Here are three solid examples of this trend, and three good reasons that every organization should be collecting data on sustainability for the inevitable day that the reporting becomes a business requirement.

1.     Governments: We recently wrote about the UK’s Modern Slavery Act. This is just one of dozens of national-level legal requirement cases around the globe. From Japan to Norway, governments are using laws and the courts to push toward transparency – and action – on sustainability issues.

2.     Reporting Trends: A recent article series from GreenBiz compared different environmental reporting tools – GRI vs SASB vs IR – and their various focus areas. In Part 2 of the series the author analyzes how different “sustainability topics” have shifted between the annual financial report and the sustainability report. Essentially, annual financial reports have consistently been held as required documentation to give insight into company performance. As sustainability topics become material to a company’s financial position, these topics are shifted from the sustainability report and into the annual report. Our thought: Soon sustainability as a whole will be material to investors, so you better be reporting.

3.     Reporting Framework Refinements: Has anyone looked at the new CDP reporting requirements? The days of ‘interpretation’ may be coming to a close as organizations like CDP start to require clarification and specificity in reporting impact. The most significant change in the CDPs reporting this year, in terms of data, is the reporting of Scope 2 emissions based on the new GHG Protocol Scope 2 Guidance. By factoring in market-based and location-based electricity information to calculate a CDP score, companies will be called out for which energy providers they choose – and will be rewarded for choosing green energy (or in some cases, building green energy into their own grid).

Sustainability reporting requirements keep on coming, pushing the field far from the bad old days of greenwashing and closer and closer to the heart of what it means to integrate sustainability into core strategic planning for lasting, long-term impact.

Partnering with an experienced consulting firm like SSC, with the background knowledge and experience, to understand legislative impact, stay ahead of reporting trends, and choose the appropriate reporting framework is crucial. Contact us today to talk about your CDP report or carbon footprint analysis. 




Hotels wanted for new Cornell benchmarking study

Tara Hughes April 11, 2016 Distinguished Programs No comments

635845162709972093-1769207677_DSC_0004Hotels are being asked to participate in the third annual industry study of sustainability performance benchmarking of energy, water, and carbon emissions.

Last year eleven hotel companies – including Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott, and Wyndham – supported the study with over 4,750 hotels globally. This year’s study will expand its global locations and segments, add hotel types to the benchmarking results, and further analyse the drivers of energy and water usage.

The more properties and chains that participate, the more detailed the data.

Maury Wolfe, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Environmental Sustainability, at IHG said, “We encourage more hotel owners and operators to join us in this industry effort. Collectively we’re able to fill the long-standing gap of providing accurate sustainability benchmarks to stakeholders across the hotel industry.”

Cornell Hotel Sustainability Benchmarking (CHSB) 2016 is an initiative of the Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research (CHR), Greenview, and an industry advisory group.

Participants in the study receive a confidential performance report that includes comparative benchmarking by market, a data validity test, and a carbon footprint generated through a unified calculation method. Data will be aggregated and analysed in the industry study, ready for publication in the spring of 2016.

Maxime Verstraete, Vice President of Sustainability & ADA Compliance at Hilton Worldwide said, “Participation in CHSB’s annual study allows us to vet all of the environmental data analysis we do through LightStay, our sustainability performance measurement platform.”

Any properties or hotel groups interested to participate in the study should contact Eric Ricaurte of Greenview at for further details.


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SSC is Proud to be Certified as a B Corporation

The SSC Team April 7, 2016 Tags: , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Did you know that Strategic Sustainability Consulting is a B Corp? B Corps are a type of corporation that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.  

B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.

SSC is part of a growing community of more than 1,400 Certified B Corps from 42 countries working together to redefine success in business.

As a certified B-Corporation since 2011, SSC has been verified as having met rigorous and independent standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

We’re proud to have made the grade once again!

We are committed to implementing proactive social and environmental policies and making sustainable choices in our own business operations – “walking our talk” – as we help our clients find ways to make sustainability good for their own business as well. 


Earth Month Spotlight: Hotels & Resorts

Tara Hughes April 6, 2016 Distinguished Programs No comments
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

In celebration of Earth Day, we are dedicating the month of April to sustainability awareness in the industries we touch. Each week, we are going to take a look at how businesses are making a positive impact on the environment through both design and human behaviors, starting with the hotel and resort industry.

But first, a primer on Earth Day itself:

The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970, and involved 20 million Americans protesting against the deterioration of the environment and led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. Today Earth Day is celebrated by more than a billion people—the largest civic observance in the world! Last year, 192 countries participated in activities that aided the environmental movement.

The hotel industry has been a leader in green initiatives since the 1990s due to a number of significant motivators, including cost savings, regulatory compliance, consumer demand, customer loyalty, increased brand value…and, of course, doing the right thing.

Many hotels have helped green their properties by introducing water-saving techniques like reusable linen programs and installing water-efficient plumbing in bathrooms; installing energy-efficient lighting; and replacing high-waste products with recycled or reusable items. While these are great starting points, some hotels have taken their sustainability efforts to a whole new level.

The LEED Gold-certified H2hotel in Healdsburg, California, was built on the site of a former gas station. To make the land healthier, the property owners removed contaminated soil, restored the creek bed, and employed an erosion-control plan to minimize runoff. To reduce energy consumption, H2hotel installed solar panels to heat the pool and water in guest rooms and opted for energy-saving elevators that use 60 percent less electricity than standard elevators. On top of that, the elevators do not require oil to run, removing the risk of soil contamination and fire.


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A Conference to Check Out: Mark Your Calendar for SXSW Eco This Fall

The SSC Team April 5, 2016 Tags: , , Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Like TEDTalks, we love hearing from the world’s best and brightest. This year’s SXSW conference in March had some interesting forums on niche sustainability issues – like diversity in the sustainability field and greening the Super Bowl – but SXSW Eco is where the conference organizers devote an entire three-day conference on environmental and sustainability issues.  

To get your mind racing, catch up on the 2015 SXSW Eco Sessions now, read this guest blog about renewable energy, and talk yourself into booking that fall trip to Austin.

Have you attended a worthwhile conference that we should put on our radar? Let us know in the comments!