Environmental Change Requires Cultural Change

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Kathrin Winkler, chief sustainability officer at EMC Corporation.  EMC had participated in EDF’s Climate Corps last summer and I wanted to get Kathrin’s candid take on how the 10-week internship program – designed to help companies find and implement energy savings – had worked for EMC. We quickly agreed that environmental innovation and leadership is all about organizational change.  Whether from the inside, like Kathrin at EMC, or the outside, like EDF’s partnerships, the key to success is building the environment into the core values of the company.  By that, I don’t mean the words that are on the corporate website but the everyday motivations that really make an organization – and the people in it – tick.

Is it all about the bottom line?  Read more

Green & Innovation: Andrew Winston Joins New EDFix Calls

Green Recovery cover

Andrew Winston's "Green Recovery"

Author and green business expert Andrew Winston joined us for the November 23, 2009, EDFix Call (that's the EDF Innovation Exchange's new conference call and podcast series about sustainability and innovation). Winston, co-author of Green to Gold and author of recently released Green Recovery talked with EDFix host Jerry Michalski and other call participants about green innovation he is seeing in the face of the economic downturn.

Highlights from the discussion included: Read more

Calling all Corporate Sustainability Experts – please answer a few short questions

As a recent graduate of Wharton business school with some time on my hands before joining Bain & Co as a consultant in January, I’ve had the good fortune to work for EDF’s Corporate Partnerships Group. I chose to do an externship with EDF because I want to learn more about corporate environmental management, which I see as increasingly relevant in the business community.  Judging from all the headlines surrounding green business practices and the momentum behind a groundbreaking climate bill, it seems that businesses and consumers are finally catching on to the urgency of reducing our impact on the environment.  I am also particularly drawn to EDF’s strategy of partnering with companies to enact environmental change while improving the bottom line.  And I know that the lessons I learn at EDF are useful additions to my toolkit that I will take to Bain, where I will work with companies to solve business problems and achieve operational efficiencies.

One of my projects for CPP is to capture environmental best practices and case studies around key topics for companies, such as data center emissions, fleet efficiency, waste, and water use.  Given the breadth and depth of information on corporate sustainability initiatives (from blog posts to green business news reporting to corporate sustainability reports), it is virtually impossible for one person to do an exhaustive survey of all the content around these topics.  So, I need your help. Read more

EDFix call #3: Deeper into the Commons

Let's return to the path we started down on our first EDFix call, where we opened an inquiry into The Commons with a goal of defining a "Sustainability Commons" over several conversations (you'll find a thought-provoking page on Commons here).

That first call brought us many useful perspectives: Read more

A Clockwork Green?

By Russell Baruffi, MBA/MS candidate, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, University of Michigan, 2009 Climate Corps fellow at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Member of Net Impact.

Entertainment, which seems like a fairly harmless indulgence from your a movie theatre or your couch, turns out to be remarkably wasteful and resource-intensive industry. Working for Sony Pictures this summer, I got to dig in onto the sets. A movie can make millions or it can flop, so the industry spares no incremental expense or resource to create the marginal extra pizzazz that will spellbind an audience. For the climactic scene of an upcoming big-budget tent-pole movie, I saw film-makers build a fake riverbed of wood, steel and foam block stretching five stories tall, which they sculpted into a downward sloping terrain with a realistic skin of trees, bushes, bamboo and boulders, and proceeded to pump 80 thousand gallons of water over it in a continuous loop to create an actual river on the set. In the biz of show biz, millions of extra dollars spent making a two-minute scene really pop can be good economics, so energy, water and resource throughput is big.

This leaves lots of room for improvement. Read more

Sustainability Professionals: Research Shows You're Not Alone

Sustainability Director, CSR Manager, Chief Innovation Officer, EHS Specialist, Environmental Affairs VP…  The list of titles of experts working on corporate environmental innovation goes on and on.

