Here’s why companies should assess double materiality

February 24, 2021 by  
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Here’s why companies should assess double materiality Denielle Harrison Wed, 02/24/2021 – 01:20 This article originally was published in the BSR Insight . This is the first post in a four-part series on materiality. After years of debate over the definition of materiality, 2020 has brought a consensus that materiality is double — meaning that businesses should report on financially material topics that influence enterprise value as well as topics material to the economy, environment and people. The new definitions of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and the two papers published by the five reporting standard organizations helpfully clarify reporting standards’ different perspectives on the question “material to whom,” enabling greater interoperability between them:  On the one hand, a company identifies and assesses those sustainability issues that influence enterprise value. We also can call this “financial materiality” or “impacts inwards.” This is covered by the SASB definition of materiality. The main audience for this information is investors, lenders or other creditors. On the other hand, a company identifies and assesses impacts on the economy, environment and people. This refers to “environmental and social materiality” or “impacts outwards.” This is covered by the GRI definition of materiality. The main audience is a broad set of stakeholders, including governments, consumers, business partners, responsible investors, employees, civil society organizations, local communities and vulnerable groups. Take the topic of climate change. A business will want to understand how physical and transition risks may affect its enterprise value. Severe weather events may affect the company’s manufacturing sites or supply chain security, or climate regulation may mean that some of its products and services are no longer relevant. On the other hand, the company emits carbon emissions that affect the environment and people’s livelihoods. Double materiality is also applicable to an issue such as diversity, equity and inclusion. In a talent-tight market, a company’s ability to attract a diverse workforce may improve its pool of talent and workforce productivity and influence its enterprise value. If a company has discriminatory practices, this may result in lawsuits or change of leadership, which could in turn negatively affect enterprise value. On the other hand, discriminatory practices constitute an infringement on civil and human rights. However, some topics may constitute significant impacts outward without affecting enterprise value (top left quadrant of the matrix). Take the presence of conflict minerals in electronics companies’ supply chains. Minerals extracted in conflict zones are sold to perpetuate conflicts, affecting communities’ human rights and livelihoods. On the other hand, conflict minerals has not proven to negatively affect enterprise value.  Looking at the bottom-right quadrant, customer satisfaction likely will affect enterprise value. However, it might not constitute a significant impact on people, the environment or human rights. For the purposes of reporting, a business should engage its investors on topics that affect enterprise value (in the two right quadrants). The business will report to a wider range of stakeholders, such as consumers, business partners and local communities, on significant impacts to the economy, the environment and people (in the two top quadrants). So, why should companies apply this concept of double materiality? We hear from our members that despite having completed a materiality assessment, they still get questions from stakeholders about other issues that may not be material to their business. We hear that some topics such as modern slavery get board time and attention, even if this topic may not be material to the company. We hear that executives get tired of hearing that all sustainability issues are material topics, when actually they are not. By applying the concept of double materiality, a company will be able to clearly distinguish between inward and outward impacts. A company should report on all its significant impacts outwards, regardless whether they are material to the business. Applying the concept of double materiality will help answer stakeholder pressures for greater corporate transparency. The sustainability field has at times overestimated the impact of sustainability topics on the business. In our view, this can impede on the sustainability team’s ability to convey true priorities. By identifying those issues that are financially material, a sustainability team will be able to advance priorities that are truly a business concern. Understanding the link between inward and outward impacts of an issue will help the company build an adequate management plan, as well as report on these topics in a meaningful way to different stakeholders. When drawing a plan to manage an impact, such as labor rights in the supply chain, a business will be able to inform the plan with an understanding of whether this is a true risk for the business or whether this is part of the company’s responsibility to mitigate an impact on people. As businesses are looking to refresh their materiality assessment, applying the lens of double materiality will help enhance the value of the assessment for reporting and strategy. We will continue to explore how to enhance the value of materiality assessments in this blog series. We are interested in hearing your thoughts and continuing the conversation about double materiality with our members. Contact us . Contributors Charlotte Bancilhon Topics Reporting GreenFin Collective Insight BSR Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  THINK A  on Shutterstock.

