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Archive for the ‘environmental’ Category

VIEWS: Going Green at Women Owned Businesses

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on April 17, 2009

Dispatch from SSC President Jennifer Woofter

On Wednesday night I had the great pleasure to speak at the Greater DC Chapter of the National Association of Business Owners as part of their Entrepreneurial Excellence Series. The night’s topic was Going Green is Good For Business, and I was joined by two other fabulous women:

Antonella LoRe is the founder of Capital Green Cleaning a new commercial cleaning company serving the Washington, DC area. Capital Green Cleaning uses only environmentally-friendly cleaning products and is certified by the Green Clean Institute. She told the group about her decision to start a green business in the midst of the recession and the reality that green doesn’t to be more expensive.

Diane MacEachern is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author of multiple books including Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World. Diane is passionate about empowering consumers — especially women — to use their marketplace clout to protect the environment, and she spoke eloquently about the power of women business owners to positively impact the environment.

Although it was pouring down rain and I was definitely coming down with a cold, I had a warm fuzzy feeling sitting with other women business owners talking about issues so near to my heart AND so critical to our collective success in the marketplace.

I find that small business owners often have “green” values, but don’t know how to act upon them. Day to day pressures of payroll, purchasing, and business development sweep everything else aside—including the desire to be environmentally friendly. What I hope the women at the NAWBO event took away from our talk is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other: we can do good AND do well at the same time.

Posted in environmental, views, workplace | 1 Comment »

VIEWS: SSC at the World Water Forum (Part III)

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on March 24, 2009

Dispatch from SSC President Jennifer Woofter

I’m on the flight back home after my trip to Istanbul and the World Water Forum. I’m sure that in the coming week we will hear all about the sessions, working groups, panels, and “key messages” through such excellent sites as Grist and Worldchanging (two of my favorite sustainability news outlets). I’m also sure that others’ analysis will be more insightful and pithy than mine.

But as I Istanbul, what is sticking with me is the disconnect between what *I* know about water and it’s connection with sustainability (even basic societal survival!) and how everyday people think about water. I was asked more than a dozen times by the “average” Istanbul citizen what I was doing in the city, and it often led to a discussion of water. Here’s what I heard:

Taxi Driver – don’t you think this is something that politicians are using to get people riled up? Water is not a problem. Well, maybe in 100 years. But this is not something we should be concerned with today.

Carpet Shop Employee – it’s true that clean water is difficult, but bottled water is so cheap it is not really a problem for me. Maybe it’s more of a problem in the country.

Hotel Employee – this is a problem in Africa, right? Where there is no rain? Here we get lots of rain, so drought is not something we worry about.

I think if you asked people in any major city you would probably hear the same thing: it’s a political “much ado about nothing”, it’s about my own personal access to clean drinking water, or it’s a problem in areas with drought. Very few people seemed to see the larger picture – for instance about water privatization issues, or climate change implications, or even how the price of goods and services will rise as access to clean water becomes more expensive – or impossible to obtain.

As a sustainability consultant, it’s my job to help people understand how a simple-yet-complex issue like water can have real meaning to their lives and their livelihoods. I have to wear many hats – scientist, communicator, accountant, fortuneteller… I have to balance the realities of today with the uncertainties of tomorrow. I have to find the link between the “right thing to do” (e.g. access to clean drinking water for all) and what makes “good business sense” (e.g. let’s make sure our company’s supply chain is water-efficient). It’s complicated and fascinating work – and as I leave Istanbul I’m excited to get back to the SSC office and spend some time reviewing our consulting services to ensure that water concerns are integrated into every part of our analysis and planning engagements.

Posted in business case, climate change, environmental, events, views, water | Leave a Comment »

RESOURCES: Now Available! Sustainability 101: A Toolkit for Your Business

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on January 9, 2009

Sustainability Consultants have teamed up to provide easy, practical guidance to organizations wanting to “go green”

January 9, 2009 (Bethesda, MD) – As more and more companies recognize the benefits and necessity of ‘going green’, many are asking, “Where do we begin?” To answer this critical question, sustainability consultants Anca Novacovici and Jennifer Woofter have put their experience and expertise to work in their new book Sustainability 101: A Toolkit for Business. At just under 200 pages in length, this succinct introductory manual is designed to help organizations, whether committed to going green or just getting started, become more socially and environmentally responsible.

“This book is intended to simplify the process,” said Anca Novacovici, founder of Eco-Coach, Inc., “and help a company, or a Green Team within a company, get started on the path to sustainability. “Going green” does not have to be complicated and costly. Outlined in the book are some relatively straight-forward and cost-effective steps that companies can take to get started right away.”

Inside, organizations will find simple, easy-to-follow steps for greening any business, including “how-to”:

• Get senior-level management on board
• Create a detailed sustainability plan
• Implement a sustainability plan
• Most importantly, get started!

“We’ve used this material with dozens of clients, and find that this “101” level of recommendation is just right for organizations who are ready to tackle a green commitment and need help in taking those first steps,” said Jennifer Woofter, president of Strategic Sustainability Consulting. “With this book as a reference, companies of every size can feel confident that “going green” is within their reach.”

Just off the presses, Sustainability 101: A Toolkit for Business can be purchased at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com for download ($29.95) or in paperback ($39.95), or can be purchased directly from Strategic Sustainability Consulting at SustainabilityConsulting.com or Eco-Coach at Eco-Coach.com.

Anca Novacovici is the founder of Eco-Coach, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based consultancy that offers corporate and residential sustainability services. Her company provides businesses and individuals with the tools and knowledge to improve their environmental footprint while keeping in mind the bottom line. Clients include Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller businesses and individuals.

Jennifer Woofter is the president and founder of Strategic Sustainability Consulting in Washington, D.C., specializing in helping companies understand how social and environmental responsibility can lead to long-term profitability. Her company produces an ever-growing series of Sustainability 101 books, including Sustainability 101 for Restaurants, for Churches, and for Healthcare Facilities.

Sustainability 101: A Toolkit For Your Business
By Anca Novacovici and Jennifer Woofter
ISBN: 978-1-4357-1884-5
Publisher: Lulu.com
Download (3066 KB): $29.95
Paperback (197 pages): $39.95
Publication Date: July 2008

Posted in book reviews, environmental, news, resources, special offers | Leave a Comment »

EVENT: Webinar – Implementing a Green IT Program

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on January 29, 2008

This is an exciting time in the IT industry as we collectively begin to look at the impacts of our business on society, the environment and of course the economy. As the businesses we support begin to look at the environmental impacts of operations, we must be ready to support them and do our part. There is no doubt that IT is a contributor to the problem, so how can we contribute to the solution? It can be hard to know where to start!

SSC is pleased to present Implementing a Green IT Program, an interactive webinar focusing on the practical steps to improving your environmental performance. In this 60-minute presentation you’ll learn about:

— how to assess your organization’s IT impact,
— benefits and opportunities around implementing Green IT practices
— getting started with our five-step process for implementing a Green IT program
— where to find resources to help you get started

This webinar is designed for IT directors, IT professionals and sustainability managers looking to evaluate and improve the environmental performance of the IT department.

Cost: $50
Time: Check our event calendar for the next date!

Strategic Sustainability Consulting is pleased to present this webinar in partnership with Jessica Vreeswijk, head of Pacific Sunrise Systems Consulting and GreenITTools.com. Jessica has spent over five years providing IT project management, operations management, consulting and technical services in the not-for-profit, government and corporate business sectors. Jessica has initiated the GreenITTools.com project in order to provide practical, hands-on tools for IT managers in small- to medium-sized businesses based on her own experience in trying to start a Green IT program. Jessica is an MBA in Sustainable Business candidate at Bainbridge Graduate Institute.

Posted in environmental, events | Leave a Comment »

EVENT: Webinar – Green Purchasing

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on October 2, 2007

A Green Purchasing Policy is essential for a sustainable workplace: it reduces your ecological footprint, minimizes unnecessary costs, and indicates to stakeholders your organizations’ dedication to people and the planet. This webinar provides the strategic framework and practical tools needed to develop and implement an effective Green Purchasing Policy.

Green Purchasing Webinar
Location: Online, At Your Desktop!
Cost: $50
Sign-Up: Here

Topics to be covered include:

— Why It Is Important to Buy Environmentally Preferable Products
— Definitions of Environmentally Preferable Purchasing
— The Identification of Desired Environmental Attributes
— Balancing Environmental Considerations with Performance, Availability, and Cost Requirements
— How to Empower a Green Purchasing Team
— Identification of Initial Priorities
— Assigning Responsibilities and Establishing Deadlines
— The Use of Existing Environmental Labeling and Certification Programs
— Creation of a Communications Plan
— Developing Measurable Goals and Reporting Requirements
— Regular Policy Reveiw

This webinar is co-hosted by Alex Szabo of TheGreenOffice.com, a company dedicated to accelerating the transition to sustainability in the workplace. Through the online sale of green office products, expert sustainability consulting, and strategic carbon offsetting, TheGreenOffice.com works to make office greening easy and cost effective.

Posted in environmental, events, supply chain | Leave a Comment »

VIEWS: When Tech Support Doesn’t Understand Energy Efficiency Questions

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on September 27, 2007

Note: The following missive comes from Scott Kleiman, one of SSC’s Summer Interns. We thought it was a great story about how frustrating the pursuit of basic environmental information can be…and how important it is for companies to educate their employees about their corporate CSR issues…enjoy!

Strategic Sustainability Consulting publishes an annual Sustainability Report that reviews how effective we’ve been as a company in minimizing our firm’s environmental impact as we work. As part of this effort, Jennifer asked each of the summer interns to track and calculate our own ecological footprints associated with our internships over the past several months.

Most of us work remotely, communicating primarily through conference calls, online “meetings,” and email. Our efforts largely go towards supporting SSC’s senior consultants’ client-work, through researching company and industry information, brainstorming solutions, and helping write reports. We also contribute to SSC’s ongoing knowledge base of solutions, case studies, webinars, and white papers. Consequently, the majority of our time is spent on computers. Indeed, as I put together my own footprint data, my largest impact was the electricity used by my 5+ year-old Dell laptop.

Having spent the summer reading and writing about specific strategies and steps for businesses to incorporate sustainability into their operations, and being familiar with Dell’s new energy efficient computing campaign, I expected determining the energy used by my computer to be a relatively straightforward process: multiply the watts used (a rate) by the number of hours I spent working at my computer for SSC, and I’d get a rough estimate of my total related energy usage for the summer (in Kilowatt-hours). How I was mistaken…

I purchased my computer before my freshman year of college, at that point of my life having little conception of energy efficiency, so I never thought to ask about my computer’s energy footprint when initially configuring it. As I began looking for energy usage information, my first thought was that it would, of course, be noted among the maze of notations printed on the bottom of my laptop or its power transformer cube. Voltage requirements, as well as some other certification gibberish were there, but nothing specific about energy consumption.

Perhaps it was on the “Spec Sheet” Dell had included when it shipped my computer? Being the packrat that I am, I knew I had it stashed away in the front part of the second right-hand drawer of my desk at home, and I ran upstairs to check. Nope – it just showed me that I needed to clean my room.

“It’s the age of the Internet,” I thought. The information I didn’t have myself should certainly be just a click away on the Dell website. After 15 minutes of navigating through endless attempts to convince me about the fantastic characteristics of Dell’s many new computers that it sells, I concluded that my search terminology must have been wrong and decided to call Dell customer support.

The 20-minute call, which included 8 long minutes of listening to Dell’s ubiquitous muzak, concluded with me trying to convince a supervisor that, “No, there’s not a problem with my system. I just want to know its energy consumption. In watts. Please….”. This was followed up by an email detailing instructions detailing how I should return my defective part to Dell, succeeded 2 weeks later by an express mailed Windows System Restore CD directing me to resinstall my operating system to fix my problem.

