shallow and deeper sustainability – thinking in time frames

Something is sustainable, and you talk about it. You do not a thing about it, what is your problem? We believe the issue is the sustainable risk reward structure is viewed as competition against short-term profits and makes it a target of disquiet with investors not concerned with long-term benefits. This in turn can be used to promote discomfort with our personal circumstances and immediate security. We are saying ‘the bad for the economy tool’ is used to confuse and give the impression it is not worth the effort.

If we start with the definition – CO2Land org is a great believer in defining adequately before you say your piece. If you don’t you are a target for ‘weasel’ word artists that can then exercise ‘plausible denial’ when you rely on their support. By this we say they will rely on the term plausible deniability as a legal concept. They may even say there are a lack of evidence proving they did not say exactly the level of support they would provide and it is not true and a allegation of support. Standards might even be quoted and reference will be made of the need of proof and how that may vary in civil and criminal cases – for example. www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=plausible .

What is sustainable? It is actually dependent on the eye of the beholder. It can be many different things to many different people. To some it is measurable as a financial cost – an economic cost. To others it is the environmental cost and a moral issue of securing the future. How often have you heard it may be immoral, but it is not illegal as a justification for a short-term gain? It is even more complicated if you introduce policy to the argument. At a macro level it is about security, at a micro level the economics of being in business. Nevertheless it is all about efficiency, and that is the problem – the measure of performance!

So what will be done about it, and what will make social and environmental matters more important than just references to being significant to actually doing something about it? Co2LAND Org found the Economist recently published a story that would explain what is needed:

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21614152-few-pioneering-businesses-are-developing-sustainability-policies-worthy-name-new?utm_content=bufferbb375&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer

A new green wave – BILL MCKIBBEN, an American environmentalist, once dismissed sustainability as “a buzzless buzzword”. That seems about right. A survey of 2,000 companies by the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group found that two-thirds of businesspeople thought social and environmental matters were “significant” or “very significant” but that only 10% thought they themselves were doing enough about it.

That sense of disappointment should be no surprise. Sustainability can refer to anything from building wind farms to combating social inequality. The idea crops up everywhere from Starbucks to the deliberations of the United Nations (whose governments are in the middle of working out a set of so-called Sustainable Development Goals for 2015-30). An ill-defined, controversial notion is no basis for coherent policy.

Many corporate “sustainability plans” are therefore modest. They focus on saving energy, cutting waste and streamlining logistics. Nothing wrong with that: these things reduce operating costs while benefiting the environment. They help explain why sustainability efforts tend to increase profits, not reduce them. A study by Robert Eccles and George Serafeim of the Harvard Business School (HBS) found that, between 1992 and 2010, companies which adopted what they call high-sustainability policies were more profitable and improved their stockmarket valuation more than those which did not (though this may just have been because high-sustainability firms happened to be better managed).

However, there are drawbacks to such plans. For one thing, they are misnamed: these are efficiency policies, not sustainability ones. Companies ought to want to save energy or cut waste anyway, regardless of the impact on the environment. And it turns out that many of the schemes do not in fact do that much for the environment or social equity. The majority of greenhouse-gas emissions associated with consumer goods, for example, are produced either in the supply chain or by shoppers. So there is only limited scope for such products’ makers to lessen their environmental footprints through green measures of their own.

As a result, most corporate sustainability plans rarely amount to more than cost-saving measures and compliance with government regulations, plus a few projects with a public-relations punch (say, reforesting parts of a cleared jungle). They fall well short of putting sustainability at the heart of what firms do.

For some companies, though, that is changing. Take SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer. The firm has been a pioneer in the field. But until recently its sustainability efforts consisted of a laundry list of targets (there used to be ten) aimed at reducing carbon emissions or water usage in its brewing operations. This summer it unveiled new, broader targets—only five this time—which apply to suppliers, sellers and customers, as well as to SABMiller itself. It is promising to teach basic business skills to 500,000 small enterprises, mostly shops which sell its beer. It is helping farmers use water more efficiently: in Rajasthan, in northern India, it is working with wheat farmers who have been depleting their aquifer to reduce water use by a quarter, to ensure it still has water to brew beer. And it is sponsoring anti-drunkenness and road-safety campaigns aimed at its own customers.

