From the roof of my condo complex in a sunny part of San Francisco, I can see solar panels on at least a few houses on each surrounding block.
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.
In March 2011, San Francisco EcoTuesday was hosted at the Adobe office South of Market. Meera Ramanathan, Global Sustainability Manager with Cushman and Wakefield, which is Adobe’s facilities management firm, gave a short introduction of the wonderful sustainability initiatives Adobe has accomplished over the years. In the few minutes she spoke (prior to the speaker) were not enough to dive deeply into all of the initiatives that have been happening at Adobe.
San Francisco EcoTuesday is very excited to have Meera as the speaker this month. This time she will not only discuss Corporate Carbon Accounting and Adobe’s environmental goals, but also share about the numerous environmental initiative awards that Adobe and Cushman & Wakefield's have won recently.
Adobe has been at the forefront of the green building movement. Ten of Adobe’s building are LEED-Platinum certified and 5 from outside of the United States are pursuing LEED equivalent certification. Adobe’s newest goal is to achieve NetZero energy consumption by 2015 for their San Francisco, San Jose and Boston offices that account for 30% of Adobe’s total square footage. Measuring energy usage is the first step to accomplish this goal. Adobe monitors and collects energy usage information from 30,000 data points. Given this data, they look into ways to reduce the Energy Demand. They also produce renewable energy onsite. Last but not least, Adobe buys carbon credits to offset 100% of Scope 1 and 2 emissions.
The GHG Protocol categorizes emissions into three broad scopes:
Scope 1: All direct GHG emissions.
Scope 2: Indirect GHG emissions from consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam.
Scope 3: Other indirect emissions, such as the extraction and production of purchased materials and fuels, transport-related activities in vehicles not owned or controlled by the reporting entity (employee business travel), electricity-related activities (e.g. T&D losses) not covered in Scope 2, outsourced activities, waste disposal, etc.
We look forward to hearing Meera speak next Tuesday, June 26th at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. Register today- there’s only one week left!
For the past few years I have been extremely interested in algae as an alternative to petroleum. I was a student at the Green MBA and my interest was first peaked by my then classmate and now CEO of Skip to Renew, Stig Westling. Stig’s company develops and produces sustainable, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective industrial lubricants and greases.
This got me thinking - what other companies are out there and who is leading the pack in the biofuel market? My research led me to Riggs Eckelberry, the CEO and President of OriginOil. “OriginOil is proving its next-generation technology to greatly enhance algae biomass harvesting and oil extraction. This allows scalable industrialization to make algae a high-yield, cost-competitive replacement for petroleum.”
What is admirable about algae is that unlike many other biofuel alternatives is that it does not require farmland or fresh water therefore “fundamentally changing the world’s source of oil without disrupting the environment or food supplies”.
To say I am very excited about Riggs Eckelberry speaking at this month’s EcoTuesday on May 22nd would be a great understatement. I feel that the knowledge and expertise he can provide our members is invaluable. Not only has Riggs proved himself in the competitive tech market he has now undertaken this challenge in the world of alternative energy and proven to be successful.
Riggs Eckelberry has helped OriginOil become a publicly-traded technology firm that helps algae growers extract oil from Algae for use as a feedstock for the commercial production of transportation fuels, chemicals and foods. In January of 2011, Riggs Eckelberry was named to the Advisory Board of the National Algae Association. He speaks regularly on algae industry trends and writes the Algae Business column for Algae Industry Magazine.
I hope that as you read this you are as excited as I am and will attend what will surely be an amazing discussion about Algae as viable replacement for petroleum. Register today - there's only one week left!
Nestled within the bustle of San Francisco city life lies the serene Presidio National Park, home of the prestigious Presidio Graduate School. Founded in 2003, Presidio Graduate School educates and inspires a new generation of skilled, visionary and enterprising leaders to transform business and public policy and create a more just, prosperous and sustainable world.
