• The implications of California’s new mandatory recycling law, when it goes into effect, and what it means for your business
• How to be in compliance and benefit from the savings opportunities of increased diversion
• The 7 steps of a successful waste reduction program
• Tips from a case study showing how a leading Bay Area company turned waste reduction into reduced waste bills
Our panelists included:
• Tracey Harper, Integrated Waste Management Specialist and Contributor to AB32 Mandatory Commercial Recycling Measure, CalRecycle
• Tauni Swenson, Waste Diversion Program Manager, iReuse
• Tim Schmidt, (former) Facilities Coordinator, Autodesk
Green is the New Black The post-recessionary case for sustainable business.
By Janine Kubert
“…[T]he goal of sustainability is to increase long-term shareholder and social value, while decreasing industry’s use of materials and reducing negative impacts on the environment.”
I was in a meeting with a property management client recently, giving the lead engineer a report on the environmental and financial cost savings we had helped them achieve at each of their facilities. We were reviewing a report with charts showing energy and water usage and costs, waste diversion rates, and greenhouse gases produced and avoided. Here he stopped me. “Greenhouse gases aren’t as important these days,” he said. “Given what happened at Copenhagen and the questions around the science, a lot of people I know think that tracking greenhouse gases is no longer the main point. Maybe you can push those charts to the bottom.”
For someone who has been an advocate of helping businesses reduce their environmental impact, I felt that I had just lost a key leverage point. For years there was an increasing tendency among the sustainability crowd to use the threat of impending climate change legislation as a primary incentive for businesses to take action on environmental initiatives. Had the primary incentives for corporate environmental stewardship shifted in just the past year?
The answer is a resounding “yes”. Although some companies that position themselves as environmental leaders still see sustainability as an opportunity to innovate and differentiate, more companies are issuing sustainability reports and making green claims but not using environmental stewardship as the main filter of which initiatives to pursue. On the tail-end of a recession, now more than ever, the main driver for them when implementing green initiatives is one of cost savings.
Fortunately, sustainability and cost savings often go hand-in-hand. Recent surveys on green building and corporate spending both confirm that for most CEOs and facility managers alike, saving money on energy and other operating expenses is the number one reason why they pursue any so-called “green” initiative.
So, although the triple bottom line is still important, many businesses care more about the reduced financial impacts of any project. They see reduced environmental and social impacts as added benefits.
This has shifted the case for sustainable business. Yes — companies are more motivated to take on projects that help them reduce waste, become more efficient, and save money, rather than those that are just touted as “green”. But whether you call it operational efficiency or saving the planet, sustainability can produce bottom line savings and help companies get out of the red and into the black. In fact, this should be the new slogan for the sustainability community if we hope to get businesses to take action: green is the new black.
Sustainability reports should also be reframed as a metrics-driven transparency tool that can help businesses turn green into the new black. By tracking and reporting sustainability metrics, companies increase their cost savings and add credibility to their claims of reduced environmental and social impacts.
Many sustainability reports published today suggest that companies either don’t track or don’t reveal enough in the way of metrics. In a KPMG survey about sustainability reports, readers said corporate sustainability reporters are most likely to omit failures, leading to questions about the credibility of these sustainability reports. Readers generally have a low opinion of internal company and national reporting guidelines. Readers also want to see companies provide direct and useful information about what their sustainability impacts are and what they are doing about these impacts in concrete terms. They suggest that reporters need to provide evidence of how their key sustainability impacts are addressed in operations.
But what about the growing field of carbon accounting? Although many sustainability reports include some sort of carbon footprint, those don’t usually include metrics on water, waste, or procurement because those categories are not required under many reporting schemes. Instead, the data provided by carbon accounting ledgers often only covers onsite fuel, corporate fleets, business travel, energy purchased from utilities, and employee commutes.
Whether or not a company chooses to publish a sustainability report, everyone needs to track all of these metrics to ensure cost savings and reduced environmental impact. Without comprehensive internal reporting on metrics, companies do not have a clear picture of how they are performing over time. They lack the information they need to evaluate and improve their practices. Metrics-driven sustainability is smart business. And, if a company chooses to publicize their sustainability efforts, their metrics will help to increase transparency for stakeholders and dispel any suspicions of green-washing.
