It’s easy to forget sometimes that most governments are designed to move slowly and methodically, as to help maintain an equilibrium in society. However, in the face of increasing signs of climate change, this slow pace can be thoroughly frustrating. Whether your government’s reactions to global warming have made you wallow or feel uncharacteristically violent, often focusing on the good that is going on can help ease the tensions of what you think “should” be happening. In this edition we’ll focus on women in the government positions who are working tirelessly to protect
This month at San Francisco EcoTuesday we are very excited to have Linda Brown, Co-founder and Executive Vice President of SCS Global Services, speak. SCS Global Services has been working since the 80’s to promote sustainability by providing third party certification services in environmental performance and social responsibility, auditing, testing and standards development. SCS was launched long before sustainability became fashionable, much less a top priority, for companies.
“Greenwashing Gets Sophisticated” is the title of her presentation this month. Throughout the evening, she will point out that environmental and sustainable claims are not always what they are cracked up to be, and discuss the importance of educating ourselves about this issue to appropriately weed out the hype.
She’s in a good position to know. SCS launched its third party certification programs in response to greenwashing and has remained a staunch defender of legitimate green claims ever since.
What is a “third-party” certifier? Third-party certifiers are neutral organizations that verify claims on behalf of manufacturers, retailers, public agencies, NGOs and other entities. By contrast, “first parties” are the companies themselves, while “second parties” are other interested parties, such as industry trade associations. A legitimate third-party certifier provides scientific, non-biased assessment, with an emphasis on transparency in order to build awareness and support informed product comparisons.
SCS currently conducts certifications under 16 internationally recognized accreditations including green building, product manufacturing, food and agriculture, forestry, retailing and more. These certifications range in complexity from specific claims such as recycled content to complex sustainability and life cycle assessment based claims. Here is a quick primer on the types of claims that fall under this certification umbrella:
Single attribute environmental claims are simple, straightforward claims about one attribute of a product. For example, SCS’s Indoor Air Quality certifications look at the emissions of products like furniture, flooring, or carpet and verify that the emission factors pass the indoor air quality requirements of California Section 01350. Multi-attribute claims are claims about a broad set of attributes, for instance, a group of environmental, health and social measures. The “level” certification program, developed by the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) for furniture, is an example. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for responsibly managed wood is another.
Life-cycle assessments approach the issue of environmental performance differently. They look at and measure the entire scope of impacts associated with a product, process or service. Ideally, these results can be compared among product options to facilitate educated decisions.
SCS’s environmental and social mission is reflected in the company itself. For instance, in January of this year, SCS was one of the first corporations in California to become a California Benefit Corporation under the recently enacted AB 361 legislation, along with Patagonia and 10 other California companies. SCS is additionally a Certified B Corporation. B Corporations conduct business for the benefit of the people and the environment. They engage stakeholders to ensure corporate accountability and transparency by meeting higher legal accountability standards. They also meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards.
To learn more about the environmental claims and greewashing, the challenges of third-party certification, and the importance of transparency, join us at EEFG at 6:30pm on Tuesday July 24th. Register here!
Please note, I am an employee of SCS Global Services but have made this article as objective as possible.
Are you an entrepreneur looking to make an impact? Do you have a product or service that will revolutionize the green market? Learn how to market to your key demographic by attending our upcoming EcoTuesday event on March 27th.
This month we are very excited to have Carolyn Parrs join us this month. Carolyn is co-founder of Mind Over Markets, a dedicated green marketing communications company who works one-on-one with entrepreneurs and executives internationally to succeed in the growing green market. Carolyn is a featured author on Green Marketing in the Thomson Reuters book series for C-level executives called Inside the Minds: Greening your Business.
Although every month EcoTuesday attendees learn something new from our speakers, this month is unique because attendees will have an opportunity to bounce ideas off a certified Marketing and Business Coach without the high price tag.
This will be a wonderful opportunity to network with other sustainability leaders in a beautiful intimate setting. Whether you come to EcoTuesday to market your business or yourself, this is one event not to be missed.
