Why Walmart's Carbon Commitment Can Make Such a Difference

Archimedes said "Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the earth," when explaining the principle of levers.

Leverage is the big news about Walmart’s announcement today. The company has committed to reducing 20 million metric tons of carbon pollution from its products’ lifecycle and supply chain over the next five years. That’s equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 3.8 million cars.

So is Walmart moving the earth? No, not yet. But this is precisely the kind of innovative approach to reducing carbon pollution that we need right now. Environmental Defense Fund worked closely with Walmart to craft this goal and project that makes the most of what Walmart can uniquely do to cut carbon pollution across the globe.

This commitment is bold because: Read more

Consumed by Consumption

Last month, I attended my first Solutions Lab in Durham, North Carolina. For those that don't know, Environmental Defense Fund is hosting Solutions Labs around the country to bring together sustainability thought leaders from all walks of life. To be honest, I was a little skeptical that the "unconference"-style event (one where attendees choose the topics of discussion) would be a good use of my time. Fortunately, my concerns were unwarranted. Not only was this one of the best conferences I've attended in a long time, but it also tackled an issue that the sustainable business community has generally shied away from – CONSUMPTION. Read more

Kirk Talks Cleantech and Energy Efficiency Investment at Duke


Kirk Hourdajian

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Duke Conference on Sustainable Business and Social Impact, at Duke University’s Fuqua Business School.  Keynote speakers included Chad Holliday, former CEO and current Board Chairman of DuPont; Jonathan Greenblatt, founder of Ethos Water and Dina Powell, Global Head of Corporate Engagement at Goldman Sachs.

My panel, "Cleantech, make it, fund it," was part of the Finance breakout track.  My co-panelists and I represented an interesting cross-section of the private equity/venture capital industry: Read more

Sharing is Caring: An Energy Efficiency Wiki to Share Knowledge and Best Practices

According to recent article by GreenBiz, 2010 is the year for Energy Efficiency.    With more awareness of and incentives for energy efficiency, companies and households alike are trying to find ways to reduce energy consumption and cut costs.

The goal of Environmental Defense Fund’s Innovation Exchange is to Copy of iStock_typing000005238151Largeencourage widespread adoption of innovations and best practices that lead to tangible environmental results.  To that end, we are experimenting with an energy efficiency wiki to foster commercial building energy efficiency practices. Read more

Calling All California Truck Fleets – Free Money to Purchase Hybrids Now Available

Have trucks in California? You’d better get to your dealer fast, because the California Hybrid Voucher Incentive Program is open for business.

On February 4, the landmark program officially opened, and boy, were fleets ready. In the first 12 hours, about 25 percent of the program’s $20 million in vouchers had been requested.

All fleets with trucks operating in California are eligible for up to 100 vouchers each, on a first-come, first-served basis. With nearly $15 million still up for grabs, so it’s not too late to claim your share. Read more

How an inside look at EDF changed my perspective on corporate environmental management

If you happened to miss my previous post, I recently finished an externship in Environmental Defense Fund's Corporate Partnerships Program, working on the Green Returns team.  After graduating from Wharton last spring, I got the opportunity to work at EDF before beginning my full-time consulting job at Bain & Company.  When I started at EDF, I hoped that the experience would teach me about corporate environmental management and expose me to a new perspective.  After five months, I would say – mission accomplished. Read more

Environmental management can help the PE sector create “green returns”

Environmental Defense Fund’s Green Returns team is just back from the Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst Outlook 2010 conference in New York, where we sponsored, exhibited and presented.  There is no doubt that EDF is the first environment group to do all three at a Dow Jones conference.  It was a great chance for us to connect with executives from a number of leading private equity and venture capital firms, including 3i, Apollo Management, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Huntsman Gay Global Capital, THL Partners and others.

Our message at the conference and for the private equity sector in the future is straightforward:

Environmental management and innovation should be one of private equity’s key strategies now and for the future.

A changing world and challenging economy is forcing companies in all industries – including private equity – to transform to remain competitive.  As a result, private equity firms are looking for new ways to lead and create value.  Taken to scale across portfolios, a creative approach to environmental issues can create value by improving due diligence, boosting portfolio company performance, presenting new growth and investment opportunities and building stronger relationships with LPs and other stakeholders.