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Here’s why companies should assess double materiality

Stockholm offices repurposed into apartments with green roof

February 9, 2021 by  
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When it comes to sustainability,  reusing  something that already exists is usually better than creating something new. The same goes for architecture, a fact that a local Stockholm firm exemplified with its newly unveiled project, which turned a 1990s office building into a series of apartments with a green roof. Dubbed “Vintertullstorget,” the project was able to preserve the existing concrete  structure rather than knocking it down and starting from scratch, reducing the need for excessive construction materials and labor. Instead, they chose to remodel the building and add three new stories, a first-level grocery store and a parking garage meant for both cars and bicycles. Related: A disused factory becomes an office with a landscaped bamboo roof terrace The result was a transformed building with 77 new apartments. The green roof combines wood, grass and plants to create a hidden oasis for residents. Inside, the main lobby hallway highlights black and white tiles and ample lighting with glass entrance doors. Individual apartments feature a shared portion of the wrap-around outdoor balcony as well as spacious, dark  marble  bathrooms, massive windows and a full kitchen. To give residents a better view, the balconies face a green courtyard. The exterior is painted in neutral shades of beige and dark gray, though the unique shape of the cascading  terraces  and windows helps give it a contemporary look. According to the architects, they responded to challenges from the recent coronavirus pandemic by allowing future residents to influence designers with custom features for individual apartments.  The project also  recycled  existing elements of the building. Designers found ways to disassemble and reuse marble from the tiles, iron from the railings, glass from the doors and lighting fixtures in multiple applications throughout construction. Apart from the repurposed character of the project, however, the sustainability aspect is most apparent in the building’s green roof; it works as an outdoor space, but also as a rainwater buffer for the building.  + Urban Couture Arkitekter Photography by Johan Fowelin

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Himalayan glacier breaks off in India, causing a deadly avalanche

February 9, 2021 by  
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An intense rescue mission has been underway in India since Sunday morning, following the break of a Himalayan glacier. The glacial breakoff triggered an avalanche of mud, water and rock debris that swept away a hydroelectric dam. At the time of writing, 26 people had died with at least 171 more people still missing. The disaster started at about 10:45 a.m. local time, when part of the Nanda Devi glacier broke away from a fragile area of Uttarakhand, the northern India state that borders China and Nepal. The region is known to be prone to landslides and flooding , a situation that has caused environmentalists to warn against development there. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 Those who witnessed the event from across the valley say that it happened in a flash. “It came very fast. There was no time to alert anyone,” Sanjay Singh Rana, an eye witness, told Reuters . “I felt that even we would be swept away.” It is believed that of the nearly 200 missing individuals, most were workers at the dam. According to the Uttarakhand state chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, the number of those reported missing could rise as more information is gathered. Additionally, 180 sheep washed away in the avalanche. It is still not clear why the glacier broke, especially when northern India is still experiencing winter. Global warming has increased ice melt in the Himalayas, but the region is still typically quite cold this time of year. The split glacier was part of the Nanda Devi peak at an altitude of 25,643 feet. The mountain is revered in India, with its name translated to mean the blessed goddess. Some locals even worship the mountain. Currently, the national park surrounding the peak, Nanda Devi National Park, is listed as an  UNESCO  World Heritage Site. Via NPR and Reuters Image via Avalok Sastri

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How climate change can be addressed through executive compensation