A sustainable showroom, wonderful drinks from our sponsors, and amazing opportunity to learn how to launch your business to the next level. What more could you ask for?
$10 with online RSVP, $15 at the door.
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November's speaker in Silicon Valley was Adriane Erickson from Acterra. If you missed the networking event last week, you still have a chance to apply for Acterra’s Environmental Awards, see below for more details.
Applications for Acterra’s 2012 Business Environmental Awards are now available - click here.
This year’s categories are: Environmental Project, Environmental Innovation, Sustainable Built Environment, and the Acterra Award for Sustainability.
Any business, municipality or organization located in the following counties is eligible to apply: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz County. Non-profits may also apply if environmental work is not their central mission.
The deadline to apply is Friday, December 9, 2011. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
From speakers to sponsors to attendees, this year’s Opportunity Green Conference had many visionaries that spanned the green economy. One particular booth that I loved was peopleforbikes.org. People for Bikes, a non-profit focused on promoting biking across the nation. Many of our cities in the US need to incorporate bike lanes into their city planning.
Why do we ride? A few interesting facts from the People for Bikes’ website:
47% of Americans would like to see more bike lanes, trails, and bridges in their communities.
- I personally would love to see the Bay Bridge not only create a bike lane from the East Bay to Treasure Island but also from Treasure Island to San Francisco. How many people travel across by foot or by pedal on the Golden Gate Bridge a day? How wonderful would it be if the Bay Bridge would be accessible by foot or by pedal?
1 pound of CO2 pollution cut for every mile pedaled.
50% of trips Americans make are less than 3 miles.
- How wonderful if you could get your exercise while commuting!
$8,000 spent on average each year owing and operating a car.
3 hours of riding per week reduces the risk of hear disease & stroke by 50%.
$10 saved each day by commuting 10 miles round trip by bicycle instead of car.<!--EndFragment-->
This year’s conference theme of Accelerate fits perfectly with this non-profit. “We chose the theme ‘Accelerate’ for this year’s conference because the successes that have gotten sustainably-minded people and companies to where we are today accelerates and offers the momentum to drive to an even better future.”
The goals of People for Bikes align well with the goals of green acceleration.
People for Bikes:
One for all: Build a national movement to improve bicycling in our country.
We facilitate the movement to transform business for good, through advancing change and market transformation by providing open-minded professional unprecedented approaches to sustainability.
People for Bikes:
Let our voices be heard: Every six years, the federal government allocates billions of dollars to expand and improve our country’s transportation infrastructure. We must improve our bike infrastructure to have the healthy planet everyone dreams of.
Because we have the unique opportunity to do good for our world and our business simultaneously. Now is the time when our leadership is most needed, and will have the most impact on the future of our organization and communities.
We must Accelerate the use of biking in order to have the future we all wish for.
Power to the Pedal People.
This year’s theme of Accelerate fits perfectly with the current momentum of the green economy. We must continue this acceleration in order to have the amount of positive change we need in this world.
Personally, I am especially energized to listen to Conde Nast 2011 Designer of the Year, Yves Behar speak about Redefining Design. Founder and Chief Designer of fuseprojects, Behar has lead many inspiring projects including One Labtop per Child, underwear designed with compostable packaging, “See Better to Learn Better” and many more. Redefining the way we design products incorporating sustainability in every step of the way is the design of today.
What's the value of a green education in getting a green job? Here's your chance to find out!
The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Project Management Institute has been holding a series of 3-hour interactive Green Project Management seminars on topics like sustainability at major corporations, case studies on green projects, and even fusion energy. For more, see the PMI SF Bay Area green blog.
