Follow up to key idea from the Environmental Defense Unconference: Corporate Collaboration on Sustainability

collaborationOn this blog, my summer colleague, Lenora Deslandes, discussed her observations on the Environmental Defense Unconference in Boston.  One of the main ideas she highlighted was the need for companies to share best practices in sustainability in order to advance our common good.

Therefore, I was excited to read in the New York Times this month about some recent collaborative efforts among large companies to share environmentally friendly innovations.  The article, titled “Everybody In the Pool Of Green Innovation,” spotlighted two major initiatives:

  1. Eco-Patent Commons: According to the article’s author, Mary Tripsas, the Eco-Patent Commons was founded in 2008 and is a place where “Companies pledge environmental patents to the commons, and anyone can use them – free.”
  2. GreenXchange: A joint initiative between the Creative Commons, Best Buy and Nike to be launched next year that will allow companies to contribute patents and be able to charge licensing fees for interested parties.

It remains to be seen how successful either of these initiatives will be (there are only 100 patents currently shared on the Eco-Patent Commons, and the GreenXchange has yet to go live), but these developments are encouraging.  As I have seen in my business and those of our clients, learning about the tactics and strategies other organizations are employing to operate in a sustainable way has the potential to add tremendous value and contribute to the level of dialogue and ideas exchanged both in individual firms as well as in our society as a whole.

Direct Mail Insight: Green Envelopes and the Big Picture

bigstockphoto_Mail_Box_With_Letters_2482928Last month, Target Marketing Magazine published an article on trends surrounding environmentally-friendly envelopes – I was on vacation at the time so I didn’t get a chance to pass it along then.  Here’s a link to the article.

As I’ve written on a number of occasions, “green” envelopes are an important part of an organization’s marketing and communications efforts (we have already sold more than a quarter billion envelopes made with 100% certified wind power over the past couple years).  In fact, they are often the first component of a direct mail piece that a recipient sees, and it is important to take that opportunity to send a values-laden message through the materials/inks/energy that are used to produce the piece.

Obviously, using green practices for direct mail should be just one of the many sustainable business practices that organizations employ – otherwise they could be accused of greenwashing.  However, given recent developments in technology, mailers can make their pieces more environmentally-friendly without adding much, if any, cost, which removes the most critical barrier to adoption.  Research has demonstrated that consumers want to buy products from companies that do business in an environmentally-responsible manner.  Marketing collateral is one way for organizations to demonstrate this commitment.

Here’s a link to the full article.

Tips for selecting the right eco-friendly papers

green_papers****Guest post from David Grossman (SVP, Grossman Marketing Group)****

When getting ready to print a piece of marketing collateral, there are many ways in which you can make it more environmentally friendly.  None is more important than your paper selection.

There are a number of criteria by which you can evaluate your paper options:

  1. What percentage of post-consumer recycled content is contained in the paper?
  2. Is the paper made with 100% certified wind power?
  3. Is the paper FSC-certified (The FSC logo stands for Forest Stewardship Council, a group that works to ensure that the materials used are sourced responsibly.  Each step in the chain (i.e. from forest to printer) must be traceable.  The intent of the FSC system is to eliminate habitat destruction, water pollution, displacement of indigenous peoples and violence against people and wildlife that often accompanies logging)
  4. Is the paper process and elemental chlorine free?

While all of these factors combine to determine the eco-friendliness of a paper, the single most important factor is the percentage of post-consumer content.  This indicates how much of the paper pulp comes from material that has been used by consumers, then reclaimed and reused, thereby eliminating the need for that portion of the paper to be made from virgin fiber.

Obviously the goal is 100% post-consumer waste (PCW).  This means that no trees were used to make this paper.  There are varying percentages of PCW contained in readily available commercial printing papers made by the major paper mills.  Some of my favorites, which incorporate all of the aforementioned criteria are (in order of preference):

UNCOATED PAPER (all of these papers are 100% PCW):

Monadnock Astrolite PC 100

  • This is arguably the most premium of all readily-available eco-friendly papers.  The downside is that it is generally the most expensive
  • It has gorgeous finish/printability
  • Despite being 100% PCW, it is a bright white stock

Mohawk Options PC 100

  • Very smooth finish
  • Bright white shade
  • Excellent Printability
  • The one complaint I have heard is the occasional appearance of black specks throughout the sheet.  This is a byproduct of the 100% PCW

Neenah Environment PC 100

  • It can be slightly less readily available than Astrolite or Options
  • Nice finish
  • Nice shade of white

Rolland Enviro 100

  • This paper is very affordable and performs admirably for a value sheet of paper
  • Less smooth and less bright than the previously mentioned sheets
  • Prevalent black specks
  • Good for clients who want a paper with a more obvious recycled look/feel