How does Presidio Graduate School accomplish this while offering rigorous MBA, MPA and Executive Certificate programs? Presidio’s sustainable management program is “a strategic approach to rethinking everything.” This forward thinking is what makes Presidio one of the top sustainable programs in the country.
No matter your interest or educational background, Presidio Graduate School will teach you how to harness your power to design healthier products, address complex social injustices and understand environmental issues that affect us all. Presidio integrates sustainability into every course – from sustainable leadership to life cycle accounting, from social marketing to ecological economics. Students apply sustainability frameworks and methods to real-life business cases both within actual companies, non-profits and government agencies, and within their own career and/or entrepreneurial plans. Presidio allows students to tackle real world problems in a real world setting.
Sustainability is not a buzz word; it is a real way of thinking about the world in a holistic and healthy way. It is important to teach students and future leaders how to transform the business world to become more sustainable. If you are interested in taking your career to the next level or in learning more about the Sustainable Management programs at the Presidio Graduate School, please make sure to sign up for one of their upcoming information sessions.
Well in 2011, San Francisco took the title as the “greenest city in North America”. The study, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit studied the environmental performance and commitments by 27 major metro areas in the U.S. and Canada, and we won!
This is greatly due to the efforts of this month’s guest speaker, Johanna Partin. Johanna serves as Director of Climate Protection Initiatives in the office of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, where she advises Mayor Lee on citywide sustainable energy, climate, transportation, green building and other programs promoting sustainability for San Francisco.
In addition to creating change in the mayor’s office Johanna has over 17 years' experience in the fields of renewable energy, microfinance, gender equity and sustainable development, and has worked both locally and in more than 15 countries around the world.
If you are interested in learning more about change starting at the local level and how you can help Johanna and the city of San Francisco keeps it title, come to our next EcoTuesday event January 24th at The W Hotel, SF.
To see what topics Johanna will be discussing and register for this very special event, click here.
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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.
1 pound of CO2 pollution cut for every mile pedaled.
50% of trips Americans make are less than 3 miles.
$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.
This month San Francisco EcoTuesday was a little different. The night started with an emerald green jar full of business cards in which we randomly selected 10. Instead of having one main presenter, we opened up the mic for 10 participants to present a 2 minute pitch of their company, organization or initiative to the group.
It was exciting to hear more in-depth what some of the EcoTuesday members are working on. If you didn't make it out, or if you want a re-cap, you'll find a list of who and what was presented along with websites to each company and organization below...
Mike Trenary of Reboot Our Schools which is "A non-profit dedicated to providing public schools with refurbished technology donations - and creating sustainable processes for maintaining those resources.
Jonathan Mooney of Skip To Renew, a bio-based lubricants company. Their first product is a first of its kind, Re:cyclist Bike Chain Lube with other bio-degradable lubricants in development.
Todd Cooper of Waxelene -- Which is a natural & organic petroleum jelly alternative, which I was fortunate to get a sample of and am loving it.
Chris Murphy of Zoom Forth which is a unique online job search which based on your skills, interest and work preferences, will match you with informational video interviews from a database of thousands to help guide your career decisions.
Allen Price of Tresendas which is a social network for people who travel. Tresendas lets you build a network of your closest friends and the close friends of your friends so you have an expanded network of people you can trust for travel recommendations and housing all across the world.
Lindsey Herrema, one of 5 co-founders of The Can Van, presented on behalf of her and 4 other Green MBA Grads from the Presidio Graduate School. The Can Van is a mobile beer canning service which will make getting canned beer more accessible to NorCal craft breweries.
Josh Atlas of the Eight Fold Group, which is a social commerce agency that facilitates access for conscientious consumers to the sustainable products and services they want and need.
Heidi Smith of Carbon Flow, which "provides an integrated suite of software applications used by organizations worldwide to manage, monitor, and monetize their emission reduction and sustainable energy projects."
Ken Jacobus of Good Start Packaging, which provides environmentally friendly alternatives to disposable plastics "with a mission to reduce the massive amounts of single-use plastic clogging our landfills, waterways, highways, and forests."
