“Climate Change is the biggest economic growth and job creating opportunity of our generation. Business and entrepreneurs in particular, must take the lead.”
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, co-founder of The B-Team, 14 May 2013
“The B Team is a not-for-profit initiative that has been formed by a group of global business leaders to create a future where the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit.” 13 June 2013
Content on this page:
→ Sustainable practices
→ Clippings from the news stream
→ Inspirational stories from the world of green business
→ Sustainability leadership
→ Architecture and construction
→ Businesses putting green thinking into action
First of all: Take a stand
THE CLIMATE CRISIS AS A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY
Because, in particular the leaders of businesses, companies and organisations hold a very important key to saving this planet — and your own children — from a climate catastrophe. Initially, you could read this blog post if you’d like to hear more about how and why I think so.
Show customers you care
One business leader who has taken a stand is Richard Branson, CEO, Virgin. You might want to spend the next five minutes in his company in order to learn what brought him to that point.
You take a stand by showing your customers that you care about climate safety and carbon emissions. You could even show your customers what they could do to contribute bringing CO2-emissions down. In particular IT-companies could do this very easily by establishing a new category or section on their home pages.
• Any company can make the choice to leave dirty polluting energy sources behind and commit to using clean energy – for a start, for instance, for its data centers
• Any company can make infographic posters that illustrates how to deal with the topic
• Google and Apple can create climate-safety-specific search engines, which is promoted on thir front pages
• Sites such as Pinterest and others can establish and promote new categories for ‘Climate safety’, and for ‘Environment’
• Telecompanies can make a hotline about sustainable living practices
…and so on.
Below you will find just a little selection of inspirational stories and knowledge sites about why going green and thinking strategically about sustainability makes a lot of common sense not only for environmentalists, but also from an economic point of view.
There are so many sites about there about this topic, once you start looking for them.
Start with subscribing to a newsletter or two — for instance, GreenBuzz.
Or sign up at prismatic.com with a couple of feeds such as ‘Environment’, ‘Sustainability’, ‘Greenhouse Gas Emissions’, and/or ‘Green Tech’.
Something any business leader must know about:
A short video which explains the concept of Circular Economy:
Re-thinking Progress: The Circular Economy
Uploaded on youtube.com on 28 August 2011
“It’s about re-thinking the operating system itself”
There’s a world of opportunity to re-think and re-design the way we make stuff. ‘Re-Thinking Progress’ explores how through a change in perspective we can re-design the way our economy works – designing products that can be ‘made to be made again’ and powering the system with renewable energy. It questions whether with creativity and innovation we can build a restorative economy.
» Find out more about the circular economy at www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org
How can your industry contribute to the circular economy? – interactive
The Guardian asked 28 experts what role their industry has in accelerating the circular economy. Journey through our interactive to explore each industry category and click on the words and phrases to learn how innovation is taking hold
» See the interactive on www.theguardian.com
Small Business Guide to Energy Conservation
“Energy conservation isn’t a choice to consider – it’s a competitive advantage you can’t afford to ignore.”
This guide offers actionable advice surrounding the four main opportunities for energy savings:
Lighting, Heat Regulation, Equipment Upgrades and Employee Engagement
» See the guide on www.business.com/articles/small-business-energy-conservation
WWF’s Jason Clay at TED: “Convince just 100 key companies to go sustainable, and WWF’s Jason Clay says global markets will shift to protect the planet our consumption has already outgrown. Hear how his extraordinary roundtables are getting big brand rivals to agree on green practices first — before their products duke it out on store shelves.”
“Our goal is to figure out how to produce more with less land, less water and less pollution, so we won’t be the only species left living on this planet.”
Uploaded on youtube.com on 16 August 2010.
WWF wrote: “It’s 23 minutes long, and might just change the way you think about everything.”
A company takes a stand
Edelman has formally declared it will no longer accept climate denial campaigns. The statement by America’s biggest public relations firm may be the industry’s first official position on climate denial.
» Read more on www.theguardian.com
Charter for businesses
A template for what it looks like when a council or local government declares a climate emergency was established when Darebin City Council did it as a world’s first in 2017.
Could a similar template or model be developed for the business sector?
Centre for Climate Safety in collaboration with Geelong Media has given it a shot. Recently they developed a climate emergency charter, which is distributed online as an open source document, outlining how a network of climate leaders among companies and corporations declaring a climate emergency could be given a collective visibility and an increased possibility of influencing others.
The aim of the charter is “to reach an unprecedented level of engagement and understanding of what is required. In relation to their branding and sales as well as internal messaging to management and staff, businesses must increase awareness of and make visible their intention to adequately address the climate emergency.”
Australia has a number of sustainability councils and climate roundtables and many other well-meaning climate-action bodies and initiatives already, focusing on what needs to happen in the business sector and attempting to get everyone to join the action.
“I’ve seen so many of them come and go, and there are a few of them that stay around. But the thing is: In the meanwhile, emissions keep rising. Every year. So clearly something is not working here. Something different needs to happen. What is being done is simply not enough. Not drastic enough, if you will,” said Mik Aidt.
“We are currently seeing a new “wave” among 600 councils, and that is where we got the inspiration from. Maybe in a similar style, some more bold leadership could be shown by individual company owners – who then, after a while, would be showing these larger and therefore more slowly working coalitions, networks, unions and alliances that there is substantial basis for making much stronger and much bolder decisions, and that they need to listen to what these climate emergency first-movers are saying.
