AIMBlog_Logo_Resized

Using Science to Reduce Greenhouse Emissions

Posted by Matthew Gardner on Mar 16, 2017 4:34:03 PM

Editor’s Note – Matthew Gardner, Ph.D., is Managing Partner of Sustainserv. He will serve as moderator of the AIM Sustainability Roundtable on April 8.

InnovationSmall-5.jpgIt’s one thing for a company to commit to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It’s another to base those reductions on strict, science-based targets.

But that’s exactly what AIM members like Walmart, Dell, Coca Cola and Procter and Gamble are doing. Another 170 global companies have committed to do the same.

The science melds global scientific greenhouse-gas reduction research with a disciplined understanding of a company’s own generation of greenhouse gasses.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by up to 70 percent by 2050 to limit global warming to 2°C , the threshold below which irreversible climate change can be averted.

Following the UN Climate Talks in Paris in 2015, an initiative was launched for companies to establish “science-based” GHG reduction targets consistent with the 2-degree C warming limit.

The standards give companies clear quantitative benchmarks against which to guide their GHG reduction efforts.

The targets apply to all of the categories of GHG emissions for which a company may be responsible. Such emissions include

“Scope 1” and “Scope 2” emissions, those related to the amounts of fuels that the company consumes in its operations (think heating, process-related and/or fuels used in company vehicles), as well as emissions related to the generation of energy that a company then uses on site (such as electricity).

By ensuring that a company has energy efficient buildings, operates an energy efficient vehicle fleet, or maximizes the efficiency of its process-related energy usage, the employer can reduce both its Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions and its expenses. 

So-called “Scope 3” -  those associated with the production and/or delivery of goods or services that are provided to the company by others on its behalf - emissions, are more complicated Scope 3 includes GHG emissions associated with business travel, emissions resulting from the production of materials that a company uses to manufacture its own products, or emissions from services such as shipping and logistics for which it contracts.

Scope 3 emissions can be many multiples greater than Scope 1 or Scope 2 emissions. Reducing these emissions can be difficult, however, as it requires significant engagement with the suppliers of those products or services, and an awareness of the GHG impacts of those products or processes by all parties.

Establishing science-based targets, and the implementation plans to achieve those targets, is a technical process that needs careful consideration and planning. GHG emissions must be calculated carefully and according to accepted protocols. Most importantly, an action plan must be developed to achieve the goals in an economical and technically feasible manner.

Done properly, science-based targets can provide context and focus to GHG emissions programs and the actions required to make them successful.

Attend the AIM Sustainability Roundtable

 

Topics: Environment, Sustainability, AIM Sustainability Roundtable

The Expert Trail to Sustainability

Posted by Tyler Fairbank on Dec 5, 2016 7:30:00 AM

Editor's note - Tyler Fairbank is Chief Executive Officer of The Fairbank Group, which manages Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancockand other outdoor resort areas. Jiminy Peak recently won an AIM Sustainability Award.

As a ski resort, it’s not surprising that the environment is something we pay close attention to at Jiminy Peak.

JiminyPeak.jpgWinters’ remaining cold is vital to the future of our business. In addition, environmental consciousness is something that is important to people in our world right now. We want our guests to feel good about the choice to ski at Jiminy and bring their children here.

As much as it is important to make sustainability efforts for reasons such as these, it is equally important to the bottom line of the company. It takes a lot of energy to operate a ski resort for 120 days a season; have lodging, restaurants and events taking place year round; and have summer activities run during the warmer months. We rely on snowmaking to provide our guests with the best on-snow experience and we are open nightly throughout the season with 21 of our trails lit for skiing. It is therefore imperative to our success as a business to take steps to reduce our reliance on the grid and, thus, our electric bill.

Sustainability is not new for us - it began many years ago. We began with small things, like changing out light bulbs, and quickly grew to much larger items, including the construction of a reservoir at the summit that allows us to feed water down the mountain via gravity for snowmaking.

Perhaps our most iconic initiative, and the project that brought a national focus to Jiminy’s efforts, was the construction of our 1.5 MW GE wind turbine during the summer of 2007. Most recently, we partnered with Nexamp to install the largest community shared solar project in the Northeast and replaced our snowguns and a portion of our lighting for skiing with much more energy efficient technology.

As a result of our efforts we have now reached 100 percent renewable - but that doesn’t mean we stop here. This is something that is now part of our DNA and we will continue to seek ways to reduce our costs for the health of our business as well as the future of the ski industry.

Attend the AIM Sustainability Roundtable

Topics: Sustainability, AIM Sustainability Roundtable

Video Blog | Stop & Shop Turns Waste to Energy

Posted by Michele Slafkosky on Oct 3, 2016 3:15:57 PM

The Stop & Shop New England Division of Ahold USA will receive one of six inaugural AIM Sustainability Awards on October 24 for its innovative, state-of-the-art, Green Energy Facility in Freetown that uses anaerobic digestion to convert inedible food into clean energy.  The process produces up to 40 percent of the energy for Stop & Shop's 1.1 million square-foot adjacent distribution center. 