Today’s announcement [PDF] by private equity leader Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) is proof that environmental management can help drive value creation at scale.  In fact, the release includes a quote from KKR Co-founder Henry Kravis stating that “The business case for environmental management has never been stronger.”

That’s why KKR has expanded the Green Portfolio program that we co-developed and tested at three companies in 2008 (U.S. Foodservice, PRIMEDIA and Sealy) to include twenty percent of its global private equity portfolio today.

In 2008, EDF and KKR worked with U.S. Foodservice, PRIMEDIA and Sealy to measure and improve business and environmental performance.  These pilots helped EDF to develop our Green Returns approach and the three companies to capture over $16M in annual cost savings and reduce 25,000 tons of CO2 pollution.  Based on these results KKR expanded the Green Portfolio Program in 2009 to include Accellent Inc., Biomet Inc., Dollar General Corp., SunGard Data Systems Inc. and HCA Inc. Today’s announcement adds four additional companies:  First Data, Lehigh Phoenix (a division of Visant), Oriental Brewery and Tarkett.

EDF believes that this is just the beginning.  Environmental management can play a much larger role in value creation across the broader private equity industry.   That’s why we recently released our Green Returns approach, resources and case studies to help industry leaders take advantage of this opportunity.

Green Returns is a tested and flexible approach for private equity firms to measure and improve business and environmental performance across their portfolios.  It is tailored to the strengths of the private equity sector and has quickly proven to yield significant business and environmental results, including millions of dollars in annual cost savings and thousands of tons of pollution.

Visit http://edf.org/GreenReturns to learn more and get started today.

Fleet Emissions Down Significantly in 2009

Emissions from fleet vehicles are down 17% from 2008 levels and 18% from 2006 levels, according to the State of Green Business 2010 annual report released today. The emissions data was provided by six of the seven largest fleet management companies.

Pages from StateOfGreenBusiness2010

While the sour economic condition was definitely a factor in the size of this decrease, the numbers likely also reflect – and to a significant degree – the fact that over the recent years corporate fleets have made strides to lower per vehicle emissions.

A likely leading non-economic factor in reducing emissions is the adoption of vehicle “right-sizing” practices. Abbott Labs, Infinity Insurance and Owens Corning were among the first companies to demonstrate the value of moving from moving to more efficiency vehicles on a wide-scale. The record gas prices of 2008 gave the shift real momentum. The 2009 emissions data reflects the first full year of operations by the more-efficient vehicles that were cycled into fleets in the mid-2008 buy cycle.

Read more about our work with these companies and partner PHH Arval.

The expansion of other emission reduction tactics is also likely reflected in these numbers. Over the past two years, there has been a proliferation of efforts that work with drivers to adopt fuel-smart driving practices. Here at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we noted the many companies entering this space in our 2009 Innovations Review and also create a suite of materials for fleets to use.

Increased use of efforts to improve routing and reduce idling likely also has contributed to the emissions decline. Leading fleets, including Carrier and Poland Spring, have leveraged telematics software to improve operational efficiency.

Read more in these case studies about Carrier [PDF] and Poland Spring [PDF].

I am optimistic that the trend in fleet emission reductions will continue as the economy recovers of the coming years.

From measuring emissions, right-sizing vehicles, improving routing, reducing idling and improving driving habitats, corporate fleets are broadly adopting strategies to reduce their emissions.

Fleet Efficiency: The Movie

Like every good concept in the newish millennium, Environmental Defense Fund’s work on fleet efficiency is going multi-media.

We teamed up with stresslimitdesign to create an engaging minute-long tilt shift video about the savings potential if all US corporate fleets took some simple steps to improve efficiency.

For those of you not yet in the know, fleet efficiency is about reducing fuel consumption by taking incremental actions, including choosing better routes, avoiding idling and moving to higher MPG vehicles. These actions add up to fuel savings and emission reductions, especially when multiplied by the millions of vehicles in U.S. corporate fleets.

Looking for more information about how to do it?  Check out these tools: