I’m pleased to announce that the Final Report summarizing the Turning the Ship Roundtable is now available in .pdf form. We’ve also taken all of the articles and substantive comments that were posted on this blog and compiled them as an appendix to the report, also available for download as an indexed .pdf file.
You can download both the report and the compendium of articles by clicking here.
Since the report is now complete, we have disabled the comments feature on this blog to cut down on spamming. If you have a comment about an article or need any additional information about the Turning the Ship dialogue, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at briankuehl @ clarkgroupllc.com
Again, my sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to this project and to those who gave their time and energy to make this dialogue a success.
I hope this note finds everyone well!
All the best,
2007 Harvard Loeb Fellow
Partner, The Clark Group, LLC
By Brian Kuehl, 2007 Harvard Loeb Fellow and, The Clark Group, LLC Partner
On Tuesday, March 13, we held our first roundtable discussion on sustainability and U.S. business. You can find the agenda for the discussion and the list of participants by clicking here.
Needless to say, we had a great discussion. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting a summary report from the roundtable including top-line recommendations and a basic rundown on the day’s conversation.
In the meantime, let me post a heart-felt thank you to the roundtable participants, the audience at the roundtable, and to all of the people that have contributed to this project over the past months. In the past five weeks, we have posted 20 articles and received a great number of insightful comments on those articles. This blog has been received over 10,000 hits during that time frame including over 4,500 unique hits from individual computers.
Moving forward, it would be tremendously helpful to hear from you and to learn how you think we should proceed from here. Has this blog/discussion been helpful? Should the blog remain active? Should we attempt additional roundtable disucssions in the future? Feel free to either e-mail me directly at briankuehl @ clarkgroupllc.com or by posting a comment to this blog.
Please continue to check this space and in short order we’ll try to post the summary report for the roundtable.
Again, a big thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project over the past months.
All the best,
Click on the article title to jump directly to the article. We encourage you to leave comments or add information to the articles by clicking the “comment” button located at the end of each article.
NEW: Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink: Adding Water to the Sustainability Equation, Betsy Otto, American Rivers
NEW: Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions, Chris Lotspeich, The Second Hill Group
NEW: Living Buildings and the Competitive Advantage of High Performance, Brandon Smith, Cascadia Region Green Building Council
Green Chemistry: Turning the Ship, John C. Warner, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Center for Green Chemistry
Life Cycle Assessment: A Tool for Sustainable Manufacturing, Tom Swarr, United Technologies Corporation; Jim Fava, Five Winds International
The Quest for a Manufacturing Model that is Sustainable, Mike Bertolucci, Interface Research Corp.
Sustainable Investing and Portfolio 21, an interview with Carsten Henningsen, Progressive Investment Management
Green Energy 3.0: This Time, It Is Different, Jackson W. Robinson, Winslow Management Company
Green Insurance Products, Stephen G. Bushnell, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company
Providing Incentives to Coffee Suppliers to Produce High Quality, Sustainable Coffee, Ben Packard, Starbucks Coffee Company
Talking Until You’re Green in the Face: Environmental Communications Comes to the Fore, Don Millar, The Element Agency
On the Power of Purchasing and the Potential of 1%, Terry Kellogg, 1% For The Planet
Promoting Green Products and Services: Cure for Asthma and Global Warming?, Arthur B. Weisman, Green Seal, Inc.
Power of Local Government Dollars, Michelle Wyman, International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives, USA (ICLEI-USA)
The Green Wave
Climate Change as a Driver of US Market Behavior, Truman Semans, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Ford Motor Company and the Green Wave, Dan Esty, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy
Has the Era of Green Business Finally Arrived?, Joel Makower, GreenBiz.com
Turning the Ship: Environmental Transformation of the U.S. Economy, Brian Kuehl, Harvard Loeb Fellow and The Clark Group, LLC
On February 5, Kirk Koepsel who worked with the Sierra Club in Wyoming posted a comment on this blog. He was a dedicated conservationist who committed his life to the cause that he loved.