 

AIM will present Sustainability Awards at each of four regional celebrations in October. The events are open, free of charge, to AIM member employers.

Register | Worcester

Register | Springfield

Register | Foxboro

Register | Lawrence

Topics: Energy, Sustainability, AIM Sustainability Roundtable

Communicating Sustainability Clearly and Honestly

Posted by Wayne Bates on Sep 13, 2016 8:55:17 AM

Editor's note - Wayne E. Bates, PhD, PE, is principal engineer with Tighe & Bond in Westfield and a facilitator of the AIM Sustinability Roundtable.

Many companies are making progress toward a sustainable business model with initiatives in areas like energy conservation, supply chain, employee engagement, water conservation and community involvement. A common question asked by these organizations is “what efforts and initiatives should we be communicating? To whom should we communicate these efforts? How much information should we provide?”

InnovationSmall-3.jpgThe decision to communicate sustainability programs depends on the nature of your organization, including the type of products or services offered and the interests of stakeholders both inside and outside your organization. Once a decision has been made to communicate, the type and amount of information communicated will depend on the desired level of transparency and stakeholder demands for information.

Sustainability communications should provide insight on where the company has been, where it is, and where it is going on the issue being communicated. For example, a communication on an energy conservation success story should be told in the context of the company’s overall energy goals and how the successful implementation fits into the sustainability strategy.

Most companies with sustainability programs do a decent job of discussing obvious challenges of meeting defined goals and targets. What is often not communicated well are the issues without a solution, initiatives that may be too costly, or initiatives that may take a long time to address. If you don’t acknowledge these unsolved, unfunded, or unplanned issues, someone else may.

Furthermore, if a stakeholder identifies an issue for you and you don’t respond, it may cause a disruption to your business and/or negative press.

Just ask Subway, the fast-food sandwich chain. In 2012 a food blogger reached out to Subway to find out why they use azodicarbonamide (ADA), a bread dough conditioning additive that had been banned in Europe and Australia for health concerns. After not receiving a response from Subway, in February 2014, the blogger publicly called the food chain out for using the additive. She made the point that ADA is used as a plasticizer in commercial products like yoga mats, and encouraged the general public to sign a petition.

The story went viral, the petition received more than 50,000 signatures, and Subway received an onslaught of comments through social media. In less than 60 days, Subway announced that it was removing ADA from its bread in US stores.

Knowledgeable stakeholders know when a company is overemphasizing accomplishments and not discussing certain material issues. Carefully balancing the communication of the goals and targets for on-going initiatives with the acknowledgement of future challenges will let stakeholders know where your organization stands and provide a better understanding of what to expect in future sustainability communications.  

Come join us at the next AIM Sustainability Round Table for a discussion communicating sustainability and hear from expert panelists.

Attend the AIM Sustainability Roundtable

Topics: Management, Sustainability, AIM Sustainability Roundtable

AIM Creates Sustainability Award

Posted by Michele Slafkosky on Jun 13, 2016 7:34:00 AM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts announced today the establishment of the AIM Sustainability Award recognizing companies for excellence in managing environmental stewardship, social well-being and economic prosperity.

Globalwarmingsmall.jpgThe association is seeking nominations for five 2016 Sustainability Awards to be presented at a series of regional employer events during September and October. Award recipients will be selected by a panel that includes the co-chairs of the AIM Sustainability Roundtable – Johanna Jobin, Director of Global EHS and Sustainability at Biogen; and James McCabe, Sustainability Manager, Global Operations Group, Waters Corporation.

“It’s an incredibly exciting announcement,” said Jobin, who has chaired the Sustainability Roundtable for three years.

“The decision by the largest employer association in Massachusetts to establish a Sustainability Award confirms the growing importance that companies are placing on operating and growing in a responsible, transparent manner.”

Sustainability is the process by which companies manage their financial, social and environmental risks to ensure responsible long-term success. Once limited to a group of niche companies, the concept has gained widespread acceptance as global corporations such as Wal-Mart, General Electric and IBM make sustainability part of their business and financial models.

Companies applying for the AIM Sustainability Award may do so based upon their accomplishments in any of four areas:

  • A new idea
  • Environmental impact
  • Collaboration and communication
  • Social impact

Companies of all sizes and from any industry sector are welcome to apply. Applicants must be members in good standing of the association.

AIM initiated its Sustainability Roundtable in 2011 to provide employers the opportunity to exchange sustainability best practices and hear from experts in the field. That opportunity has attracted dozens of participants from companies such as Bose, Siemens, Coca-Cola, Boston Beer, MilliporeSigma, Ocean Spray, Analogic and Cisco. The Roundtable next meets June 16 at Philips North America in Andover to discuss the role that sustainability standards play in supply-chain relationships.

“The Roundtables and the new award encourage those of us working to improve the performance of our companies by improving their relationship to the community and the environment,” McCabe said.

“We urge companies of all sizes and types to apply and look forward to learning about the innovative practices being undertaken by our fellow Massachusetts employers.”