The large NGOs and action networks wouldn’t listen if they were contacted by an advocacy group. The actual “wave” of climate emergency charter signatories need to begin rolling, before anyone will take notice and realise they need to step up as well. This is what we saw happen with the council movement. When hundreds of companies suddenly stand together as a collective force after having declared a climate emergency themselves and started acting accordingly on the decision, then something meaningful could actually begin to change.
This is the bottom-up approach, relying on the leadership and courage of individuals. It is the ‘act local, think global’ approach.
We said the same three years ago about the potential for what councils could do, if a declaration was made by a large number of them. In the beginning no one could see it happening. Then a majority of newly elected councillors in the Darebin Council, who all had signed our national climate emergency petition, surprised everyone by buying into the basic idea of declaring a climate emergency at council level. And look what has happened since. It’s possible. All we need is making the call, and keeping track of each company joining in.”
→ See the Climate Emergency Charter
Business for Social Responsibility
Business for Social Responsibility is a global nonprofit business network dedicated to sustainability, working with more than 250 of the world’s most influential companies.
BSR’s mission is to work with business to create a just and sustainable world. They envision a world in which everyone can lead a prosperous and dignified life within the boundaries of the Earth’s natural resources.
“The role of business is to create and deliver products and services in a way that treats people fairly, meets individuals’ needs and aspirations within the boundaries of our planet, and encourages market and policy frameworks that enable a sustainable future.”
BSR’s role is to catalyze change within business by integrating sustainability into strategy and operations, and to promote collaboration among companies and their stakeholders for systemic progress toward a just and sustainable world.
70 companies sign the ‘Trillion Tonne Communiqué’
Leading global companies including Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, BT and Adidas have called on governments to cap cumulative carbon emissions below 1 trillion metric tonnes, in a bid to contain rising temperatures.
» If you own a business, you can sign this communique here: www.climatecommuniques.com
Over 70 companies from across five continents – accounting for a combined turnover of $90 billion – have signed the ‘Trillion Tonne Communiqué’, representing a growing call from businesses for governments to tackle climate change. They are demanding a “rapid and focused response” to the threat of rising carbon emissions and the “disruptive climate impacts” associated with their growth.
The Communiqué coincides with negotiations on the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Panel’s scientists have previously warned the world needs to limit its cumulative carbon emissions to a trillion tonnes to stay below governments’ internationally agreed threshold of a 2ºC temperature rise.
Over half of this has already been emitted and, at current rates, the world is on course to pass the trillion tonne mark in less than 30 years, with potentially devastating climate impacts. The Communiqué wants governments to set a timeline for achieving net zero emissions before the end of the century and to ensure the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015 does not end up a missed opportunity in realising this goal.
Talking in London, Unilever CEO, Paul Polman insisted that tackling climate change will deliver “a better future for us all“. Across the globe, businesses both small and large, are calling for a global policy response to limit the threat of climate change.
The Communique urges government to perform some imperative duties to combat climate change, such as:
Set a timeline for achieving net zero emissions
Design a credible strategy to transform the energy system
Create a plan for fossil fuels, especially coal
Signing up to the Communique gives businesses and not-for-profit organisations a chance to demonstrate the shared desire for real action on climate change to governments throughout the world. If enough businesses become signatories, the Communique could have quite an impact.
» If you are a part of a business which aspires to work towards real solutions for climate change, you can sign up to the communique on behalf of your business by going to the website: www.climatecommuniques.com
» Bloomberg – 8 April 2014:
Shell, Unilever Seek 1 Trillion-Ton Limit on CO2 Output
» Infographic: The Global Carbon Budget
» Article: www.treealerts.org
In this roundtable event hosted by the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change on 10 April 2014, business leaders from some of the world’s leading corporations discussed how their companies are working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, taking advantage of energy efficiency opportunities, and utilizing renewable energy technologies.
Published on youtube.com on 11 April 2014.
The Clean Revolution
The Clean Revolution is a partnership of international statesmen and governments, business leaders and corporations, thinkers and opinion formers. It is coordinated by The Climate Group. The campaign calls for a swift, massive scale-up of clean energy and infrastructure, and of smart technologies and design.
The Clean Revolution campaign aims to inspire and connect leaders who will step forward to set out a powerful vision, drive innovation and investment in clean technology, and promote partnerships for transformative action. The Campaign’s Ambassadors will reach out to other government, business and thought leaders to help bring about a tipping-point for change.
» Home page: thecleanrevolution.org
The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability
The Ceres Roadmap provides a practical framework for companies that are integrating sustainability into their business models. Visit the new website to explore 20 expectations for a sustainable corporation, learn about new case studies and resources, and access data on the performance of 600 of the largest U.S. companies.
The Ceres Roadmap in Action features the latest case studies highlighting how companies are achieving the Ceres Roadmap expectations.
“A strategic vision and practical framework for sustainable corporations in the 21st century economy. Discover the elements of a sustainable business strategy and learn how leading companies are meeting the key expectations required of 21st century sustainable corporations.”
» Download the roadmap: The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability Full Report (PDF)
» Home page: ceres.org
The B Team
Launched by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and PUMA Chairman Jochen Zeitz, the B Team works to create a future where the purpose of business is to be a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit. The B Team aims to deliver a new way of doing business that prioritizes people and planet alongside profit — a “Plan B” for businesses the world over.
In a live online broadcast on 13 June 2013 to over 500 hundred gatherings in more than 115 cities around the world, The B Team Leaders issued a joint Declaration acknowledging key global problems like growing inequality, unemployment and the unsustainable use of natural resources.