I just received news that he passed away last night after suffering a massive heart attack while playing hockey. My heart
goes out to Kirk’s friends and family who will miss him dearly. May
his dedication and conviction be a motivation for all of us in our own
We have just fixed a technical glitch that was preventing comments from posting to the blog. Our apologies for the confusion. If you have posted a comment, it should now appear linked to the blog. If you have not posted a comment yet, now is your chance to do so! As noted above, we encourage everyone to provide additional examples and information to this blog to allow it to be as robust as possible. Thanks for your input and, again, our apologies for the delay in publishing these initial comments. All the best, Brian Kuehl
On Monday February 12, 2007 the Turning the Ship blog will host the topic Sustainable Purchasing. We are pleased to announce the following contributors who will guide the discussion:
Michelle Wyman, Executive Director, International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives
Sustainable Purchasing by U.S. Cities
Arthur B. Weissman, Ph.D., President and CEO, Green Seal, Inc.
Promoting Green Products and Services: Cure for Asthma and Global Warming?
Terry Kellogg, Executive Director, One Percent for the Planet
Ben Packard, Director of Environmental Affairs, Starbucks Coffee Company
A Wall Street Journal reporter asked me last week whether climate change was spurring a fundamental change in environmentalism. He was referring to the surge of corporations getting involved in climate protection, such as those investing in projects to prevent Brazilian rainforest deforestation to capture potential “carbon credits. I answered, yes, the scope of the climate problem is so broad that it is drawing all kinds of groups and perspectives into the environmental effort – not just companies and pension funds, but also cities, religious groups, and labor unions.
On reflection, I may have framed the answer too narrowly. It’s not just environmentalism that’s changing. The flip side is that business is changing dramatically too. I’d suggest that the climate challenge is forcing society as a whole to alter the way we manage both our economy and our natural assets – even assets as hard to grasp as the systems that regulate rain, wind, and temperatures around the globe. This change is still in its infancy, but we already can see the signs, and we can begin to see where these changes may eventually take us.
A prime example is the January 22 debut of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP). Ten large corporations teamed with the
Consider the scope and diversity of USCAP’s initial membership: Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar Inc., Duke Energy, DuPont, Environmental Defense, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, Natural Resources Defense Council,
And USCAP is just a subset of companies actively engaged in developing progressive climate solutions. The
Reasons for Change
The reasons why companies are engaging in the BELC, USCAP, and related entities are almost as significant as USCAP’s recommendations themselves – and these reasons may provide a useful start for the Turning the Ship discussion.
From my own experience working with the business community, leading the BELC, developing USCAP, and working with Dr. Andy Hoffman from the
So, how are companies pursuing strategies to address climate change? I encourage those interested in the details to read our Corporate Strategies Report, as well as our compendium of climate programs BELC companies have undertaken. The report serves as a “how to” guide with steps for strategy-making based on collaboration with BELC member companies, six in-depth case studies with Alcoa, Cinergy/Duke Energy, DuPont, Shell, Swiss RE, and Whirlpool, and the Strategies survey of 31 large corporations. The report finds:
Companies that take action now will be best positioned to thrive in future carbon-constrained markets, which will be transformed by the demand for energy efficiency and no- or low-carbon technologies. As worldwide efforts to combat climate change intensify, the development of an integrated global carbon market with countless suppliers of emissions reductions appears increasingly likely. A global carbon market would also create thousands of new investment opportunities that new players – down to individual households — could involve themselves in, either directly or indirectly. With the correct price signals in place, technological innovation would flourish and hasten the development of the “iPod for energy,” to borrow a line from David Hone, Group Climate Change Adviser at Shell.
So to go back to the question from the Journal reporter: there is no doubt that climate change is spurring a fundamental change in environmentalism. But that’s just part of the story. Climate change is altering the way companies do business, from the products they offer today to the strategies they put in place to prepare for the future. Climate change is an issue that will affect virtually all aspects of society. The consequences of these changes will be most severe for those who do nothing to prepare for them today. The companies that the
By Dan Esty, Director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy
Ford’s announcement last month of a major financial restructuring, on top of earlier news of third-quarter losses of $5.8 billion as well as plans to lay off one-third of its 47,000 salaried workforce and shutter 16 facilities, shocked many people. The company’s disintegration should not, however, come as a surprise. Ford’s blue- and-white logo once embodied America’s industrial might. It now stands as a symbol of short-sighted management.
