Archive for April 2009

What do companies need to know about mandatory GHG reporting?

April 27, 2009

Find out at Action for a Sustainable America. We’re going to talk about how companies can develop sustainability strategies to anticipate regulation in Seattle and there has been a lot of news in the last couple of weeks on climate policy on the national and regional level. Alex Schay of Carbon Solutions Northwest has joined our ASA Seattle program and we asked him to preview some of the things he’s going to be talking about. Here’s his interview:

What are some of the key developments that companies need to be watching right now in terms of mandatory GHG reporting?

Oregon already has regulations which require mandatory reporting of GHG emissions at industrial sources, such as boilers, kilns, driers, etc., and this reporting requirement kicks in whenever a specific emissions source has GHG emissions that are greater than 2,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalence (MTCO2e). Washington State’s Department of Ecology is currently finalizing preparation of GHG-reporting requirements for Washington State. When enacted later this year, Washington’s rules will initially impact only those industrial sources with annual GHG emissions greater than 25,000 MTCO2e.

By 2012, however, companies with a presence in Washington State will be compelled to report both their onsite (Scope #1) and their electricity-related (Scope #2) emissions whenever an entity’s emissions exceed 10,000 MTCO2e per year. This will mean that hotel, restaurant, and grocery chains will be impacted. Washington’s rules also require corporate and municipal fleets to report transportation-related emissions when annual emissions exceed 2,500 MTCO2e; railroads, ships, airplanes, and offroad equipment, such as cranes, excavators, etc., will report their emissions when annual emissions exceed 10,000 MTCO2e. Importantly, Washington’s rules will require that heavy emitters (i.e.: those with emissions greater than 25,000 MTCO2e) have their GHG inventories verified to Climate Registry (TCR) standards, using an accredited, independent, 3rd-party verifier.

Importantly, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing its own set of reporting standards. Expected to be released in fall of this year, these standards will be similar, though not quite as stringent, as standards in Washington State.

How will mandatory reporting on the national and regional level change sustainability planning?

Companies must set aside time and money to prepare, and in some cases, verify their GHG inventories. Because they are reporting these emissions, companies will begin to see their GHG emissions as a potential liability under a future mandatory cap-and-trade regime. Consequently, forward-thinking companies and organizations will begin to think about avenues for mitigating their carbon footprint – both as a means for mitigating risk and as a means to stay ahead of the curve, reduce energy costs, take advantage of related branding opportunities, and in some cases, generate revenue from sale of carbon credits.

How can management anticipate the cost and resources to ensure GHG reporting is in line with these new guidelines?

Essentially, we’re establishing an accounting system for carbon. As with all accounting systems, some of the work can be performed in-house. In some cases, however, it may make sense for management to outsource GHG-reporting work to qualified firms with experience developing and verifying such GHG inventories. As with all internal budgeting, the costs and benefits of performing work in-house versus outsourcing can be gauged in advance.

What do you think will be the biggest challenges of this new regulatory environment?

Some companies (e.g.: industrial companies) will find little challenge in reporting yet another type of emissions. After all, they’ve been reporting N2O, SO2, Mercury, and particulate emissions for years. Other companies, such as food processors, forest-products companies, pulp & paper concerns, retail chains, and wastewater-treatment facilities are new to this game. As such, they may need assistance developing and implementing reporting procedures that ensure their compliance to state-based and national reporting regimes.

Benjamin Moore, Seventh Generation, SAP, Sprint to share stakeholder engagement strategies

April 24, 2009

We’re excited to announce our Sustainability Stakeholder Engagement event today which is taking place July 15-16 in NYC. A number of top companies are confirmed to speak including Benjamin Moore, Seventh Generation, Nestle Waters, Whole Foods, ITT, Sprint, SAP, AEP, Sharp, and the NFL.

The event looks at how companies are engaging with multi-stakeholders on sustainability issues and includes individual sessions on employee, investor, consumer, community, and NGO/activist engagement. We’ve also included a special interactive session on using social media to build sustainability credibility with various groups. Speakers for this session include Rob Reed, CEO and Founder, Max Gladwell and Richard Seireeni , author of The Gort Cloud. Check out the full program.

Project aims to clean up plastic waste in the Pacific

April 16, 2009

kaisei_300-250_30s_final2Project Kaisei, an environmental organization that has been established to address the problem of floating plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean, has announced it plans to embark on a 70 day expedition, between June and August 2009, to examine the Plastic Vortex, an area of the Pacific Ocean containing an estimated 4,000,000 tons of floating plastic waste in a mass that is twice the size of Texas, over 1,000 times bigger than Hong Kong, or nearly four times as large as Japan.

Project Kaisei is currently looking to raise US$2,000,000 for the Mission from individual donations, family foundations and corporations.

Mayor of Seattle to open Action for Sustainable America

April 16, 2009

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Greg Nickels, the Mayor of Seattle, will provide the opening welcome speech at Action for a Sustainable America – Seattle on June 10th.

