Green Blueprint: Understanding Integrated Reporting

Integrated Reporting is putting all your cards on the table.

Integrated reporting is the practice of including all the important financial and non-financial factors, such as environmental impact and community actions,  in one report.

It provides a fuller, clearer accounting picture of a company’s overall performance and future plans for success.

Harvard professor Robert G. Eccles has written extensively on the science and practice of integrated reporting.

Read his Summer 2011 Stanford Social Innovation Review article (co-authored by Daniela Saltzman) for a comprehensive introduction to the topic.

Achieving Sustainability Through Integrated Reporting

Green Business: Conference Board 2012 Sustainability Practices Report

Numbers matter.

A new 2012 report from The Conference Board, Bloomberg and GRI, puts those numbers on the table.

Sustainability Practices: 2012 Edition

Sustainability is about improving how we work and live–profitably and responsibly–so that future generations can thrive.

Who is measuring their Corporate Social Responsibility efforts?

Where are they?

How are they measuring their actions and impacts against their business goals?

Thanks to Sustainable Business Forum contributor Elaine Cohen for her review of the report and for sharing key findings.


Sustainability: What the Numbers Tell You

[Report author] Thomas Singer rounds off with this perspective: “To a large extent, sustainability is about long-term risk management.

It’s about making sure that, if you are a company that is dependent on finite resources, you make sure that those resources are available, that they are clean and that you have access to them in the long haul.

That’s as good a description of why Sustainability actions matter as I’ve ever heard.

The rest of that quote is is right on point as well for connecting Sustainability to long-term business success.

However there is a very important second part to sustainability which is ensuring innovation and new products, new markets.

It is those companies that actually go beyond seeing sustainability as a risk strategy and more of an innovation strategy, those are the companies that really become sustainability leaders in the long term.”

Read The Conference Board’s July 25 press release.

Green Politics: Post-Rio Possibilities

Back to work.

While the UN’s conference on Sustainable Development failed to meet hoped-for progress on climate change, renewable energy, global economic disparities and human rights, the conference was not wholly without bright spots.

This Sustainable Business Forum post outlines some of  the positive outcomes, including progress on Sustainability reporting, high-visibility corporate commitments, and momentum towards sustainable business development goals.

And a few more from Environmental Leader: the Maldives will convert the whole country to a marine preserve and the UK announced mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reporting.

One thing’s for certain. There’s going to be a need for highly trained professionals to get these things done.


The Transition to a Sustainable Economy May Happen Without the U.S. Federal Government

Here at Columbia University’s Earth Institute we have over 100 people with doctorates studying every aspect of the climate problem. Wally Broecker, Mark Cane, Jim Hansen and scores of their colleagues have been working on these issues for decades. While the factual reality of their research seems to elude Mitt Romney and his politico pals these days, facts remain facts. It would be helpful if American national public policy and our elected officials could play a leadership role in moving the planet to a more sustainable path, but it has become clear that we will need to look elsewhere to address these issues.

The transition to a renewable, sustainable economy is underway; maybe not in Washington, but pretty much everywhere else.

Green Government: Wrapping Up Rio+20

Rio+20 ended today.

Read The Guardian’s coverage on how and why the conference was such a disappointment to so many.

The final The Future We Want outcomes document shows few solid, significant commitments.

And that despite months of review and negotiations at pre-conference events.

For months, the outcomes document negotiations were plagued by parenthetical “nopes” and “can’ts”  and “won’ts.”

So it really wasn’t that much of a surprise.

(To see how partisan and political interests worked in action, read this Treehugger post on how women’s reproductive rights were essentially scrubbed from the document.)

An on-the-ground wrap-up:


Rio+20 Ending: Saying Goodbye to All That

Thinking about going to Riocentro, I checked my e-mail when a Wi-fi signal miraculously appeared and saw a press conference call: “‘Inclusive’ Green Economy Given a Go Ahead by Heads of State at Rio+20,” “New Indicator of Wealth Beyond GDP.” Those were good headlines. But then the words: “if embraced over the coming months and years,” “nations agreed that such a transition could be ‘an important tool’ when supported by policies,” “nations wishing to forge ahead.” The inverted commas on Inclusive and An important tool are not mine.

It stopped being funny to criticize this. To think about the amount of money spent in business class flights and five star hotel rooms and silver lining at dinners and venues rental and flyers to make this happen is simply depressing, and is a waste that exactly contradicts everything this conference should stand for.

And another wrap-up post, with some excellent links to other summations. Well worth clicking through beyond the amusingly sarcastic first paragraph:.


Rio+20: The Future We Want

Rio+20 is done and dusted. And the wrap-up? If the future we want is anything like the 49 page document of the same name compiled by Summit leaders, it’s full of fluffy bunnies, rainbows and birthday parties. In other words, a whole lot of ephemeral motherhood statements and not much substance.

Tchau, Rio.

Green Business: Empire State Bldg. Gets Green Makeover

Let’s just start calling NYC the Green Apple.

Move over all you shiny new LEED-certified buildings.

There’s a new retrofit in town proving that some things just get better with age.

Like an 81-year old Art Deco landmark.