Libby Klitsch of Tuvalu Design, which helps businesses and organizations through strategic design to reveal their sustainable practices, products and services to the world.
EcoTuesday continues to attract great people doing great work in the world, and it is always inspiring to hear what everyone is up to. The evening ended with our usual networking portion which is a great place to look for a job or that missing link for your project, whether that be a developer, project manager, an idea or just a boost of inspiration you're needing.
I look forward to the next event which will be on October 25th (a Tuesday of course to maintain the continuity of the EcoTuesday name) : ) Location and presenter to be announced soon.
Until then, keep living and greening the dream!
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
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.
I am going out on a limb here, and guessing that the EcoTuesday community believes that global warming is both real and caused largely by human influences. The preponderance of scientific evidence supports this, and scientists are the most careful people in the world about making sure their statements are backed by fact.
So with that as a given, and again assuming that most of us care about a livable future the question becomes, “so what the heck can I do about it?” The people that I have meet at our EcoTuesday evenings care deeply, and often center their professional life on solutions to this and other environmental problems. But it is challenging to know what actions can really have an effect.
This might be part of the reason for the results of a recent Gallup poll. It showed that concern about environmental issues has dropped between 4 and 9 percentage points over the course of one year. The only bright note was that the two issues that had dropped the least were issues of safe, clean drinking water and global warming. I think this drop is party because people suffer from concern burnout. If they cannot see that they can make a difference, they cease to be concerned as a defense against feeling hopeless.
This month’s speaker at our Silicon Valley EcoTuesday can refresh your level of hope. We will have James Cook, Director of Business Development at First Solar, join us this month. He will speak to us about his work in large-scale solar generation plants. I am especially eager to hear about his personal passion to help the state of California achieve 50% renewable electrical generation by 2030 and push toward FFFF – Fossil Fuel Free by Fifty (2050, that is.) These goals are striking for a number of reasons.
Most of us know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Carbon dioxide is the largest single contributor, in fact CO2 accounts for 83% of all the green house gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. Don’t glaze over on me here, I’m am coming to why this is so exciting!
By far, the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions is the burning of carbon-based fuels for electrical generation. This is interesting, since so many think that transportation is greatest problem. If we could reach the goal of generating our electricity from fossil free sources by 2050, we would be greatly reducing the largest cause of GHG emissions. If this were accompanied be incremental improvements in all other emissions, we would truly be looking at improving the environmental outlook for future generations.
So, although it can seem that solar power is a fancy perk for a green building, or only of interest to energy policy wonks, in reality it holds the potential to be a huge part of the solution to global warming, within our lifetimes!
Danny Kennedy, co-founder of Sungevity (the fastest growing company in the residential segment of the solar industry), joined EcoTuesday in July to 'shed some light' on the industry. Over 60 participants from all areas of sustainability joined us at the beautiful Bently Reserve.
Danny's expressed that the solar industry is looking good. There are plenty of jobs and the number will continue to increase as people begin to realize the potential of solar. "The solar industry already employees more people then the U.S steel production industry."
Although solar is currently less than 2% of the overall electricity use in the U.S economy, the exponential growth that is happening will fill the gap. Solar production has doubled - three times in the past three years. The price for solar will continue to decrease, making it more and more accessible for mainstream consumers to purchase. As the price of solar is decreasing, everything else (coal and other fossil fuels), are increasing in price. Solar power will soon be the low cost source of electricity as a result of this growth rate. Sixty percent of Sungevity's customers are in California, and Sungevity saves their customers 15% a month from day one with their particular solar product.
Danny pointed out that "the United States uses 47% of its surface water for steam generation for turbines" (turbines which are used to power fossil fuel stations). He continued, "fossil fuels will be a part of our future for some time. The longer we prolong its use, our children will be worse off. The faster we adopt the lower cost technologies, the better off we are, from both a financial and environmental point of view."