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Corporate Sustainability + Green Building:

5 Curated Trends + Commentary

April 2014

"USGBC Launches Real-Time Green Building Tool"
 (Source: Environmental Leader)

"The US Green Building Council has launched an online tool that provides real-time green building data for each state in the US. The state market briefs highlight LEED projects, LEED-credentialed professionals and USGBC membership in each state. The USGBC says the online tool shows the benefits of LEED green buildings: each market brief acts as a state-level barometer of economic activity taking place in an industry that McGraw-Hill projects could be worth up to $248 billion and represent more than 50% of all commercial and institutional construction in the US by 2016."
COMMENTS: These tools might just be the quick market snapshots that many of us have searched for in years past. These cover the whole state (not quite a market to a real estate professional), but if you need metro-level stats, I recommend the USGBC Green Building Information Gateway at Use these tools as a first step before you start spending money on original analysis.

"Military Veterans Finding A Friendly Welcome In The U.S. Solar Sector" (Source: Solar Industry Magazine)

"Solar companies are hiring military veterans at a higher rate than other U.S. employers. That's according to a new report from Operation Free and The Solar Foundation (TSF). The report, "Veterans in Solar: Securing America's Energy Future," highlights findings from TSF's National Solar Jobs Census 2013 relating to employment of veterans in solar work. As of November 2013, the U.S solar sector employed 13,192 veterans of the U.S. armed forces, the report says. That figure represents 9.2% of the 142,698 solar workers in the U.S. Among U.S. companies overall, only 7.6% of all workers are military veterans."
COMMENTS: The next time someone is debating the economic impacts of clean energy, keep these statistics in mind. This growing sector is not just about environmental goals; it is also about a serious new global industrial sector and America's place within it. Does this change your elevator pitch to win support from potential partners, gatekeepers and naysayers?

"Unlocking the value of your company's sustainability strategy" (Source: Greenbiz)

"A recent BCG/MIT study showed that although 62% of companies have a sustainability strategy, only 32% saw their actions on sustainability positively impacting their profit, 32% said it was a wash and 11% said that it subtracted from profit. The rest reported that they didn't know. Although champions say that sustainability has enormous potential to create value for companies, these findings suggest something is going wrong here...I have identified two common problems that explain why so many companies are struggling to realize the potential of their sustainability strategies."
COMMENTS: Are you in the majority -- do you have a corporate sustainability strategy? If not, why? Are you part of the 32% who say that sustainability positively impacted profit? Have you conducted a post-mortem analysis to understand why? Are you then able to perform a pre-mortem analysis so you know what to not invest in before it starts?

"Google inks huge wind power deal with Warren Buffett’s Iowa power company"
Source: GIGAOM)

"Google has signed its largest clean power contract to date — for 407 MW of wind power — with Iowa power company MidAmerican Energy to supply clean energy for Google’s data center in Iowa. MidAmerican is largely owned by investor Warren Buffet’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway. [This amount of] wind power is the equivalent power to a mid-sized coal plant or a large natural gas plant. ..t could provide enough electricity for over 100,000 average American homes."
COMMENTS: Do you or your peers -- the CFO, CIO or CEO -- still think that renewable power is only for environmental companies? There is a reason that some of the world's biggest investors, such as Google and Warren Buffet's company, are betting big on clean energy. It's a good long-term business strategy in an increasing number of scenarios. What is your organization doing about it?

"Setting credible sustainability goals that drive value" 
Source: Enrst & Young)

"Stakeholders are asking companies to set goals to manage environmental and social impact. So far this year, more than half of total shareholder proposal submissions relate to Environmental and Social (E&S) matters, up from 45% for the same period in 2013. Proposals asking companies to adopt quantitative goals are also on the rise. Goal setting plays a crucial role in ensuring that an organization’s sustainability program is driving real business value...When setting goals, there are a number of things to consider:.."
COMMENTS: Are your sustainability goals ambitious enough to be industry-leading? Do they connect with bigger organizational goals (e.g., target market expansion, improved margins, talent attraction)? Are you going beyond fluff and placating stakeholders? Are you under-promising and over-delivering? Take a look at EY's guidance here and up your game this year.
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