Our November seminar, on Saturday the 19th, will cover the importance of green education in getting a green job. It’s crucial for project managers to be familiar with current legislation and how it affects the overall supply chain. As we move toward stricter standards and globalization of products and services, we must be informed about how products are harvested, manufactured, and distributed throughout the globe. Kelle McMahon, CEO of the Green Science Academy, will show us how the landscape of the job market has changed, making project management skills even more valuable -- in fact, vital -- in today’s job market. She will explain how the skills she developed as a project manager helped her build a company that supports the triple bottom line: people, planet, and sustainable profits. Moreover, she will explore how you can transfer your skills to a job in a green industry, as well as showing how green education will differentiate you from other professionals in the marketplace. If you’re thinking of moving into a green job, this workshop will be perfect for you.
To register, go to the PMI registration page.
Seminar Series - Details
The Green Project Management Seminar Series is co-sponsored by Keller Graduate School and the Project Management Institute San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. The seminars are held on the third Saturday of each month from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon PDT, at Keller Graduate School’s Daly City location. For details and registration information, click here.
Your customers, investors, employees, investors, community, suppliers, and family.
This is just a short list of the many types of stakeholders that support your company. All stakeholders are important for the progress and prosperity of a business.
Strategic employee engagement is the most effective way to foster successful economic, environmental and social initiatives in a company. Employees are learning more about best practices around sustainability, which in turn helps to save the company money. Companies can support these new ideas to spur innovation that will have a ripple effect with the other stakeholders. When a company focuses attention on the employee stakeholder group, it thrives.
On Wednesday, September 21, I will be participating in a roundtable discussion entitled, "Community and Stakeholder Engagement: A Sustainable Approach" and will be joined by representatives from B Corporation, The Green Chamber of Commerce, and the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence. We will discuss communities, renewable energy, stakeholder groups, and more.
The event takes place at the Hotel Palomar from 6:30-8:30. The cost is $30 and food/drink is provided. The first ten people to sign up for the roundtable will gain free entry to EcoTuesday in SF, so register today!
During the roundtable, I will focus on the following:
Employee Engagement Through Building A Green Team: Your Key To Sustainability
- Your employees as important stakeholders
- Tips you can use to get employees enrolled in your company's sustainability intitiatives
- How strategic initiatives increases motivation and productivity
Please join us this month in cities across the country to meet new business contacts and friends. Our event this month will take place on Tuesday, September 27. We encourage you to register beforehand so that we know you'll be joining us. In San Francisco ten people will have the opportunity to quickly share their "elevator pitch" about their company in supportive environment! We hope to see you at an EcoTuesday this month.
By the way, our November event will be held a week earlier, on November 15. We will not be hosting a December event.
Each time a participant comes to EcoTuesday, learns something new, and then shares it with colleagues, family, and friends - positive change happens. Each time a participant comes to EcoTuesday and shares information with other participants about a new plan, product, or service that contributes to a new way of doing business - positive change happens. Each time a speaker comes to EcoTuesday and shares their knowledge and a few personal stories about the industry they represent - positive change happens.
Over the past few years, women have made great strides in all areas of sustainability. For example, women hold key positions in large solar companies, are driving sustainability initiatives in Fortune 500 companies, and have started businesses that have greatly impacted the food industry.
There's still so much more to accomplish!
San Francisco EcoTuesday will feature Erica Priggen, Executive Producer at Free Range Studios this coming Tuesday. Please join us to learn from a Bay Area award winning creative agency working towards building a more just and sustainable world.
As the head of Free Range's video and entertainment department, Erica Priggen oversees the creative and strategic development of all of the company's video campaigns. With a Master's in Consciousness Studies, she brings a deep study of sustainability and systems thinking to her work, with a concentration on the importance of storytelling and mythology as tools for cultural transformation. Erica is the producer of Free Range's award-winning The Story of Stuff, as well as other hits such as 350.org, The Good Life, the Alliance for Climate Education's national high school assembly program, and the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop video series.
The mission of Free Range Studios is to enable their clients to communicate key messages and empower individuals to transform society through the innovative use of digital media, storytelling, graphic design and strategy. They amplify the impact of their work by inspiring others through values-driven business practices.