February 8, 2021 by  
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How climate change can be addressed through executive compensation Nidia Martínez Mon, 02/08/2021 – 00:44 Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are increasingly becoming incorporated across all aspects of organizations, including business strategies, operations and product/service offerings. Recent global research of boards of directors by Willis Towers Watson found that 70 to 80 percent of respondents have identified ESG priorities and developed ESG implementation plans. However, only 48 percent have fully incorporated ESG into their businesses, indicating that organizations are at different stages in their ESG journeys. While the most cited reason for taking ESG actions is that they see it as the right thing to do, over three-quarters (78 percent) of respondents indicate that they believe ESG is a key contributor to strong financial performance. Although many organizations have adopted ESG principles, executives and boards could do more to meet the demands of institutional investors, customers, employees and other stakeholders especially in regard to climate change risk. Some 41 percent of respondents ranked the environment — including climate change — as their leading ESG priority; and 43 percent anticipated it will remain No. 1 in three years. A particularly effective way to advance ESG principles is through redefining responsible leadership. And one of the most useful tools in prompting leaders to address climate change and make their organizations more sustainable is through compensation and incentive programs, and the incorporation of new climate-action metrics into such programs. Rising demand for sustainable solutions The drive to make companies more climate resilient and sustainable started with institutional investors, long aware of climate risk. Consumer awareness, likewise, has grown significantly as climate change becomes more apparent in their daily lives amid news stories about extreme weather, such as wildfires. Many consumers are more conscious than ever when choosing brands whose policies meet their own interests. For some, this attitude carries over as a factor in the companies they choose to work for, further encouraging organizations to incorporate climate action and sustainability, among other ESG criteria, to help attract and engage the best talent. Only 48% of CEOs are implementing sustainability into their operations. Despite this backdrop, many boards have not incorporated climate awareness into their organizations yet. Analysis of company public disclosures conducted by Willis Towers Watson shows that while about 11 percent of the top 350 European companies have CO2 emissions linked to their incentive plans, only 2 percent of US S&P 500 companies have it. As we look forward, nearly four out of five (78 percent) survey respondents plan to change their use of ESG priorities in executive incentive plans over the next three years, with 40 percent looking to introduce ESG measures into long-term incentive plans and nearly one-third looking to increase the prominence of environmental measures. Executives acknowledge need for climate action Despite the lack of environmental and climate metrics in executive compensation and rewards programs, executives acknowledge the need to address climate risk. According to a 2019 survey by the United Nations (UN) and Accenture , 71 percent of CEOs believe that — with increased commitment and action — business can play a critical role in contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Yet only 48 percent of CEOs are implementing sustainability into their operations, consistent with the findings from Willis Towers Watson’s research as noted earlier. Our research found that the most common challenges cited when incorporating ESG metrics into executive compensation plans include setting targets (52 percent), identifying (48 percent) and defining (47 percent) performance metrics, and establishing time periods to affect meaningful change (35 percent). Given these responses, it is fair to assume that the lack of standardized climate change metrics is holding back the wider adoption of including climate action in executive compensation. Furthermore, every business has a measurable carbon footprint. Therefore, boards can make reducing that footprint — with the ultimate goal of reaching carbon neutrality — a metric for their organizations and incorporate it into executive compensation. As every industry is different, the metrics to incentivize climate action need to be customized by sector, as highlighted through the industry-specific standards provided by the Sustainability Accountability Standards Board or other climate change disclosure frameworks such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). As organizations refine their climate change strategies and disclosures, they can start to consider the linkages to their executive compensation programs. Multiple ways to link executive pay to climate action As indicated by our research, more boards will be linking relevant climate action measures to executive incentive plans over the next few years. There are a few ways to make the connection, ranging from underpins to modifiers to short-term incentive (STI) plans to key performance indicators (KPIs) within long-term incentive (LTI) plans to standalone