EDFix Call #11 Afterthoughts: Light-duty fleets – The next ten years

EDFix Call #11 – Summary (12 min.)
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EDFix Call #11 – Full (64 min.)
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With Jim Motavalli, we dove into the part of fleet management most like the everyday cars we drive: light-duty fleets. These fleets include rental cars, small government vehicles and light trucks and SUVs. There are some 8 million light-duty trucks, vans and pickups in the US. The strategies for reducing greenhouse gases include alternative fuels, hybrid drive trains and telematics (for example, remotely directed cruise controls and other governor mechanisms).

There are also more ambitious initiatives, like the Better Place battery-switching systems currently in prototype with Tokyo cabs. We’re also seeing vehicle sharing grow in many cities, from commercial ventures like ZipCar to peer-to-peer local rentals like WhipCar. Noteworthy: one shared car takes 15 to 20 off the road. Insurance companies are starting to sort out the details, while social networking services make it easier to trust potential renters.

Small things matter, too, from improved aerodynamics to tire and battery maintenance. There’s no one magic answer, but efforts on every frontier will create overall improvements.

The Power of Partnerships

These days, the need for private sector leadership in pursuing a healthier planet is greater than ever. We’re faced with challenges to meaningful climate and energy legislation and the burden of a global recession, but the good news is that Corporate America is stepping up to the plate. Recent announcements from companies like Unilever to reduce its environmental impact and Chevrolet to launch a $40 million carbon reduction project continue to show that investing in corporate environmental sustainability makes good business sense.

At Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we recognize the power of innovative partnerships with the private sector. For the past 20 years, our work with industry leaders such as Walmart, KKR, FedEx and McDonald’s, has changed how business is done and achieved powerful results for both business and the environment. To learn more about our work with transformational business partners, watch this interview with EDF’s president, Fred Krupp.

Even with the significant results of our work with business over the past 20 years, the challenges facing our planet remain daunting. In order to better understand the role of business in overcoming these challenges, EDF has launched “The Future of Green” series. This eight-part series of one-hour interviews will help define the next generation of corporate environmental sustainability and further the dialogue on business and environmental collaboration.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

In the spirit of the season, we wanted to take this opportunity to give thanks.

As you know, our work at Environmental Defense Fund is solely funded by generous individuals and foundations who believe in the transformational change that is possible when we work hand in hand with partner companies. Together we are crafting a vision for success and focusing on concrete deliverables to systematically improve performance and achieve our environmental goals. Since our first partnership with McDonald’s in 1990, we’ve continually pushed the envelope in the world of green business and innovation, and we couldn’t have done it without you!

Thank you to our generous donors, and the individuals and organizations who believe in our work.

From all of us here at EDF,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Adam Lowry, Robin Chase to discuss “New Business Models” on Tuesday’s EDFix Call

The "Future of Green" podcast series continues tomorrow — Tuesday, November 23 — with a discussion about “New Business Models for Sustainability.”  The speakers are Robin Chase, entrepreneur and founder of ZipCar, and Adam Lowry, co-founder and chief greenskeeper of Method.

To join the live conversation, dial into the following number at 10 am PT/ 1 pm ET:

* Phone number: +1 (213) 289-0500
* Code: 267-6815

If you can’t join the call, you will have an opportunity to download the entire “Future of Green” podcast series when it goes online in January.

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Data and safety requirements for new chemicals: China blows past the US

By: Richard Denison, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Health Program, EDF

In yesterday’s post, I pointed to a number of ways in which China is taking a proactive stance on chemical safety.  I cited China because the U.S. chemical industry, when saber-rattling about what it regards as overly onerous proposals for TSCA reform, loves to chide all of us that those proposals will drive chemical production overseas to China and that innovation of new chemicals will still happen, only it will happen in China instead of the U.S.

I mentioned yesterday that China is in the process of enhancing its regulatory requirements, including making them more like the European Union’s REACH Regulation.  Well, a great article detailing China’s new requirements for new chemicals was published yesterday by Geraint Roberts in Chemical Watch’s Monthly Briefing for November (subscription required).

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EDF Climate Corps: Making a Sustainable Difference

By Jeremy Dommu, 2010 EDF Climate Corps fellow at PHH Arval, MBA candidate at the George Washington School of Business, George Washington University, Member of Net Impact

At the end of my 10-week fellowship with PHH Arval (PHH), as part of the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps Fellowship program, I delivered a presentation to a roomful of the company's leadership team making recommendations on how the organization can capture business value by making investments in energy efficiency. While you would think I would be nervous making a pitch to high-level executives, as opposed to when I'm in my comfort zone presenting to my peers in the MBA program at George Washington University (GW Full-Time MBA Profile), I was surprisingly relaxed. The reason? I knew the numbers in my presentation speak for themselves.

