How can sustainability execs leverage Biden’s policy agenda?    

March 29, 2021 by  
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How can sustainability execs leverage Biden’s policy agenda?     Dawn Rittenhouse Mon, 03/29/2021 – 00:15 Well before Jan. 20, when President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office, they made it clear they would start their terms with a clear policy agenda that addressed seven areas : COVID-19 climate change racial equity economic recovery health care immigration restoring America’s global standing All of these policy areas connect to the sustainability agenda, so the sustainability community will need to be heavily engaged. And, given how clearly the White House has laid out its agenda, this offers sustainability practitioners the unique opportunity to think holistically and develop corporate policies and actions that will affect not just one but a number of these policy areas. All of the Biden administration’s policy areas connect to the sustainability agenda, so the sustainability community will need to be heavily engaged. We challenged the Sustainability Veterans members to suggest what they would recommend to those currently leading sustainability efforts in their organizations. For all of us, it was not an easy ask. While we are experienced in developing and measuring actions in one dimension, guiding thinking to consider multiple areas of impact is considerably harder. The responses below represent just the beginning of the conversation to link all these areas together into a more cohesive and comprehensive approach for the private sector. Kathrin Winkler, former chief sustainability officer for EMC, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz: The president’s priorities provide a roadmap for companies to look beyond their obvious material issues. Together with stakeholders, companies should carefully examine and question their roles in entrenching the status quo of systems that may leave some behind, however unintentionally. A company may not consider itself dependent on immigrant labor, for example. But what of its contractors — are they? Do the company’s procurement policies encourage access to economic opportunity and quality health care? It’s time to dig deeper! Bart Alexander, former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors: America’s global standing grows when our actions demonstrate our values of democracy, opportunity and human rights; it diminishes when our overt or covert actions elevate narrow interests ahead of what we profess. Similarly, corporations now voicing support for climate action, diversity, health and justice will be judged by what they actually do. In particular, companies will be held accountable for their direct and indirect political contributions and lobbying activities that either reinforce or undermine their pronouncements. Mark Buckley, former vice president of sustainability at Staples and founder of One Boat Collaborative: President Biden’s priorities in tackling COVID-19 and climate change represent “externalities” with global impact regardless of borders or socioeconomic standing. However, they both expose the gap in equality placing an even greater burden on vulnerable populations who we risk being left behind and are unable to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate. What can companies learn from the pandemic which might apply to tackling climate change, and which can create equitable business opportunities on a warming planet? Ellen Weinreb, sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder of Sustainability Veterans: The intersection of the Biden/Harris agenda speaks to our common humanity: As businesses, we have a mandate, from society, from policymakers and from our shareholders to do more than create economic value. We must rethink the fundamental purpose of business: It’s to create the conditions for every person, especially the most vulnerable, to thrive. Cecily Joseph, former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec, chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School: Business will be more effective in addressing the Biden/Harris policy priorities with programs that look at their interconnectedness. For example, a focus on building anti-discrimination and education, income and wealth gap programs will help solve for the COVID-19 pandemic, improve our healthcare systems and move towards a more resilient economic recovery. If we don’t work to repair racial inequities which are disproportionately impacting [Black, Indigenous and people of color] communities, we won’t be successful moving forward on the other priorities. Trisa Thompson, lawyer, former chief responsibility officer at Dell Technologies: Companies have a unique window of opportunity amidst the chaos today to lead by example and help restore democracy, faith in institutions, our economy and our global standing. Companies should be radically transparent in all that they do. Americans no longer trust institutions. They should set the example globally of how we can defeat climate change and change the math on racial and social inequality. It is within their power to lead the transformation for a more healthy, equitable world, and I believe they have the collective will to do it. Dawn Rittenhouse, director of sustainable development for the DuPont Company (1998-2019): As President Biden re-engages the U.S. in solving global challenges through the Paris Climate Agreement and the World Health Organization, there is an unprecedented opportunity for companies to step up and demonstrate that new and repurposed innovations can deliver solutions that benefit everybody. This is the time for sustainability leaders to think big and engage with policymakers to demonstrate companies have the ideas to deliver on policy goals and demonstrate U.S. leadership. About Sustainability Veterans: We are a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in the world of corporate sustainability. We are exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success. Pull Quote All of the Biden administration’s policy areas connect to the sustainability agenda, so the sustainability community will need to be heavily engaged. Contributors Trisa Thompson Topics Policy & Politics CSO Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage via Shutterstock

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How can sustainability execs leverage Biden’s policy agenda?    