» Home page: bteam.org
Global SCP Clearinghouse
The Global SCP Clearinghouse is a unique one-stop hub dedicated to Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). Launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – which represents the United Nations’ environmental conscience – the Clearinghouse is a knowledge and cooperation platform for a sustainable future which aims at bringing together and expanding the Sustainable Consumption and Production community worldwide by collecting, disseminating and sharing initiatives, policies, tools and best practices, the latest news and events on Sustainable Consumption and Production – as well as cooperation opportunities in order to trigger more innovation and cooperation towards implementation of Sustainable Consumption and Production around the world.
Within days of its pre-launch at a UNEP Governing Council meeting in February 2013, the Global SCP Clearinghouse recorded nearly 800 new members from more than 500 organisations based in about 100 different countries.
» Home page: scpclearinghouse.org
Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings
Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings’s mission is to design and steward a global sustainability (ESG) ratings standard to expand and accelerate the contribution of business and other organizations worldwide to sustainable development. GISR will not rate companies. Instead, it will accredit other sustainability ratings, rankings or indices to apply its standard for measuring excellence in sustainability performance.
At present, approximately 100 sustainability raters administer questionnaires to thousands of companies worldwide, comprising a mix of investor and consumer-facing instruments ranging from issue-specific (e.g., climate change) to multi-issue (integrated environmental, social, and corporate governance factors) ratings, rankings, and indices.
Understanding and reconciling company, investor and rater perspectives – all valid and compelling in isolation – is prerequisite to realizing a future in which ratings achieve their full potential to drive markets toward sustainable outcomes. Where interests diverge, compromise and harmonization will be necessary such that all parties view solutions as reasonably aligned with their respective needs and objectives and expanding the market for high quality ratings to the benefit of all parties, including society at-large. This outcome lies at the heart of GISR vision and mission.
» Home page: www.ratesustainability.org
» IW Financial | GreenBiz.com – 27 March 2014:
What does sustainability reporting mean for smaller companies?
“In recent years, a lot of buzz has been in the media about rising levels of sustainability reporting among large corporations. However, there has been comparatively little discussion of how smaller companies fit into the trend of increasing disclosure. This report draws on recent research from KPMG and from proprietary data from my company, IW Financial, to make the case that although large companies maintain a substantial lead in sustainability reporting, smaller companies are starting to recognize the benefits of disclosure and follow suit.” Article by Glenn Yelton
Reporting about your company’s sustainability
Global Reporting Initiative’s website is a hub for sustainability and reporting information, answering questions about why and how to report, and providing guidance to companies and other organisations worldwide.
Download guidelines (PDF)
The Featured Reports service offers a way to announce an organisation’s report to stakeholders and gain high visibility through a number of online platforms. The benefits of this service include the display of the report on GRI’s website and a place on the Sustainability Disclosure Database. . It costs between 650 and 1,200 euro.
GRI’s Sustainability Disclosure Database is a global information resource for sustainability reporting, in one place.
Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting: 22-24 May 2013
“This will be the must-attend sustainability event for 2013. With a theme of Information – Integration – Innovation, the event will convene 1,500 sustainability leaders and practitioners from around the world.”
The Global Reporting Initiative is a non-profit organisation that promotes economic, environmental and social sustainability. The initiative provides all companies and organisations with a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that is widely used around the world.
Carbon Footprint Management Standard
You can develop and implement a strong and credible Climate Policy that allows you to communicate your efforts in a transparent and credible way.
For instance, NEPCon – a Danish registered non-profit organization with 8 wholly-owned daughter companies based in Europe and Russia – has developed a strong and easily applicable standard for companies to monitor and reduce their corporate or product carbon footprint.
NEPCon’s Carbon Footprint Management Standard builds upon the leading requirements for greenhouse gas accounting – the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol, ISO and Publicly Available Specification (PAS) – and helps clients to gain long-term positive impacts while avoiding accusations of greenwashing.
NEPCon can identify gaps in your footprinting management system that will make your GHG accounting simple, systematic and profitable.
» Read more on www.nepcon.net
Environmental Protection Agency: Sustainable Practices
“Agency researchers and their partners from across a wide spectrum of investigative fields are working together to form a deeper understanding of the balance between the three pillars of sustainability: environment, society, and economy.”
United States Environmental Protection Agency: Sustainable Practices
Internal Carbon Prices
Where governments have failed to act, some big firms have taken matters into their own hands.
A handful of global companies, including Microsoft and Shell, have chosen to act on their own. They have established internal carbon prices in an effort to reduce emissions, promote energy efficiency and encourage the use of cleaner sources of power, just as a government tax or cap-and-trade program would.
Disney has created what it calls a climate solutions fund, where monies from its carbon tax are deposited. The tax, the price of which depends upon the costs of offsets and the volume needed by Disney to reach its emissions targets, has been set at between $10and $20 a ton and has raised about $35m so far. That has enabled Disney to invest in a variety of certified forest-carbon projects in Inner Mongolia, China, Peru, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in Virginia, Mississippi and its home state of California. Taking those carbon offsets into account, Disney’s 2012 emissions have been cut in half from a 2006 baseline. The company has set a long-term goal of zero net emissions.
» The Guardian – 26 March 2013:
Disney, Microsoft and Shell opt for self-imposed carbon emissions taxes
Where governments have failed to act, some big firms have taken matters into their own hands. By Marc Gunther
Global community for sustainable business
2degrees was founded in Oxford, England, in 2008. The name comes from Chilcott’s belief that there are only 2 degrees of separation “between you and the information you need,” although it has nice overtones of climate science. Its business model has been to create a collaborative community, online and off, of sustainability professionals working to solve problems in their companies and value chains. Today, that community numbers about 30,000 members from 100 countries, and grows by about 800 new members a month.
