Archive for the ‘ASA Series’ category

Frances Spivy-Weber added to CWF agenda

October 21, 2009

We are very pleased to announce that Frances Spivy-Weber of the California State Water Resources Control Board will join the list of impressive speakers at the Corporate Water Footprinting conference in San Francisco, Dec 2-3.

Ms Weber will join the dicussion chaired by Barry Epstein on the current developments in regional, national and global water policy and how these are likley to impact on corporate water strategies.

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.

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. 

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. 

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?