Design a Data Center that has a furnace and you should be fired.

Design a Data Center that has a furnace and you should be fired.

Data centers are a particularly thorny issue when a company is addressing it’s sustainability profile.  The energy profiles for large IT facilities are typically monstrous in size and that makes it difficult to accommodate a company’s desire to reduce it’s footprint.  Google, Apple and Microsoft have made headlines recently in the design of their facilities and (in the case of Apple specifically) their commitment to using solar power to run the facilities but is that really the most important factor to consider?

Making a commitment to invest in a data center usually means that your company is moving in the right direction.  You have enough demand for what you're doing that you need to make a big investment in the next phase of growth.  There are gong to be a lot of decisions to make on hardware, architecture and suppliers not to mention strategy but it may surprise you that the biggest two choices should be made not on the basis of technology but on the basis of partnerships.  Those two questions are:

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What part of a Carbon Footprint is Your Fault?

What part of a Carbon Footprint is Your Fault?

Hello and welcome to Climate|Money|Policy where we explore climate change as a business issue and an opportunity to grow your organization.  In this post we get into the details of questions about carbon foot printing with enough depth to create clarity for the average executive.  In doing that we'll lay out some ways to think about the numbers and how they could impact your decision making.

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6 Signs that Your Sustainability Initiative is Doomed

6 Signs that Your Sustainability Initiative is Doomed

Organizational change is difficult but every day talented people in well meaning organizations work tirelessly to improve their processes and teams to drive greater productivity.  Sadly, it doesn't always work out.  The key is knowing when to stop.  If you don't know when to call it quits you're going to waste a lot of time.  Today we're going to look at some warning signs that the sustainability initiative you care about is doomed.  Follow the signs here and you'll get advanced notice that you're doing something wrong and it should be fixed or abandoned.

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5 Steps to Communicating Sustainability to your Investors

5 Steps to Communicating Sustainability to your Investors

In the push and pull of long-term vs. short-term often sustainability and resilience programs are marginalized. Today we lay out steps an executive can use to talk about his long term goals in ways that comfort the short term demands of investors.  Here's a guide to the five tactical rules you should follow when you're introducing your sustainability program to your board and/or shareholders.

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How the SEC can solve Climate Change

How the SEC can solve Climate Change

Disclosure is a good thing because it allows investors a reasonable chance to evaluate the risks involved in their investment choices. Unfortunately there's a giant hole in the middle of the disclosure process that's been exposed in the last few years.  The assumption is that transparency and disclosure allow for smart investing. While that's certainly true the wise investor also wants another piece of data: the health of the marketplace.  For this reason the SEC appears to have bought into the fallacy that systemic risks can't EVER be avoided by disclosure. This is how climate change is different.

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'Carbon Footprint': What it is and 5 things you can do with it.

'Carbon Footprint': What it is and 5 things you can do with it.

"Carbon Footprint" is a term that gets used often but it's a mistake to assume that anyone in your organization knows what it means, let alone how that knowledge matters to your business model.  In this post we'll fix that, do it in terms a 3rd grader can understand and give you 5 ways to take action on that knowledge.

 

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What's the ROI for a sustainability initiative?

What's the ROI for a sustainability initiative?

More data comes out all the time on companies, both large and small, that are making corporate sustainability a cornerstone of their management style. For that reason lots of management teams are beginning to look around and ask themselves, "What would it cost us to do the same? What's the learning curve? What can we expect to get back and how quickly?"  Many individual initiatives will be amenable to a quick ROI calculation but the reality is that most won't. Let's look at both kinds.

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Sustainability's Mystery Metrics

Sustainability's Mystery Metrics

Articles have been published recently making the case that for all of it's importance to corporate strategy, sustainability isn't valued yet by corporate investors and that the disconnect comes from a lack of clear metrics to report.  While it may be true that a difference in reporting will better connect financial stakeholders to sustainability's value if you drill down you'll find that the underlying assumptions are a little silly and a lot counterproductive.  Here the case will be made that there are lots of critical business functions that add value but suffer from difficult and dis-uniform metrics.

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The sentence that defines your Sustainability Program

The sentence that defines your Sustainability Program

Then someone starts asking much more detailed questions that are a lot harder to answer.  Face it, it's easier to ask the CFO how much was spent on electricity last year than it is to document when all of your machines run, what their power loads are and how often they're being productive.  Those questions starts to look like a pretty deep rabbit hole when you consider all the things that get plugged in an outlet.  Lighting in all it's forms and options, servers, air conditioning to say nothing of the factory machines, computers and mobile devices that get plugged in or used intermittently.

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Carbon Shadow Pricing

Carbon Shadow Pricing

Today we're talking about Carbon Shadow Pricing, a technique some companies are using to formulate their energy improvement and efficiency budgets, drive down costs and get ahead of the curve with anticipated regulations.  Sensible managers realize that their power use and emissions are the source of twin liabilities to the company bottom line. They reason that regulation of carbon emissions isn't far away and whatever form it takes it will eat into the bottom line. Additionally, energy use is a proxy for waste. Finding creative ways to avoid energy translates into profit and innovation.

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4 things to help you separate Sustainability Pros from Amateurs

4 things to help you separate Sustainability Pros from Amateurs

Everyone you will ever meet has a story about a good mechanic and a bad mechanic. Not so for sustainability professionals.  The screening process is clumsy. How long should they have been in business? Is it even credible to claim that you've been in sustainability for more than a few years? Keep your mind on these four points and you should be able to hedge your bets.

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Shrink Government while Shrinking Climate Risks

Shrink Government while Shrinking Climate Risks

 Yes, you read that right.  Citizens from all over the country came to Washington to talk about tax policy but not just any tax policy.  They came to talk about one that shrinks government & fights global warming.  Today we look at what this group, Citizens Climate Lobby, was proposing & how it can boost your sales.

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The Barclays downgrade of the entire electric utility sector is good news for everyone.

The Barclays downgrade of the entire electric utility sector is good news for everyone.

This May Barclays downgraded their evaluation of an entire sector that deals with the utility grid and they did so because the grid is massive, fragile, expensive to operate and quickly being cannibalized by younger, more cost effective technologies(ie. on-site power generation especially solar PV).  This is great news.  Here's why:

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Notes from a consultation - the Clothier

Notes from a consultation - the Clothier

Just under a year ago I was introduced to a client here in New Jersey.   When we all sat down the client was incredibly decent and warm but firm in his commitment that the company didn't have the need for me. At the urging of our mutual acquaintance we kept talking.  Over lunch we discussed everything about the company's business model: their shippers, sourcing of materials, international relations, you name it.  We started talking about how the little things can add up and I took the opportunity to mention that the best minds in the world tell us that we're in for a couple degrees rise in temperature.  The Clothier started to see that by the time the impacts are obvious that they'd be everywhere.

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Divestment - the PR boost that costs you nothing

There's a huge push on right now to move money out of fossil fuel investments.  Cities, universities and pension funds of all stripes are moving money away from carbon-based investments and reaping great press while doing it.  Why is this happening and how can your marketing department make hay with it?

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