» Explore 2degrees’s home page: 2degreesnetwork.com
Clippings from the news steam
Global companies and organisations:
Start disclosing climate change information
Getting companies to disclose their climate change corporate performance to shareholders is difficult. But in September, members of the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) agreed to start disclosing climate change information in annual reports and other corporate statements. The 40-plus member organisation has been calling on global companies and organisations to make this step a mainstream approach for all corporate disclosure statements in an effort to bolster “resilience of [all] financial markets in the 21st century.”
» TriplePundit – 23 September 2014:
Companies Sign on to Report on Climate Change
» GreenBiz – 21 November 2014:
Companies take note: Consumers trust climate change warnings
By Tove Malmqvist
Corporate climate leadership – inspirational stories from the world of green business
Leaders on climate outperform the pack
Companies that anticipate climate change risks outperform the market average by almost 10%, says a new report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). The “A List” encompasses 187 of the world’s largest companies, including Samsung, Apple, Google, Unilever, and Microsoft. According to CDP, these companies prove that acting on climate doesn’t hurt profits.
» The new report
Green offices boost productivity and wellbeing
Did you know that offices with indoor plants and views of nature can experience higher levels of productivity and improve staff wellbeing? It’s thought that one of the reasons for the lack of green infrastructure in cities is due to the lack of understanding of the benefits it can provide.
The World Green Building Council has developed a business case for green buildings that puts forward a body of evidence to show that greener buildings influence worker productivity, health and wellbeing resulting in bottom line benefits for business.
» Download the report (PDF, 124 pages)
The Guardian – 24 September 2014:
Sustainable corporations perform better financially, report finds
Analysis of S&P 500 companies finds that corporations with sustainability strategies outperform others on the index
» Sustainability Leaders – 9 May 2014:
Green MBA essential reading: ‘Green to Gold’
How smart companies use environmental strategy to innovate, create value, and build competitive advantage by Daniel Esty and Andrew Winston (2006, Yale University Press) is a well written, down-to-earth, no-fuzz book. Primarily targeted at business executives and managers, ‘Green to Gold’ outlines how to get on the green wave and how to proactively embrace environmental issues as opportunities, while at the same time minimizing risks.
Throughout the book, key ideas and strategies are illustrated by examples and case studies of many of the key corporate players and brands, such as McDonald’s, BP, GE, Wal-Mart, and IKEA.
‘Green to Gold’ is the essential reading for the business planning module of the distance Green MBA offered by the San Francisco Institute of Architecture (SFIA).
» Continue reading on sustainability-leaders.com/2014/05/09/green-mba-essential-reading-green-to-gold-book
Business Environment Network – 24 March 2014:
20 innovative business models for sustainability
Disruptive innovation is rarely about the products, it’s more often about business models. Here are 20 alternative business models for sustainability that are succeeding in a disruptive world. Article by Richard Collins
» Download or open the report: ‘Model Behavior: 20 Business Models for Sustainability’ (PDF, 3.9 MB)
» Download or open the ‘Executive Summary’ (PDF, 1.4 MB)
» Infographic (PDF, 1.1 MB)
Learning ‘Leadership for Global Responsibility’
Online course of the GIZ’s Academy for International Cooperation
Today’s complex global challenges need new leaderships and the embracing collaboration in order to develop innovative approaches with the potential for transformation. For this reason, the GIZ’s Academy for International Cooperation offers a seven-week ‘Massive Open Online Course’, named ‘Leadership for Global Responsibility’. The course invites change makers from all over the world, with diverse backgrounds and beyond hierarchical borders. It starts on 25 March 2014 and is free of charge.
» More information on gc21.giz.de
World’s largest CEO study on sustainability
“The global economy is on the wrong track, and business is not playing its part in forging a sustainable future. This is the strong view from our study of more than 1,000 chief executive officers (CEOs) across the world: A clear majority—67 percent—do not believe business is doing enough to address global sustainability challenges.”
The United Nations Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. The UN Global Compact—Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013 is the world’s largest CEO study on sustainability, representing CEO perspectives on what it will take to harness sustainability as a transformative force in the global economy—helping to put in place a new global architecture for corporate sustainability.
» Infographic: Accenture-UNGC-2013-Infographic.pdf
» Article: Why green is the new gold
The Climate Declaration for businesses
If you are the leader of an American company, sign The Climate Declaration. It is organised by BICEP, an advocacy coalition of US businesses “committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation that will enable a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate.”
A 3-step sustainability action plan for business leaders
Company executives have moved way past questioning why sustainability is important. Instead, leaders ask how to transform their business model to generate a triple win: operational efficiencies that cut costs, reduce demand on shared natural capital and improve quality of life for communities of people they serve. These leaders seek a new model that returns business value through efficiency and top-line growth drivers.
Article by Susan Graff and Anne Johnson. Published 25 February 2014.
» Continue reading on: www.greenbiz.com
Accounting for a company’s environmental impacts
Learning from PUMA’s environmental profit and loss account
PUMA is one company that thinks putting a financial value on environmental costs is an important issue. PUMA was the first international company to put a monetary value on the impact of its entire supply chain on the environment.
While all companies have to develop profit and loss statements, PUMA is the first to develop an environmental profit and loss statement. The company valued the environmental impact of its operations and supply chain in 2010 at about 190 million US dollars, factoring in impacts like water use, greenhouse gas emissions, land use conversion, air pollution and waste. Natural resources that businesses have traditionally treated as essentially free services.