COATED PAPER

Sappi LOE (Lustro Offset Environmental)

  • Contains 30% PCW, which is the highest percentage available in readily-available commercial printing paper
  • Beautiful finish
  • Excellent printability

Chorus Art

  • This imported sheet of paper has 50% recycled content with 25% PCW
  • It is extremely cost-effective and performs at a level far beyond its price point
  • Good finish
  • Good printability

For comparison’s sake, a typical sheet of paper contains approximately 10% recycled content, which may or not be PCW.  Please note that I didn’t mention any papers made by New Leaf Paper, despite their high degree of PCW.  This is due to their unreliable availability, especially on the East Coast.

In this day and age, where environmental awareness has been significantly elevated, it is key to make decisions with sustainability in mind.  There is no choice that has more of an environmental impact on your printing than paper selection.

An inside look at the greening of Harvard Business School

HBS Green TeamI’m pleased to include a guest post from Katharine Randel, who is a staff member of the Marketing Unit at Harvard Business School, as well as a member of the school’s Green Team.  I met Kathy earlier this year when I gave a presentation on green marketing and green business issues to the HBS Green Team (HBS is a client of our firm), and I was struck by her passion for and knowledge about sustainability issues.

I invited her to write an article on the work that the HBS Green Team is doing to help reduce the carbon footprint of the school, and I’m excited to feature her report below.

****

By Katharine Randel

When I began working at Harvard Business School several years ago, there was no paper recycling program.  Dismayed at how much paper I was putting in the trash every day, I enthusiastically joined a group of MBA students spearheading an effort to bring paper recycling to campus as soon as I learned of their work.  A few months later, recycling bins began appearing around campus, and today all offices have them.  In the years following, several sustainability practices were added to the HBS campus (for example, solar panels were added to the roof of the gym); but as an administrative employee supporting faculty, I was not involved…until recently.

A few years ago, Meghan Duggan was hired as assistant director of mechanical, electrical, plumbing and sustainability projects.  One of Meghan’s initiatives was to start an HBS Green Team of employees across all departments whose mission it is to establish a sense of environmental awareness throughout the HBS community.  The goal of the Green Team is to effect a change in behavior among faculty and staff that leads to a reduction in water and energy consumption and waste generation.  In January, I became the Green Team representative for a building of 250 faculty and staff.

This winter the Green Team held an energy competition in which ten office buildings on campus competed to reduce their energy consumption from the same time period the year prior.  This year the overall campus reduction was 24,880 kWh for one month.  The estimated monthly campus savings was $3,732 with an approximate reduction of 10.45 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.   Ten-and-a-half metric tons is the equivalent of CO2 emissions from 1,186 gallons of gasoline consumed.   If HBS faculty and staff maintained their energy-saving behavior for the rest of the year, we could save $44,784 and reduce CO2 emissions by 125.40 metric tons.

But the numerical results are only part of the story.  Another goal of the competition was to raise awareness and educate faculty and staff about sustainable behaviors.  In my building the competition has been surprisingly successful.  Since the competition, more than 20 faculty and staff have offered suggestions for ways HBS could reduce its energy consumption.  I circulate suggested behavioral changes back to the building inhabitants and contact various departments to follow up on suggestions.  When people see me in the hall they now tell me the latest steps they’ve taken, confess their inaction, or tease me (one of my coworkers turned out the lights in the copy room — knowing I was in the room — to “conserve energy”).  I am thrilled; every conversation and email tells me faculty and staff are more aware and the efforts of the Green Team are making a difference.

To learn more about Harvard Business School and Harvard University’s efforts towards environmental sustainability please see the following websites:  HBS Business & Environment and Harvard Operations Services Sustainability.

—-
Katharine Randel is the Unit Coordinator for the Marketing Unit at Harvard Business School. In that role she collaborates with faculty to create strategies and programs that foster the unit’s cohesion and purpose.  She has been passionate about improving the health of our natural environment since reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in seventh grade. In addition to her HBS Green Team activities she has studied environmental management at Harvard Extension School and has been composting and growing organic fruit and vegetables for 19 years.

It all adds up…

****Guest post from David Grossman (Ben’s brother, and SVP, Grossman Marketing Group)****

While driving back to my office from a meeting, I saw the following sign posted on the back of a Staples delivery truck.   On the back of the truck, there is a small box that states, “Top speed set at 60.  It saves fuel & reduces emissions.”

We brake for the environment: the back of a Staples delivery truck.  Photo taken May 20, 2009 by David Grossman.