Jane Nelson, director of the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, says SABMiller’s efforts are characteristic of a new wave of sustainability plans. These set targets not only for the company but for the people it works with and sells to. The targets are not only about the environment but society at large. (In a spectacular example, Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods giant, says it aims to “help a billion people take steps to improve their health and well-being”.) They are supervised by the board, not left to specialists. Domtar, an American fibre company, created a sustainability committee but the vice-president for sustainability does not chair it; the chair rotates among other managers so as to involve the firm as a whole. In short, she argues, for some companies sustainability has become a core part of their strategy, not just a green way to cut costs.

Little green men

But why should firms make sustainability central to what they do? Environmentalists might reply that virtue is its own reward. But companies need more concrete returns—higher profits, say, or increased sales, or higher stockmarket valuations.

The first wave of sustainability policies provided those. The new wave may not: sustainability targets could raise costs, not cut them, making environmentally friendly consumer goods more expensive than the eco-hostile variety. Efforts to combat social inequality could boost wages. Training can be costly.

Paul Polman, the boss of Unilever, argues that good sustainability policies still improve the fundamentals of businesses in the long run. They change customers’ behaviour in beneficial ways—by, say, increasing demand for green products that the firm makes. They also please investors concerned about environmental threats. The trouble is that consumer behaviour is often slow to change and that, if green products are too expensive, the firm risks losing market share. Environmental investors are still a minority among shareholders, most of whom continue to be more concerned about quarterly earnings.

The first wave of sustainability rewarded itself. The new wave will not do that. It is more akin to investing now to have a licence to operate in future, when consumers, lobbyists and regulators will be ever more demanding about the way firms behave. That does not mean the new wave will not reward its adopters. But it will boost their long-term competitive position, rather than their short-term profits. Unlike the rewards of the superficial first wave, those of deeper sustainability could take years to sink in.

Economist.com/blogs/schumpeter

Co2Land org thinks the later point above is another way to think of sustainability – shallow and deeper sustainability when defining what it is to you. And, we say some ore thicker than others and it takes longer to sink in!

Advertisements

Policy – Position – Agenda – where does it sit?

The President of the Solar Council made the point: The political position of denying does not matter in the end. From that we can conclude that ultimately the posturing will change as the influences around them change and the policy models too will change.

If you have rang a Call Centre recently it is very likely you might have been confronted with ‘its policy of ‘. No longer do they say is ‘the position of ‘. Why is this?

Policy – the business dictionary like to say it is the declared objectives to achieve and preserve – the free dictionary likes to say a plan or course of action intended to influence and determine. Most others say something very similarly, so we can conclude the meaning is a rule or contract when used as a noun. We can say the synonyms can also include a Rule, Strategy, Plan, Procedure, and Dogma, Program. All of which is a Guiding Principle.

Our point. You have every right to question if it is an appropriate course of action. Why because it indicates the decision is primarily based on material interest.

Position – Think the right or appropriate space. Where your point of view could also be described a thesis or the laying down of a proposition.

It also can be characterised by the unsolicited offer to an existing customer with wording such as ‘you do not need to do a thing’. Then some time later you are penalised because you did not object. Do you want an energy use example?

Well think this: Step by step the instructions are tweaking you into being positioned. However, is this an acceptable principle? Maybe, so long as the policy is accountable.

Then there is the issue of what is the purpose of the policy. In the name of justice is often cited. It then must be broken down into for whom? If it is for the workplace, than it is vague. If it is for welfare, it is wide reaching. Here lies a problem, it can be vague and wide reaching and have no other purpose other than to be resisted and discarded. In effect the agenda you did not know about.

Back to the Call Centre: Do they have an agenda? We can assume they want you to accept what they do is the correct position. You will than accept that their view is correct, and they can say we have wide reaching evidence of the acceptance of our policy – you can conclude the agenda was for acceptance of the positioning.

