Enjoy this article from the SSC blog archives: While carbon emissions management and reporting tend to be the first "big picture" sustainability issues that companies tackle, water is poised to become "the next big thing" in terms of corporate sustainability risk management. As always, we're staying on top of it--culling through the best resources and guides to help our clients effectively tackle the issue. Because we love to share- and don't want to re-create the wheel- here are three articles that bring home the most important tools, concepts, and frameworks related to corporate water management. Enjoy! Every Last Drop: Water and the Sustainable Business. Got another water resource to share? Leave a comment, or talk to us on Twitter (@jenniferwoofter).
Enjoy this blog from the SSC archives: The evidence that sustainability can be good for business is overwhelming. Most of the case studies, examples, and analysis that has been done show positive links between a sustainable approach to environmental and social issues, and corporate profits, Thus far, the research has been primarily focused on direct operational efficiencies (like retrofitting your office lighting to save money and reduce your carbon footprint), innovation (using biomimicry to drive new product development), and productivity (ie. more engaged employees take less sick leave). However, there hasn't been as much talk about the nexus between sustainability and risk management. And for corporations operating in complex supply chains in a globally-connected economy -- well -- effective risk management can be the difference between success and failure. Below, we take a look at three articles that shed light on why companies still struggle to incorporate sustainability into their risk management practices (and vice versa). here!
By: Mirele B. Goldsmith How can financial institutions and individuals factor climate change into their decisions about investments? This question was considered at a meeting hosted by Moody’s Investors Service on Paving the Road to Paris COP21: Discussing Carbon Risk Assessment Strategies on July 27, 2015. (The list of speakers may be found here.) Those of us focused on sustainability are well aware that over time climate change will impact every aspect of the economy. The finance sector is facing this fact now that governments are beginning to introduce regulation requiring disclosure of the risks that climate change poses to investors. At the meeting there was a lot of talk about France, where legislation has just been proposed to require disclosure of climate risk. China is also considering legislation. The European Union already requires pension funds to consider climate risk. The SEC requires that companies disclose material risks from climate change, although the speakers described this requirement as “toothless.” What risks could climate change pose to financial returns? The most obvious risk is that companies will be impacted physically (operator risks) and investors will bear the costs. The risk that seems to be most on the minds of experts is changes in policy. As one speaker put it, “it is becoming more expensive to pollute.” Changes in technology which may make businesses obsolete or lead to falling prices are another risk. And there are reputational risks. Much of the meeting focused on just how the financial risks of climate change can be quantified. The two big sources of uncertainty are first, that we don’t know how much and what kinds of actions will be taken to mitigate climate change. And second, we don’t know how much the climate will change. Risk projections are usually informed by past experience, but there is no historical data that can be used to build and test models of climate risk. The speakers presented several tools that are designed to help investors at various levels incorporate climate into their risk assessments. Speakers from the World Resources Institute and UNEP Finance Initiative gave an overview of their Carbon Asset Risk Discussion Framework. The framework, which provides questions to ask but no answers, provides a structured approach to assess exposure to climate risk, valuate, and manage it. Mercer has released a report on Investing in a Time of Climate Change that is meant to help investors assess their portfolios using four climate-risk factors to assess exposure under four possible climate scenarios. Mercer’s approach is more user-friendly because it provides answers based on assumptions about how investments in certain sectors and regions will be impacted under specific scenarios. However, given how much is unknown, this approach obviously requires making a lot of assumptions. 2 Degrees Investing Initiative has worked with UNEP Inquiry and CDC Climat Research to produce a review of various approaches to carbon risk assessment: Financial Risk and the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy. The Bloomberg Carbon Risk Valuation Tool (available to Bloomberg subscribers) was also mentioned in passing. This meeting was focused on technical questions about how to assess climate risk in order to protect financial institutions and individual investors. However the speakers also alluded to the critical need to mobilize the influence of financial markets to accelerate action to mitigate climate change. On this point, speaker after speaker emphasized the issue of the difference in time horizons for investment decisions and the major risks to investments from climate change. Most investment decisions are made for 2-10 years, while these experts expect to see major impacts on investments from climate change only in 25-30 years. In order to leverage the power of markets to address climate change something will have to change. Mirele B. Goldsmith is an environmental psychologist, program evaluator, and activist. She is an expert in how to change human behavior – the key to solving environmental problems and building a sustainable future. Mirele’s clients include community-based organizations, associations, and businesses, that are engaging employees, tenants, board members, and constituents, in saving energy, reducing waste, educating about sustainability, and advocating for change. Mirele is a certified SSC Green Auditor and the principal of Green Strides Consulting.