Tips for auditing an ethical supply chain

March 29, 2021 by  
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Tips for auditing an ethical supply chain Jerome Brustlein Mon, 03/29/2021 – 00:01 Many serious concerns have hung over the supply chains of global corporations for decades, ranging from human rights issues to lack of transparency about sourcing and other matters. In the jewelry industry, the issues have ranged from unsafe mining practices and child labor to money laundering through the supply chains themselves.  The rise of conscious consumers has altered how brands compete, and ethical supply chains have become a source of competitive advantage as brands leverage prestigious certifications such as B Corp status to closely align themselves with mindful consumers who value sustainability, transparency and accountability.  But what defines an ethical supply chain and what does it look like in practice?  Put simply, an ethical supply chain focuses on the need to embrace corporate social responsibility and produce products or services in a way that treats both workers and the environment ethically. In practice, this means weaving these principles into the fabric of the business. For example, at Fenton, our teams believe everyone involved in the process of creating the company’s beautiful products should benefit from the value creation and come to no harm.  Unsurprisingly, to adhere to these principles, ethical supply chains require much more vigilance to set up and to crucially oversee (in comparison to traditional supply chains). We’ve regularly conducted unplanned visits to ensure that our conduct expectations are being adhered to and all reports from the team on the floor are accurate and true. Weekly audits remain an integral aspect of the responsible sourcing process and have been shown to improve working conditions, health and safety, environmental sustainability along with bribery and anti-corruption.  It’s Fenton’s mission to bring transparency and accountability to the jewelry industry, an industry once synonymous with opaque supply chains, riddled with middlemen adding no value to the product and driving prices up. The company’s business model centers around diligently overseeing its supply chain and sourcing exclusively from world leaders in ethical mining, such as Sri Lanka. Thus, I take this opportunity to offer tangible advice on how to audit an ethical supply chain and relate it to my own anecdotal experiences at Fenton. Embed internal teams on the workshop floor Audits receive criticism for being deceptive and disconnected from true accountability.  Often audits do not detect unauthorized subcontracting arrangements, and most audit firms have no investigative powers and limited capacity to verify that the information presented to them is both true and accurate. Secondly, auditors usually only inspect specific areas that suppliers choose to show them and are only able to speak to employees that they happen to see. Thus, it begs the question: What is the true state of play? Can a brand be truly vigilant of its supply chain if this is how it is managed? I suggest not.  Fenton has taken a different approach. The company has embedded several people on the workshop floor in South East Asia on a daily basis to ensure its values, ethical standards and best practices are adhered to at all times. This involves ensuring the right production and quality assurance steps for Fenton pieces are being respected along with coaching the team where needed (for example, on how to set a stone correctly) and ensuring the company’s code of conduct is upheld. Of course, this requires a much greater investment from the business, but it is fundamental to ensuring Fenton’s values are upheld on a daily basis. Implement stringent Know Your Customer procedures Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures are a critical function to assess customer risk and a legal requirement to comply with anti-money laundering laws. Effective KYC procedures involve knowing a customer’s identity, the risks it poses and their financial activity.  KYC procedures were first implemented by financial institutions but since have become a core component of ethical supply chain management practice. The process obviously differs depending on the industry, but the core framework behind the KYC procedure remains the same. Establish a mandatory process of identifying and verifying a customer/client/etc. Ensure you know and understand the ownership structure of all your suppliers Validate the legitimacy of their claims Verify or halt the relationship if the KYC standards are not met Fenton scrutinizes the operations of any potential supplier before agreeing do to business with it. This includes requiring it to prove the salaries that it pays employees, the beneficial owners of the business, and making sure it is in good stead with its taxes. Set a strict code of conduct all vendors need to abide by It’s also vital to expect all suppliers to meet — and where possible exceed — all applicable laws and regulations in force in the countries where your company operates.  Having “boots on the ground” will enable your company to remain attentive to this at all times, and encourage your partners to go beyond legal compliance and abide by all relevant international and brand standards with a commitment to continuous improvements. Having our team embedded on the workshop floor has been crucial to this process at Fenton. We’ve regularly conducted unplanned visits to ensure that our conduct expectations are being adhered to and all reports from the team on the floor are accurate and true. Apply for BCorp status There is obviously notable prestige in being granted such a certification; however, there is a lot of value in the application process itself.  As a brand, it forces your company to place itself under the microscope and scrutinize its processes from a third-party specialist perspective. From my own experience at Fenton, applying (and getting approved) for BCorp status really made our teams think deeply about what we do and how we continually can strive to uphold the values of the certification. For instance, we realized we could do more to source gemstones from smaller independent dealers and miners directly in Sri Lanka. As a result, Fenton tries to prioritize these sources as opposed to the larger dealers it works with in Mumbai. Pull Quote We’ve regularly conducted unplanned visits to ensure that our conduct expectations are being adhered to and all reports from the team on the floor are accurate and true. Topics Supply Chain Human Rights Corporate Strategy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Award-winning school and community complex achieves Net Zero Emissions

