The US BCSD welcomed over 60 sustainability professionals to Detroit, Michigan on June 6th and 7th, continuing work with our members on our five primary focus areas and introducing a number of new organizations to the US BCSD. Immediate feedback highlighted the one and a half day meeting as a resounding success, showing that the work we’re doing demonstrates a strong business case for sustainability in organizations and enterprises of any size.
For sustainable development to be a viable growth strategy, collaboration is key.
AW Armstrong, Program Manager for the US BCSD’s By-Product Synergy expansion efforts, led a productive and dynamic working group session on Monday, June 6th focused primarily on the US BCSD’s growth strategy for BPS. Representatives from Dow Chemical, Procter & Gamble, Novozymes, Texas Molecular and others discussed the next steps needed for the widespread adoption of the US BCSD’s By-Product Synergy process on a national scale. One key conclusion was that success on a regional scale depends highly on the diversity and number of organizations involved, both small and large, expanding opportunities for collaboration.
Wrapping up the plenary sessions on Tuesday, June 6th, the “Joining Forces: Connecting Groups in Sustainability” panel discussed the role and importance of collaboration between groups focused on sustainability. Moderated by Sabrina Watkins (ConocoPhillips), with panelists Carol Singer Neuvelt (NAEM), Jeff Hynds (Ingersoll Rand), Jessica McGlyn (WBCSD), and Ken Zarker (WA State Dept. of Ecology), the panel highlighted obstacles in collaboration, as well as opportunities. Ken Zarker pointed out that sustainability leaders should band together to increase their capacity. The Business Council is committed to establishing additional strategic partnerships with other organizations to leverage value and results.
Tools and applications to facilitate collaboration and better understanding are key.
The Advanced Synergies working group convened to continue planning for the US BCSD’s Water Synergy Project in Southern Louisiana. Susan Fernandes (US BCSD), Brent Dorsey (Entergy), and Sabrina Watkins (ConocoPhillips) presented the framework for the project, which has been launched in the New Orleans to Baton Rouge Mississippi River Corridor.
If nothing is done to manage the rising water issues, the Gulf Coast region could suffer more than $350 billion in economic losses over the next twenty years – losses that will affect all stakeholders in the region, including business. (Brent Dorsey, Entergy)
For example, one member company shared the example that it took them one year to recover from a foot of water in their refinery.
To achieve a long-term water collaboration plan in the region, the working group, which also included representatives from Marathon Oil, AECOM, Ingersoll Rand, the Council of Great Lakes Industries, and Baker Botts, discussed tools available to them. They focused on the WBCSD Global Water Tool and the GEMI Water Sustainability Tool, which can be used together to understand a company’s water needs in relation to local externalities. Using these tools, companies can assess impacts, risks, opportunities, and manage water-related issues at a local level.
Throughout Monday and Tuesday’s working group sessions and panel presentations, the US BCSD’s Cirrus database - a robust online database used by the US BCSD’s By-Product Synergy projects to facilitate, visualize, simplify and manage synergies between participating companies using Google-maps – was highlighted as an especially useful tool for collaboration. In the coming months, Cirrus’ application in BPS will be expanded, and use of the tool will be tailored to help manage potential water-related synergies in LA.
Reaching aggressive sustainability goals requires innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.
Tuesday afternoon panels “Growth in By-Product Synergy” and “PACE Financing” both highlighted innovative approaches to sustainability going on right now in the US. On BPS, John Bradburn (GM) and Marvin Sims (Procter and Gamble) discussed their company’s remarkable efforts to reduce and divert waste from the landfill.
Eight out of 143 P&G plants around the world are landfill-free, and 76 GM plants also send nothing to the landfill.
With PACE financing, panelists Greg Caplan (Lockheed Martin), David Leff (Worthington Industries), Daniel Chiefetz (Indie Energy), Alan Strachan (Ygrene Energy Fund) and Mark Bennett (Miller Canfield) demonstrated why PACE is a truly innovative funding opportunity. Chiefetz introduced his company’s application of renewable geothermal energy in buildings, and how it can be applied to the US BCSD energy efficiency improvement goals and PACE financing structure. Caplan and Leff provided real-world examples from energy efficiency improvement efforts already underway – Caplan introducing Lockheed’s role as a program energy efficiency expert, and Leff introducing the company perspective.
Climate and ecosystem pressures will have an ever-increasing impact on business sustainability.
Martine Stolk, the Business, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services working group chair from Dow Chemical, focused on methods to understand the business risks and opportunities (several outlined below) associated with ecosystem services.
- Unvalued ecological assets, including forests and wetlands
- Ecological remediation vs. conventional
- Green vs. Gray infrastructure
- Reputation/License to operate
- New business
- Scarcity or quality of natural resources, including water quality/quantity
- Disruption of operations from flooding, tsunamis, hurricanes
- Regulatory issues, like fishing quotas, logging bans, carbon tax/cap
Several case studies illustrated he business value of ecosystems. A clear example from Dow’s experience was the construction of a wetland for 1/30 of the cost of a conventional waste water treatment plant with comparable performance. Another ecosystem service opportunity was from a water utility planting trees in a watershed to cool their effluent to meet local temperature requirements with shade instead of investing in chillers that resulted in a project savings of $50 million.
On Tuesday, Brad Raffle from Pillsbury Law and Bill Corbett from URS outlined several land management and real estate strategies from the US BCSD’s Green Brownfield Initiative (GBI) that result in generating financial value from ecosystem services. Five key outcomes that were cited include:
- Water quality improvement
- Stormwater protection
- Aquifer recharge
- Quality of life improvements – improved property values
- Potential market for greenhouse gas emissions credits
The US BCSD is developing additional GBI project opportunities and hopes to replicate its early successes with the process.
Kieran Sikdar presented to the working group the tools and methodologies utilized in the US BCSD’s Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV) Guide Road Test Case Studies and also presented a framework for utilizing the GBI process, Ecological Life Cycle Assessment, Ecosystem Services Review and the CEV Guide to develop future projects to generate business value from ecosystem services.
We hope those of you who attended in Detroit found our meeting valuable to both your ongoing involvement in US BCSD projects, and to your larger role of promoting sustainability in your organization or company. We anticipate seeing you again on October 17th and 18th for our Fall Meeting in Tucson, Arizona.
Powerpoint presentations from Detroit can be downloaded by clicking the image below. (Please be patient, the file size is approximately 75 MB)