We brake for the environment: the back of a Staples delivery truck. Photo taken May 20, 2009 by David Grossman.

I want to commend Staples not only for putting measures in place that will help the environment, but for being transparent in communicating their efforts to the general public.  By doing so, they are both helping their business and raising awareness in general of the importance of being green.  So, thank you Staples!

Grossman Marketing wins green business award from Boston Business Journal

The Green Business Summit will be held on Friday, May 15, 2009.

The Green Business Summit will be held on Friday, May 15, 2009.

We at Grossman Marketing Group were honored and humbled this afternoon to learn that we are one of this year’s recipients of a Boston Business Journal green business award.  The award will be presented at this year’s Green Business Summit, scheduled for Friday, May 15, at 7 am at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

We were included in the “Innovation” category, and recognized for our work in the green marketing and sustainability space.  We are especially grateful to our client, Zipcar, for nominating us for the award.

Below please find the full list of winners:

Invention:

Workplace:

Innovation:

Design:

Here’s a link to learn more about the event program as well as to register.

Green Hotels: The Business Case for Sustainability

green-coverA chat with the authors of High Performance Hospitality: Sustainable Hotel Case Studies

I had the chance to catch up last month with Amisha Parekh and Michele Diener, two of the three authors of High Performance Hospitality: Sustainable Hotel Case Studies, a lodging industry textbook.  At a time when the Westin is launching its Element line and other hotel chains are playing up their “green” credentials, this book is the first in-depth analysis of the business case for sustainability within hotels.

Amisha and Michele, who also wrote the book with their friend and classmate Jaclyn Pitera, met while they were dual-degree students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and the University’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.  This book was the outgrowth of a joint master’s project.  Michele currently serves as the Director of Sustainability Strategies at MGM Mirage, Amisha is a strategy consultant for Deloitte, where she is part of the firm’s sustainability team, and Jaclyn is in her third year of the joint program.

The book focuses on eight hotel properties and features detailed analyses of their respective sustainability efforts.  What differentiates this text from other coverage of “green” business is its focus on the details.  As Michele said, “There was no comprehensive book taking a property from design, to construction to operation…from soup to nuts, how a hotel can be more sustainable.  Our intent was to get this information out there to the industry in a very simple way, with a lot of checklists, lessons learned, etc.”

She continued, “There is a matrix at the front of the book summarizing all of the green initiatives [the featured hotels] are doing.  We also categorized the programs based on complexity (how difficult to implement), guest transparency (would it make a positive or negative impact on guests), etc.”

Of course, the economy is top-of-mind for everyone these days, and during our conversation this was a main piece of the discussion.  Amisha and Michele explained that the book is “the business case for sustainability” in the lodging industry, with a focus on the financial benefits to the company to implementing certain steps.  As Michele explained, “At a time when [hotels are making cuts], management sees sustainability as a benefit, helping the organization to consume less water, less energy, and therefore, save money.”

Key takeaways
According to the authors, below are some of the key takeaways from the study.  Although they were derived from their hotel analysis, they are very relevant to all organizations interested in driving change around sustainability:

  • Employee education is key – Green is not something for just the green team to implement, but rather must be part of the company culture.  If it’s part of the culture, it is much easier to implement (and less likely to be cut)
  • Experimentation is important – Some of the products and programs and technologies that the authors studied are new to the industry.  What they found, Michele said, is that “if it’s new to your property, you need to experiment with it, in a few rooms, a floor, at your home –for example a manager installed a low-flow shower head at his home to see how it worked.  Through experimentation, an organization can identify the projects that work, and then execute them more effectively.”
  • One size does not fit all – Amisha said, “We looked at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco and the Comfort Inn and Suites in Revere, MA.  They both were very strong in educating people about sustainability.  However, the Ritz was behind the scenes, whereas the Comfort Inn was more ‘in your face about it’ to guests.”
  • Financial drivers to going green are there – either from less start-up costs or lower ongoing costs

The authors studied very different hotels, balancing their selection across a number of variables, including size (90-900 rooms), price (mid-rate, convention, luxury), location (urban/rural), diamond rating, guest type (transient, government, business, conventioneer).  In addition, they also considered whether the hotels, all of which are in North America, were existing vs. new buildings, as well as branded versus independent.  However, all were considered green in some respect.

The book did not address the consumer.  However, when asked how customers have responded to hotel sustainability, Michele said, “Anecdotally, the consumer is not willing to pay more for [the green] rooms.  But it has become more of the expectation.  When companies are contracting with hotels for meeting and conventions, those questionnaires now include questions on lighting, recycling, green attributes.  If you want that business, you need to make those efforts.  Corporate clients are increasingly green options.”