March 19, 2021 by  
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Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex recently won a coveted honor in the sustainable design category from the 2020 Boston Society for Architecture Design Awards. The complex is the first in the state to gain both  Net Zero Emissions  and  LEED v4 Platinum  designations, and it uses 43% less energy than the average local school and 70% less than the average United States school. Composed of multiple green and open spaces as well as five  playgrounds  to accommodate K-5 and 6-8 students, the $159 million complex spans 270,000 square feet. Headed by William Rawn Associates and Architecture with Arrowstreet, the project includes facilities for an elementary school, middle school, administration, preschool, afterschool, library, pool, human services programs and a parking garage. Related: Modular Tree-House School concept connects kids with nature “The project successfully leverages many sustainable tools and strategies: geothermal wells, great expanses of photovoltaic on all of the roof real estate; the smart use of an urban site,” said the award jury for the Sustainable Design Awards . “In addition to the design team’s masterful design, the City of Cambridge deserves recognition for its investment in an ambitious project that sets the bar for future schools and libraries.” The project is 100% electric and welcomes both  students  and the public to help promote community fellowship. The buildings themselves are characterized by colorful ombre tones and large glass windows, while rooftops and facades are covered in 3,600 PV  solar panels . The library is composed almost entirely of floor-to-ceiling windows and wood, and there is over an acre of open outdoor space. Apart from the solar panels, exterior sustainability features include sunshades, bioswale bridges and a hand-pumped rain garden. Inside, an exposed water reuse system is on display for student educational purposes, as well as daylight controls and heating/cooling elements. + William Rawn Associates + Arrowstreet Photography by Robert Benson

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Two pioneers chart paths to energy justice

March 4, 2021 by  
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Two pioneers chart paths to energy justice Alec Appelbaum Thu, 03/04/2021 – 00:12 Renewables are the answer, but what’s the question? In two webinars taking place the week after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, an entrepreneur and a scholar challenged audiences to picture how an enterprise and a policy regime could supply solar and other fossil-free energy to more people with more broadly dispersed downsides. The first speaker, Steph Speirs, runs a company called Solstice that uses software and outreach to find good prospective customers for community-solar plans. The other speaker, Shalanda Baker, runs an institute and teaches ways to organize around fair siting, pricing and regulating of solar.  For both these leaders, the business of creating and selling more clean energy fails to clear the threshold for durable and honorable business.  Both stressed that companies and regulators can find strong demand among neighborhoods where most people earn less than $50,000 per year. Speirs, a 2007 Yale University graduate who grew up in Hawaii, told a career-focused audience that she had never wanted to start a company because she’d grown up watching the damage that failing startups wrought on her father and on her parents’ marriage. After making it into private schools and universities, she focused on using business to broaden the market. It’s important to add energy to the list of ‘kitchen-table’ issues such as eviction that social justice advocates address. Estimating that 77 percent of Americans can’t install rooftop solar because they live in rentals or in buildings without panel-friendly roofs, Speirs described Solstice as a market-maker and problem-solver to connect ratepayers with community solar. “When you have one of your feet in privilege, you have to realize that the point of having privilege is to help those who don’t,” she said. “How do we create opportunities for people who, through no fault of their own, are locked out?”  Baker, starting an online dialogue with Yale School of the Environment lecturer Rob Klee, cast a parallel question: How can a new source of energy induce a new system for siting and pricing energy? In a discussion that tacked to the personal and political, Baker and Klee reviewed principles for renewable energy economics. All would support near-universal access to solar and wind, challenging some ingrained business models.  “There is a tension between the transition away from fossil fuels and issues of social justice,” Baker said, describing work among indigenous Mexican communities who were fighting displacement and pollution from a planned wind project. “Equity should be at the heart of the clean energy transition, and we have an opportunity to use energy as a vehicle for civil rights.”  Equity should be at the heart of the clean energy transition, and we have an opportunity to use energy as a vehicle for civil rights. On that logic, Baker said, it’s important to add energy to the list of “kitchen-table” issues such as eviction that social justice advocates address. That bridging needs to happen in part, she said, because energy policy “has been dominated by technocrats.” That, in turn, means all parties need to become fluent in rate design, efficiency, outreach on efficiency and proceedings.  Unlike Solstice’s work to spotlight reliable customers to pay for community solar, Baker’s challenges focus on goals other than utility profits. “We allow for utilities to have this reasonable return, and that’s allowed for deep investment in rural communities and other things for 100 years,” she said. “Now we need to do away with the investor-owned utility or incentivize it to engage in socially beneficial behavior.” That could mean backstopping energy resilience or compelling protection for refrigeration and other essential services during power shut-offs.  Both leaders pointed toward community solar, in which a developer sets up an array in one place to serve customers in another, as a key future marketplace. In Solstice’s story of ascendance and Baker’s dialogue, please find openings for entrepreneurial approaches to project finance, marketing, rate design and protection — and let us know what seems worth airing.  Pull Quote It’s important to add energy to the list of ‘kitchen-table’ issues such as eviction that social justice advocates address. Equity should be at the heart of the clean energy transition, and we have an opportunity to use energy as a vehicle for civil rights. Topics Renewable Energy Social Justice Solar Clean Energy Finance Forum Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Solar panels at night in a city. Shutterstock Thinnapob Proongsak Close Authorship