Enjoy this blog post from the SSC archives: You can't manage what you don't measure -- but deciding what to measure, how to measure it, when to measure it, and where to capture and store the data can be one of the most challenging pieces of a carbon management strategy. If you're stuck at this stage (or getting ready to tackle it), here are some questions to guide your decision:
Which carbon calculation standard do you want to use?There are several carbon calculation standards out there, but 99% of companies will end up choosing the GHG Protocol. Why?
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) is the most widely used international accounting tool for government and business leaders to understand, quantify, and manage greenhouse gas emissions. The GHG Protocol, a decade-long partnership between the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, is working with businesses, governments, and environmental groups around the world to build a new generation of credible and effective programs for tackling climate change. It provides the accounting framework for nearly every GHG standard and program in the world - from the International Standards Organization to The Climate Registry - as well as hundreds of GHG inventories prepared by individual companies.Our advice: whatever standard you choose (e.g. an industry specific standard), make sure that it's built on (and in compliance with) the GHG Protocol. It makes life so much simpler.
Which emissions categories are most relevant to your organization?In sustainability jargon, this is a question about materiality -- which activities within your operations and value chain generate material emissions? The GHG protocol outlines more than a dozen different categories (like "purchased electricity" and "employee commuting") to choose from. In most cases, you want to calculate emissions from Scope 1 (direct emissions) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions), along with a handful of Scope 3 (indirect emissions) categories that make the most sense given your size and industry.
Which carbon footprint tool makes the most sense?There are a wide variety of options to measure your company's carbon emissions. There are excel spreadsheet models, and dozens of software programs -- both SaaS and enterprise-level options. Some companies even choose to develop their own internal calculators that integrate directly with their internal systems (like ERP, timesheets, business travel reimbursement, etc.). To dive deeper into this process, check out our free white paper on Choosing Sustainability Management Software. It's a vendor-neutral look at how companies can choose the most effective software option, including the pros and cons of some of the most popular software features.
How will we manage the process?How many facilities are we going to include? Where is the raw data now, and how will we get it into our carbon calculator? Where are we missing data, and how can we best fill in the blanks? What is our timeline? All of these questions should be answered -- at least tentatively -- at this stage of the process. Are simple mistakes holding back your sustainability? Find out how to correct those mistakes here!
The SSC Team June 11, 2015 Tags: carbon, Carbon Disclosure Project, carbon footprint, CDP, data, direct emissions, emissions, GHG emissions, green, green communication, greenhouse gas, greenhouse gas emissions, indirect emissions, results, social media Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments
Enjoy this article from the SSC blog archives: Once you've gone through the trouble of gathering all of your data and crunching the numbers, many companies get stuck on how to most effectively communicate their carbon footprint results. Should you do a press release? Put it on the company website? Participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Report process? There are lots of ways to share the results of your carbon footprint. But before you jump into particular communication channels, it's essential to decide what aspects of the data you want to highlight. Here's our take on the four most critical elements to share:
1. Your absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.This is the total metric tons of CO2-e that your company is responsible for over a given time period (usually a year). Be sure to divide it up between Scope 1 (direct emissions -- like natural gas), Scope 2 (indirect emissions – like electricity), and Scope 3 (indirect emissions -- value chain activities such as employee commuting, business travel, and waste).
2. Your adjusted GHG emissions.Absolute emissions are important, but they lack context. You should also choose a relevant way to adjust for your company's specific operations. This might mean looking at carbon-per-employee, carbon-per-revenue, carbon-per-sales, or carbon-per-production-unit.
3. Emissions over time.For both absolute and adjusted emissions, it's helpful to show a track record -- three years is considered the minimum, while five years or more is considered the “best practice.” (Of course, if you've just started calculating your annual carbon footprint, you won't have a 3-year track record yet!). By showing how your carbon profile changes over time, you'll give stakeholders an idea of your future trajectory.
4. Your carbon footprint story.Don't just put up the numbers…explain them. What boundary did you draw around your footprint (e.g. what operations and activities were included)? Why are your numbers going up (or down)? How have changes to your business operations (like acquisitions, mergers, divestments, layoffs, expansions, etc.) affected your emissions profile? What are you expecting to see in the future? A few paragraphs of explanation will make a world of difference in your communications. Once you have the pieces in place, what are the best vehicles for sharing your carbon footprint information? We've listed our favorite options below -- and we'd love to hear your opinions in the comments section!