hyper-long-term incentive plans. An underpin (or minimum funding threshold) is most appropriate in the case of a company with meaningfully high CO2 emissions that newly introduces climate sustainability metrics. It should include a threshold or basic level of CO2 emissions required for some payout under other incentive plan metrics to occur. An individual performance rating modifier can be tailored to an individual’s role and improve line-of-sight for more qualitative or strategic climate change objectives, but it may not promote collaboration by participants to achieve a common material goal. Plan modifiers are standalone metrics that consider the “how” and the “what.” A modifier allows for the entire STI or LTI award payout to be increased or decreased by a certain percentage. If the underlying target is met, then no modification would be made and the underlying STI or LTI award would be made based on the other metrics. KPIs provide a direct measure that reinforces the importance of climate change and usually are easily communicated, quantifiable objectives. A more highly weighted metric requires clear linkages to funded metrics, but the KPI needs to have a material weighting to demonstrate its importance to plan participants and external stakeholders. KPIs in LTI plans introduce standalone climate change metrics that are most appropriate if there is a longer time horizon to produce measurable results (such as carbon emission reductions). A drawback, however, is the length of performance period may dilute momentum to achieve sustainability results, the key drivers of LTI plan performance, and could de-emphasize financial/market performance. Standalone incentive plans are separate from other incentive plans, with the sole purpose of measuring sustainability performance and reducing climate risk (such as a hyper-long term that aligns with the sustainability strategy). Such plans encourage participants to take a longer-term view of performance, but they may be difficult to communicate or viewed as duplicative of other incentives. Because most CO2 emission reduction targets tend to have longer-term horizons, the typical annual and three-year incentives may not be directly aligned with these goals. Nonetheless, even short-term incentives can have a significant impact in terms of corporate culture. But to encourage longer-term decision making (for example, a target period of 10 years) often associated with large capital investments, and to emphasize its prominence, companies could introduce a separate, hyper-long-term incentive plan focused solely on CO2 emission reductions. Modern incentive plans are based on time as a constant (such as one- or three-year performance periods) and performance as a variable (achievement of threshold, target, stretch goals). However, a hyper-LTI could allow a different variation, in that the performance goal could be treated as constant (CO2 emission reduction of 50 percent) and time could be treated as the variable. Thus, encouraging early achievement of goals via incentive upside, and conversely punishing delayed achievement of CO2 reduction targets with an incentive downside. Climate-related measures can provide a return on investment through reduced energy consumption and waste in addition to the goodwill of stakeholders such as investors, customers and employees. Implementing such incentive arrangements may not be straightforward. Companies will need to consider whether and how best to rebalance other components of pay, how to deal with disclosures of mega-LTI grants, and ensure that targets are sufficiently stretched so that proxy advisers do not perceive these plans to have soft targets as way of boosting executive pay. Large institutional investors have supported proposals for long-term alignment between CO2 emissions and incentives, provided that the quantum and opportunity are properly calibrated, and mechanics are carefully laid out. To convince skeptics, focus on the bottom line For boards and management that are a little more suspect of climate sustainability, consider that climate-related measures can provide a return on investment through reduced energy consumption and waste in addition to the goodwill of stakeholders such as investors, customers and employees. As the World Economic Forum’s January 2019 publication on effective climate governance for boards sets out, monetary incentives for senior management teams should be tied to long-term organizational goals that contribute to resilience and prosperity over time. There is little to prevent linking climate-risk and opportunity-related factors to compensation if they are material to an organization’s long-term sustainability, value creation and risk mitigation. Executive compensation always has been an effective tool to foster innovation. Now we must marshal its power to encourage the march toward a climate resilient future. Pull Quote Only 48% of CEOs are implementing sustainability into their operations. Climate-related measures can provide a return on investment through reduced energy consumption and waste in addition to the goodwill of stakeholders such as investors, customers and employees. Contributors Ryan Resch Topics Leadership Finance & Investing Risk & Resilience WEForum Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Illustration of a deal being closed. Shutterstock kentoh Close Authorship