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The River School places classrooms around a central courtyard

February 1, 2021 by  
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Great design means different things to different people, but the best architectural design incorporates history, culture and functionality. In addition to these paramount foundational elements, L’École du Fleuve (The River School) also presents a plan that relies on locally sourced, sustainable and recycled materials. The River School won second place in the international Archstorming competition , which called for designs for a school in Senegal. The designers, Tina Gao and Prathyusha Viddam with research support from Amy Zhang, aimed their finished project at honoring the history of the local area, where making and using buckets and baskets is standard. They also drew inspiration from the rivers around the Casamance region; these rivers are central to the culture and economy of the area, as is education. Related: Green school in Bali shows students how to live sustainably The competition was organized in conjunction with NGO Let’s Build My School (LBMS), a U.K.-based charity with a focus on building schools in developing countries, especially in remote areas with limited access. The brief for the competition outlined the need for using local, renewable materials and easy, affordable construction techniques. The idea is for community members to be able to use the design elements to build homes and other buildings by replicating the process. L’École du Fleuve is situated to curve around an existing tree that provides a gathering space in the shade. Like a bend in a river, the building arcs with all classrooms facing the central courtyard. The doors for each classroom are composed of bamboo screens that can fully extend to open the classroom to the outdoors. Outside of the classrooms, gardens provide vegetables, which are then served from a small kitchen. Sustainable building requires attention to water usage. The River School harvests water through a terraced rainwater channel in the courtyard. The water is then funneled into two percolation ponds. A PVC pipe inserted into each pond then disperses the water into the ground and back to the well. In addition, a collection tank in the restroom is filled with water collected from gutters along the roof. Going back to the process of bucket making, the outer facade is made up of adobe bricks formed using plastic buckets as molds. The bricks are stacked in a pattern that resembles traditional baskets, paying tribute to the way Senegal’s women balance baskets on their heads. The process for laying the bricks allows for sunlight and ventilation within the space. Primary walls are composed of easy-to-source natural materials , such as clay, sand and straw. A small amount of cement speeds up the process and stabilizes the structure. The roof trusses are made from locally grown bamboo in a process that the community can replicate in other buildings.  + Essential Design Images via Essential Design

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The River School places classrooms around a central courtyard