All of this leads to enhanced brand equity, increased customer loyalty and revenues, and operational cost savings, proving again that green is the new black.
iReuse is a sustainability consulting and software company founded in 2005 that serves organizations interested in reducing their operational costs and environmental impact. iReuse software and services provide organizations with a clear sustainability roadmap to achieve measured results.
iReuse Sustainability Consulting helps organizations implement programs such as waste diversion, energy efficiency, water conservation, green procurement, greenhouse gas measurement and reporting, green business certification, LEED certification, and more. Many top organizations like Kaiser Permanente, Delta Dental, Adobe, Wells Fargo, Autodesk, and PG&E have benefited from iReuse’s expertise in program development and implementation.
The iReuse Tracking and Reporting Toolis an easy to use web based application that provides organizations with the transparency they need to cut waste out of their operations. By helping organizations reduce and track their energy, water, and materials usage and increasing their waste diversion rate, the Tool delivers an immediate positive environmental and financial impact. The Tool also provides attractive reports on their progress so organizations can communicate their improvements to executives, employees, and the public.
For more information about iReuse, please contact Janine Kubert at Janine@ireuse.com or call 415-332-9977 x245.
Join us on June 22nd to learn about the implications of California’s AB32 Mandatory Commercial Recycling Measure, including when it goes into effect and what it means for your business. Learn about compliance issues, savings opportunities from increased diversion, and the 7 steps of a successful waste reduction program.
Join us for an educational and eye-opening evening hosted by Green Property Solutions, iReuse and Environmental Building Strategies. These Commercial Sustainability Consultants, who focus on maximizing efficiencies in Energy, Water and Waste, are currently “Navigating the Road to Sustainability” and plan to share how they’re doing it.
You will have an opportunity to see firsthand, the processes and tools they use to bring the concepts of ‘transparency and immediacy’ to their consulting assignments. You will learn about innovative and proprietary software tools designed to measure a client’s savings and over-all success. You will hear from ENERGY STAR and LEED experts who will demonstrate how to recognize the relationship between a building occupant’s behaviors, sustainable improvements and enhanced building value by measuring Net Present Value (NPV) and rates of return (IRR) for clients. And finally, you will see how all of these measures contribute to a comprehensive sustainability program benefiting building owners, managers, tenants and any corporation interested in operating a more sustainable business while enhancing their corporate social responsibility (CSR) brand.
Where: Environmental Building Strategies, 1014 Howard Street, San Francisco
Cost: $10 members, $15 non-members; $5 more at the door
Learn how to strategically implement cost-effective initiatives in your building or facility in order to generate sustainable profits for your business. Our expert panel will explore the current economic, environmental, social and legal drivers for implementing such strategies, share real-world case studies and promote best practices. You are invited to come hear from the experts, get inspired by their stories and get motivated to initiate sustainable solutions in your business.
Julia Wilhelm, Studley
Ken Kurtzig, iReuse
Carlos Santamaria, Glenborough Properties
Yolanda Manzone, Hanson Bridgett
Thursday, May 6, 2010
5:30pm – 8:00pm
425 Market Street, 26th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
A fundamental part of iReuse’s commitment to the environment includes our role as an Endorser of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) innovative WasteWise program, the country’s first national voluntary solid waste reduction program.
As a WasteWise Endorser, iReuse encourages organizations to reduce municipal solid waste through waste prevention, recycling, and buying or manufacturing recycled products. iReuse has helped companies save hundreds of thousands of dollars in purchasing costs and waste disposal fees by reducing, reusing, and recycling solid waste materials.
The WasteWise program has a broad and varied membership that reflects the makeup of corporate America. More than 1,100 organizations have joined WasteWise since 1994, demonstrating their leadership in finding cost-effective ways to reduce waste. Partners include many of the country’s leading manufacturers, retailers, and service firms, spanning more than 50 different industry sectors. The program also services federal, state and local governments, tribes, and other non-corporate institutions.
Becoming a WasteWise Endorser is another example of name of iReuse’s continued commitment to helping businesses reduce their financial costs and environmental impact. Read more about our Waste Diversion Consulting Service or our Tracking and Reporting Tool to learn how we can help your company get started!