Do you have a position on the renewable energy policy? Talking at – yes there was some disagreement, the Chairperson of the Australian Institute of Energy, on 5 June 2014, it was clear the definition of what was effective as the tools for success was not obvious. What we are saying is that ‘any action’ taken must be clearly a benefit over the established position. For instance: Solar is technologically superior as a generator. Energy Efficiency reduces the need to generate. They both affect the transport needs of the energy. They both can be local fixes in constrained areas of the network, and conversely they can affect negatively in areas of a distribution system that has not any capacity issue. It gets even more perverse when you consider the transmission network – moving from one distribution area to the next. The battle then becomes who can best serve in the supply demand balancing equation! Answer, it can be both. However, we are then talking about energy security. In this aspect the reference is to the balance between sustainability and reliability and cost efficient power. When we do we are speaking in terms of the national security.

For another discussion we might talk about energy conservation verses energy efficiency. Hint – the definitions must be addressed before you can proceed.

 

from Gonna Do and Talk About to – the Paradigm Shift needed

A discussion group, Sustainability Professionals, is having a long running discussion on the need for a paradigm shift in how we think and act. After CO2Land org posted, 22 April 2014, an Ecoprofit Management Newsletter item on World Meters – Population (pop increase 655,000 net in 3 days). It started a thought process that indicated we complain too much, and do not address the more important aspects – the real dangers of accepting the status quo. How do we go from gonna do and talk about to formulating the tools for shifting our mindsets?

We all know about the importance of educating our children, and use well worn terms like: they are our future and history shows us the way. But, what faces us now is unprecedented in human history, and if adults don’t act there may not be a future for humans. It is therefore foreseeable the paradigm shift needs to have an education component and have:

“INTERNAL TRAINING IN THE ADULT SECTORS on all issues explaining what sustainability is all about. This is sorely needed. We need to work education and training in these issues into the corporate and government structures. They are so risk management oriented. So let’s take a different approach. We need to address and train in the ROI across the board on what sustainability and bringing in why ecosystems working together is key. In the corporate and governments culture employees and all of management must take courses on line such as sexual harassment in the workplace, ADOBE training, how to deal with difficult co-workers, etc. WHAT IF we added:

Sustainability Planning
Sustainability Has a History
Planning Policies for Government and Business
Introduction to Action Initiatives
Waste Streams for Consideration
The Plan: Design and Implementation
Social Responsibility
Definition and Benefits
Guidelines for Transparency for Your Stakeholders
Basic Training of Renewable Energy
Leadership and Administration
Green Building / Systems/Materials
Green Building and Renovations Defined
Energy Efficient Systems
Driving Forces for Change
Risks and Benefits of Green Construction
Green Construction Risk Assessments
Green Certification and Standards
Green Certifications and Standards
Energy Ratings and Audits Defined
Certifications and Energy Standard Case Studies
Green Building Adding to the Bottom Line
Green Supply Chain Management
Leadership, Assessment, and Life Cycle Analysis
Environmental Costs and Benefits
Guiding Your Company’s Plan
Success Story
Waste Management
Waste Concepts are a Part of History
Tracking and Transporting Waste
Solid Waste Principles
What Can Be Recycled?
A Plan to Begin Managing Your Waste
Contractual Guidelines are a Must
Transportation / Green Fleet Management
Introduction to Green Fleet Concepts
Alternative Fuel Overview
Green Fleet Case Studies
Green Transportation Saves on the Bottom Line
Sustainable Purchasing Practices
Concepts in Green Purchasing
Involve Your Purchasing Department in Sustainability
Green Cleaning Practices
Becoming Familiar with Green Cleaning Concepts
Changing Your Cleaning Practices
Water Conservation
Efficient Use of Your Water Resources
Learn about Water Conservation From The Health Care Industry
Water Filtering Options and Storage
Preventing Stormwater Pollution
Environmental Accounting
General Environmental Management System Guidance
International Standards
Environmental Management System Implementation
Planning for Environmental Accountability
Tracking Carbon Emissions
Food Service
Waste and Recycling in Food Service
Greener Food Service Practices
Renewable Energy
Introduction Renewable Energy to Government and Business
Identifying Local Renewable Resources
Waste to Energy Saves Money!

So, wouldn’t this type of internal training help to effect change, catapult the forming of internal committees and cause departments to change business practices? I think it would. This is available now and courses include core competency testing, narration and are of high quality. Place these on corporate and government websites globally, and make them part of compliance internal training programs then the wider public can make better and more ‘informed’ business decisions. http://www.greeneducationonline.com “. Quoted is Kerry Mitchell from Green Education On Line/ Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.