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Sustainability Resolutions To Embrace in 2021

January 28, 2021 by  
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It’s not too late to make your New Year’s resolutions … The post Sustainability Resolutions To Embrace in 2021 appeared first on Earth 911.

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Finding the Real Green Thing

January 28, 2021 by  
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Most Americans want to buy sustainable products. But it isn’t … The post Finding the Real Green Thing appeared first on Earth 911.

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Finding the Real Green Thing

Can we finally standardize ESG standards?

January 19, 2021 by  
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Can we finally standardize ESG standards? Tim Mohin Tue, 01/19/2021 – 01:00 Most GreenBiz readers are well aware of the complex sustainability reporting landscape. It seems like every year new reporting standards or frameworks are added to the overstuffed workload of the corporate sustainability professional. As the former chief executive of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), I had a role in the ongoing movement to “standardize the standards” that companies use to report their sustainability results. I also worked on the corporate side (Intel, Apple and AMD) and have a deep appreciation of the work that goes into these reports. Over the years, there has been more talk than action on reducing confusion and burden in the reporting space. To be fair, some of the burden is self-inflicted by companies that insist on publishing 100-plus page sustainability reports. Over the years, there has been more talk than action on reducing confusion and burden in the reporting space. As we enter 2021, there are strong signals of meaningful change in the sustainability reporting world. Three main trends are emerging: Mandatory disclosure: Policymakers are increasingly requiring ESG disclosure around the world . For example, the European Union (EU) will tighten its “Non-Financial Reporting Directive” in 2021 , which requires environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure from companies with more than 500 employees doing business in the EU. And it’s likely that the incoming U.S. administration will introduce new ESG mandates as well. Investor demand: There were record inflows to ESG investment funds in 2020 and the total tops $40 trillion — larger than the entire U.S. economy . Major asset managers such as BlackRock are using their ownership stake to pressure companies to improve their ESG disclosures. Consolidated ESG standards: Recently, four leading ESG standards organizations — GRI, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB); CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project); the Carbon Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB); and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) — declared their intent to collaborate . While this is a welcome signal, all of this work could be rendered moot by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation’s proposal to develop ESG standards . One hundred twenty countries use the IFRS Standards as the foundation for company financial disclosure, making it more than likely that these countries will endorse and require companies to use the new ESG standards. The IFRS Foundation received more than 500 comment letters on its sustainability standards proposal with many key stakeholders in support . Given the momentum, the IFRS Foundation seems well-positioned to accomplish the elusive goal of a single global ESG standard I have stated publicly and will reiterate here that I strongly support the IFRS action. A globally accepted ESG standard will improve the quality and comparability of disclosure, unlocking investment and trade that will improve, rather than ignore, the sustainability needs of society. But there are several key challenges to address: 1. Materiality: The mission of the IFRS Foundation is “to develop standards that bring transparency, accountability and efficiency to financial markets around the world.” The concerns of financial markets are a subset of the broader concerns of sustainability. The IFRS Foundation must adopt a broader view to create transparency for sustainability issues that may not yet be financially material to companies or investors but are very important from a sustainability lens. Many companies already report on ESG matters beyond the scope of financial materiality and, as we saw in the pandemic, the definition of materiality is fluid and dynamic. It’s crucial that the IFRS articulates a strategy to straddle the boundary of “dual materiality,” enabling transparency on issues important for financial reasons and important to people and the planet. 2. Comparability: Many have criticized the lack of comparability in sustainability disclosures. Sustainability, unlike financial matters, includes a vast array of disparate issues that are not easily compared. An example is reporting on gender diversity vs. greenhouse gas emissions: Both are well within the scope of sustainability reporting, but obviously can be neither compared nor offset. As such factors cannot be reasonably merged into a sustainability score, they must be compared within the boundaries of the topic. The IFRS should emphasize the inherent lack of comparability between disparate ESG issues. To enhance ESG comparability, the IFRS should consider the concepts in the International Business Council/World Economic Forum report: ” Measuring Stakeholder Capitalism: Towards Common Metrics and Consistent Reporting of Sustainable Value Creation .” It outlines a series of universal metrics drawn from existing ESG standards. Setting aside the selection of the metrics, universally required disclosures will provide greater consistency of reporting across sectors and thus increase the quality and comparability of reporting. 3. Capabilities: The IFRS’s competency and credibility in the development of globally accepted financial disclosure standards makes them a natural hub for this work. But, because they have little experience with ESG issues, they will need to hire staff with sustainability credentials. And as they develop the standards, the IFRS must engage recognized experts in each respective topic that represent all relevant sectors, geographies and stakeholders. Blending sustainability expertise with the IFRS core competencies will not be easy, but is essential for the success of this proposal. 4. Technology: The sad fact is that the tools for gathering, auditing and reporting sustainability information are poor. The IFRS should incorporate the latest reporting technology into its sustainability standards. Information technology will not only reduce the burden of reporting, it will make it more actionable. Technology also will improve the quality of reporting, thus making it more reliable for investors and stakeholders and thus more effective in driving sustainability benefits. After 35 years working in this field, it’s rewarding to see the rapid maturation of the sustainability movement. By taking on ESG standards, the IFRS Foundation is forging a path toward a global common language for sustainability. It is also confirming that sustainability has moved into the mainstream of global commerce. In essence, this signals the alignment of capitalism with the needs of people and our planet — and not a moment too soon. Pull Quote Over the years, there has been more talk than action on reducing confusion and burden in the reporting space. Topics Standards & Certification ESG GreenFin Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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How My Green Lab is cleaning up R&D