PUMA is now using this statement as a way to drive environmental initiatives, which it views as key to its long-term commercial survival. PUMA’s environmental profit and loss statement is helping employees, shareholders and suppliers understand the magnitude of the company’s environmental impacts, prioritize which ones to tackle first and incorporate this information into decision-making.
Business Leaders for Climate Solutions
Climate Solutions’ mission is “to accelerate practical and profitable solutions to global warming by galvanizing leadership, growing investment and bridging divides.” Since 1998, Climate Solutions has pioneered the vision and cultivated political leadership in the Northwest of USA for the proposition that clean energy and broadly-shared economic prosperity can go hand-in-hand. Through the programme Business Leaders for Climate Solutions, among others, Climate Solutions builds a constituency for action on climate and clean energy policies.
» Home page: climatesolutions.org
Carbon Trust – 17 September 2013:
Adapt or die – our sustainable future lies inside business
Tom Delay, Chief Executive of the Carbon Trust, explores why putting sustainability at the heart of business is the only option for businesses to succeed in a world where consumers expect more and where resources are scarce and expensive.
» Continue reading on: www.carbontrust.com
“A new study shows that CSR activities are associated with higher financial performance in part through their impact on employees. Researchers Magali Delmas and Sanja Pekovic found an astounding 16 percent boost in employee productivity in firms that had voluntarily adopted sustainable practices, specifically Environmental Management systems.”
» Sustainability Leaders – 4 September 2014:
Research Shows: Environmental Performance Boosts Employee Productivity
The Climate Group (United Kingdom) – 18 June 2013:
NET GOOD: PATHWAY TO CARBON NET POSITIVE
BT launches ‘Net Good’ framework to “raise the bar for sustainable practice”
Easy Ways to Go Green – 6 June 2013:
How Can Your Company Reduce Its Carbon Footprint
Many businesses are waking up to the value of going green.
Greenbiz.com – 3 June 2013:
12 takeaways on the future of sustainable business
Each year, the World Environment Center’s member companies assemble to discuss our common needs and opportunities to build more sustainable businesses. We’ve just finished our latest get-together in Washington, D.C., and we’d like to share with you 12 key takeaways from a series of very lively conversations. By Mike Barry and Terry F. Yosie
SD, Sustainable Development in Government – 1 June 2013:
Towards a common approach on green growth indicators
The Green Growth Knowledge Platform’s recent publication ‘Moving towards a Common Approach on Green Growth Indicators’ proposes a set of headline indicators for monitoring and communicating progress on greening growth and a greener economy and an international agenda for action for taking these forward. By Nick Saltmarsh, SD Scene editor
Greenbiz.com – 29 April 2013:
Why Unilever, Patagonia, Puma lead the pack, say sustainability leaders
By Joel Makower
SustainAbility.com, A GlobeScan / SustainAbility Survey – 28 April 2013:
The 2013 Sustainability Leaders
Unilever continued its reign as the top-ranked company and actually increased its score, according to the survey, which is based on the responses of 1,170 “qualified sustainability experts” polled earlier this year. Companies are named on a top-of-mind basis — that is, they are asked to name leadership companies but aren’t given a list from which to choose.
Another top-tier companies was Patagonia, which “catapulted to the No. 2 position on back of strong gains in last year,” according to the study. Interface and Walmart round out the top four, with 10 additional companies clustered roughly with similar rankings (in descending order): GE, Marks & Spence, Puma, Nike, Coca-Cola, Natura, IBM, Google, Nestlé and Novo Nordisk. Puma was notable for being the only one not to have appeared on the previous rankings, done in 2012.
» Read more: sustainability.com
» Benchmarking: Comparing companies
GreenBiz – 21 June 2013:
LG turns up the volume on its energy and climate strategy
When assessing the carbon footprint of a $45 billion electronics company, thoughts quickly turn to the environmental costs associated with developing, manufacturing and transporting a world’s worth of appliances and high-def televisions.
But what if that same company sought to transform an industry by making energy efficiency the centerpiece of its differentiation strategy? By Mike Bellamente
Sustainable Brands – 18 June 2013:
Forget the ‘S’ Word: How to Make a Sustainable Lifestyle Sexy and Aspirational
This is a call for lots less chatter, twitter and yammer about the earth’s limits and in place of those, a world of new, real and lively conversations around ‘persuasive’ limits. By Vicky Grinnell-Wright
The Guardian – 8 May 2013:
Sustainability and joy: the power of fun can transform the corporate world
Only when we integrate making money with a sense of purpose and fun can business move to a more sustainable footing
2degrees – 25 April 2013:
Case study: Energy management white paper on behavioural change
If we can change people’s behaviour to become more “aware” of energy to the point where good practice becomes a habit, we can win huge savings in energy costs. On its own, successful behavioural change can yield savings as high as 15-20%. The big question is how do we make sure that we really get everyone’s attention to the point where they become responsible energy managers in their own right? By Phil Dawes, Drumbeat Energy Limited
Greenbiz.com – 6 May 2013:
How UPS makes the business case for sustainability projects
“Everything begins with management and data,” said Patrick Browne, UPS’s UPS’s corporate sustainability program manager, “UPS is no stranger to big data. We use data to drive many aspects of our business.” Data is also a major factor in justifying sustainability decisions based on their return on investment. By Jonathan Bardelline
GreenBiz – 18 April 2013:
Unilever’s sustainability program saves $395M since 2008
Unilever has cut more than 1 million tons of CO2 from its manufacturing and logistics operations since 2008, the company announced this week. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a central target in Unilever’s high-profile Sustainable Living Plan, which has introduced a raft of eco-efficiency programs that cut the company’s operating costs by $395 million since 2008 — a period over which the company also has grown sales by 26 percent from $54.4 billion to $67.6 billion.