Organizations will find it easier to track their environmental performance with new and upgraded software tools from iReuse, Enviance and FirstCarbon. These Internet-based enterprise software solutions for tracking environmental data including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy consumption and water use are easier to use and more customizable.
I cannot deny it, solar is sexy. Everyone is talking about it. There are government incentives and rebates to help defray some of the cost, customers and employees are asking about it, and there is no arguing with the fact that we need an alternative to coal, nuclear, and fossil fuels. But slapping solar panels on top of a building to “save the planet” is not the answer. Maximizing a business’s energy efficiency and achieving true transparency is much sexier.
Alternative energy is great, but unless a commercial property has maximized the efficiency of the building, using alternative energy from solar panels is just masking the inherent inefficiency of the energy usage.
Let’s look at a slightly exaggerated example to prove a point. There is a 250,000 square foot office building which is 60 years old with 20-year-old lighting, 20-year-old heating and cooling systems, and a huge data center stacked to the roof with servers because the IT team believes that “he who dies with the most toys wins.” For some, this is unfortunately not much of a stretch. Now say that all the lights, heating/cooling, and all the IT equipment in the entire building are left on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including Passover and Christmas.
At this point, you have two choices. You can either encourage the employees in the building to turn everything off on weekends and holidays, which will reduce the energy usage by about 30% right off the bat and not cost you a dime, or you can choose to put $1,500,000 worth of solar panels on your roof so that at least a percentage of the exorbitant energy being used by the building including weekends and holidays is coming from the sun and not some coal burning power plant (note: many locations don’t even get sun on Christmas, so the solar panels would just be roof decorations.) This seems to be a fairly obvious choice, and I may be exaggerating for illustrative purposes, but what remains true in most situations is that the use of alternative energy should only be used once the internal system is as efficient as possible.
Before we get into what you should or shouldn’t do, let’s explore why you would want to install solar in the first place. Most companies install solar for one or all of the following reasons: they want to make their employees and customers happy by showing that they are committed to sustainability; they want to save as much money as possible on their energy bills; or, they want to make the most significant environmental improvements that they possibly can. Let’s simplify this even further and say that companies want to save money while doing the right thing.
Saving Green by going Green
If a company’s goal is to reduce their operating expenses and energy related expenses, installing solar panels has a fairly unattractive return on investment when compared to retrofits such as high-efficiency lighting upgrades or the installation of occupancy sensors. Solar panels require a substantial capital outlay with a payback period of around 7 to 10 years whereas upgrading your lighting or installing occupancy sensors can have as little as a 1-3 year payback period. Just looking at the financial implications, wouldn’t it make sense to implement every project that has a zero to seven year payback period prior to implementing projects with a 7- to 10-year payback period?
Going Green to be Green
Harnessing energy from the sun is absolutely amazing. There is really only one thing in my mind that is more amazing: not needing the energy in the first place. In evaluating the environmental benefits of solar panels, we must include consideration of the full lifecycle environmental cost of producing, distributing, using, and disposing of solar panels, as well as all the myriad of energy efficiency alternatives. Unfortunately, these trade-offs can only be estimates since current technology does not allow us to have 100% transparency into the full environmental impact of any decision we make.
Employee & Customer Satisfaction
Let’s face it: as soon as employees or customers see solar panels on the roof, there is an immediate assumption that the company is “green.” A company could have the most inefficient operations in the world, but as soon as it places a few solar panels on the roof, people think they must be doing it right. Five years ago, if you asked a company what they did to be green, they would all tout the fact that they recycled their bottles and cans. Now many people know that being the world’s best recycler is just a small piece of being a truly sustainable organization. I think that solar will take the same path. As energy efficiency becomes more popular and people become more engaged in totally transparent operational efficiency measures, employees and customers will be more interested in the Energy Star rating and total kilowatt hours reduced by the company each month, rather than just seeing some solar panels on the roof.
In the end, solar is one answer, but it should not be the first answer. Like dropping a supercharged engine into a rundown car that barely operates, a premature solar installation will be a high-cost, high-visibility solution to the wrong problem. Once you can’t reasonably shave any more kWh off of your energy bill, then alternative energy is a great solution to get you closer to energy neutral.