In addition to having Erica lined up as our fabulous speaker this month, we've got a great venue for networking. We are being generously hosted by Adobe at their San Francisco office located at 601 Townsend. This building is the oldest LEED-certified platinum green building in the world and we'll get a chance to hear a few words from the Adobe Green Team. Plus, both Honest Tea and San Francisco's Haamonii Shochu will be there to pour teas and tea-shochu cocktails.
We get started at 6:30, come join us for some great networking, introduce yourself to a room of professionals, and to learn something new!
RSVP here, $5 online or $10 at the door.
In 1974, a small sandbar island about 2 miles across was discovered in the Bay of Bengal. In March of 2010, it disappeared. Oceanographers say the island’s demise is a demonstration of melting icecaps and rising sea levels. Studies reveal sea levels in this part of the Bay of Bengal are rising faster than in the previous 15 years - 5mm a year by some accounts.
In 2010, climate skeptics gave the idea of rising global temperatures a beating. Climategate gave critics plenty of fodder to call climate change "the greatest deception in history." The leaked emails from climate research scientists being held up as "smoking guns" were used by global-warming skeptics eager to find evidence of a conspiracy. Even without that misrepresentation, there remains evidence (such as the small island in the Bay of Bengal) that the earth is getting warmer.
In 2011, the shadow of Climategate still looms and climate change proponents are realizing pure research isn’t enough to sway public and political opinion. Neither is openly engaging with adversaries. To make any meaningful reduction in global temperatures, carbon reduction advocates have to gain the political will strong enough to persuade the world’s largest industrial nations to work together. For this to happen, the leaders of these countries have got to feel pressure that their jobs are on the line if they don’t sign meaningful agreements and make lasting reductions.
This pressure comes from us, the voters who put many of those leaders into place. Most of us don’t live in places like Bangladesh, where rising sea levels are swallowing up islands. So many of us know there’s a problem, but action doesn’t seem a priority. It’s only when something impacts our day to day personal lives do many of us take notice.
Join us for the next EcoTuesday on January 25, 2011 to help keep climate change and its growing threat in the forefront of our lives. By engaging with one another, we can truly make a difference on the planet this year.
Over the Christmas holidays I had the unique privilege of going on an expedition to Antarctica with a group of teachers. Antarctica is not the typical tourist vacation spot as there are no sandy beaches, no ski-resorts, no cities to explore, no cultural events, no museums and no access to computers, phones or TV. In fact for the 2 days that it takes to cross the dreaded Drakes Passage from the tip of South America to the safety of the South Shetland Islands, as you stare at miles of open ocean with nothing to look at and the boat tilts back and forth on 10 meter (no typo I meant meter) waves you might ask: Why go to Antarctica?
In fact for several months before I even stepped on the boat that is question that many people kept asking. You are taking a cruise to Antarctica? Why? This was often quickly followed by the question "Are you going to see polar bears?" Well, there are no polar bears at the South Pole, no Santa Clause or North Star either.
What Antarctica offers is a spectacularly harsh landscape that is probably the closest thing to completely unspoiled wilderness that one can see without being a researcher with special permits. It is its harshness that has protected it from people. It takes a full 48 hours or longer to cross the Drakes Passage and the water is some of the roughest in the world. While crossing it with nothing to see but miles and miles of ocean and nothing to do but think, read and talk to other passengers you discover something very important. Only those with a real love for nature, a love for its' stark and wild breathtaking beauty, would travel so long and so far through the cold, wet and rough seas to see it.
When we got there our little stalwart group of teachers and scientist met and discussed and measured important things like the number and species of Penguins, the level of ozone in the air, the temperature, etc. However, more than the facts and the data I think we learned something more important. There amongst the fast mountains of white ice, where no grasses grow, where the wind blows fiercely and where penguins go about their business completely ignoring us while they proudly bring their mates pebbles to decorate their nests, preen each other and chatter away communicating a hundred things we may never know, you learn that the only way to truly understand what it is like to be in true un-spoilt wilderness where nature rules supreme is to go there yourself.