- Website -- great as an all-purpose communications vehicle, for internal and external stakeholders. Example: Nestle
- Visual infographic -- more interesting than a simple chart (when done correctly). Example: Microsoft
- Press release -- a traditional way to announce timely news and to drive readers to your website, your sustainability report, and other communications. Example: Green Century Funds
- Employee all-hands meeting -- a personal touch can go a long way in generating enthusiasm and buy-in among all levels of staff. Example: Megamas Training Company
- Sustainability report -- the standard “best-practice” way to share not just your carbon footprint, but also other social and environmental performance. Example: Coca Cola (and note their disclosure about carbon recalculation at the bottom!)
- Social media – by making the dialogue related to carbon calculations more social, companies can take their disclosure to the next level. Example: SAP
By: Alexandra Kueller As I approach my one year anniversary at SSC, I’m amazed at not only how quickly the past year has flown by, but also with how much I learned the first 12 months on the job. I’ve come to learn how to craft a sustainability narrative for a company and what data to collect for carbon footprinting analysis. I’ve slowly (but surely) gotten better at client and project management. I’ve even gotten over my fear of attending conferences by myself! But none of what I’ve learned will be useful, unless I can take this new information and apply it to my long-term goals as a sustainability consultant. I recently came across an article by Jonathan Long featured on Entrepreneur called “8 Steps to Crushing Ridiculous Goals” that discussed how to achieve the goals you set for yourself, and it made me think about how I could apply these 8 steps to being a better sustainability consultant.
1. Master easy goals firstAny project can seem daunting when you join a new company in a field you’re just starting to understand. The first few months on the job I set small goals for myself, such as “get acquainted with the waste audit spreadsheets” or “understand how to use the sustainability reporting platform”. This helped me feel more at ease in my new role and help me gain confidence going forward.
2. Break ridiculous goals down into several smaller goalsOne of the first big projects I had a chance to work on from the beginning was collecting data for a client’s annual sustainability report. It was very unnerving in the beginning, but once I broke everything down into a timeline, I was able to set smaller goals, which made the overall goal much more attainable.
3. Be prepared to push hard through the finish lineAs much as it would be nice to leave your work at the office, it simply isn’t practical, and I very quickly learned that sustainability consulting is no different. There are certain times during a project that will require time outside of the office to complete or quick turnarounds late at night, and by anticipating when these busy periods are, I can then better manage my time both in and out of the office.
4. Build a team of specialists around youI’m lucky enough to work with some of the smartest and brightest people in the field. By surrounding myself with people who specialize in certain areas of sustainability consulting, I am able to learn so from them just by watching how they attack different projects.
5. Don’t stall or make excusesLearning to juggle multiple client projects at once was an initial challenge, but I knew that I couldn’t make excuses for my shortcomings. I began to set weekly and daily deadlines for myself, and I eventually was able to better manage all my simultaneous projects.
6. Accept that failure is a possibilityWhen I was helping to write and edit one of my first sustainability reports, I was too nervous to write or change anything, because I didn’t want to fail. How would I ever be able to grow and learn from my experiences if I don’t take any chances? No one is perfect, and missing the mark on a project is inevitable for everyone.
7. Be prepared and willing to sacrificeProjects pop last minute. It’s going to happen whether you can control it or not. And sometimes when this happened over the course of the past year, I’ve had to make some sacrifices. Yes, I was bummed I couldn’t go to dinner with my friends that one time, but a project had to be completed by the end of the day. Sacrifices will have to happen.
8. Don’t ever quitBeing a sustainability consultant isn’t always smooth sailing, but you can never give up. Simple enough. Find out how you can become a better sustainability leader in one of our latest blogs.
By: Alexandra Kueller Sustainability is a broad term that can mean something different to each person you ask, and jobs that require sustainability leadership are no different. You might be a sustainability consultant, a CSO, head of a sustainability team, or even someone in marketing who got dumped with the task of sustainability. Each of these people will attack sustainability in a different way, but they all need good sustainability leadership. And no matter what your profession is, leadership will always be necessary. Larry Alton, wrote an article for Entrepreneur titled "5 Habits That Are Destroying Your Ability to Lead," took note and came up with a list of bad habits leaders can acquire over time, and we decided to put our own sustainability spin on their list.