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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is an idea that corporations have to consider the interests of customers, employees, shareholders, communities, and ecological considerations in all
Socially responsible investing (SRI) describes an investment strategy which combines the intentions to maximize both financial return and social good.

green@work : Magazine : Newlines : Nov/Dec 2003

Actions and initiatives worth noting

High Potential Wind Sites

As the efficiency, durability and size of wind turbines have increased, wind power has become much more feasible in recent years. With these advances, U.S. power companies are stepping up efforts to produce efficient, clean wind energy and plans to install a total new capacity of 22,000 MW of wind power, or about 15,000 individual turbines. Because the power produced is very sensitive to wind speed, the search for optimal high-wind locations is critical to the efficiency of wind turbines and the cost of wind power. ENSR International’s research and development program has developed the capability to assess the wind energy potential at any site within the U.S. and its offshore waters.

In a key part of this project, ENSR scientists processed advanced meteorological data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration into a format that can be used with WindFarm™ software. Using this application, ENSR scientists streamline the air modeling process and accurately simulate the wind energy conditions for a specified geographical location, thereby identifying the most promising sites for wind power development.

A Summit on Sustainable Communities

Audubon International and North Carolina State University (NCSU) met in October with over 50 national leaders to discuss the formation of a Sustainable Communities Partnership. Partner organizations would assist municipalities across the country in blending economic development, environmental quality and social well-being.

“What we have across the country are communities with real needs. But it’s often difficult for them to find available resources to help with sustainable planning and development,” says Ronald Dodson, president and CEO of Audubon International. “At the same time, there are many resources already out there, but they’re not well coordinated. The Sustainable Communities Partnership would create a network of organizations that would offer one-stop-shopping for information, education, training and technical services.”

The push for a national Sustainable Communities Partnership stems from the successful partnership between Audubon International and NCSU, formed last year to pilot-test Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program (SCP) in North Carolina. Through that partnership, the citizens of Williamston, NC have been working with Audubon International and NCSU staff to further community-wide environmental action, civic engagement and strategic planning.

Next steps include further exploring how the national Sustainable Communities Partnership will be structured, drafting a set of principles for member selection, and identifying funding sources for this innovative partnership. For more information, visit the Audubon International Web site at

Study Proves Green Buildings Are Cost Effective

Investments in green buildings pay for themselves 10 times over, according to a new study for 40 California agencies. The study, by the Capital E group, Lawrence Berkley Laboratory and participating California state agencies, thoroughly examines the cost-benefit analysis of green buildings.

With this study, the California Department of Finance, for the first time, has signed off on the existence of financial benefits associated with improved health productivity and lowered operations and maintenance costs in green buildings. The California Board of Regents also drew on the early findings of this study and is moving forward in pushing for all state higher education new construction to be “green.” This study, drawing on national data for 100 green buildings and an in-depth review of several hundred existing studies, found that sustainable buildings are a very cost-effective investment.

The report concluded that financial benefits of green design are between $50 and $70 per square foot in a LEED™ building, over 10 times the additional cost associated with building green. The financial benefits were found to be in lower energy, waste and water costs, lower environmental and emissions costs, and lower operational and maintenance costs and increased productivity and health.

For a copy of the report, visit:

Forum Calls for Responsible Forest Investment

A two-day multi-stakeholder Forest Investment Forum concluded in October with a call to curb illegal logging, which today represents worldwide annual losses in revenues and assets in excess of $10 billion, and to increase responsible forest investments in developing countries and economies-in-transition. A statement issued by the sponsoring organizations—the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Forest Trends, Program on Forests (PROFOR), the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC)—emphasized that this gathering, which included leaders of multinational forest companies, governments, ministries, international development and financial institutions as well as environmental and civil society organizations, was a crucial platform to move ahead a sustainability agenda for the forest sector.

It is estimated that some 1.6 billion people worldwide depend on forests for their livelihoods. Sixty million indigenous peoples depend on forests for their subsistence. Forest resources also represent a survival base for as many as 200 to 300 million small farmers around the world.

Forests worldwide harbor 90 percent of land-based biodiversity, including numerous threatened and endangered plant and animal species. Forests provide valuable goods like timber and medicines, and important services such as regulating climate change by storing carbon and filtering drinking water. Despite their importance, many of the world’s richest forests are rapidly disappearing.

“Inaction is not an option,” said Odd Gullberg, COO for the WBCSD. “Population growth, rising standards of living and industrialization are placing pressure on forest products and services. Investment in forestry, which increases each year, can support responsible forestry if businesses, governments, financial institutions, and NGOs work together.”

Americans Less Than Candid About Their Cans

The national recycling rate for aluminum beverage cans has fallen to nearly 50 percent, but 70 percent of Americans say they always or often recycle aluminum cans, according to a new survey conducted by Alcan Inc. Industry statistics reveal an incremental, but steady, decline in aluminum can recycling from highs approaching 70 percent just 10 years ago. Today nearly half of all recyclable aluminum—worth an estimated $800 million—ends up in landfills. Alcan’s survey, conducted as part of the company’s participation in America Recycles Day on November 15, shows that almost half of respondents say they recycle more aluminum cans now than they did five years ago. Only 19 percent say they recycle less.

“We seem to have a skewed perception when it comes to recycling,” said Martha Brooks, president of Alcan Rolled Products, which supplies aluminum can sheet to can makers and recycles used beverage cans. “If as many Americans recycled as they say recycled, we would not be seeing this alarming waste of a valuable resource.”

Other significant survey findings include:
* The U.S. public is split on the importance of recycling aluminum cans; half consider it important, roughly two in five are neutral, and over a quarter consider it unimportant.

* 45 percent said increasing the number of recycling centers or containers in the community would be very effective; 41 percent said “more public education about the environmental benefits of aluminum can recycling” was very effective; 37 percent thought more public education about the monetary benefits of aluminum can recycling was effective.

Complete survey findings are available at

Schulich Receives CSR Chair

Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Co., in collaboration with Toronto’s Schulich School of Business at York University, have announced a $2 million endowment of the Hewlett-Packard Chair in Corporate Social Responsibility at Schulich. The creation of this chair in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the result of more than 10 years of academic leadership by Schulich in CSR. The chair is intended to extend Schulich’s impact across the globe, playing a pivotal role in defining emerging corporate social responsibility issues, conducting research, teaching CSR-related courses and engaging in community outreach. A key area of exploration will be new models of stakeholder engagement and the role of information technology within the global economy.

The Schulich School is internationally recognized for its commitment to CSR. It was recently honored by the World Resources Institute and the Aspen Institute jointly as one of only six “cutting-edge” business schools from around the world preparing future executives with a solid training in environmental and social impact management. (See “Educating Effective Leaders” in this issue.) The Schulich School offers a variety of corporate social responsibility courses of study including a comprehensive program in business and sustainability as well programs in corporate governance. The school also runs the Sustainable Enterprise Academy, an executive education program on sustainable development.

EPA Accepting Green Chemistry Nominations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now accepting nominations for the 2004 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. These prestigious awards recognize innovative chemical technologies that incorporate green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture and use. Green chemistry is the use of chemistry to prevent pollution. Nominated technologies should reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances from a chemical product or process. Any individual, group or organization, both non-profit and for-profit, including academia, government and industry, may nominate a green chemistry technology for these awards. Self-nominations are welcome and expected.

Typically, five awards are given each year: one to an academic researcher, one to a small business, and the rest in specific areas of green chemistry. A nominated technology must have reached a significant milestone within the past five years in the United States. Nominations must be postmarked by December 31, 2003 to be eligible for the 2004 awards, which will be presented at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, next June.