January 19, 2021 by  
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How My Green Lab is cleaning up R&D Elsa Wenzel Tue, 01/19/2021 – 00:30 Solutions to the world’s biggest problems, including climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, are studied in research laboratories across the globe. But as sterile as those labs may appear, they have a dirty secret: immense carbon footprints. Labs burn through five to 10 times more energy per square foot than offices, an impact that may be magnified tenfold for clean rooms and other specialized facilities. For instance, 44 percent of the energy use of Harvard University is derived from its laboratories, which take up less than a quarter of campus space. Labs also send massive amounts of water down the drain and discard possibly billions of pounds of single-use plastics every year. A unifying force is needed that creates standards and fosters a space for strategies and best practices, according to James Connelly. That’s what he wants to deliver as the new CEO of My Green Lab, which works with life sciences leaders including AstraZeneca and Agilent. “It’s sort of a surprising fact how much energy and water and materials that laboratory spaces consume,” Connelly said. “It’s been ignored by the green building world a little bit because it’s difficult to address. So the unique aspect of what My Green Lab does is, it was created by scientists, for scientists to help work on behavior change and a transformation of how the labs are actually operated and how science and research is performed.” We’re seeing an acceleration of interest and excitement about sustainability through the pandemic, an overall awakening of the life science industry to sustainability. At universities and corporations alike, addressing emissions and waste in labs can significantly drive down costs and further sustainability commitments. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, if half of America’s labs shaved off 30 percent of their energy use, the total savings would be equivalent to the annual energy use of 840,000 homes.  “My Green Lab is a brilliant project because it reaches out to change behavior and mindset of scientists in the lab,” said Pernilla Sörme, risk management lead in global safety, health and environment at AstraZeneca, which expanded Green Lab Certification to seven sites across its global portfolio. The nonprofit is the first consolidated effort to educate researchers about sustainability in laboratory operations. Its Green Lab Certification already has labeled more than 400 labs. Last year, the Colorado Department of Agriculture became the first government lab to reach “green,” the highest of five levels. If that sounds similar to green building standards, such as LEED, that’s by design: My Green Lab is gunning to become the leading sustainability advocacy group in the life sciences, globally. Connelly comes to the growing organization by way of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), which he helped expand into the world’s leading proponent of regenerative, healthy and equitable building design —  managing its Green Building Challenge and Living Product Challenge before serving as VP of projects and strategic growth. Projects and progress My Green Lab’s 15 partners and sponsors include biotech giant Genentech, MilliporeSigma and USA Scientific. The nonprofit also has teamed up with the EPA to bring the Department of Energy’s Energy Star label to ultra-low temperature freezers used for COVID-19 vaccines, applied first to equipment sold by Stirling Ultracold, another sponsor of My Green Lab. My Green Lab also runs the ACT “eco-nutrition” label for lab equipment. (ACT stands for Accountability, Consistency, and Transparency). It was created to help procurement officials and scientists with purchasing. The organization is working directly with manufacturers, including scientific instruments maker Thermo Fisher, to set benchmarks on products and packaging design. The label rates the sustainability of products consumed in laboratories including beakers, pipettes, bottles and equipment such as autoclaves and chemicals. The ratings represent data from the GreenScreen safer chemicals benchmark as well as details on packaging and product handling at the end of life. Last April, diagnostics equipment leader Agilent signed up as a My Green Lab sponsor and also to have its instruments certified for ACT. “We chose to work with My Green Lab because, like them, we understand the importance of building a more sustainable scientific industry,” said Darlene Solomon, Agilent’s chief technology officer and senior vice president. “In many cases, product developments in support of sustainability also reduce laboratory risk. As we see the importance and value that our customers place on sustainability growing, the ACT instrument labels from My Green Lab will play a major role in helping those customers to make more informed, sustainable decisions for their analytical laboratory.” The number of standalone lab-greening efforts has grown since Harvard-trained neuroscientist Allison Paradise created My Green Lab in 2013, from about 10 to 90 groups that engage tens of thousands of scientists around the world. “We’re seeing an acceleration of interest and excitement about sustainability through the pandemic, and that represents the general overall awakening and awareness of the life science industry to sustainability that My Green Lab is really helping to catalyze,” Connelly said. “It’s important because it’s a growth industry that’s going to be incredibly important to our future as a society, and to managing things like COVID or in the future other diseases that may come down the pipeline.” My Green Lab is a brilliant project because it reaches out to change behavior and mindset of scientists in the lab. Through certification and education programs, My Green Lab enlists scientists and facilities professionals to clean up the carbon impact of labs. Lately, the group has been publicizing ways to green the cold chain for COVID-19 vaccines , which require sub-North-Pole temperatures. Its Laboratory Freezer Challenge, entering its fifth year, has gotten professionals from hundreds of labs to reduce the energy consumption of their deep freezers. Higher efficiency energy systems in the green building industry don’t address the “guts” inside a lab that really drive energy consumption, Connelly noted. “That’s something I’m really excited about, to dive in deeply and see how quickly we can make an impact on these types of operations in buildings that have such a dramatic impact on climate change.” And because the higher-level sustainability goals of many organizations still haven’t moved down into their R&D labs, that means plenty of low-hanging fruit for scientists and their colleagues to pluck.  