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“In the face of the multiple crises of biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and climate change plus economic turbulence and injustice, it is strange that there is so little discussion about controlling corporate power and exploitation in the run-up to Rio 20. There are proposals for increasing the participation of women, youth and communities in decision-making. There are calls to reduce land degradation and deforestation, promote sustainable production and consumption, increase energy and resource-use efficiency, and protect ecosystems. But there is almost nothing about tackling the corporations that are doing so much of the damage.”—Rio 20: Where’s the debate about corporate power? | EcoNexus
“We corporations are part of the problem because our current economic model that was organised in the industrial revolution is not working with but against nature.”—
Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz on corporate sustainability and moving away from an era where sustainability is siloed in one department rather than part of a companies overall mission.
I’m glad I wear their shoes.
Corporate Trends in Sustainability - An Ernst & Young and GreenBiz Report
This Ernst & Young / GreenBiz cooperative report is proof (once again) that environmentally conscious efforts are critical in maintaining market shares. Eco-friendly policies have become increasingly trendy, and now corporations are refurbishing their core executives with an environmental mindset. One of the recurring themes of this blog is that there should be a marriage between economic and environmental sustainability; this report states that even CFO- which are traditionally too focused on the bottom line and internalities to have any concern with environmental movements- have sprung an interest with eco-sustainable fashions. In fact, CFOs are now releasing “integrated reports” in which conventional financial reports are fused with their sustainable records.
As an environmentalist, it’s easy to read this report and see the beginning of a paradigm shift. Corporations have a huge impact on the natural world and a deep internal focus towards eco-friendly practices is a big step forward. But, it’s important to understand the motives behind this shift. The report emphasizes how the market- as always- is controlling their moves and the market is shaped by the people. Customers and employees want a balance between affordable and convenient and responsible. Through political involvement and day-to-day decisions, we ultimately steer the nations corporations.
To read the full report click on the link below:
Six trends in corporate sustainability
The chatter over whether renewable energy is worth it and if climate change is real is so loud that other parts of the emerging sustainability movement are muted. But corporations throughout the world, recognizing doing good for the environment also is good for their bottom lines, continue to quietly enhance their green team efforts.
Consider Lockheed Martin. It is one of the world’s largest defense contractors, but als o is a leader in sustainability, reaching its stated five-year environmental goals a year early.
The company met or exceeded its goals of reducing water use, waste-to-landfill and carbon emissions by 25 percent annually since 2007, while revenue climbed 12 percent in the same period. Lockheed Martin is an example of increasing awareness among Corporate America that going green can be profitable, rather than costly.
“Taking action to preserve resources is fundamental to securing against operational risks, extending the value of our business model, and expanding and enabling sustainable, profitable growth,” Bob Stevens, chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The company slashed water use 25 percent, saving more than 1.5 billion gallons, or equivalent to water consumed by 3.9 million average U.S. households every day. Lockheed Martin upgraded heating and cooling equipment, installed low-flow fixtures and designed projects wit h sustainability in mind, such as landscaping in Denver, Colo. that reduces or eliminates supplemental water from irrigation.
Lockheed Martin cut its waste-to-landfill amount 39 percent, or 35 million pounds, compared to 2007, its baseline year, through recycling programs at multiple U.S. facilities, efforts in Marietta, Ga., that cut the amount of packaging required for major parts, and reducing cafeteria food waste at several facilities.
Carbon emissions fell 30 percent through energy efficiency efforts with lighting and HVAC systems, the purchase of renewable solar and wind energy, and innovations such as using wood waste to power a 1.6 million square-foot plant in New York state. The total carbon reduction equals the annual greenhouse emissions from more than 85,000 passenger cars.
Learn more in this press release from Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed, which is developing a hybrid unmanned aerial vehicle for the military (more here), is hardly alone when it comes to sustainability gains. Brewmeister Heineken is starting down the same path, according to this post, announcing reductions in carbon emissions and water use.
Continuing the beverage trend is Bacaradi, which announced these results. Meanwhile, hospitals, which are huge consumers of energy, are getting into the act. And we can’t forget one of the biggest dogs of all, the U.S. military. Oil consumption among Army troops is equal to 15 to 22 gallons per day per soldier, a nd the Department of Defense contends sustainability is a security and economic issue. Check out this national security report .
Look for continued expansion of sustainability as awareness increases, even though the tools of the trade are still in their infancy, according to this report by Ernst & Young and GreenBiz:
“These trends suggest that sustainability efforts are now well-integrated into the corporate fabric of a growing number of large and midsized companies. But the effectiveness of such efforts may be limited by internal systems that don’t allow companies to effectively measure, track and optimize their sustainability impacts, or to understand and manage the risks of insufficient action.”
The authors have identified six trends in corporate sustainability:
1. Sustainability reporting is growing, but the tools are still developing
2. The CFO’s role in sustainability is on the rise
3. Employees emerge as a key stakeholder group for sustainability
programs and reporting
4. Despite regulatory uncertainty, greenhouse gas reporting remains
strong, along with growing interest in water
5. Awareness is on the rise regarding the scarcity of business resources
6. Rankings and ratings matter to company executives.
More businesses say sustainability is as important to the operation as safety and employee satisfaction, which is evidenced by growth of green teams even during the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.