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From Heresy to Dogma: How Uncommon Bedfellows Changed the Environmental Movement

By Gwen Ruta, VP of Corporate Partnerships, Environmental Defense Fund and Bob Langert, VP of Corporate Social Responsibility, McDonald's Corporation

Twenty years ago this month, Corporate America experienced a paradigm shift. McDonald's announced that it would phase out its iconic Styrofoam clamshell containers, switching to paper products to reduce its environmental impact. While this was groundbreaking in itself, the shift had more to do with how the company came to that decision – and with whom.

The story began a year earlier when Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) wrote to McDonald's requesting a meeting to discuss environmental issues. This led to a joint task force that examined all aspects of the company's operations. EDF brought its experts to the table – an economist, a scientist, a chemical engineer and more – while the McDonald's team included managers in environmental affairs, law and operations.

Early reactions to the partnership were skeptical. The New York Times called it, "a highly unusual deal." The Wall Street Journal reported that Ralph Nader, "wasn't impressed," saying that, "grassroots environmental groups aren't convinced that McDonald's is serious about creating a better environment." The Boston Globe quoted a toxic chemicals specialist: "It's like saying I'm going to join a task force with the Mafia to discuss how to cope with the drug situation."

In fact, the alliance was very risky. Both sides stood to lose big if results failed to materialize. It was a bold step in an era where businesses and environmentalists were more apt to meet in a courtroom than in a corporate boardroom.

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Future of Green Call: Can Corporations Really Change?

We're Sorry!

Apologies to those of you who joined the Future of Green call on 11/9 only to find out there was no call. Because of scheduling conflicts, we postponed the call until this week but didn't do a good job of announcing the change. We're sorry for the inconvenience.

To stay updated on call schedules, participants and topics please register to receive automated emails for the Future of Green blog posts.

The third Future of Green conference call will be on Tuesday 11/16/10 at 1pm ET, 10am PT. Host Jerry Michalski will be joined by Maurice Bechard, director, Global Environment Health & Safety at Diversey, and Michael Kobori, vice president, Levi Strauss & Co. We'll be talking about why and how businesses are changing thinking and action to support sustainable outcomes – what motivates new thinking, who leads the charge, and how are changes made.

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ALL ACCESS PASS: The Walmart Chronicles

Simply attending a concert can be plenty of fun, but there is nothing like having a backstage pass to the biggest rock show in the world. Seeing firsthand how it all works behind the scenes will give any music fan a whole new perspective. What if you had the opportunity to go backstage, not for a show, but into the largest company in the world?

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is now writing a series of blog posts on Greenbiz.com based on our work with Walmart. “The Walmart Chronicles,” as this monthly column is called, offers readers a backstage pass to learn more about our work with the largest company in the world.

In 2005, EDF partnered with Walmart to measurably reduce its environmental impacts. In 2007, we moved two staff members to Bentonville, opening an office in Walmart’s backyard. This past week, we decided to share our experience from the inside with you.

Elizabeth Sturcken, managing director, EDF, launched the series last week with a post titled “Inside the Belly of the Beast.” But in the future, you’ll hear from more of our experts on our China work, Walmart’s sustainable agriculture commitment, thin film solar installations and overall supply chain management.

Stay tuned for more of our monthly posts on Greenbiz.com at greenbiz.com/walmartchronicles, or read about our partnership with Walmart at edf.org/Walmart.

EDF Climate Corps descends upon the Net Impact Conference: 2020: Vision for a Sustainable Decade

Our vision for a sustainable decade is for companies across America to incorporate energy efficiency as standard operating procedure into all their business. Low-hanging fruit always grows back with new innovation on the horizon, and we hope to see sustainable business practices that acknowledge that fact.

Let’s start with 2010. To continue the momentum of the energy efficiency movement, EDF Climate Corps attended the Net Impact Conference at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business at the end of October. We talked about the outstanding outcomes of the program since just 2008. The caliber of the MBA student attendees was very high and their interest in participating even higher. We also met with many engaged company representatives all excited to participate in the 2011 program.

Not only did we focus on engaging prospective fellows and companies, but we wanted to spend time with our alumni as well. On Thursday night in the sustainable farm-to-fork restaurant, the Grange, we hosted a dinner with alumni host companies to hear more about their summer experiences.

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