Described by Rolling Stone magazine as the “Pied Piper” of Mayors for his inspirational leadership on sustainability and climate change issues, Mayor Nickels will welcome the delegates to Seattle in June.

A formal announcement will be made next week.

EPA holding hearings on mandatory GHG reporting

April 7, 2009

epaThe EPA is holding public hearings in Arlington Virginia today and tomorrow to discuss its proposal for mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The agency is proposing that suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases, manufacturers of vehicles and engines, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHG emissions submit annual reports to EPA. The gases covered by the proposed rule are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and other fluorinated gases including nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and hydrofluorinated ethers (HFE).

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a broad discussion draft bill that proposes to reduce GHG emissions 3 percent below percent below 2005 levels by 2012, 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, 42 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.The American Clean Energy and Security Act also sets out a renewable energy portfolio standard of 6 percent by 2012.

Both these important regulatory developments and their impact on the manufacturing sector will be discussed at our Sustainable Manufacturing Summit on April 29-30 in Chicago.

CEO of Benjamin Moore to discuss engaging stakeholders on sustainability issues

April 6, 2009

Denis Abrams, President and CEO, Benjamin Moore is confirmed to provide the opening keynote for our ASA-Sustainable Stakeholder Engagement event which is taking place July 15-16 in NYC. They have an interesting story to tell about engaging with consumers and communities on sustainability issues. The New Jersey-based paint manufacturer, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, has a strong commitment to preserving the environment and working with local communities . It was also ahead of the game in launching its first line of eco-friendly paints in 1994.

Our ASA-Sustainability Stakeholder Engagement event focuses on how companies are engaging with communities, consumers, shareholders and special interest groups on sustainability issues. We had originally planned to do an Action for a Sustainable America event in NYC that same week but found there was a lot of crossover in terms of the topics and speakers so we have combined the agenda into one event on July 15-16. We will announce the full program for this event in a couple weeks time.

Providing value and values (and groceries) – Spud!

April 6, 2009

60-second speaker interview

David Van Seters is the President and CEO of Spud! the largest organic delivery service in North America.  Spud! serves more than 19,000 customers and proves that good ethics, healthy foods, eco-friendly practices, and a commitment to local communities are essential ingredients to a modern recipe for business success.

David is speaking at Action for a Sustainable America Seattle and here in a 60-second interview he discusses expansion, sustainable business and sources of inspiration.

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ASA:   What have been the challenges of growing Spud! and remaining true to your ideals?

DVS:  The challenges are so numerous I hardly know where to begin.  Because we are committed to offering the same prices as consumers would find in their local store yet we incur the extra costs of packing and delivery, its makes it hard to find any leftover dollars to pay for the sustainability elements that are so important to us.  For example, we would love to have a fleet of hybrid vehicles but that is just not economically feasible.  Fortunately, there are enough sustainability aspects that are built into the design of our business that we still feel that we are having a significant positive environmental and social impact. 

 

ASA: You put a great deal of emphasis on community building – why is this is an important aspect of your business and sustainability strategy?

DVS: I truly believe that most of our global challenges are only going to be solved at the local level where we can better see the direct impacts and results of our actions.  Our current economic challenges are the direct result of a global financial system that is now so complex that we can no longer fully understand it or control it.

In the case of our business, by buying intensely locally and by creating more direct connections between the people who produce our food and the people who consume our food, we are not only greatly reducing environmental impacts, we are keeping more dollars circulating in the local community where they can produce a more stable and prosperous economy that is less affected by outside events.

ASA: You used to be a business sustainability consultant – given your experiences  with spud what advice would you now give to people charged with the responsibility of creating and implementing corporate environmental strategies?

DVS: I would offer three pieces of advice.  First, try to embed sustainability into the very design of the business.  The more deeply it is integrated into the business model, the more likely it will have a positive impact and endure during tough times.  Secondly, ensure that the business is providing both value and values.  Some companies might think that their social mission is enough to keep customers happy but you still have to offer a good, competitive service.  Thirdly, focus on progress not perfection.  While it may be tempting to be a purist, that is often not possible, especially when a company is starting out.  So long as you can honestly say to yourself that your social and environmental performance is better than last year, you can feel good about what you are achieving.

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ASA:     Who or what inspires you when it comes to business and sustainability?

DVS: I am inspired by the growing number of businesses that have redefined their mission so that making a profit is not the ends to their business but simply the means.  They recognize that they have to make a profit to stay in business but their primary purpose is to make some kind of environmental or social contribution.  I belong to a group of entrepreneurs and business people called the Social Venture Network and I find it particularly inspiring to interact with them and learn how they are using their businesses as a vehicle to effect positive change.  Through their examples, I have become convinced that any business can contribute to sustainability if its leaders simply make the commitment to do so.