Realizing the phone call was fruitless, I returned to the Dell website and booted up their online chat for customer support. Maybe typing out my problems would overcome the language and/or culture barrier that seemed to be preventing the very nice customer support agent from understanding my question over the phone. I excerpt from the instant message conversation below:

Scott: “I’d like to know about the energy usage of my Dell computer”
Scott: “Dell Inspiron 8200”
Agent: “I do understand that you are wanting to know the energy usage and I will do my best to assist you.
Agent: “For references – The warranty expired on the system on 07.30.2005. Is this your first contact with Dell regarding the energy usage?”
Scott: “I’m not sure –“
Scott: “I’m not having a problem with my system”
Scott: “I only need information about its energy usage”
Agent: “Scott, allow me 3-6 minutes to research this information.”
Agent: “Thank you for holding. I do apologize for the delay. The power information that I have is that the system uses a 8 cell battery and a 65 Watt Adapter.”
Agent: “Scott, it has been a great pleasure working with you today. I’m going to send you some important information for your records. I apologize for its lengthiness. Let me know if you have any questions about it.”

My struggle illustrates one of the many challenges that remain as both consumers and companies look for ways to become more sustainable. (To read how this same issue manifests for many corporate IT managers, check out Andrew Binstock’s article “How Many Watts Does that PC Consume Exactly, and Why?” from GreenerComputing News.)

In many cases, the enthusiasm and marketing efforts voiced by high-level executives are not consistently matched by the products and employees that support them. As Dell aims to be a leader among computer manufacturers in selling environmentally responsible systems, it must ensure that relevant environmental impact information about its products is both easily available for consumers online, and that its customer support staff understands corporate priorities in being able to communicate that data.

Even if new, environmentally innovative product lines are slower to evolve than the processes to publicize those accomplishments, developing corporate habits of transparency and openness towards customers can go a long way to helping companies of all sizes and sectors attract the attention of the new green consumer audience.

Neil from Dell Responds (in record time!):

I’m at Dell Headquarters in Austin, Texas and I just read the post on your blog but comments were disabled. I’ve worked in support here at Dell for a long time on the phones, in chat queues, and now in the blogosphere and can honestly say that I’ve never heard that question so I had to do a bit of looking around. What I found was a site; dell.com/energy, that has energy calculators and other info that you were seeking, only not for the system Scott has. I was only able to find it for later model servers, workstations, and the Optiplex and Latitude lines of desktop and notebook computers.

I realize this isn’t ideal for consumers with Inspirons and would imagine that as more consumers begin to seriously factor that sort of thing into their purchase, it will become available. I haven’t been a part of this site so I don’t speak from experience on this, but I would guess that the reason only the newer models of business machines were featured is that it is only a consideration for companies going forward and other factors will still dictate when the current systems are to be phased out either way. I can inquire about a specific system if you’d like but I think the general rule of thumb with the newer, dual-core machines is to enable the power saving features, kill unnecessary visuals, and not leave it on unnecessarily. If there’s any info you’d like me to find, I’d be glad to try and help track it down.

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NEWS: Green Supply Chain Trends

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on August 13, 2007

via Greenbiz:

According to an August 2007 study by EyeForProcurement, “greening” of supply chains is a growing phenomenon around the world. It got us at SSC wondering, is the SME world following suit?

The survey asked 188 procurement professionals — primarily in the United States, Europe and Asia — about their companies’ practices, policies and plans for reducing the environmental impact of the materials used in their work.

— half of companies have policies on greening their supply chain

— companies are nearly unanimous in their belief that green supply chains will only continue growing

— two-thirds of the professionals in the survey said that they are practicing green procurement to support their companies’ environmental or sustainability strategies

— half also said they’re responding to customers’ interest in greener products and services

But are these beliefs actually affecting procurement practices? Although companies are increasingly aware of the benefits and importance of green procurement, most of them are only acquiring a small portion of their materials in that way. Only 13 percent of respondents are sourcing half or more of their products and services sustainably, while 55 percent said they source less than 10 percent of green goods.

At SSC, we think that supply chain issues are a great place to start a sustainability strategy–and we offer a variety of related services. Unlike expensive auditing firms or niche advocacy groups, our supply chain management services allow clients to focus on the social and environmental issues important to them. More importantly, we provide guidance through each step of supply chain management–from supplier auditing to creating a “green” procurement policy–so that even organizations new to corporate social responsibility can feel confident that they are implementing best practices from start to finish.

Contact us today for a free consultation!

Posted in environmental, news, supply chain | Leave a Comment »

NEWS: Women and the Environment

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on August 1, 2007

We’re always intrigued by the interplay between social issues and environmental sustainability, and so we were especially interested in recent posts from Grist.org and Trendwatching.com about women, purchasing power, and the environment.

