ISIS, Henry Ford, and Sustainability

ISIS, Henry Ford, and Sustainability

It's estimated that between $1.5-$2M in oil revenue comes into ISIS coffers every day.  This means that somewhere a host of traders and middle men are working hard to blend that oil into your supply chain unnoticed.  When you ask, "Who's to blame for this and what do I do?" the answer is simple: Look to Henry Ford on both questions.

This is a look at the genius of Henry Ford, the sad mistakes Ford Motor would later make and how abandoning support for the market created echoes which ring out to the Islamic State today.  How do these things connect?  What do they have to do with sustainability?  Read on...

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The Rules for Launching Sustainability Internally

The Rules for Launching Sustainability Internally

Unfortunately, businesses often get tangled in situations where attrition and promotion move people into roles that require experience they don't have.  For a company considering a sustainability initiative your actually asking everyone to move into that uncomfortable role AND your asking them all to move, all at the same time.  Today we're talking about how you make that leap.  How you move an entire group of people to a new goal all at the same time.

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Water Usage: Are you Leaking Cash?

Water Usage: Are you Leaking Cash?

Emissions and energy get the spotlight when it comes to sustainability programs but water is actually the most limited resource your company is likely to deal with.  Some of you reading this may find that surprising.  You may react initially by thinking the idea is a little silly.  Take a deeper look and you'll find just how serious the issue is.
 

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Why Business (Not Gov't or Individuals) will solve the Climate Crisis (3/3)

Why Business (Not Gov't or Individuals) will solve the Climate Crisis (3/3)

There's a general misconception that the business community hasn't accepted the facts surrounding climate change.  That's not actually the case.  In fact most of the business community hasn't weighed in at all.  As industry makes itself more conscious of a warming planet, you're seeing more attention paid to these four areas in particular.  These are the activities sensible mangers will impose on the marketplace.

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Business (not Government or Individuals) will solve the Climate Crisis (PART 2 of 3)

Business (not Government or Individuals) will solve the Climate Crisis (PART 2 of 3)

This post is the second in a series of three articles which lay out why global warming will ultimately be resolved by the efforts of the business community.  Part 1 talked largely about how a good manager looks at risk, why climate change needs to be considered a risk management issue, and how (because this risk is a systemic) it can't be resolved through obvious risk management tools.  Today we're moving on to an evaluation of some bullet points that are germane and looking at how government, business and individuals rank on those qualities relative to one another.  While doing that we'll frame out why the business community is better suited (and more likely) to solve the climate crisis than either of the other two.  The final post in this series will talk about the levers that need to be pulled to make climate action effective and why the business community will be operating those levers.

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Business (Not Government or Individuals) will solve the Climate Crisis (Part 1 of 3)

Business (Not Government or Individuals) will solve the Climate Crisis (Part 1 of 3)

How does a responsible manager act in a world increasingly constrained by climate risks?  It's an interesting question.  You could be responsible for General Electric or Germany and still you couldn't hope to make an impact on the whole world.  Your actions are so small in real numbers that it seems almost reasonable to abandon hope of making any impact at all.  Instead, you think, keep energy and funds available to adapt as the situation plays out.  Be ready to nimbly move capital, assets and people on little notice.  This strategy, the thinking goes, prepares your systems by decreasing vulnerability to climate-induced crises.  Unfortunately, it's also wrong-headed and will hurt you in the long run.

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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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