If you ever have this chance to go somewhere far away from civilization to see un-spoiled wilderness I suggest you do. If you do then when you come back I think you will find that you will care for the environment far more deeply and maybe even worry about your cell phone a little less.
We have some exciting new ambassadors who have come on board in the last month or so. They all have come in to our existing EcoTuesday cities to breathe life back in them. We have brand new teams in Portland and the Silicon Valley. We also now have assistance for Carol in Minneapolis to keep it thriving. Thank you to all who have assisted in bringing our new leaders onboard. We look forward to seeing what will happen in 2011.
Jina Penn Tracy
Jina became interested in environmental issues after surviving a rare cancer at age 19, caused by a drug her mother had taken during pregnancy. This led her to many years of organic gardening, child-rearing and cooking. All while building and selling a small business. Now, Jina puts that passion into "Ethically-Aligned Weath Management"; designing socially responsible investment & financial “life” plans for her individual, family and business clients as the owner of Raeheart Financial. Jina believes that EcoTuesday networking should be fill us with inspiration, buoy our spirits, and help us to create a foundation of support in our lives so we can accomplish greater and greater things. She believes that deeper than the fight or flight instinct is the true survival instinct; the instinct in humans to come together, cooperate and create a better and more fulfilling tomorrow. EcoTuesday is a place to do just that. For more, click here.
Pandora is very active in the Sustainability community in Portland. She volunteers with environmental non-profit groups and is active in my neighborhood association. She is also a fan of public transportation and bicycling. Pandora has a Website Development company and actively promotes implementing green business practices. She thinks through education we can show how businesses can be green and financially sustainable. She also believes that business should include the 3 pillars of sustainability: Social Responsibility, Respect for our Environment and Financial Sustainability. She loves PDX and believes it’s one of the most livable cities in the world. They have such great local businesses and resources in our great city. Continue to keep Portland ahead of the curve to be the most livable city anywhere! For more, click here.
Kristy is a budding creative mind, who has a background in visual communication. It is important for her to provide a well-executed design in all forms of media; print, web and photo, for small businesses. She is currently part of sales and marketing for Eclectic Home, a local business that provides unique, innovated, sustainable solutions for a healthy space. It is her goal to show that eco-friendly is more than paper bags and muted colors, she can show that it is fun, cutting edge and a trendsetter. For more, click here.
Fenja holds a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Environmental Analysis and Policy from Boston University. While at BU, Fenja built an Excel VBA metric model to assess a household's environmental impact with data collected from a self-developed comprehensive questionnaire. In May 2008, she received her LEED AP. Growing up in Germany and California influenced her understanding of how different cultures, habits, and norms can affect people's behavior towards the environment. Most recently, she lived an enlightening year in Tokyo, where she entrenched herself in Japan's sustainability industry. For more, click here.
For some, knowing that California's Proposition 23 was largely funded by two Texas oil companies (along with the Koch brothers) might have been enough of a reason to vote against it. Similarly, Proposition 26 got major funding from big oil and tobacco companies. But what does the recent defeat of Prop 23, and the passing of Prop 26, actually mean? And why was one defeated and the other similar one approved, by the same voters?
Prop 23 would have suspended AB32, signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006, which requires California to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. AB32 is expected to have benefits in these areas -- some of which we've experienced already:
- Jobs and economic growth: Although the proponents of Prop 23 called it a "jobs initiative," it would have probably led to a loss of jobs in California. Before Prop 23 was defeated, a group of 118 economists signed an open letter stating their belief that AB32 will stimulate California's economy along with having many other beneficial effects. In fact, AB32 and similar policies have already attracted business to California and encouraged the creation of hundreds, maybe thousands, of clean-energy jobs. Because of such policies, California has the most vital clean energy economy in the United States. Venture capitalists are more likely to invest here with AB32 in place; according to State Senator Mark Leno, AB32 attracted $11 million in venture capital to the state even before being implemented. Companies like Sungevity have made California their home, rather than other solar-friendly places such as Germany, in part because of AB32, which creates a climate that encourages clean-tech business.
