A blog focused on sustainable business issues and challenges

Archive for January, 2012

New Study Reveals “Sustainable Generation” of Future Business Leaders

January 30, 2012 | Comments (4)

Today’s B-school graduates have grown up with issues like environmental protection and social responsibility as constant features in their lives. But, I often wonder how this will affect their career goals. Are these MBA students ready to lead what some now are calling the first “sustainable generation?”

New research from the UK’s Sky provides some intriguing insights and suggests that future leaders are ready to embrace the challenge of integrating sustainability into business best practices.

In its recently released report The Sustainable Generation: The Sky Future Leaders Study, Sky, a television service from the UK and Ireland, examines the attitudes and ambitions of more than 750 corporate graduate trainees, high-potential middle-managers and MBA students.

Among the highlights:

  • 34 percent of the survey respondents see creating social and environmental value as an overall career goal, and a whopping 96 percent said they plan on being involved with sustainability in their careers.
  • 79 percent said the vision and values of a company are an important factor when looking at potential employers.
  • 70 percent agreed that sustainability can create new opportunities for businesses, and just 21 percent said sustainability has to come at the expense of profit.

However, the study also revealed that these future leaders sense a disconnect between corporate words and actions with regard to sustainability: (more…)

IKEA Expands Solar Energy Production to Nearly 85 Percent of US Locations

January 27, 2012 | No Comments →

Last week, IKEA announced plans to install solar energy panels on five locations in the Midwest, extending the company’s solar presence to nearly 85 percent of its US locations. Pending governmental permits, installation can begin this winter, with completion expected in summer 2012.

Collectively, the five stores will total approximately 20,400 panels, 4.8 megawatts (MW) of solar generating capacity and an annual output of 5.62 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity –that’s the equivalent to reducing 4,273 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and  equal to eliminating the emissions of 760 cars or providing electricity for 484 homes yearly (calculating clean energy equivalents at www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html).

This investment by IKEA reinforces the company’s long-term commitment to sustainability and confidence in photovoltaic (PV) technology, and it’s worth noting that IKEA will own and operate each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings, as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement).

If you’re curious about more details, here are a few of the locations, along with approximate system statistics and corresponding clean energy equivalents: (more…)

General Motors Releases Its First Sustainability Report as New Company

January 25, 2012 | Comments (3)

General Motors believes that sustainability goals are best achieved when directly integrated into its business model, and the company reinforced this commitment last week with the release of its first global sustainability report since restructuring as a new company.

In particular, I was pleased to see that the report includes the incredibly forward-thinking declaration that what GM needs to grow its business is aligned with the needs of society –namely, energy alternatives and advanced technologies to help reduce dependency on petroleum, improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, as well as bold thinking about personal mobility in the 21st century.

Looking back over the past year, GM says it has made marked progress in water conservation, renewable energy use, wildlife habitat preservation, recycling waste and material repurposing. Plus, the company is expanding its Greening Supply Chain Initiative to additional suppliers and joint ventures in China, its largest national market. In 2010, GM also earned the title clean-tech patent leader by the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index for the advanced technology, fuel efficiency and overall sustainability-related aspects of its products.

Looking ahead to the next decade, GM plans to achieve even more. The company says it will: (more…)

For 2012, Corporate Sustainability Leaders Focus on Employee Engagement and Supply Chain

January 23, 2012 | Comments (2)

Where will your company focus its sustainability initiatives in the year ahead?

New survey results from corporate sustainability research and advisory firm Green Research show that, looking ahead to 2012, the majority of the businesses polled have decided to devote significant time and financial resources on two initiatives above all others: employee engagement and supplier sustainability performance.

The in-depth survey of nearly 50 top North American and European senior sustainability executives found that:

  • 88 percent of companies plan to invest in employee engagement in 2012.
  • 73 percent said they will focus on improving sustainability performance of their suppliers.

In addition, Green Research discovered that sustainability spending will rise significantly in 2012.

  • 50 percent of those polled said their firms will increase spending on sustainability initiatives.
  • 33 percent plan to add staff to their sustainability departments.
  • 25 percent reported they will increase budgets of sustainability departments.

The report also includes insights regarding: (more…)

General Mills Earns LEED-Certification for Production Facility

January 20, 2012 | No Comments →

The US Green Building Council awarded General Mills yet another LEED Gold certification –this one for its expanded production facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Three of General Mills’ company buildings have already earned LEED certification.

Environmental benefits of the expanded production facility include:

  • An aggressive recycling program almost eliminating waste paper, plastics, cardboard and packaging.
  • A 30 percent reduction in energy use due to the production line’s new proprietary high-efficiency oven.
  • A 30 percent reduction in indoor water use with the installation of high-efficiency faucets and low-flow plumbing.
  • A 70 percent reduction in irrigation water with the use of native vegetation for landscaping.

The following commitments also contributed to the plant’s certification: (more…)