Sixty-five hundred new windows later (all built on site, how’s that for a short supply chain?), and a whole lot of other upgrades, the Empire State Building is now a case study for successful green retrofitting.


Empire State Building Saves $2.4 Million in Energy Costs After Retrofit

One year after the large-scale retrofitting project was completed, the Empire State Building has surpassed expectations and saved $2.4 million in energy costs. The building saved an estimated 4,000 metric tons of carbon, the equivalent carbon offset of a 750-acre pine forest.

The series of efficiency measures were accomplished through a partnership of the Clinton Climate Initiative, the building owners and a group of organizations including the Rocky Mountain Institute.

See that? Another multi-player partnership.

And what’s more, this project demonstrates ongoing potential for urban green retrofit projects.

According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, buildings are responsible for 40 percent of energy consumed in the U.S. In large cities like New York, commercial buildings make up 75 percent of energy used, meaning retrofit projects can have an even bigger impact. If every commercial building in New York City took on the upgrades that the Empire State Building has, carbon emissions would be reduced by 4 million tons – the equivalent of a typical coal-fired power plant.

Big fish make big waves. When large-scale properties like skyscrapers get greener, they reap huge cost, energy and carbon emission savings that benefit all of us.



Green Business: Sustainable Business Group Meets with the White House & the Hill

The tide is turning towards Sustainable Business.

Next week, the world’s government, industry and citizen groups will convene in Rio de Janeiro to discuss Sustainable Development.

This week, the Sustainable Business community held a first-of-its-kind full-day Washington summit.

The Alliance of Sustainable Business Council,a group of business owners with a commitment to Sustainable Business practices, also met with White House and Congressional officials.

The group supports business-friendly legislation and policies that are also kind to the earth and protect future generations.


ASBC Issues Call to Action at Historic White House Meeting

The largest U.S. business organization focused on sustainability has sent a letter to the White House and Congress, calling for a growing economy compatible with shared prosperity and environmental stewardship. The message was also conveyed to Administration officials at a first-of-its-kind, day-long summit at the White House on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, and will be shared in meetings with Senators and their staff on Wednesday, June 13, 2012.

Since all politics is local, it’s important to get connected and active in our own business community.

Check out the Member names down the left column of the  White House letter. It’s a long list of Sustainable Business groups nationwide.

Green Business: Turning Climate Change Into Cash

Entrepreneurs see opportunity where others see problems.

Here’s a fascinating multi-part review of a new book called Cold Cash, Cool Climate: Science-based Advice for Ecological Entrepreneurs.

The book offers inspiration and science-backed steps for making the world a better place while making money.


Cold Cash, Cool Climate: Science-based Advice for Ecological Entrepreneurs

For those who profess to acknowledge climate science but are nevertheless bearish on renewables because they claim wind and solar can’t replace fossil fuels in time to avert catastrophic climate change, Koomey offers informed optimism – and lays out a path for transition within the short and medium term.


Green Blueprint: Link Exec Pay to Sustainability

Tie compensation to performance.

Recompense to reward.



Intel, Xcel Energy, Alcoa Among US Companies Linking Exec Pay to Sustainability
Intel, Xcel Energy, Alcoa, ING, National Grid, Shell, and Suncor Energy are among the US companies tying executive compensation to sustainability performance, according to a report from The Conference Board.

The report, “Linking Executive Compensation to Sustainability Performance,” says shareholders are placing more value on corporate sustainability initiatives, and are becoming increasingly interested in linking such performance to executives’ compensation.

Green Business: Proving the Business Case to Wall St.

Follow the money.

Connect the dots.

Companies that think about how to be better today and are gearing up to be  ready for tomorrow are…more profitable.

That’s just good business.

This article presents evidence that Wall St. analysts are coming on board to Sustainability as a profitable business mindset.


Is Wall Street Beginning to ‘Get’ Sustainability?

Fortunately, however, evidence is emerging, not only that firms with highly visible and authentic CSR/sustainability programs actually perform better in financial terms than others (see Green Winners), but that analysts and bankers are slowly recognizing that these firms are deriving clear competitive advantage and tangible financial benefit from pursuing sustainability-based strategies.

… A rigorous academic study conducted by faculty members at the Harvard and London Business Schools. The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Investment Recommendations suggests that analysts have gone from believing a few years ago that a focus on CSR and sustainability was a net negative influence on financial performance to believing now that the reverse is true, and are factoring it into their investment recommendations accordingly.


Green Business: Talking to the CFO

What’s In It for Me?

That’s generally what people want to know. Building relationships is all about agreeing on common goals and mutual benefit.

Like, say, with a company’s CFO.

BSR offers a short and sweet summary of how Sustainable Business practices directly map to six key business drivers.

  1. Business Model
  2. Markets
  3. Teams
  4. Resources
  5. Risk
  6. Revenue and Profit


CFO and the CSO: Six Areas for a Lasting Friendship

“Beyond the dense words and pretty pictures, every business plan or annual report addresses a set of core issues that each company must face. The more CSR programs support these issues, the more concrete support they’ll likely receive from the CFO.”

Sustainability is not the driver: good business is.