Archive for the ‘ASA Seattle’ category

Sustainability 2.0 Award

May 25, 2009

Sustainability 2.0 Award – highlighting innovation in the use of social media for stakeholder sustainability engagement

Is your company using social media to engage with stakeholders on sustainability issues? Are you using facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, blogging or other social tools to engage with stakeholders? Tell us your story and your company may be eligible for the Sustainability 2.0 Award, honouring the most innovative use of social media for corporate sustainability stakeholder engagement. The winner will be selected by a prestigious group of social media and sustainability experts participating in our Stakeholder Sustainability Engagement event on July 15-16 in NYC. The award will be presented at the event’s drinks’ reception on July 15 and our three finalists will be invited to present their stories at this exciting event examining best practice in corporate sustainability engagement. Enter now by contacting Adrienne Baker at or 604-569-1752

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.

Mayor of Seattle to open Action for Sustainable America

April 16, 2009


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.

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.


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.


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. 

Can corporate sustainability strategies get beyond regulation?

April 2, 2009


Last week the EPA proposed mandatory reporting of the gases blamed for global warming from approximately 13,000 facilities nationwide. The regulation would cover companies that either release large amounts of greenhouse gases directly or produce or import fuels and chemicals that when burned create GHG emissions. These facilities account for 85-90% of the country’s GHG emission

This is yet one more proposal that will start to influence corporate strategy and one of the many potential regulations related to climate change and sustainability that is on the cards. The aim of our Action for a Sustainable America series is enable companies to devise strategies that create a corporate environment in which regulation announcements such as these can be taken-in without breaking stride. 

At our Seattle event in June corporate strategies that get beyond regulation and ahead of the competition are discussed in two great panels by the following

  • David Van’t Hof, Senior Policy Advisor on Energy, and Sustainability, State of Oregon
  • Janice Adair, Special Assistant to the Director, Department of Ecology, State of Washington
  • Stan Price, Executive Director, Northwest Energy Efficiency Council
  • K.C. Golden, Policy Advisor, Climate Solutions
  • Tom Crowninshield, Seattle Plant Manager, Lafarge North America
  • Kevin Wilhelm, CEO, Sustainable Business Consulting
  • Terry Mutter, Head of EHS, The Boeing Company

Let us know in advance if there are any specific questions you would like to be addressed

Life cycle analysis at Nokia and Adnams Brewery

April 1, 2009


If you had to make an educated guess at the energy use during the lifecycle of a Nokia phone where do you think most energy is used? Or, in the brewing industry, at what part of the production and distribution process do most GHG emissions occur? The answer is at the end of this post. Life cycle analysis of product production and use never fails to throw-up unexpected results. This was called to mind by this interesting post in Environmental Leader. The potential savings from turning off PCs overnight is estimated to be a staggering $2.8 billion.

At our Brussels Sustainable Manufacturing Summit last November life-cycle analysis case studies were presented from Nokia and Adnams Brewery, you can view the presentations here. For the brewer, by far the biggest source of GHG emissions was from the manufacture of the green glass bottle the beer came in. For Nokia products, the biggest energy usage over the lifecycle of the product occurs when people leave the phone charger in the wall without a phone connected. A surprisingly simple message. Turn off your PC at night, don’t leave the phone charger in the wall and drink beer from a tin.

10 Marketing Sustainability Strategies in an Uncertain Economy

March 26, 2009


This week, amongst the three new speakers confirmed for the Action for a Sustainable America – Seattle is Marty MacDonald, the creative director  from brand communications agency Egg. We are always pleased to find speakers that blog and on the Egg blog  Marty’s team just posted number seven in a really excellent series of posts based from a discussion paper of the same name  – 10 Marketing Sustainability Strategies in an Uncertain Economy.


Also confirmed this week is another CEO to add to the growing list. Dave Williams, the CEO of ShoreBank Pacific – a commecial bank committed to environmental sustainable community development. Dave will be speaking about the capital issues involved with sutainability strategies.


Tony Kingsbury, the executive in residence at the Sustainable Products and Solutions Program, Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, has also joined the speaker line-up for ASA-Seattle.  With 24 years experience with Dow Chemical Tony is a recognized expert on global sustainability, environmentally preferred purchasing, life cycle thinking, plastics and chemical environmental issues and public policy. 

Defining sustainability

March 23, 2009

An interesting blog on the definition of sustainability in From our experience, when people present on sustainability they tend to go for the very broad definition as outlined in the Brundtland Commission . But I guess it all depends on who your audience is. In Seattle in June William Blackburn is going to present some research on this very subject. What do various stakeholders expect from your company when it comes to sustainability?

Do ants play Xbox? (and other sustainability marketing issues)

March 19, 2009

The more I hear it, the more I hate the phrase “green wash”. While it is a tremendously important issue it is too often used glibly as a catch-all put-down against corporate environmental responses.  I am sure that often the term is merited  but the phrase unhelpfuly hides and detracts from the complexity of what it means to become sustainable. Even the term “becoming sustainable” misses the point. Anyone looking at this seriously from a corporate perspective knows  you can never actually become fully sustainable. 

In the inspiring Cradle to Cradle  the lives of ants are frequently held up as an example of the sustainable ideal. The argument goes something like this: there are loads of ants, in fact more biomass in the form of ants than there is human biomass, but they carry on doing their ant thing without harming the planet.  We need to be more ant-like in our outlook.

The trouble is, and I am no biologist,  ants dont drink lattes, play Xbox or take vacations. With issues surrounding sustainability no company or even individual can be 100% sustainable (unless you’re an ant). At some level any organisation that promotes their environmental activities with wholly good intentions, can be lazily accused of green wash.   

Like it or not, the phrase green wash is here to stay which gets me to the purpose of this post. At what point do you get the marketing involved in developing your sustainability strategy? I had a conversation with a Seattle conference speaker today who suggested the Action for a Sustainable America – Seattle program was missing a solid discussion on marketing within strategy?

It’s not a simple answer and therefore might make for a good discussion.  If marketing is involved in strategy from the start isn’t that putting the emphasis on doing something that sells and promotes rather than doing something that is sustainable? If you leave marketing to the end – simply labelling and promoting a product as green or sustainable then that really is shallow and green wash.   Smart companies realize that sustainability and marketing are about continuous engagement, dialogue and input  – which is not a business as usual approach and would be good to hear about. Any thoughts?

Microsoft’s Rob Bernard is opening Action for a Sustainable America in Seattle

March 12, 2009

We are very excited to have Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Strategist, Rob Bernard, opening our first Action for a Sustainable America event. Rob and Microsoft epitomise what underlines this series of events. As issues surrounding sustainability and climate change are increasingly becoming mainstream for polititicians, consumers and investors, simply responding to issues with good intentions as and when they occur is totally inadequate.  Smart companies have realised that it is only when you decide to use sustainability to drive strategy within an organisation can you start to reap the potential rewards through better management, more efficient use of resources and sustainability driven innovation.