GreenBiz – 17 April 2013:
Can corporations help build a better tomorrow?
Harvard Professor Rebecca Henderson wants to change the conversation. For Henderson, it’s not enough that large corporations have adopted various sustainability measures. Businesses can’t just rest on their laurels. They must bring a deeper passion to the table if they expect to help find solutions to complex environmental problems, she argues.
Henderson’s work at the Harvard Business School focuses on this central issue — how organizations can respond to large-scale technological shifts, such as energy and the environment. By Jennifer Inez Ward
GreenBiz – 10 April 2013:
Ventura County finds 5 keys to engaging employees
Here are five tips to help you get an engagement program launched or to amp up your existing program. By Deborah Fleischer
The Power of Slogans in Sustainability
Corporate Sustainability – What’s your sustainability slogan? By Amy Malloy
GreenBiz – 28 March 2013:
Why Puma, Natura and Greif track environmental externalities
By Samantha Putt del Pino and Alex Perera
Easy Ways To Go Green – 27 March 2013:
The World’s Greenest Businesses: How They Do It
Going Green in the Working World
GreenBiz – 26 March 2013:
Sprint CEO: Customers not asking for green products
In this Q-and-A with Nina Kruschwitz at MIT Sloan Management Review, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse explains how the company’s strong focus on sustainability is paying off in cost savings and long-term brand image, even if customers aren’t yet paying attention to whether the phones themselves are green. By Nina Kruschwitz
Inspirationfeed – 25 March 2013:
Going Green at the Workplace: 5 Great Ideas that Allow You to Breathe Freely
Making your workplace more environmentally friendly has innumerable benefits. Apart from improving your public image and saving a lot of money, an Eco friendly workplace helps lure Eco conscious customers who are concerned about green business practices. By Igor Ovsyannykov
Forbes – 20 March 2013:
Google explains why the future of energy is green
Google isn’t investing billions into clean energy projects only to feel good and make employees happy. The company is doing it because the bottomline results are supported by data. By Michael Kanellos
The Guardian – 20 March 2013:
Aligning sustainability and profit: what are the barriers?
Major companies are starting to recognise that managing and mitigating environmental risks can boost profits but more must follow suit. By Andrew Steer
Greener Ideal – 19 March 2013:
A Few Ways to Make Your Retail Business More Eco-Friendly
For any business to do their part to protect the planet and, as a result, reasonably succeed as a retailer of products and ideas, it must be aware of how its products and practices affect the world we live in. Fortunately, there are many things that a business can do to be more eco-friendly, here are three.
Techbubbles – 18 March 2013:
Making sustainability your business
A shift in thinking has taken place in the past few years; businesses are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint, and are striving to reinforce their environmental credentials, to find ways to care for the environment, minimise their impact and even win business. By David Lear, executive director, corporate sustainability, Dell
GreenBiz – 14 January 2013:
5 ways to make your business (more) bike friendly
Bike friendliness has become serious business – for innovative corporations. The League of American Bicyclists recognizes companies with “Bicycle Friendly Business” awards. The latest round includes some of the world’s largest, most respected companies, like Facebook, Apple, Hewlett Packard and Williams-Sonoma. By Amy Harcourt
League of American Bicyclists
GreenBiz – 14 January 2013:
Why companies and investors see the risks in climate
Article adabpted from the book ‘A Newer World: Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis’ by William Hewitt, recently published by University of New Hampshire Press.
Keep Earth in business
1% for the Planet is a growing global movement of more than 1,000 companies that donate 1% of their sales to approved environmental causes carried out by a network of more than 3,000 approved environmental organisations worldwide.
Home page: onepercentfortheplanet.org
The Carbon Disclosure Project
The Carbon Disclosure Project is an independent not-for-profit organisation working to drive greenhouse gas emissions reduction and sustainable water use by business and cities. They provide a transformative global system for thousands of companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share environmental information.
Their idea is that when provided with the necessary information, market forces can be a major cause of change. “Working with the world’s largest investors, businesses and governments, the Carbon Disclosure Project is uniquely positioned to catalyze action towards a more sustainable economy.”
In 2012, Carbon Disclosure Project’s list of the world’s best companies in terms of climate change disclosure and performance shamefully revealed that large companies such as Apple and Amazon.com — shamefully, I think — were ‘non-responders’ to the request for a report on their emissions. Generally, four out of five among the world’s 500 largest companies managed to reply. More about this.
Home page: cdproject.net
Business is crucial — but we need new ways of doing it
To endure, we as a society must transform our markets — both how we produce and consume, and the very ways in which we define and measure value and progress.
This is a big challenge, and not just for business and economics. It is a call for massive social, political, technological, cultural and behavioral transition. We will need governments to set incentives, targets and rules for a level playing field, civil society actors to hold us to account and to experiment with new ways of delivering social impact, and each of us to take actions in our own lives to reward sustainable business models and to eat, work, travel and play more sustainably.
To achieve this transformation, we need the capacity of business to innovate and to execute, meeting market needs swiftly, effectively and on a global scale. To do this in a way that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, we will need new ways of doing business. The successful businesses of tomorrow will be those that lead and create value both inside and outside the walls of the company.