In particular, Ford executives misjudged the strategic importance of a cluster of energy and environment issues. The company continued to bank on gas-guzzling SUVs and light trucks even as fuel prices shot up, tailpipe emissions loomed larger as an issue, and consumer tastes shifted toward more fuel-efficient cars. Meanwhile, Toyota’s brisk trade in green vehicles like the hybrid Prius and a “cool” and eco- friendly reputation leave it enjoying record profits and poised to overtake GM as the world’s largest auto maker.
Ford isn’t the only company to have been blindsided by the “Green Wave” washing over the business world. But it is ironic that just- departed CEO Bill Ford, who was known for his environmental interests, never succeeded in getting his leadership team to understand the need to make the environment a core element of the company’s business strategy.
Today, no company can afford to ignore the challenges posed by pollution control, natural resource management and energy consumption. Business leaders in manufacturing and services, big companies and small, must prepare for a world of tighter supplies of fossil fuels (and resulting high prices), greenhouse gas emissions controls, limited water and rising resource costs. Businesses also face demands from an array of new environment-oriented stakeholders including bankers, market analysts, customers, employees and communities, in addition to the traditional pressures from regulators, environmental groups and other NGOs.
While every business must manage the risks and costs of environmental protection, some are also finding an upside to going green. With its “ecomagination” thrust, GE has positioned itself to respond to society’s environmental problems. CEO Jeff Immelt envisions billion-dollar businesses selling wind turbines, more efficient jet engines and drinking-water purification systems. From Ikea to Coca- Cola, companies are finding ways to differentiate their products, create new lines of business, win customer loyalty and enhance their brand value by taking up their customers’ environmental interests and values.
Even Wal-Mart has emerged as a major player in the world of corporate sustainability. CEO Lee Scott has promised to cut his company’s energy use by 30%, reduce waste by 25%, and become the world’s leading seller of organic products.
So what went wrong in Detroit? And what are the lessons for the business community more generally? Three main points can be drawn from Ford’s collapse, which has a number of causes, including skyrocketing health-care costs and burdensome retiree benefits, but a fundamental link to mishandled environmental strategy.
First, the Green Wave is real. Companies need to learn how to manage environmental challenges or they will be taken under. It is not enough to sponsor beach clean-ups and contribute a few dollars to the local environmental group. Corporate leaders need to look at their operations through a green lens and fold environmental thinking into their core business strategy.
Second, to target their environmental efforts, companies need to map their ecological “footprint.” Ford had eco-initiatives, but they failed to address the company’s real vulnerabilities. In fact, Ford’s redesigned River Rouge manufacturing facility had state-of-the-art environmental features including a grass roof and natural ventilation. And the company contributed millions of dollars to rainforest protection. But Ford’s problem wasn’t pollution at its factories, and it certainly wasn’t deforestation of the jungle. No, Ford’s strategic focus needed to be on its vehicles. The market shift toward more eco- friendly and efficient cars caught Ford flat-footed with a product line heavy on fuel-chugging and pollution-spewing behemoths like the Expedition and Navigator.
Every business needs to understand its environmental exposure. If you’re Coca-Cola, you need to face up to water issues — as CEO Neville Isdell is doing. If you’re an auto maker, fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions have to be at the heart of your strategy.
Third, there is money to be made solving society’s environmental problems. If GE’s multibillion-dollar bet on ecomagination is not a sufficient signal of this reality, Toyota’s success surely is. Dozens of other companies are finding opportunities to turn green to gold. Shaklee, for example, has built a thriving business selling nutritional supplements and eco-safe cleaning supplies with a focus on living in harmony with nature. To back up its green image, the company has promised to offset all its carbon emissions and to plant a million trees in North America.
