Make 2013 the Greenest Year Ever!
Start the year off on the right (eco)foot by measuring what matters!
Don't just pay those energy, water, fuel, garbage and supply bills and then
forget about them. Start tracking them. Even a simple Excel spreadsheet
can do the trick: kilowatt hours of electricity, therms of natural gas, cubic
feet of water, gallons of gasoline, volume or weight of garbage and recycling,
reams of paper and other supplies. Once you have a few months for
comparison, challenge yourself and your company to make even a minimal reduction
each month. Have fun in the process. A little healthy competition
can work wonders between departments, buildings, teams, etc.
Having these figures readily available will also be a great start at
calculating your carbon footprint when the time comes.
Let me know if I can help you get started.
Here's to a healthy and prosperous new year for us all!
Connecting the Dots
Sustainability isn't new or trendy or even very original.
The term may not be familiar to everyone, but the concept
has been around for thousands of years. It's
recognizing that we live and work on a finite planet; that
there are only so many resources to go around and how we use
and share them truly makes a difference. It's only in
the past century or two (and increasingly in the last 60
years) that we have become
by radically increasing our extraction of
fossil fuels and mined minerals while over-harvesting our
natural resources - from forests to fisheries - and
introducing tens of thousands
chemicals into the mix. As a
result, we have drastically intensified levels of carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere leading
to the climate change crisis. We have disturbed, and
in some cases even destroyed, those ecological systems that
provide clean air, fresh water, healthy topsoil and other
services that we usually take for granted and don't capture
in our financial analyses. We have polluted our
bodies through the unwitting ingestion of persistent
bio-accumulative toxins (PBTs) leading to illness and
disease. And we have contributed to the creation of a
global environment where some people have access to
more of everything than they could ever possibly need or want at the same time
others will never
have access to the very basic
necessities, let alone a deeply satisfying and dignified
We can work together to make things better, and everyone
benefits in the long run! Learning and applying the principles
of sustainability is how we honor and restore all that
is beautiful and meaningful on this little planet we call
And in the process organizations find that sustainability really is profitable in the
long run - and what could be better than doing well by doing
Sustainability is Global Risk Management
The first rule of business is to remain
“profitable”, but what does that really mean in today’s global environment?
Profitable for shareholders or for society in general? Profitable for the
current quarter or two or for the next ten, twenty or fifty years?
Companies today are being sued for practices that took place
years ago. Lead paint manufacturers have been held
responsible for millions of dollars in cleanup and
As Dan Anderson writes in his 2005 book Corporate Survival: The Critical
Importance of Sustainability Risk Management, “The basic
objectives of risk management are to protect the assets of the
corporation and to preserve corporate earnings (profits). I
would suggest that the ultimate objectives of risk management
are to protect ecosystems as capital assets, to preserve their
continuing services; and to maintain fair and equitable social
Competitive companies and public entities are demonstrating that
there are advantages and benefits to embracing “sustainable“
policies and practices. Insurers,
reinsurers, bankers, customers and shareholders are not only
paying attention, but are often seeking out organizations with
this broader vision.
The New Stakeholders
What is your city, county or company doing today
that could be perceived in the future as socially irresponsible
and/or detrimental to the environment? In addition
to Shareholders and Trustees, all organizations must consider
how their actions will be viewed now and in the future by:
- Customers and employees
- Regulators and NGOs
- "Green" consumers
- Insurers and bankers
Sustainability is a Journey
The good news is that many companies and numerous public entities are
already on the road to sustainability. As a result there are
many resources available now to assist you in determining how
sustainability can be implemented in your organization.
These sustainability tools include:
You owe it to yourself and your organization to find out all you can about
the critically important journey to sustainability when considering:
- Climate change and "Peak Oil"
- Competition for limited resources
- Increasing legal liability
- EPA and other regulations
consulting services to
support you on the journey to sustainability.
Sustainability is a term derived from the United Nation’s 1987
Brundtland Report which defined sustainable development as development that "meets the
needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
In practice, sustainability promotes the understanding that all
activities on the earth, from seemingly small
personal choices to multi-billion dollar business
decisions, are deeply interconnected and therefore
integral parts of the whole. From this
whole-system, cyclical viewpoint, there is great
opportunity to contribute to strong economies,
healthy communities and a stable environment. This
is often referred to as the Triple Bottom Line:
people, planet and profit.
Backyard bounty ~ photo @ Jill Sughrue 2006