This will mean managing for the long-term as well as the short-term, developing strategies that balance competition and cooperation, designing and delivering products and services that meet social and environmental needs, shifting to more resilient business models based on closed-loop, open-source, peer-to-peer or service-based principles (to name a few), incorporating the true costs of environmental and social resources, and seeing transparency and collaboration as sources of competitive advantage.
For these businesses, sustainability means not only eco-efficiency, but also eco-effectiveness. Sustainability is absolutely about marketing and branding – when that means identifying market needs based on long-term prosperity and creating tribes of sustainable consumers. Sustainability needs to be about ‘greening’ – because businesses and communities depend on healthy, productive ecosystems. Sustainability can also encompass corporate philanthropy – when that philanthropy is strategic.
Above all, we believe that for tomorrow’s enduring businesses, sustainability will be about making money by meeting real and fundamental human needs.
Source: SustainAbility: Sustainability: Can our society endure?
Google’s green investment: because it pays
Google has already invested around 1 billion US dollars in alternative power projects with a combined capacity of more than 2 GigaWatt, and has also supported studies into energy efficiency, which enables their data centres to run on half the power of conventional ones, saving over US$ 1 billion in energy costs
Google is a successful business, and these investments have not been just for the benefit of the environment, or to increase their sense of wellbeing; they are investments made with a goal to making a profit in the future.
Rick Needham, the director of energy and sustainability at Google recently gave a presentation at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco, in which he explained that, “while fossil-based prices are on a cost curve that goes up, renewable prices are on this march downward.”
Google hope that investments made now will put them in a strong position in the future when renewable energy becomes much cheaper than fossil fuels.
Google is striving to power the company with 100 percent renewable energy. Currently they are using renewable energy to power over 30 percent of their operations.
Companies that have been recognised for their green efforts
See the lists of Green Power Leadership Award winners
A socially just, sustainable future
Here is an inspiring TED-talk by Dan Pallotta on why and how we have to change the way we look at charities and allow them to become critical mass, large-style enterprises for social innovation. An interesting and vital aspect not to be missed as a means to create a healthy and socially just, sustainable future:
Company shares sustainability goals in ‘Goodness Report’
Tom’s of Maine has launched a website that makes it easier for people to learn about the way it does business, its goals and its progress against those goals.
The Tom’s of Maine Goodness Report
How to Make your Organization a Sustainability Champion
Sales pitch for the book ‘How to Make your Organization a Sustainability Champion’: “Is it really worth the time and resources to make your company a recognised sustainability champion? And how on earth should you go about it? In this concise and practical book, Brendan May demonstrates why the companies that will be fit for purpose in 2020 are addressing sustainability now, and then outlines a strategy for how to do that.
May draws on 15 years experience on the front line of sustainable business — as Chief Executive of a business–NGO partnership, as an environmental campaigner and as advisor to multinational corporations on sustainability strategy and communications — and outlines the emerging trends that will change the rules of the game forever.
By the time you’ve finished this book you’ll know who you need to know, what you need to know, and the do’s and don’ts in the quest to make your business a true champion of sustainability.”
“If you want your company to be a corporate champion of sustainability … listen to Brendan May. Rarely does so much good advice come in such a short, readable package.”
Charles Clover, The Sunday Times
“We are facing a crisis of leadership in the corporate world which is severely hampering business from becoming a real force for good in society.
While there are examples of companies seeking to embed sustainability beyond the corporate responsibility departments into core strategy, in most cases business leaders are burying their heads in the sand when it comes to addressing issues ranging from climate change to the collapse of biodiversity.”
» The Guardian – 12 November 2014:
29 qualities for business leaders to create a sustainable society
To mark the launch of a new leadership hub, a manifesto for executives to embrace new ways of leading their corporations at a time of unprecedented challenges
Article by Jo Confino
Lead by example: Apple addresses climate change
Apple CEO Tim Cook has linked Apple’s brand to the notion that innovation at Apple means not just building better products, but building them in a way that also protects the environment and addresses climate change.
» More about Apple’s position on climate change on www.greenpeace.org
Lead by example: IKEA addresses climate change
Corporate giant IKEA has launched a campaign to highlight the necessity of climate change policy leaders. The Scandinavian company has developed an infographic which advocates legally binding targets on: CO2 reduction, Renewable energy, and Energy efficiency.
By using a visual medium, the sustainable business leader is able to convey succinctly the benefits of the low carbon economy. Striking graphics draw attention to the 20 millions jobs which would be created between now and 2020 in the green economy, as well as the losses to the IKEA group caused by extreme weather.
» Continue reading on: www.theclimategroup.org
“Thanks to more and more transparency and accounting standards, sustainability leaders are no longer hard to find, writes Greg Balestrero, a Strategic Advisor on Leadership, Sustainability & Corporate Consciousness at IIL and co-author of Organizational Survival: Profitable Strategies for a Sustainable Future, a road map for companies to make sustainability a core part of their culture and strategy. According to him, by and large, sustainability leaders and their organizations distinguish themselves by embracing strategy in seven important ways.”
» Sustainability Leaders – 14 October 2014:
How Do Sustainability Leaders Approach Strategy?