For more information, visit

Retail Success with NatureWorks

In June 2003, Wild Oats successfully launched a packaging line made from NatureWorks PLA in 11 stores throughout the Portland, OR area. Based on a noticeable increase in sales and positive consumer response, Wild Oats is expanding NatureWorks PLA to Colorado this fall and plans to launch it in all of its remaining stores through early 2004.

In addition to U.S. introductions, success in Europe points to the global appeal of the nature-based packaging concept. In Italy, IPER hypermarkets have also noticed similar success in their fresh food aisles. The company first launched NatureWorks PLA in 2002, selling a broad range of fresh and prepared deli items packaged in clear containers with heat sealed lidding made from NatureWorks PLA. In the first year, strong consumer interest and good sales have encouraged IPER to expand its use of the new packaging to all 21 of its stores. Additionally, IPER is now using NatureWorks PLA to package a wider variety of foods, including tomatoes and sliced meats. IPER is testing several other new applications now and is also considering using the natural packaging with its store brand Patto Qualità, products.

Reuse-A-Shoe Program Going Strong

The National Recycling Coalition (NRC) and Nike announced they are re-lacing their partnership to recycle used athletic shoes, expanding the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program to every state in the continental United States. In year two of the partnership, NRC and Nike anticipate all 32 of last year’s participating recycling organizations to return as well as 50 new recycling programs, including the partnership’s first curbside Nike Reuse-A-Shoe recycling effort in Contra Costa County, CA. All of the participating organizations will commit to collecting a minimum of 5,000 pairs of worn-out athletic shoes in the coming year.

After registering with NRC and Nike, recycling organizations collect and store old athletic shoes in a way that best suits the organization’s needs. When enough shoes have been collected to fill a 27-foot trailer (approximately 5,000 pairs), Nike arranges for the shoes to be picked up and shipped to its Reuse-A-Shoe recycling facility in Wilsonville, OR, free of charge. Nike then grinds the shoes and gives them new life as athletic surfaces. The NRC and Nike provide each organization with communications tools to promote its collection effort, including customizable radio spots, media releases, posters, print ads and more. Two $25,000 grants will be awarded to participating recycling organizations each year.

The Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Since its inception, the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program has recycled more than 15 million pairs of shoes, and has helped donate over 150 athletic courts, tracks, fields and playground surfaces to communities around the world.

Sustainable Design Leadership Awards

Three professional associations, representing more than 90 percent of the commercial interior design, architecture and corporate real estate/workplace management sectors, have announced the winners of the Sustainable Design Leadership Awards, an international awards program. The associations are the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Interiors Committee and CoreNet Global.

The awards recognize sustainable design leadership as articulated by advocacy, mentoring and projects that reflect consistent commitment to the principles of sustainability in professional practice. They are awarded in two categories: design firms practicing sustainable architecture and interior design; and corporate/organizations that have established sustainable business operations and practices which include architecture and interior design.

The design firm award was presented to Mithun Architects+Designers+Planners, Seattle, WA. Two awards recognized operational achievements: Toyota Motor Sales, Torrance, CA (recognizing its achievements within the corporate, for-profit sector), and Primary Industries, Victoria, Australia (recognizing its work as a non-profit/government organization). Special commendations were also given to HOK (St. Louis, MO) and to Fox & Fowle (New York, NY), recognizing their pioneering efforts in the practice of sustainable architecture and interior design.

The Sustainable Design Leadership Awards are underwritten by corporate sponsor Tandus, Dalton, GA.

Three Win in China's First Green Business Competition

The first Chinese producer of organic honey, a manufacturer of testing kits to detect genetically modified organisms (GMO) and an organic food company were declared recently as winners of the first green business competition in China. The winning companies, whose business plans call for investments ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million, are:

* Beijing Organic Foods Co., Ltd., a pioneer enterprise in China’s organic foods market, which currently has sales of $2.3 million. The company sells products in 60 supermarkets throughout 12 cities in China.

* ChongQing Jinbiao Biotechnology Co., Ltd., a company that manufactures and markets testing kits that can detect GMOs in one minute and cost one-fourth less than the industry average.