5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021

January 21, 2021 by  
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5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021 Pamela Gordon Thu, 01/21/2021 – 01:40 Amongst the many dramatic challenges global businesses faced in 2020, one that had been simmering for years bubbled up and promised to stay at a high boil in 2021 is ESG: Environment, Social, Governance.  Signs that ESG expectations were becoming more ubiquitous included the establishment of global ESG standards published by the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council in September and BlackRock’s call for a globally recognized framework for investors to understand individual company risks.  Despite years of progress by leading corporations toward ESG, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental health and safety (EHS) and sustainability goals, the reality is that board members overseeing these companies are still trying to discern how all of this applies to them. In fact, in PwC’s annual Corporate Directors survey , which includes responses from more than 600 public board directors, only half (51 percent) say their board fully understands ESG issues impacting the company. That same study shows, however, that in 2020, 45 percent of directors say that ESG issues are a regular part of the board’s agenda, which demonstrates an increase from 34 percent in 2019. Time for training How can boards (public and private) improve their efficacy in ESG oversight for long-term value? As ESG experts, Presidians and members of the Athena Alliance (community of female corporate board directors and executives), we set out to help boards to become ESG-ready .  To start, we uncovered board members’ keenest ESG-education needs by surveying sitting board members at public (39 percent) and private (61 percent) companies, generating annual revenues of less than $50 million to $3 billion. They look to ESG to realize the following areas of corporate success: Source: Presidio Graduate School survey, October through December 2020 Then, we developed an ESG training for board members, along with the following five recommendations for board members to get ESG-ready for 2021. 1. Understand why boards need to be ESG-ready In our survey, 47 percent of directors believe ESG is important for brand equity and reputation, 24 percent cited both customer and investor pressure, and 18 percent pointed to risk management and board pressure. One sitting board member said that ESG is “an inherent part of the business model.” Board oversight includes advising the management team on the company strategy, and ensuring improved long term value for all stakeholders. Directors must understand how ESG issues can affect that strategy, and be in a position to assess and address both challenges and opportunities. To get started, align the board on why they should care, in light of demands from stakeholders such as customers, employees, investors, communities and suppliers. Invite an ESG expert to convey how ESG is material to your particular company.  2. Add ESG to your next board meeting agenda When asked what level of importance their boards put on ESG, 76 percent of our survey respondents said “important” or “very important,” yet only 47 percent said their companies report on ESG, and 35 percent said their board provides ESG oversight. Compare that to the 45 percent stated by public companies in the PwC survey, and we are still looking at less than half of company boards addressing ESG even as investors and other business stakeholders demand it. Add ESG to your next board agenda, even if only to start the conversation with the management team. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that somewhere in the organization people have been working on ESG initiatives and have been waiting for the conversation to reach the board. Risk and reputation are two of the most fundamental aspects of “duty of care” for sitting board directors. Corporate leaders who take a broader view of their long-term strategy, including how they will meet ESG demands, will be better positioned to address new risks and opportunities.  3. Select an ESG oversight structure that aligns with your company More than half (52 percent) of our survey respondents serve on the Nominating and Governance committees of their boards, with 20 percent stating they sit on a specialized ESG/EHS working group or committee. Some companies split the elements of ESG between committees, with “social” sitting with the compensation committee for example, as they typically manage diversity, equity and talent initiatives. Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated. A recent article by the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance offers an excellent guide on how to address ESG and corporate governance within the board committees, noting most importantly, “Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated.”  4. Arm yourself with expertise In the PwC survey, respondents agreed that ESG issues are playing a larger role in their board discussions, and should be included in determining the company strategy. In fact, 67 percent of directors said the company should include climate change, human rights and income equality in the company strategy, a 13-point increase over 2019. Interestingly, female directors were more likely (60 percent) to see the link between ESG and company strategy than their male counterparts (46 percent), and agreed in higher percentages (79 percent vs. 64 percent) that climate change and human rights issues should be part of forming the company strategy.  As your board recruits new directors or replaces sitting directors, consider adding a director with ESG expertise, supplemented with an independent ESG consultant for a broader and future view. 5. Get educated When asked from which aspects of ESG education their boards would most benefit from, respondents prioritized: 1) diversity, equity and inclusion, 2) ESG/CSR reporting, 3) products’ environmental footprint/impact, 4) company operations’ environmental footprint/impact and 5) climate and renewable energy. Most prefer a half-day training, with some wanting a customized training for their entire board and others wanting to join training comprising individual board members representing diverse companies. Having interviewed board members over the years for materiality assessments, PGS Consults analysts note that board directors acknowledge their limited understanding of ESG and are genuinely open to learning more. The COVID-19 lockdown in March created a dramatic shift in board member interest in ESG — from polite inquiry to a more urgent need to know. Pull Quote Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated. Contributors Leilani Latimer Topics Corporate Strategy ESG Collective Insight Thinking in Systems Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Freedomz Close Authorship

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5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021