Five rules that make a sustainability and CSR leader
For companies to become sustainability leaders, they need sustainability leadership inside the organisation, wrote the Network for Business Sustainability on 3 March 2013. Having reviewed the best management research from around the world, the network identified the following five rules for becoming a sustainability leader:
1. Take the long view;
2. Show employees who they’re helping;
3. Live your values;
4. Customize and reward csr through the ranks;
5. Cultivate “master managers”.
“Those points are a valuable addition to previous posts on sustainability and csr leadership and show the importance of soft skills, emotional and social intelligence for future csr and sustainability leaders. The question is, are aspiring managers trained and educated appropriately, for example through mandatory sustainability courses in MBA and other management degrees? Despite the increasing number of laudable examples, in business and management education overall this still seems to be the exception rather than the rule,” wrote Florian Kaefer in Sustainablefutures.info on 11 March 2013: Five rules that make a sustainability and csr leader
Institute for Leadership and Sustainability
The Institute for Leadership and Sustainability at University of Cumbria Business School in Cumbria, United Kingdom, is emerging as a global hub of inquiry, teaching, and dialogue on enabling the transition to more fair and sustainable societies.
“The challenge of social, environmental and economic sustainability requires ‘sustainable leadership’ — ways of relating that promote change that is mutually beneficial for the person, organisation, stakeholders and world at large. The scale of the sustainability challenge means it is best characterised as a ‘transition’ from unsustainable ways of living and working.”
“Management education has lost its way,” explains Founding Director and Professor of Sustainability Leadership, Dr. Jem Bendell, in this video-clip:
Architecture is an essential arena for sustainable innovation. Buildings represent about half the annual energy and emissions in the US and three-quarters of its electricity. With the built environment growing — the US building stock increases by about 3 billion square feet every year — architects have a historic opportunity to transform its impact for the better.
GreenBizz – 19 March 2013:
Why architects must lead on sustainable design
By Lance Hosey
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards were developed by the US Green Building Council in an effort to propel green building design in the United States. LEED certification is very prestigious title and can be attained through “compliance with all environmental laws and regulations, occupancy scenarios, building permanence and pre-rating completion, site boundaries and area-to-site ratios, and obligatory five-year sharing of whole building energy and water use data from the start of occupancy (for new construction) or date of certification (for existing buildings)”
LEED 2009 Minimum Program Requirements
Businesses putting green thinking into action
Some examples — in alphabetic order:
• Apple — the data centres of the IT, computer and phone manufacturer Apple are 100 percent powered by energy from renewable sources: solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. Many of their corporate facilities are as well. The company’s goal is to power all Apple facilities entirely by renewable energy. And Apple says that the company reports environmental impact comprehensively by focusing on their products: what happens when they design them, what happens when they make them, and what happens when customers take them home and use them.
» Read more: apple.com/environment | The story behind Apple’s enviromental footprint
However, the company’s absolute emissions rose 34 percent in 2012 alone, and not everyone agrees that Apple deserves to be on this list.
• Dell — IT firm showing its green credentials, they take back any old equipment they have made free of charge and use recycled plastic for many of its products.
• Google – leading IT company and search engine – is striving to power the company with 100 percent renewable energy. Currently they are using renewable energy to power over 30 percent of their operations, and have invested one billion US dollars in renewables.
» Read more: google.com/green/energy
• H&M — the clothes company sets the new standard by stating clearly that all their business operations must “be run in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.” Give them a hand, should we?
Their ‘Conscious Collection’, for men, women and children, is made from sustainable materials including organic and recycled fibers and will be on sale in all H&M stores from 14 April 2013.
• IBM — the IT firm have worked wonders in reducing its electricity usage: throughout the 1990s, it reduced electricity consumption by 5.1bn kw/h. More recently, IBM were behind efforts to reduce energy use in four cities worldwide.
• Ikea — the Swedish furniture giant makes a big thing of the fact that it sources all wood used to make its products sustainably. Another initiative Ikea have is refusing to sell lighting that’s not energy efficient.
• Interserve — UK support services and construction group which has set a target to halve its absolute carbon emissions by 2020 compared to 2013 levels as part of a raft of new sustainability goals. Interserve has more than 50,000 employees.
• Munich Reinsurance Group — Munich:Re are seen by many experts as the greenest firm on the planet. They recycle up to 75% of waste paper and their office in Germany became carbon neutral in 2009. They first undertook research into climate change in 1974.
• Nike — the sportswear firm perform stringent checks on how its products are made. Use of water and carbon is monitored closely. At their Netherlands headquarter, Nike use underground energy storage and the building itself is held together by aluminium frames.
• Yahoo — have a dedicated ‘green’ site offering handy tips to their 600 million users worldwide providing plenty of environmentally-friendly lifestyle tips. Its data centre uses 95% less water and 40% less energy than similar buildings.
For Newsweeks’ fourth annual look at the most environmentally-friendly companies, they compared the world’s largest 500 companies according to their environmental footprint, management (policies, initiatives, controversies), and transparency. They partnered with Trucost and Sustainalytics, two leading research companies. The methodology was developed in consultation with an advisory panel of experts in corporate sustainability. The resulting ranking is the most comprehensive available on the topic.
1. Santander Brasil
Industry: Financials. Headquarters: Brazil
Industry: Information Technology & Services. Headquarters: India.
Industry: Financials. Headquarters: Brazil
Industry: Information Technology & Services. Headquarters: United States
5. National Australia Bank
Industry: Financials. Headquarters: Australia
6. BT Group
Industry: Telecommunications. Headquarters: United Kingdom
7. Munich Re
Industry: Financials. Headquarters: Germany
Industry: Information Technology & Services. Headquarters: Germany
Industry: Telecommunications. Headquarters: Netherlands
10. Marks & Spencer Group
Industry: Retailers. Headquarters: United Kingdom
→ See also: Benchmarking companies