Consider these facts:

¨ Consulting firm A.T. Kearney estimates that women determine 80 percent of consumption, purchase 60 percent of all cars, and own 40 percent of all stocks.

¨ Women are up to 15 percent more likely than men to rate the environment a high priority.

¨ Women comprise up to two-thirds of voters who cast their ballots around environmental issues.

¨ Women are more likely than men to volunteer for and give money to environmental causes, especially related to public health.

¨ Women report both more support for environmental activists and more concern that government isn’t doing enough.

¨ Women support increased government spending for the environment, while men favor spending cuts.

According to Grist (which sites all of the following survey data), polls also show that about 68 percent of American consumers have gone green, preferring health-conscious and environmentally responsible products. “Since 90 percent of women identify themselves as the primary shoppers for their households, and women sign 80 percent of all personal checks, it’s safe to say that women are leading a quiet revolution in green consumerism.”

What does this mean for you? If you employ women or sell to women (and we know you do!), then looking at ways to be more environmentally responsible can pay dividends—not just in reduced energy costs and less waste, but also in terms of improved customer loyalty, a strong reputation, and happier employees.

Posted in business case, diversity, environmental, news, social responsibility, trends | Leave a Comment »

RESOURCES: How Green Is Your Meeting?

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on March 8, 2007

Now, your company can measure its environmental impact, thanks to a new service called the MeetGreen Calculator. This web-based service allows anyone to measure their meeting practices against green best practices. MeetGreen Calculator will give the user help in meeting these green standards. Examples include having attendees walk or use mass transit, buying food locally and donate left-overs to local food banks, using reusable cups and large-capacity water jugs rather than individual water bottles, and the like.

The results can lead to cost reduction, waste reduction, helping local communities, and the environment. The MeetGreen Calculator was recently used at the World Urban Forum. Ginny Stratton of Globe Foundation of Canada stated, “We are ecstatic to know that the host of practices we employed resulted in the highest possible MeetGreen rating and hope that the results of our efforts will create a legacy for future organizers of the World Urban Forum.” Some major companies that have employed the MeetGreen Calculator are the Sierra Club, US Green Building Council, Globe Foundation of Canada and the Business for Social Responsibility.

Posted in environmental, resources, workplace | Leave a Comment »

NEWS: Lack of Incentives Prevent Employees Going Green at Work

Posted by Jennifer Woofter on February 23, 2007

It appears that UK employees are looking to their employers to lead the social responsible movement by example. This comes in major contrast to individual efforts at home to ease the environmental footprint. At home, 91% of the UK public turn off lights not in use, and 54% use only enough water for what they need, whereas only 10% of employees employ such practices. This could be the result of the 43% who believe that their employers talk the socially responsible talk, but don’t walk it. An astonishing 49% of employees believe that their employers waste too much electricity, and 37% of employees said they would like more job-training on being environmentally friendly.

Chris Gabriel, head of Solutions Marketing, Logistics UK, believes, “This research shows that 2007 must be the year for turning well-meaning talk into action.” UK Logistics, along with a government environmental charity Global Action Plan, recommends some key steps in getting companies to get their employees to follow suit:

  • Incentives – companies need to offer employees incentives to bring environmental actions into the workplace. These include, but are not limited to, a better work-life balance, and energy saving profit sharing. Governments should also offer tax incentives to companies working to become green. This will help jump start compliance.
  • Leadership – employers must show commitment to environmental responsibility before employees will themselves commit. Employees are less likely to follow through if they know their employers don’t care.
  • Innovation – Besides traditional approaches to environmental responsibility, like recycling, employers should invest in better building design, or automatic heating and cooling systems.
  • Technology – employing strategies like eco-friendly kettles which use less energy to heat up, or video conferencing, which reduces employee travel, can help employers cut costs and save the environment.
  • Education – teaching employees about environmental responsibility, as well as encouraging eco-friendly attitudes and practices at work. This includes small steps like putting computers in “stand-by” or “hibernating” modes to big steps like employee seminars.

By following these ideas, companies can better themselves and their employees. Read more here.

Posted in employees, environmental, news, workplace | Leave a Comment »