Noted energy hogs inside labs include ultra-low temperature freezers — which can eat up as much energy as a house — and chemical fume hoods for ventilation. The University of Glasgow’s Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation blames 42 percent of its energy consumption on centrifuges alone. In many cases, product developments in support of sustainability also reduce laboratory risk. As for the overuse of single-use plastics, the University of Exeter estimated that academic researchers produced plastic waste equivalent to 5.7 million two-liter soda bottles each year.  Thankfully, Connelly has seen more companies thinking through how to change the supply chain of plastics, produce them in a more sustainable way, figure out ways to reuse or recycle them in laboratories, and change the way lab professionals manage plastics. “There’s a ton of innovation happening,” he said. Based on case studies, My Green Lab estimates that participants in its Green Lab Certification can achieve reductions of 30 percent in energy use, 50 percent in water use and 10 percent in waste. AstraZeneca AstraZeneca was one of the first pharmaceutical companies to pursue Green Lab Certification at multiple sites, starting about two years ago. The company already had achieved LEED certifications in America and ISO 14 001 certification in Europe, and its R&D site leaders found a global strategy to steer sustainability in My Green Lab. Reducing waste and energy in its labs aids AstraZeneca’s sustainability targets, issued a year ago, of zero carbon emissions by 2025 and negative carbon emissions by 2030 across its value chain. That includes moving toward 100 percent renewables and a fully electric fleet. The Green Lab Certification has created a framework and a new way of working that becomes second-nature for AstraZeneca’s scientists, Sörme said. “You start thinking, do I actually need to use a high-grade solvent or can I use a low-grade solvent that’s more environmentally friendly?” And scientists can share ideas across the global sites, which is driving innovation in product development as well as employee engagement. “We also have a lot of fun activities,” she said. “For instance, we got our scientists in the U.K., because they love doing research, to do a bit of an inventory. They did ‘a day in the lab’ to find out how much they used plastic-wise. That’s the state we want to be at when people come up with ideas on their own and want to share that.” Each AstraZeneca lab site has a green team with scientists, facility managers, health and safety managers and procurement professionals. A survey kicks off the Green Lab Certification process, reaching out to every scientist, not just key leaders. There’s a lot of best-practice sharing on novel ideas, such as for recycling lab gloves and reducing water use, Sörme noted. A lab in Boston might share solutions for a site in Cambridge, U.K., to adapt locally. Quick-win practices have included changing freezer filters annually and installing LED lights. AstraZeneca in 2019 credited Green Lab with helping it reach a 97 percent recycling rate of biological waste at a facility in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and sparking the recycling of tens of thousands of plastic centrifuge tubes and serological pipets in Cambridge. The company is exploring how to raise the temperature of ultra-low temperature freezers from minus-80 to minus-70 degrees Celsius to achieve significant energy savings. In a separate effort, AstraZeneca was a winner in the 2020 Freezer Challenge run by My Green Lab and the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories. Systemic issues My Green Lab’s intention to address systemic issues by creating an ecosystem of programs echoes the approach taken by the ILFI, which was initially considered aspirational by many in the mainstream building establishment yet has been embraced by the likes of Microsoft and Google and making headway in Asia and Europe. Connelly hopes to see a similar growth trajectory at My Green Lab, which has an ambassador program and accreditation program in development. It’s worth noting that ILFI was an early advocate of identifying social equity as a root cause behind environmental problems, releasing its JUST Label behind building products in 2014, following its Declare Program in 2012 targeting “red list” chemicals of concern in building products. “We want to start driving equity into our program and elevating it to the same position as efficiency and waste reduction and water reduction,” Connelly said of My Green Lab. Pull Quote We’re seeing an acceleration of interest and excitement about sustainability through the pandemic, an overall awakening of the life science industry to sustainability. My Green Lab is a brilliant project because it reaches out to change behavior and mindset of scientists in the lab. In many cases, product developments in support of sustainability also reduce laboratory risk. Topics Chemicals & Toxics Eco-Design COVID-19 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off My Green Lab is helping scientists address the massive energy costs of running high-tech labs. Shutterstock Choksawatdikorn Close Authorship