5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021

January 21, 2021 by  
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5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021 Pamela Gordon Thu, 01/21/2021 – 01:40 Amongst the many dramatic challenges global businesses faced in 2020, one that had been simmering for years bubbled up and promised to stay at a high boil in 2021 is ESG: Environment, Social, Governance.  Signs that ESG expectations were becoming more ubiquitous included the establishment of global ESG standards published by the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council in September and BlackRock’s call for a globally recognized framework for investors to understand individual company risks.  Despite years of progress by leading corporations toward ESG, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental health and safety (EHS) and sustainability goals, the reality is that board members overseeing these companies are still trying to discern how all of this applies to them. In fact, in PwC’s annual Corporate Directors survey , which includes responses from more than 600 public board directors, only half (51 percent) say their board fully understands ESG issues impacting the company. That same study shows, however, that in 2020, 45 percent of directors say that ESG issues are a regular part of the board’s agenda, which demonstrates an increase from 34 percent in 2019. Time for training How can boards (public and private) improve their efficacy in ESG oversight for long-term value? As ESG experts, Presidians and members of the Athena Alliance (community of female corporate board directors and executives), we set out to help boards to become ESG-ready .  To start, we uncovered board members’ keenest ESG-education needs by surveying sitting board members at public (39 percent) and private (61 percent) companies, generating annual revenues of less than $50 million to $3 billion. They look to ESG to realize the following areas of corporate success: Source: Presidio Graduate School survey, October through December 2020 Then, we developed an ESG training for board members, along with the following five recommendations for board members to get ESG-ready for 2021. 1. Understand why boards need to be ESG-ready In our survey, 47 percent of directors believe ESG is important for brand equity and reputation, 24 percent cited both customer and investor pressure, and 18 percent pointed to risk management and board pressure. One sitting board member said that ESG is “an inherent part of the business model.” Board oversight includes advising the management team on the company strategy, and ensuring improved long term value for all stakeholders. Directors must understand how ESG issues can affect that strategy, and be in a position to assess and address both challenges and opportunities. To get started, align the board on why they should care, in light of demands from stakeholders such as customers, employees, investors, communities and suppliers. Invite an ESG expert to convey how ESG is material to your particular company.  2. Add ESG to your next board meeting agenda When asked what level of importance their boards put on ESG, 76 percent of our survey respondents said “important” or “very important,” yet only 47 percent said their companies report on ESG, and 35 percent said their board provides ESG oversight. Compare that to the 45 percent stated by public companies in the PwC survey, and we are still looking at less than half of company boards addressing ESG even as investors and other business stakeholders demand it. Add ESG to your next board agenda, even if only to start the conversation with the management team. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that somewhere in the organization people have been working on ESG initiatives and have been waiting for the conversation to reach the board. Risk and reputation are two of the most fundamental aspects of “duty of care” for sitting board directors. Corporate leaders who take a broader view of their long-term strategy, including how they will meet ESG demands, will be better positioned to address new risks and opportunities.  3. Select an ESG oversight structure that aligns with your company More than half (52 percent) of our survey respondents serve on the Nominating and Governance committees of their boards, with 20 percent stating they sit on a specialized ESG/EHS working group or committee. Some companies split the elements of ESG between committees, with “social” sitting with the compensation committee for example, as they typically manage diversity, equity and talent initiatives. Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated. A recent article by the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance offers an excellent guide on how to address ESG and corporate governance within the board committees, noting most importantly, “Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated.”  4. Arm yourself with expertise In the PwC survey, respondents agreed that ESG issues are playing a larger role in their board discussions, and should be included in determining the company strategy. In fact, 67 percent of directors said the company should include climate change, human rights and income equality in the company strategy, a 13-point increase over 2019. Interestingly, female directors were more likely (60 percent) to see the link between ESG and company strategy than their male counterparts (46 percent), and agreed in higher percentages (79 percent vs. 64 percent) that climate change and human rights issues should be part of forming the company strategy.  As your board recruits new directors or replaces sitting directors, consider adding a director with ESG expertise, supplemented with an independent ESG consultant for a broader and future view. 5. Get educated When asked from which aspects of ESG education their boards would most benefit from, respondents prioritized: 1) diversity, equity and inclusion, 2) ESG/CSR reporting, 3) products’ environmental footprint/impact, 4) company operations’ environmental footprint/impact and 5) climate and renewable energy. Most prefer a half-day training, with some wanting a customized training for their entire board and others wanting to join training comprising individual board members representing diverse companies. Having interviewed board members over the years for materiality assessments, PGS Consults analysts note that board directors acknowledge their limited understanding of ESG and are genuinely open to learning more. The COVID-19 lockdown in March created a dramatic shift in board member interest in ESG — from polite inquiry to a more urgent need to know. Pull Quote Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated. Contributors Leilani Latimer Topics Corporate Strategy ESG Collective Insight Thinking in Systems Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Freedomz Close Authorship

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5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021