* Nanjing Ruikang Agriculture Co., Ltd., a company that produces and exports organic honey to the United States, Japan and Europe and holds 66 percent of the global market for organic royal jelly.

The winners, chosen from a pool of 10 finalists, were announced at the end of the first annual New Ventures Investor Forum in China, held October 2003 in Shanghai. It is a marketplace for investors who understand that investing in sustainable enterprises makes good business sense. The forum is sponsored by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Citigroup. Originally implemented in Latin America, WRI and Citigroup expanded the New Ventures program to China last year to support sustainable businesses in a country that relies heavily on material- and energy-intensive production processes. These have depleted the country’s natural resources and increased environmental pollution.
Protecting the Oceans

The Pew Institute for Ocean Science has been created at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami. Devoted to marine conservation, the institute is a $3 million collaborative effort with The Pew Charitable Trusts and consolidates much of the marine conservation work currently sponsored by the Pew Trusts.

The establishment of the Pew Institute comes at a time of growing concern over the health of America’s oceans. In July of 2003, the independent Pew Oceans Commission published America’s Living Oceans, with findings based on a three-year study of the oceans—the first of its kind in more than 30 years. The policy report followed groundbreaking research on the global decline in populations of large marine fish due to industrialized fishing. In a few months the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy plans to publish its report on U.S. ocean policy.

The new institute’s three primary missions will be to: continue the trusts’ sponsorship of groundbreaking, nonpartisan marine research; provide consultation and selective assistance on fishery management issues; and oversee the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation—the most prominent marine fellows program in the world. The Pew Fellows Program will relocate from the New England Aquarium to the Rosenstiel School in December 2003.

The Rosenstiel School is one of the world’s foremost institutions for research on coral reefs, aquaculture techniques and commercially important fisheries. It runs the Center on Sustainable Fisheries and works closely with two neighboring institutions: NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center.

A Financial Tool for Advisors

IdealsWork Financial has agreed with SRI World Group, Inc. to distribute IWF Advisor, a new financial services application that gives investment advisors tools to identify investment opportunities that are customized for each client’s social and financial values. IWF Advisor allows investment advisors to rate companies, industries and indices according to individually selected social and financial criteria. The personalized ratings, which use Morningstar and IRRC research as their foundation, enable advisors to find investments that are tailored to each client’s social and financial goals.

Although 12 percent of managed assets are currently subject to some social screen according to the Social Investment Forum, many of these assets are controlled by institutions, which employ analysts to compile and evaluate data on companies. IWF Advisor provides individual advisors with similar access to information and analytic capability. The tool also enables advisors to build relationships with their clients through discussions about their clients’ social and financial goals. A recent Calvert/Harris study revealed that 88 percent of investors said they would trust their advisor more if the advisor introduced them to socially responsible investing concepts.

IWF Advisor is available through SRI World Group’s Web site at

Computer Recycling Training

Dell and the National Recycling Coalition (NRC) have formed an alliance to educate school, municipality and non-profit officials on best practices for the reuse and recycling of computers. The program is designed to raise awareness of computer disposal issues and help consumers empty closets of unwanted equipment. The pilot training program began on October 10 at Stanford University, followed on October 11 by a hands-on collection event that attendees of the training session managed. This recycling education program follows a 15-city National Dell Recycling Tour, which collected nearly two million pounds of used computer equipment this spring and summer.

Dell hopes to share what it learned during the tour with university and community recycling coordinators, empowering them to conduct future collection events in their own communities as one additional means of environmentally responsible recycling.

“We fully recognize that one-time recycling events are not a long-term solution to the electronic waste issue,” said Pat Nathan, sustainable business director for Dell, “but they are a highly-effective awareness tool that allows us to educate consumers about the importance of recycling and computer end-of-life options.”

Dell and the NRC have developed a best-practices guide as part of the partnership, covering topics such as selecting donation partners, estimating participation, training volunteers and event promotion.

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