Maybe she has nailed it, a big like from this end. Now how do you get our pollies interested?

SMART the Sustainable difference – Built environment.

Should we redefine ‘sustainability’ and can it still have substance in its objectives? The answer could be in redefining sustainability as ‘Smart buildings’. The redefine would be sustainability as a synonymic with smaller environmental footprints, and more importantly, tools to monitor and verify the impact of technology implementation in economic terms. In this way actions could translate actions into economic benefits. The cost benefit test that is linked to sustainability in this way would tick most boxes (output become outcomes – in the policy context) and these dollars makes the sustainability message all the way to the top line enterprise decision makers.

In a post published to IDC Energy Insights’ Smart Building Strategies Program.  It was said: “This new level of transparency and measurability will reshape the future of sustainability and generate radical efficiency.” More information about this program and report can be found here: http://www.idc-ei.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=EI238359#.UMe58uS7P3o

In a similar discussion at a meeting with Cogent in Sydney during December 2012, it was said:

We have the NABERS program (NABERS is an Australian national rating system that measures the environmental performance of Australian buildings, tenancies and homes. Put simply, NABERS measures the energy efficiency, water usage, waste management and indoor environment quality of a building or tenancy and its impact on the environment),

America has LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and is a voluntary, consensus-based, market­-driven program that provides third-party verification of green buildings), and

We both have a comprehensive Energy Star (The Energy Star program was developed by John S. Hoffman, inventor of the Green Programs at EPA, working closely with the IT industry, and implemented by Cathy Zoi and Brian Johnson.[5] The program was intended to be part of a series of voluntary programs, such as Green Lights and the Methane Programs, that would demonstrate the potential for profit in reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gases by power plants.[5] Initiated as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy efficient products).

While much of this discussion was on water and energy efficiency and the application of embedded generation the dilemma of future fuel sourcing which includes the policies that affect the price is that prices will rise and it will be as much the fault of intervention as the demand curve.  What was agreed was that the next generation of ‘smart’ requires changes in rules and applications to be value for owners and operators. It is also in context the means to mitigate litigious actions.

Then on 27 December 2012, we heard of the resignation of:

The Obama administration’s chief environmental watchdog, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, is stepping down after a nearly four-year tenure marked by high-profile brawls over global…
news.yahoo.com.

Prior to the 27 December 2012 announcement the IDC EI report said “media attention has fueled heated debate around the inferior energy performance of some certified LEED buildings.  While USGBC and its LEED certification program have been very successful in bringing efficiency and sustainability front and center in corporate consciousness, these programs do not prescribe actions to ensure ongoing efficiency.  The next step is determining what will best promote ongoing efficiency and superior building performance.

VERGE at Greenbuild, the two day launch of this year’s USGBC annual conference, tackled the continuous improvement challenge head on.  The big takeaway is that the adoption of new data-driven technology can deliver ongoing efficiency and sustainability with unprecedented success.  Data, however, is only as transformative as the tools that make it actionable. If data is to define the future of sustainability, then the future of information technology will define how facilities become radically efficient — true smart buildings.  IDC’s four pillars of the future of IT are the answer to call for radical efficiency.  Social business, big data analytics, cloud computing and mobility will be the IT enablers for the new future of sustainability”.

Co2Land org encapsulates in brief these findings:

1. Social business can accelerate the transformation of facilities into smart buildings.  Improving practices, tactics and strategies.  “These platforms are also venues to showcase the benefits of technology implementation and successes”.

2. Big data analytics. Integrate new generation technologies and system architectures as reliable valuable grid resources. Thereby, the design will extract value from very large volumes of a wide variety of data.  These tools focus on automated demand response programs.

3. Cloud computing will be an important enabler of scaling smart buildings through the cost effective and flexible delivery of essential analytics and data management tools.

4.  Mobility will ensure facilities managers adopt and use smart building solutions.

Co2Land org see the defining of sustainable this way carries the promise as ‘Smart buildings’ generate business value for owners, occupants, and utilities through next-generation IT architecture utilizing social business, cloud computing, big data analytics, and mobility.  Our other reference included SMART the two way difference!( Posted on November 25, 2012 by co2land  ).

We should also expect 2013 to be a year of great change and challenges with or without GFC II.