House of Childhood is a daycare that emphasizes energy efficiency

January 20, 2021 by  
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As part of a National Association for Urban Renewal project that will run until 2030, the Maison de l’enfance à Albertville (Savoie, France) is the first step in an ambitious urban development masterplan in the area. Translated House of Childhood, the building was designed by Tectoniques Agency and is functional, inviting, striking and environmentally friendly. With a commitment to early childhood, this initial project is a multipurpose facility with a dynamic, open floor plan that incorporates a municipal daycare center, a family daycare center, space for nursery assistants, a leisure area and a school restaurant. Related: Adorable prefab nursery in Greece mimics a tiny urban village According to a press release, the House of Childhood is, “set in the heart of the Bauges, Beaufortain, Lauzière and Grand Arc mountain ranges,” making for a natural backdrop in nearly every direction. Architects placed an emphasis on the upper level of the building in order to capture the sweeping landscape. In addition to exceptional views of the surrounding peaks, the building responds to a goal of minimal site impact . In fact, a compact design caters to the architects’ call for preserving the ground in anticipation of future land development of green spaces. The team relied on a concrete foundation — Albertville is in a seismic zone — but equally relied on natural materials like different types of locally sourced wood for framing and furniture. To soften the look, the concrete walls are surrounded by a wooden structure. The upper facade offers protection and visual appeal with a combination of shimmering bronze and copper coloring. A significant portion of the building was built using prefabricated panels, ensuring industrial quality while allowing expediency of construction. This technique enabled the project to be completed in 13 months. Energy-efficient elements are included, such as the biomass heating network and ventilation provided by an adiabatic AHU to keep children cool during hot summers. The centralized entrance provides access to a reception area on one end and the dining room, activity rooms and technical rooms on the other. The first floor houses a courtyard with a generous playground. Natural light illuminates the interior through a combination of skylights and glazed facades. The interior design is also focused on the children, drawing natural elements inside with fully exposed bleached beech and spruce walls, ceilings and furniture. Paint colors designate separate spaces; for example, yellow defines the changing rooms and blue defines the restrooms.  + Tectoniques agency Photography by Renaud Araud via Tectoniques agency 

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House of Childhood is a daycare that emphasizes energy efficiency

Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/06/2021 – 00:30 One of the big things I’m thinking about to kick off 2021 is how electric vehicles will be entwined with a U.S. recovery. Even before Joe Biden has formalized any green stimulus plans, the EV industry in the U.S. is showing important indicators that it will see solid growth this year — and that means jobs. New industry jobs. Electric jobs. Climate jobs.  Recently I chatted with the CEO and founder of Lion Electric , an electric bus and truck maker based in Saint-Jerome, Quebec. Marc Bedard founded the company 12 years ago — after working at a diesel school bus company in the 1990’s — with the goals of eliminating diesel engines for school buses and diesel fumes from the air that school kids breathe.  Lion got its start making electric school buses and has delivered major orders to the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, and White Plains School District in White Plains, New York. More recently it unveiled an electric delivery truck and scored orders with Amazon and Canadian logistics provider CN.  While Lion Electric already has a factory in Montreal that can make 2,500 e-buses and trucks a year, the company tells GreenBiz it plans to expand into the U.S. by buying and converting an American factory that could be large enough to make 20,000 vehicles a year. Lion will unveil more details about where exactly that factory could be in the coming weeks, although vehicle production there probably won’t start for a couple of years. The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Lion isn’t the only EV truck maker eying expansion into the U.S. market. Arrival — a London-based EV truck maker with a 10,000-EV deal with UPS —  plans to invest $43 million into its first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The factory is expected to produce 240 jobs, with operations to start in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to Arrival and Lion, a handful of other independent U.S. EV makers have emerged in recent years to tap into the growing American electric truck market, including Lordstown Motors , Hyliion , XL Fleet , Rivian, Nikola and Lightning eMotors. All of these companies recently have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and gone public by merging with “blank check” companies, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also called SPACs).  Although the financial tool is a bit speculative in nature — the SPAC process is far quicker and less rigorous than going public via a traditional initial public offering — it turns out that SPACs, strangely enough, could help create thousands, if not tens of thousands, American EV industry jobs. Hopefully, most of those will end up being long-term, stable jobs.  And those are just the latest jobs from the newest players. Ford is developing an all-electric cargo van at a Kansas City plant that will create 150 jobs this year. That’s on top of the hundreds of other new EV jobs created by Ford’s new electric vehicle lines, the electric F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise, Daimler Trucks North America has been converting and expanding its factory to make electric trucks at its Swan Island headquarters in North Portland, Oregon. The new EV jobs couldn’t come at a better time. Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 saw historic American unemployment rates peaking in April and recovering to just 6.7 percent unemployment as of November. But with a slow vaccine rollout and surging infection rates, prolonged long-term high unemployment rates are expected. Clean energy jobs have been equally hit hard, with about a half-million clean energy workers left unemployed by the pandemic this year.  Despite not knowing what Biden’s green stimulus will look like, the administration already has signaled that the automakers could be a big part of a recovery. Biden selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his energy department secretary. Granholm worked closely with the Obama administration and the auto industry throughout the green stimulus program following the 2008 financial crisis.  The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. And these are just jobs from the vehicle manufacturers.  Equally strong job growth is expected for EV infrastructure providers riding the same electric wave and could get even more of a boost from a green infrastructure stimulus. A federal government stimulus also could inject funding and jobs into a growing domestic EV battery production sector.  In what is expected to be another dark couple of quarters for employment in 2021, look to EV jobs to offer a bright spot.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Pull Quote The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Jobs & Careers Electric Vehicles Electric Bus Electric School Buses Electric Trucks Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/06/2021 – 00:30 One of the big things I’m thinking about to kick off 2021 is how electric vehicles will be entwined with a U.S. recovery. Even before Joe Biden has formalized any green stimulus plans, the EV industry in the U.S. is showing important indicators that it will see solid growth this year — and that means jobs. New industry jobs. Electric jobs. Climate jobs.  Recently I chatted with the CEO and founder of Lion Electric , an electric bus and truck maker based in Saint-Jerome, Quebec. Marc Bedard founded the company 12 years ago — after working at a diesel school bus company in the 1990’s — with the goals of eliminating diesel engines for school buses and diesel fumes from the air that school kids breathe.  Lion got its start making electric school buses and has delivered major orders to the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, and White Plains School District in White Plains, New York. More recently it unveiled an electric delivery truck and scored orders with Amazon and Canadian logistics provider CN.  While Lion Electric already has a factory in Montreal that can make 2,500 e-buses and trucks a year, the company tells GreenBiz it plans to expand into the U.S. by buying and converting an American factory that could be large enough to make 20,000 vehicles a year. Lion will unveil more details about where exactly that factory could be in the coming weeks, although vehicle production there probably won’t start for a couple of years. The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Lion isn’t the only EV truck maker eying expansion into the U.S. market. Arrival — a London-based EV truck maker with a 10,000-EV deal with UPS —  plans to invest $43 million into its first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The factory is expected to produce 240 jobs, with operations to start in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to Arrival and Lion, a handful of other independent U.S. EV makers have emerged in recent years to tap into the growing American electric truck market, including Lordstown Motors , Hyliion , XL Fleet , Rivian, Nikola and Lightning eMotors. All of these companies recently have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and gone public by merging with “blank check” companies, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also called SPACs).  Although the financial tool is a bit speculative in nature — the SPAC process is far quicker and less rigorous than going public via a traditional initial public offering — it turns out that SPACs, strangely enough, could help create thousands, if not tens of thousands, American EV industry jobs. Hopefully, most of those will end up being long-term, stable jobs.  And those are just the latest jobs from the newest players. Ford is developing an all-electric cargo van at a Kansas City plant that will create 150 jobs this year. That’s on top of the hundreds of other new EV jobs created by Ford’s new electric vehicle lines, the electric F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise, Daimler Trucks North America has been converting and expanding its factory to make electric trucks at its Swan Island headquarters in North Portland, Oregon. The new EV jobs couldn’t come at a better time. Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 saw historic American unemployment rates peaking in April and recovering to just 6.7 percent unemployment as of November. But with a slow vaccine rollout and surging infection rates, prolonged long-term high unemployment rates are expected. Clean energy jobs have been equally hit hard, with about a half-million clean energy workers left unemployed by the pandemic this year.  Despite not knowing what Biden’s green stimulus will look like, the administration already has signaled that the automakers could be a big part of a recovery. Biden selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his energy department secretary. Granholm worked closely with the Obama administration and the auto industry throughout the green stimulus program following the 2008 financial crisis.  The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. And these are just jobs from the vehicle manufacturers.  Equally strong job growth is expected for EV infrastructure providers riding the same electric wave and could get even more of a boost from a green infrastructure stimulus. A federal government stimulus also could inject funding and jobs into a growing domestic EV battery production sector.  In what is expected to be another dark couple of quarters for employment in 2021, look to EV jobs to offer a bright spot.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Pull Quote The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Jobs & Careers Electric Vehicles Electric Bus Electric School Buses Electric Trucks Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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