- Environment and health: As the 118 economists put it in their letter, "policies that reduce global warming pollution are likely to provide immediate benefits to the health and welfare of residents by reducing local pollutants." So all Californians will benefit from AB32, not just those employed in the clean-energy industry.
- National security: Promoting clean energy in California, the 8th-largest economy in the world, reduces our dependence on foreign oil. Doing so greatly enhances our national security -- which is a major factor that led George Shultz to become co-chair of the No on 23 campaign.
Perhaps you don't live in California. Why should you care what happens here? Because California has a history of being a leader in innovation and clean energy, and what we do here will spread elsewhere. Supporters of Prop 23, almost all from other states, knew this when they backed the measure, and that's why they targeted California. The Republicans' nationwide gains at the polls last week will make it harder to enact climate-protecting legislation at the federal level, so it's all the more crucial for states to take the lead.
Proponents of Prop 23 were clever, though misleading, in calling it a "jobs initiative." In an equally clever move, opponents rebranded it the "Dirty Energy" proposition. This is a wonderful example of how we can reframe a message to get people to think differently about an issue: no one likes the sound of "dirty energy." The No on 23 campaign also bombarded the media and social networking sites with creative, forceful ads, some of which you can see here.
The same effort, unfortunately, didn't go into defeating Prop 26, branded the "Stop Hidden Taxes" initiative, which many of us heard about as an afterthought long after we'd gotten the scoop on Prop 23. Prop 26, now approved by California voters, reclassifies some environmental fees as taxes requiring approval by a two-thirds vote of the state Legislature. And we all know how popular taxes are.
It's not clear how the passing of Prop 26 will affect AB32, though some fear that it will make it harder to impose fees intended to implement AB32. There are reasons to hope that won't be the case; Prop 26 applies only to laws enacted after January 1, and AB32 has been in place since 2006. It could still affect fees levied in the future to support AB32. And even if it doesn't erode AB32, if allowed to stand Prop 26 will have serious consequences, as detailed in a study by the UCLA School of Law. In addition to adversely affecting transportation, law enforcement, and public health, Prop 26 is an attack on the environment. That's because it makes it much harder to impose fees on polluters, now a major source of funding for health and environmental programs. And that leaves taxpayers to pay for the harmful effects of industries like oil companies.
But another challenge remains for Prop 26, and that's its basic legitimacy. It's likely the proposition could face challenges in court -- both because it's badly written, leaving interpretations up to the courts, and because it contradicts Prop 23, which had such a resounding defeat. Still, we'll have to wait and see what happens with Prop 26.
Why did Prop 26 succeed while the similar Prop 23 failed? Anyone who's faced a long California ballot knows how confusingly written most of the propositions are, so it's likely that voters didn't realize they were making contradictory votes. The best antidote to such confusion seems to be good advertising, but Prop 23 got the lion's share of publicity while Prop 26 was left to prevail silently.
This shows the power of not only good publicity but also strong bipartisan collaboration. Perhaps what put the No on Prop 23 campaign over the edge, and enabled the clever strategies used, was the huge collaborative effort among progressives and conservatives, activists and energy companies, Republicans and Democrats. Many of us do have common goals, and the success of Prop 23 shows that if we collaborate on those goals, even when we're dealing with big oil companies and their deep pockets, we can win.
While last week's election results were mixed, in both California and the rest of the country, defeating Prop 23 was a major win for environmentalists, and it will have far-reaching effects that extend throughout our country and even beyond. The election of Jerry Brown as governor will help promote environmental efforts. In this election, California won the right to continue leading the world in clean-energy innovation. Let's all do our part to ensure it remains this way. As Bill McKibben of 350.org noted at the San Francisco Green Festival this past weekend, it's up to all of us to get involved in any way we can. His organization, in addition to hosting worldwide days of action, helped convince the administration to put solar panels back on the White House -- showing that grassroots efforts can make a difference. If we all engage in activities like this and make our voices heard, change will happen. It happened with Prop 23, and we can make it happen again.