Excerpt “So many companies we work with have had efficiency saving goals, but no plan for achieving those goals. They recycle, use paper instead of plastic, but have no idea if they’re using more resources and energy than the competition…”
Read the article at Examiner.com written by Tami Turner, Sustainability Consultant at iReuse! She discusses the greening of the wine industry, and resources such as the iReuse Tracking & Reporting Module.
According to Greenpeace, if you want to ensure your computer equipment is polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardant (BFR)-free, Apple is your manufacturer of choice. (See the Greenpeace ranking
For further environmental impact assessment of IT products,
EPEAT remains a transparent, broad certification, which takes into account multiple areas of environmental performance. In addition to harmful substances, it also catalogs ENERGY STAR and the overall environmental performance of original electronics manufactures.
So, while Apple is clearly the star of the Greenpeace rating, for those who purchase PC’s, be sure to check the EPEAT certification status to identify products with more favorable ratings.
The new iReuse Tracking and Reporting Module enables our clients to overcome “the fourth barrier” to achieving energy savings, as identified by the McKinsey Report, here.
“Four fundamental barriers stand out. Energy efficiency typically requires large upfront investments to achieve savings that accrue later. In addition, it has low mindshare, and opportunities are fragmented across billions of devices in more than 100 million locations. Finally, the organizations that would be primarily responsible for implementing energy efficiency find it hard to measure, which makes them less motivated to act.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the new version of the Tracking and Reporting Module, contact us here at the office, (415) 332-9977, and speak to Carter. We have regularly scheduled webinars every Tuesday morning, and can customize a demo with your data. The new module has just been released and we will have more information available online in the coming weeks. View the waste tracking reporting tool here.
Shirley Graves, host of Public Advocate, talks with Ken Kurtzig. Ken discusses how businesses can successfully define a comprehensive sustainability road map, including waste reduction and energy management. He also introduces our new Tracking and Reporting Module. Ken provides several points and examples of businesses that have saved money, saved resources, and contributed to society and employee satisfaction with the help of iReuse.
Ken Kurtzig, CEO of iReuse, was one of three featured speaker’s at Saving Green by Going Green: Strategies to save costs through sustainable facilities initiatives. Duane F. Larson, Director CEE Portfolio Implementation at PG&E, and Julia Wilhelm, Director and Chair of Sustainability Practice at Studley also presented. This event was sponsored by iReuse, PG&E, Studley, Allsteel and Skyline Construction. It took place on November 10th at the PG&E Auditorium, with approximately 100 local business people in attendance.
Our waste reduction consultants have been successfully supporting clients’ efforts to reduce their waste-related environmental impact. However, they needed a way to clearly and efficiently illustrate to clients the amount of waste their organizations were generating, and the environmental impacts of that waste. They also needed to track this data for multiple locations, over time. With all of these variables, Excel spreadsheets become a bit unwieldy.
The iReuse Tracking & Reporting Tool was born. Our consultants have been using it for months now to document landfill, recycling and composting rates at client locations. This tool is now available to the public as a stand-alone, web-based service.
It easily calculates, for example, trees saved and GHG’s prevented as a result of recycling x-amount of office paper and cardboard. It also compares across multiple locations, and generates clean, clear reports that are easily downloadable as PDFs.
Current clients using the tool include property managers of commercial office space, and large corporations that occupy the majority of their office building.
The next iteration of the tool will include tracking and reporting of energy and water, and procurement will be added as well. We look forward to hearing back from our clients about how this tool has helped them to reduce their environmental impact, increase savings, as well as suggestions for improvements.
Check it out at www.iReuse.com/tr. You can also sign up to track as many locations as you want free for 15 days.
I just wanted to post a quick note to share some recent updates on iReuse.
Thanks to our sales and consultant team, our total Waste Reduction square footage under iReuse management is now over 2.5 million, spanning 21 client buildings. Tauni Swenson is a new member of our Waste Reduction team, and will be leading the waste reduction efforts for these new locations. She comes to us with experience helping the Gap and William Sonoma develop and implement waste reduction programs, along with an MBA in sustainability from the Presidio School of Management.