Nominate your Company

Topics: Environment, Sustainability, AIM Sustainability Roundtable

Sustainable Practices and Your Suppliers

Posted by Matthew Gardner on Jun 2, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Editor’s Note – Matthew Gardner, Ph.D., is Managing Partner of Sustainserv. He will serve as moderator of the AIM Sustainability Roundtable on June 16.

The boundaries of corporate sustainability programs are rapidly expanding to include not just the operations of a particular company, but also the impacts and actions of its suppliers and business partners.

InnovationSmall-4.jpgMany major corporations, such as Walmart, now require suppliers to provide detailed information regarding their environmental impacts, social and labor-related programs, and efforts to mitigate negative impacts they may be having on their environs. The environmental, social and labor records of a company’s suppliers may represent significant risk to the company’s business and/or carefully crafted public image.

Supply-chain sustainability has also entered the regulatory arena under the Dodd-Frank Conflict Mineral legislation, under regulations regarding human trafficking enacted by the state of California and Great Britain, and under other laws. These regulations compel companies to disclose the manner in which their supply chains source key raw materials or address the risks related to human trafficking and forced labor.

Social responsibility issues have also received attention of world leaders. In June 2015, following their summit meeting, the leaders of the G7 countries issued a statement recognizing “the joint responsibility of governments and business to foster sustainable supply chains and encourage best practices.”

But addressing supply chain sustainability is easier said than done. Small companies may interact regularly with as many as one hundred suppliers. Large multinationals in the retail sector frequently have more than 100,000 suppliers. Collecting information from a supply chain of any size is an exercise in disciplined data collection, risk assessment and strategic engagement.

Resources and tools are also available to help you prioritize your sustainable supply chain efforts. Programs such as Ecovadis (www.ecovadis.com) or Sedex (www.sedexglobal.com) have engaged thousands of suppliers globally, and offer access to large datasets of sustainability related information from these suppliers.

Other databases, such as the Social Hotspot Database (socialhotspot.org), offer information specific to social responsibility and labor/workforce related issues. These resources allow companies to prioritize which suppliers, sectors or regions may represent disproportionate risk, and thus necessitate greater scrutiny. Based on this, a company can focus its supplier inquiries, whether in the form of surveys or interviews, on those areas that represent the greatest risk, and deploy their limited resources effectively.

 

Attend the AIM Sustainability Roundtable

 

Topics: Supply chain, Sustainability, AIM Sustainability Roundtable

The Business Case for Managing Water

Posted by Matthew Gardner on Aug 27, 2015 12:43:00 PM

Editor’s Note – Matthew Gardner, Ph.D., is Managing Partner of Sustainserv.

Issues surrounding water have turned from a drip to a flood for companies in Massachusetts and beyond.

WaterhandsHardly a day goes by without news of water shortages, depleted aquifers and contaminated wells somewhere in the world. Though Massachusetts does not suffer from widespread and systemic shortages of water, corporations are starting to quantify, analyze and try to reduce their water usage with the same zeal that they are applying to energy and greenhouse-gas reduction efforts.

There are several drivers behind the new emphasis on water.

The first is economic. Water is a commodity paid for by businesses, so any opportunities to reduce the cost associated with this input material are to be considered against the investment required to realize the savings.

A second economic element is the disposal of water that has been utilized in any sort of industrial process. The disposal of this water is something that is paid for as part of standard utility bills. Reductions in the discharge of waste water, whether it is into a municipal system or into a privately owned waste water treatment facility, will also result in lower costs.

The economics are particularly important in water-intensive industries such as some electronics manufacturing, food processing, or the beverage industry. Water usage in these industries represents a significant cost of doing business, so saving even a few percentage points off of the total utilization results in appreciable cost savings. And if waste water does not meet certain, and sometimes quite exacting, standards for purity, then the disposal costs can multiply quickly.

These issues are compounded for operations located in parts of the world where water resources are limited and/or threatened. Costs in these regions can be high, and limits on water usage are often stringent.

The water “footprint” of a company also extends to the water requirements of the products the company produces. A particular product may not require significant water in manufacturing, but what about the water requirements as it is being used? What is the manufacturer’s responsibility to manage and influence that phase of the product’s life cycle? Those products that offer customers greater efficiency regarding whatever input materials are required in their operation will be viewed favorably.

There are a variety of methods available to calculate the water footprint for a company and/or for the products being produced. Using the principles of life-cycle analysis, it is possible to quantitatively and accurately understand the complete picture regarding the impact that a company or a product has on water resources.

How are local companies managing water? Experts from Desalitech, Boston Beer Company and Ocean Spray Cranberries will share their water-management strategies at the AIM Sustainability Roundtable on September 17 at Waters Corporation in Milford. The conversation will include a panel discussion, a question and answer session, and an opportunity for participants to network with colleagues who have encountered similar issues.

As this has become an issue squarely in the eye of the public and governmental regulators, it behooves all companies to consider this issue, and make conscious and informed decisions about how they need to take the protection and conservation of this precious resource into account.

 

Register for the AIM Sustainability Roundtable

Topics: Environment, Sustainability, AIM Sustainability Roundtable

Subscribe to our blog

Browse by Tag