The good news about this diversity of positions? There’s serious growth opportunity in this sector, and companies are looking for varied skill sets to meet their needs around sustainability.

The tough news? There’s no set roadmap for companies to follow in an effort to design and implement a successful sustainability strategy. In fact, many of us working in this space are hungry for clear, concise information on how to tackle the sustainability challenge in a cost- and time-effective way.

Read more

At Poland Spring, decreasing emissions makes good business sense and is good for the environment

This is a guest post from Chris McKenna, fleet manager at Poland Spring.

Shortly after I became manager of Poland Spring’s truck fleet in 2007, we transitioned our fleet of 36 tractor-trailers and 75 tanker trailers from conventional diesel fuel to B5, a non-food grade biodiesel.  The switch reflected Poland Spring’s on-going commitment to lightening our environmental footprint and successfully reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by about 1.8 million pounds annually.  An added benefit was a decrease in fuel costs by about nine cents per gallon, a savings that became increasingly significant as fuel prices climbed to around $5 per gallon in 2008.

Since then, we have continued to seek new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and improve the fuel economy of our truck fleet, even as fuel prices stabilized. In 2008, we challenged our drivers to cut back the amount of time their trucks sat idling. The response was amazing. Read more

Environmental Innovation: The Investment that Keeps on Paying

Last week, we teamed up with private equity leader General Atlantic to share our thoughts about the range of returns – cost savings, growth and brand enhancement – that environmental innovation can deliver to companies of all sizes and sectors.  General Atlantic is a leading global growth equity firm providing capital and strategic support for growth companies.  The firm manages $14 billion in capital and since their inception, has invested in more than 200 companies, including Lenovo, Altair, Zagat and dozens of others.

Our article titled “Environmental innovation:  The investment that keeps on paying” is featured as the “CEO Topic” in General Atlantic’s December newsletter (copied below). Read more

Solutions Lab 2010: Coming to a City Near You!

Green Innovation in Business 2010: Research Triangle

Green Innovation in Business 2010

Earlier this year we teamed up with Ashoka to galvanize a series of Green Innovation for Business Unconferences affectionately know as GIBUs. Open space "unconference" events were hosted by Google here in Washington, DC; Microsoft in Cambridge, MA; eBay in San Jose, CA; and then 3M in Austin, TX. Through these events some 450 business, government, and non-profit professionals got together to discuss what they are doing and thinking about to improve and accelerate sustainability in business.

We had a great variety of participants including representatives of large companies such as Cisco, IBM, and Accenture; innovators such as B-Corp and Carbon Clear; government agencies including EPA, Fish & Wildlife and the Texas Dept. of Transportation; and non-profits such as Net Impact and 511 Rideshare. Of course, since these were open space events, the topics of discussion were chosen by the participants. They included issues like inspiring behavior change, the role of government, the role of the C-suite, game changing technology, and making sustainability competitive. Notes from these events are available in the Green Innovation in Business wiki.

Reviews were strongly positive as reflected by this quote from Lee Milligan at the US Business Council for Sustainable Development about the Austin event:  "The conference was a great networking opportunity. It is a great way of finding other people in the local community who are working towards the same goals."

Based on the encouraging results from 2009 we've decided to continue and expand in 2010. Read more

Abbott Continues to Reduce Fleet Emissions

It’s been remarkable to watch the development of Abbott Labs as a leader in reducing emissions from its corporate fleet. Fleet Financials profiles Abbott’s efforts in this month’s edition. Environmental Defense Fund began working with Abbott in 2006. They were a client of PHH Arval, with whom we were developing the industry’s first comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions management program.  Abbott was the ideal company to pilot the new project: it has a large fleet of mainly passenger vehicles, an existing corporate-wide commitment to reduce emissions and is seen as a leader in the fleet industry.

Together with PHH, we worked with Abbott to establish a greenhouse gas emissions baseline and a plan for incorporating more efficient vehicles into the company’s fleet. Read more