The bottom line is clear: Environmental factors have emerged front and center in business. Ford is paying a high price for missing this development. No company can afford to ignore this object lesson.
Dan Esty, a professor at Yale, is the Director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the author, with Andrew Winston, of “Green to Gold” (Yale University Press, 2006).
Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal © 2006 Dow Jones & Company. All rights reserved.
By Joel Makower, Executive Editor of GreenBiz.com
The drumbeat of headlines has become steady and strong. Each week, it seems, the rhythm of news stories about the greening of business picks up tempo.
Just since new year’s, for example, we’ve reported in GreenBiz.com that: Swiss Re will give rebates to employees for purchases that helped reduce their carbon footprint; GE and AES will jointly develop greenhouse gas reduction projects; Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket chain, will label the products it sells according to their carbon footprint; HP will surpass recycling a billion pounds of used electronics; Morgan Stanley’s vice chair will head a new group focusing on market-based economic solutions to global environmental and climate issues; Wal-mart’s new 360 Sustainability plan will make environmental concerns central to its business decisions. And ten big companies joined forces with a activist groups to demand that Congress enact comprehensive global warming legislation.
And 2007 is barely a month old.
Meanwhile, over the past several months, Business Week, The Economist, Forbes, Fortune, and Business 2.0 have all run cover stories on the greening of business.
What, in Al Gore’s name, is going on here? Could the mainstreaming of green business finally be upon us?
Maybe. But we’ve only just begun — and we’ve got a long, long way to go.
There’s no question that green has, as columnist Tom Friedman has noted, become the color du jour. More companies are doing more things, and doing them better, than ever before. The actions they are taking cover a wide spectrum, from carbon neutral products and processes, to products designed to be fully recycled into their constituent ingredients, to biobased alternatives for toxic chemicals. Green advertising is coming back after years of languishing, as companies feel more confident telling their stories. CEOs are becoming more forthright and outspoken on the issue — to their customers, shareholders, and political leaders.
Is it a tipping point? Probably not: corporate environmentalism is still far from a universal, self-sustaining movement. But increasingly, companies are tipping toward action, and the list of laggard and recalcitrant companies is getting shorter by the day.
But let’s not break out the organic champagne quite yet. For green to be truly mainstream will require breaking down a host of political, economic, and cultural barriers. We’ll have to rethink some of our assumptions about the role of government. Politicians will need to decide whether to lead, follow, or get out of the way. Environmentalists will need to develop some new tools and rules of engagement. Wall Street will need to pay attention, and to better track companies’ environmental risks and opportunities. And the public will need to change its attitude, big time.
The public perception paradox is particularly problematic. As it stands, most Americans seem to be of two minds on business and the environment. They want companies to step up to the plate, recognizing that they are, at once, the biggest contributors to environmental problems and the best chance of solving them. Yet, when a big company does get proactive, there tends to be widespread suspicion and cynicism among the citizenry about whether it’s genuine, or a cover-up, or outright greenwash. Environmentalists have been known to punish many a good corporate deed.
There’s good reason for skepticism, given some company’s past failures to walk their talk, but such skepticism is becoming increasingly counterproductive. As companies move past their early timid and often misleading stances on the environment, and start to take real, substantive action, we’ll need to suspend critical judgment, at least a little. We’ll need to give companies room to innovate, experiment, and fail. We’ll need to accept incremental improvements. And we’ll need to acknowledge and reward good company behavior, even if it’s far from perfect.
Most of all, we’ll need to foment a much more dynamic conversation than ever before among all the players in the marketplace, examining how best companies can move the needle on our biggest environmental challenges, do it quickly, and make it equitable and rewarding for all involved.
So, let the conversation begin.
“We must raise our sights all along the production line. Let no man say
it cannot be done. It must be done – and we have undertaken to do it.”