On other waste reduction news, Mike Megremis, Waste Reduction consultant, has been working with Autodesk for the last 6+ months. As a result of his efforts and staff at Autodesk, we are starting to see real results for our waste reduction efforts there. We will provide a case study when the numbers are in.
iReuse for Hospitality,
I am also excited to announce the launch of two new programs at iReuse. The first is iReuse for Hospitality being managed by Jeff Slye who has years of experience in the hospitality sector working with many hotels to go green and save green. Our first big marketing effort for this program occurred on March 26th, an event hosted by Turner Construction, iReuse, and others and organized by Carter Coleman of iReuse. The event was a great success and a lot of valuable resources and information for our hospitality clients to improve their efficiency. Jeff spoke specifically about ROI for hotels by implementing sustainability practices which was a hot topic given the current economy. Hotels were very interested to learn how their waste practices, laundry practices, energy practices, and other operational practices could be altered to save a tremendous amount of money and save the planet.
iReuse for Wineries and Convention Centers
We are also happy to announce a new program for wineries and convention centers being managed by Tami Turner. Tami has been in the wine business and working with convention centers for several years, and also has her MBA in Sustainability.
I think that is the main news I have for now. We have a lot more in the hopper so stay tuned.
The iReuse programs have also expanded exponentially over the last few months as our team and our internal expertise has expanded. iReuse continues to provide comprehensive Sustainability Consulting Services to help organizations reduce their environmental impact while maximizing their return on investment, whether it be from reduced costs, greater sales, higher public visibility, competitive advantage, or improved employee satisfaction and retention. Many top organizations like Kaiser Permanente, Delta Dental, Adobe, Wells Fargo, Autodesk, and Safeway have benefited from iReuse’s expertise in sustainability program development as well as implementing a wide variety of sustainability programs.
iReuse programs now include:
Power & Water Conservation
Waste Reduction, Reuse, Recycling
Sustainability Program Planning & Implementation
Comprehensive environmental tracking & reporting
Green employee programs
Carbon Footprint analysis
… and more
We are preparing to post regularly on the sustainability accomplishments of our clients, the evolution of the iReuse programs, and updates on the sustainability sector in general.
We’re pleased to share this news from Delta Dental’s Rancho Cordova facility. Delta Dental has been a sustainability consulting client of iReuse for some time now and we are proud of the tremendous success Delta Dental has had to date in achieving their sustainability goals. We have been working with Delta Dental to improve the efficiency of their facilities, reduce waste, implement a comprehensive green purchasing program, develop employee engagement programs, and much more. For all the work done by Delta Dental thus far in Sacramento, Delta Dental has earned a sustainable business certification from the Sacramento Sustainable Business program. The original press release can be viewed as a PDF here.
Reducing waste is not only good for the environment - it’s also great for your bottom line. Targeting excess consumption is the first step. You save money when you initially cut back on purchases of unnecessary supplies and materials, and later on when less waste needs to be collected and hauled away. Reducing consumption requires an examination of all areas of spending, looking for ways to reduce expenditures and increase efficiency, and establishing purchasing guidelines for employees to follow.
Launching a corporate waste reduction program also has its rewards; however, to be effective, it must be comprehensive. Waste reduction consultants can look at all areas of your business, determining where you can reduce, reuse, recycle and even compost. Their expert inspections will look at all aspects of your operations – Do employees print double-sided copies? Are memos distributed electronically? Are blue recycling bins located in prime areas? Can office supplies be reused? Do dining facilities provide durable or disposable dishes, cups and utensils? Is garbage properly separated to optimize composting of food scraps and recycling of cardboard, paper, toner cartridges, food & beverage containers? Is recycling easy and convenient for employees and janitorial staff? Are you receiving the best service possible from your waste collection company?
To learn how your business can reduce waste and save money, request a Free Consultation from iReuse Business Sustainability Consulting.
This blog is an insight into the amazing world of iReuse and some of the wonderful STORIES OF REUSE that are realized as a result of iReuse.com. I am providing this blog to emphasize the tremendous benefits of reuse to save time, save money, save energy, help the community, and help the environment.