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How My Green Lab is cleaning up R&D

Episode 250: Sustainability leaders greet 2021 with conviction, renewed purpose

January 8, 2021 by  
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Episode 250: Sustainability leaders greet 2021 with conviction, renewed purpose Heather Clancy Fri, 01/08/2021 – 02:00 Week in Review Stories discussed this week (5:35). Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies 5 sustainable packaging developments to watch in 2021 2020 was a breakthrough year for climate tech, and there’s more to come in 2021 Features ‘The right to flush and forget’ (16:15)   Outtakes from this week’s interview with Catherine Coleman Flowers, who has dedicated her career and voice to the lack of water and sanitation infrastructure in rural American communities.  2021 reflections from sustainability leaders (22″45)   We feature the voices of our vibrant community in this episode. Sustainability professionals considered this question: What’s the most significant way that the events of 2020 changed your job or perspective as a sustainability professional? What’s your priority for 2021, as a result? Here are responses, many of them from our GreenBiz Executive Network. For revelations from 30 Under 30 honorees, listen to Episode 249 . Page Motes, strategy leader for sustainability, Dell (23:10) Jill Kolling, vice president of global sustainability, Cargill (25:12) Emilio Tenuta, chief sustainability officer, Ecolab (26:50) Margot Lyons, product and sustainability manager, Coyuchi (29:00) Clay Nesler, vice president of global energy and sustainability, Johnson Controls (30:55) Alice Steenland, chief sustainability officer, Dassault Systems (32:50) Jim Andrews, chief sustainability officer, PepsiCo (34:12) Suzanne Fallender, director of corporate responsibility, Intel (36:30) *Music in this episode by Lee Rosevere: “Waiting for the Moment That Never Comes,” “Decompress,” “Not My Problem,” “I Bet You Wonder Why,” “More on That Later,” “Everywhere,” “Start the Day,” “Looking Back,” All the Answers” and “As I Was Saying” Stay connected To make sure you don’t miss the newest episodes of GreenBiz 350, subscribe on iTunes . Have a question or suggestion for a future segment? E-mail us at 350@greenbiz.com . Contributors Joel Makower Deonna Anderson Topics Corporate Strategy Infrastructure Podcast Sustainability Water Recycling Environmental Justice Collective Insight GreenBiz 350 Podcast Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 39:23 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Close Authorship

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Episode 250: Sustainability leaders greet 2021 with conviction, renewed purpose

The sustainability year 2020 in review, in haiku

December 29, 2020 by  
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The sustainability year 2020 in review, in haiku Sue Lebeck Tue, 12/29/2020 – 01:00 Editor’s note: Back by popular demand, smart cities consultant Sue Lebeck provides GreenBiz highlights from the past year in verse. You’ll find her haiku from 2019 here . Rise before the Surprise Leaders gather for the first and last time in year of shelter-in-place. Learning on the Job Could ways to flatten coronavirus’ curve help bend climate’s curve too? From Farms to Front Lines Essential workers carry the day, unclear that anybody CARES. BLM joins COVID-19 In this raw moment, we are dually confronted. Here’s how to respond. Climate and Justice make a Great Pair   Not mere Facebook friends, these two spawn recovery, lift communities. Corporates Gain via E, S and G Weave people, purpose and commitment to climate — then watch value rise. At Circularity, Plastics gets Serious Pacts and moonshots are aiming to contain plastics’ value forever. Proof, Imagination and a Kick Great transit — public, active and electric — drives all toward equity. Food Focus Feeds a Flurry Regeneration- revealed opportunity cost: meat’s great land grab! Electrifying Path of “least regret” as wildfire climate destroys forests and sparks fears. The Forests AND the Trees Climate’s urgent need is restored forests! Also those one trillion trees. Carbontech is on the VERGE Carbontech hits the market; removal joins the carbon agenda. New Year’s Resolutions Watch GreenFin grow, help Big Oil shrink and build racial justice for all. Cheers! Topics Corporate Strategy Climate Change COVID-19 Sustainability Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Shutterstock/Protasov AN

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The sustainability year 2020 in review, in haiku

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