The biggest reasons given for the emphasis on sustainability: Cost cutting, particularly energy expense, and increased revenue from brand awareness, changing consumer demand and staying ahead of the competition. In addition, equity analysts calculate sustainability into their evaluations.
Green Mondays: Enterprise Rent-A-Car Makes $150M Green Building Pledge
National car-rental giant, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, today announce a $150M pledge to pursue green standards in all their locations. The company promises to follow energy-efficient and water-efficient practices in new and existing locations starting this year. Their new standard, titled the ‘Enterprise Sustainable Construction Protocol (ESCP)’, is expected to rack up savings of about 35% in water and energy. The company expects to see a healthy return on its investments in 5 years to make up for the 2 percent premium it may pay for new materials. In the long-run, however, Enterprise counts on making a profit and a meaningful statement about environmental sustainability. Gen Y Buzz is a huge fan of this move! Green living is a cause we stand by and we highly encourage companies across America to consider a more green business model. We promise you, going green will benefit both your company and the world you live in. It’s a win-win!
Read the full story here!
Falling Short of Sustainable Goals
Oekom Research recently released their annual Corporate Responsibility Report and it appears our sustainable paradigm is in dire need of a tune-up. Despite the growing green trends, Oekom decided not to award any of the 3,000 companies an “A” in sustainability; which means that we might need to restructure our sustainable strategies or alter our standards of investment.
Apple Inc. made major announcement last week that their new data center located in Maiden, North Carolina, will be powered exclusively by renewable energy resources by February 2013. Having been the increasing focal point of Green Peace protests both at the Apple Headquarters in California, and elsewhere around the globe, Apple appears to have succumb to public pressure and will be making a significant effort to reduce the their overall coal consumption.
Apple’s plan of attack for the Maiden data center includes generating 60% of their needed power on site. Although originally this sounds lofty, Apple has committed to having 250 acres of solar panels eventually installed on the property, as well as turning to a large deployment of fuel cells also on site. Once these projects have reached completion Apple will be able to produce enough electricity to power nearly 11,000 homes per year. Apple stated that if they are unable to produce the remaining 40% of needed power on site themselves, thus taking themselves completely off the grid at the Maiden facility, that they would purchase what was needed from renewable sources in the geographic area.
The decision, and not an inexpensive one mind you, seemed to come quickly from Apple after they were singled out by Green Peace for not making a large enough effort to use renewable resources. The Green Peace report released in April of 2012 targeted Apple, Amazon, and Twitter all for the over usage of coal. It also gave far better rankings to Google, Yahoo, and Facebook - surely causing a minor cause for concern in the Apple CSR department.
The timing of the release by Green Peace was interesting in my opinion. Due to general lack of regulation and the current perceived lack of urgency to move in such a direct - documents like the one put forth by Green Peace rarely hold any weight in the marketplace. The release coincided however with all of the Facebook IPO hype, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S III perfectly making April not the kindest of months in the media, for Apple. Aside from this however, the “why now” question holds a lot of interest to me.
- The most straight forward of answers is that it simply makes good economic sense for Apple. Solar energy is remarkably inexpensive seeing as the price of panels themselves have dropped almost 50% from previous years pricing. Apple must be able to negotiate a fantastic deal when they are buying in such incredible volume (20 MW).
- As mentioned above, the increased pressure put forth by Green Peace seems to have actually hit home with Apple. As much as I am annoyed by, and am largely against, activism (particularly left wing activism), it is only increasing in effectiveness as technology makes it so incredibly easy for people to pile on to a movement. There is no better example of this than Occupy Wall Street. At one point in time Occupy would have been much easier to contained to one city (consider WTO 1999 - yes I realize there was Internet in 1999), but through the use of social media and other communication outlets news just travels faster in 2012 than ever before. Therefore it appears that Apple is putting corporate social responsibility, PR, and their image, at the forefront of their decision making. Perception is reality, and that is never more true than now.
- The ability to control a valuable resource (energy) is essential for a company like Apple. It may appear that the main intention of an action such as installing 250 acres of solar panels would be to reduce the carbon footprint, but more than anything it will be about the long term control of a scarce resource. By at least partially owning their power source, Apple is able to somewhat shield their data center from increasing energy costs. Over the long run, the panels should pay for themselves.
The motive will always have to be driven by good business sense - companies have to profit in order to stay in existence, something far too many environmental activists seem to lose sight off. The result and subsequent spin off however is that companies like Apple are able to drastically reduce their carbon footprint, and set a new standard of what is acceptable within the community of big business. Although the timing of Apple’s actions amuse me somewhat, I am happier than anyone to see a shift towards economic resiliency and self reliance from the company.
Night 1 reinvent biz
While talking to someone something crystallized… business is all about scalability but not durability. We’re not sustainable = we’re not durable. This reminds me of a BusinessWeek article noting how, despite the fact that the corporate “industry” is only a couple of hundred years old, most corporations don’t last more than 40-50 years.
Maybe it’s the aspect of specialization I mentioned earlier that keeps them from adaptability and durability.