The authors also were very grateful for the support they received from the following organizations:

If you’re interested in reading a portion of the book, here’s a link to downloadable chapter, which includes the book’s foreword, executive summary, as well as a case study on the Comfort Inn & Suites in Boston, MA.

Financial Times: Why sustainability is still going strong

financialtimes_logoA friend of mine sent along the following link to a piece written by Duke professors Daniel Vermeer and Robert Clemen, about the importance of a refined sustainability strategy during this economic crisis.  Vermeer is the executive director of the Corporate Sustainability Initiative at the Duke Fuqua School of Business, and Clemen is professor and faculty director of the Corporate Sustainability Initiative.

The piece, published last Thursday in the Financial Times, is titled “Managing in a downturn: Why sustainability is still going strong” and is a must-read.  Vermeer and Clemen’s main point is that given the current difficult business climate, organizations will understandably make changes to their sustainability and corporate governance efforts.  However, they warn against doing the bare minimum, as those organizations that fail to show a “commitment will find themselves at risk when the economic conditions improve.”

They make some interesting points, introduce some interesting people like Marcus Roberts, especially in the conclusion, and I wanted to make sure all of you saw it.  Here’s the link to the full story.

Highlights from Boston Business Journal Green Business Summit


On Friday, May 16, the Boston Business Journal hosted its first-ever Green Business Summit.

I attended the morning event, and was impressed with the program, which included a keynote speech by Cape Wind CEO Jim Gordon. Here’s a link to an article on his talk:
http://boston.bizjournals.com/boston/stories/2008/05/12/daily46.html?surround=lfn

CEO of Suffolk Construction John Fish’s comments were particularly interesting and penetrating. He cited a number of steps that his firm had taken that I believe represent an excellent roadmap or model for all companies in terms of how to inculcate a commitment to green solutions and sustainability within their organization.

They included the following:

  1. Change the culture – it is important to help people think and act green. Fish said steps to make this possible can be as small as putting a blue recycling bin next to a black trash can at each employee’s desk, reminding them of environmental choices every day.
  2. Training – At Suffolk, this includes a 3-day course on green construction for employees
  3. Be a catalyst for change by bringing all parties together – In Suffolk’s case, this means architects, owners and subcontractors. In our business, it is designers, marketing professionals and senior management.
  4. AffordabilityPeople need to overcome the perception that going green is more expensive. In the construction industry, a green building that is more energy-efficient can save money in the long run.
  5. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – You need to create standards and specifics metrics by which to measure success.
  6. Create standards and specific measurements to reduce waste

For more coverage on the summit, please see the following article:

http://green.bizjournals.com/index.php/2008/05/16/panelists-discuss-keys-to-sustaining-sustainability/

Green approaches help Boston-based hotelier


Over the weekend, I had the chance to read an interesting profile on Tedd Saunders, a principal of his family’s Saunders Hotel Group and a leading proponent of “green” business practices in the lodging industry. The article, published in Connecticut College’s quarterly magazine CC: Connecticut College Magazine, discussed Saunders’ (Class of 1983 from Connecticut) long-time commitment to the environment, and was titled “On The Green List: Hotelier Tedd Saunders ’83 is helping the world’s largest industry set environmentally friendly standards.”

Saunders, in addition to his ownership stake in his family’s business, also founded Ecological Solutions Inc. in 1992, an environmental consulting firm focused on the lodging industry. A web link to the article from CC Magazine was not available. However, to read more about Tedd, please see the following link from the Green Lodging News: http://www.greenlodgingnews.com/content.aspx?id=1663

According to Green Lodging News, an industry publication on “green” issues, at the Saunders Hotel Group’s 212-room Lenox Hotel in Boston, environmental retrofits and other thoughtful business practices have produced impressive annual savings: 1.7 million gallons of water, 110,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, 37 tons of trash from the waste stream, 175 trees through paper recycling. For these and other efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, the Environmental Protection Agency recognized the Lenox with its Energy Star rating in February 2008. Please see an article in the Boston Globe for more information:
http://www.boston.com/realestate/news/articles/2008/02/12/how_green_is_my_building/

For more information on the Lenox Hotel’s green efforts, please see the following page: http://www.lenoxhotel.com/environment.html

The main takeaway from reading about the pioneering work that Saunders and his family are doing is that green business practices can not only result in cost savings (water, energy, etc.) but they can also strengthen a company’s relationships with their existing customers and attract new business from eco-minded travelers. In fact, in 2006 the Lenox was included in Condé Nast Traveler Magazine’s Green List. What’s more impressive about this is that the Lenox was the only urban hotel in the world to be honored. (Here’s a link: http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/10419)