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Address to Congress, January 6, 1942
In 1942, faced with the newly realized threat of World War II, the U.S.
economy turned on a dime. Virtually overnight, U.S. businesses moved
from producing cars to producing planes. Cosmetic factories began
producing munitions. Roosevelt’s War Production Board rationed
gasoline, heating oil, rubber, metals, and plastics. Nationwide,
communities organized drives to collect scrap iron, tin cans, rags,
paper and cooking fat.
The American public had been reluctant to engage in the war overseas.
Nearly a year-and-a-half had passed since the start of the Nazi
blitzkrieg in Europe and over a year since the Japanese invasion of
Indo-China. The American public was still reeling from the expense of
World War I and the Great Depression and was loath to take on the cost
and risk of entering a new war that might never reach American shores.
Of course, that all changed on December 7, 1941. And though America
had resisted engagement in the conflict, once the threat was clear we
turned our full attention and economic muscle to one overriding
national goal: victory.
Today, America is facing a challenge of a different sort. One that we
have been slow to face, believing perhaps that our involvement may not
be necessary or that the cost will be too great. But once again, it is
becoming clear that this threat cannot be avoided and must be
confronted head-on. And once again, the American economy is being
called upon to undertake a dramatic transformation to assure victory.
Three days ago, the world’s leading network of climate scientists
concluded for the first time that climate change is “unequivocal” and
is “very likely” caused by human activities including the burning of
fossil fuels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report
found that the temperature of the oceans has increased, that mountain
glaciers and snow cover have declined in both hemispheres, and that
widespread decreases in glaciers and ice caps have already contributed
to sea level rise.
This grim news follows the release last October of the Stern Report,
prepared by the former Chief Economist to the World Bank, which
concluded that climate change could impact the global economy on the
scale of the Great Depression or the First and Second World Wars,
causing environmental damage that could cost between 5 to 20 percent of the world’s annual gross domestic product.
And while climate change has become the most widely discussed
example of unsustainability, it is only one example. From the depletion
of ocean fisheries, to the loss of the rainforests, to drawdown of
fresh-water aquifers, many significant regional and global
environmental challenges have gained greater public recognition in
Threats that for decades have seemed to most Americans as too distant
or as too costly to confront are suddenly looming very large in the
This shift in awareness can be readily seen in the responses of major American companies. From Wal-Mart’s sustainability
initiative, to Home Depot’s embrace of FSC lumber, to GE’s
Ecomagination, to the coalition of major U.S. businesses that last
month called for caps on carbon dioxide emissions, a green wave is
clearly moving through U.S. business.
The Turning the Ship dialogue seeks to explore this on-going market
shift — what are the causes, drivers and magnitude of this
wave? And the Turning the Ship dialogue seeks also to
ascertain whether there are market or policy barriers that
are preventing additional businesses from participating in this
The online dialogue will explore the market forces that are already
driving change and the tools that companies are using to become more
sustainable. For the next five weeks, this blog will host short
articles by some of the world’s leading thinkers on a series of topics
relating to the environmental transformation of the U.S. economy.
Following completion of this online dialogue, the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Loeb Fellowship, and The Clark Group will
convene a one-day roundtable on March 13, 2007 to explore whether there are market or policy options that can accelerate this environmental
transformation in light of today’s pressing environmental challenges.
The roundtable discussion will be convened at the Genzyme Center, a
platinum-rated green building in Cambridge, MA. The discussion will be
for invited guests, with a public presentation hosted afterward at the
Graduate School of Design.
Complete details on the Turning the Ship dialogue can be found at
I encourage you to comment on the articles that will be posted in the
coming days and weeks. Add your own examples of exciting developments that you have seen and note market or policy barriers that you believe should be addressed – I look forward to hearing from you online!
Let me close in the same way that I started – with a quote from President
Roosevelt’s January 6, 1942 address to Congress:
“Lost ground can always be regained – lost time, never. Speed will
save lives; speed will save this nation which is in peril; speed will save
our freedom and civilization – and slowness has never been an American
Welcome to the official Blog of Turning the Ship: Environmental Transformation of the U.S. Economy.
Starting February 5, 2007 our contributors will be posting their articles here. For detailed information about the program, please visit www.turningtheship.com.