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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The 2009 Leadership Conference on Global Corporate Citizenship

I am speaking in New York at the end of January at The 2009 Leadership Conference on Global Corporate Citizenship organized by the Conference Board. I am also on the advisory panel for the event. I have spoken before at Conference Board events and they have always been stimulating for the opportunity to hear from the audience just as much as from the speakers. As an advisory panel member I get a discount code for my friends. If you are reading this - you are my friend (if you want to be). The code is DAI ! Enter it in the appropriate place when you book to receive the discount. And if you attend do let me know afterward what you thought of it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What About the Skeptics - My Blog on GreenBiz

"No one has to tell you climate change is real, but what about the disbelievers? Think they're not important? Think again, says Kevin Moss, who writes on why it's essential not to write off the skeptics." See the full article just posted on

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Accounting for my Energy Usage in Shared Buildings

We are going through a process in the USA to fine tune our energy consumption data and carbon accounting. It is common practice, in buildings with multiple tenants, for energy and other utilities to be bundled in with a commercial real estate leases. Costs for these utilities are allocated on the basis of square footage.

Needless to say this does not provide much incentive for companies to reduce energy usage. The benefit of reductions made by one tenant are shared amongst all and could easily be overwhelmed by increases made by others.

However, I want to include my share of these shared tenancy sites in my energy consumption and carbon footprint. Not only is it the right thing to do, but also, if I don’t include them now, then if in the future I consolidate some of these sites into a single larger and more energy efficient site with separate energy metering my apparent consumption and emissions will increase where in fact they may have decreased.

To assess the energy consumption for those of our sites in this situation I have either to hassle the landlord for sight of the bill and then determine how to split it, or to develop an estimate of KWh per square foot of space from buildings where I do know the consumption and apply it to the square footage of buildings where I do not know the consumption. I have relied mostly on the latter. I have also spoken to counterparts in other companies and I am not the only one having to take this approach.

I am hoping that over time commercial property companies, and especially those companies that have a stated green focus, will move away from this allocated utility practice and towards individual metering. Meanwhile estimating will have to do unless anyone reading this has a better approach to suggest.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Panels are Going Up

In my post Momentum on the Sunny side on October 24th I said I would point out when the tracker panels go up on our solar installation. They are going up as I write. If you are thinking of doing something similar and you want to see how it looks in real life go to our webcam. Hit ‘animation viewer’ and then (if you are reading this post in the week I wrote it) hit the ‘this day’ ‘previous day’ or ‘this week' link to watch the panels go in. Notice that the lot is pretty much empty. Our installation partner EI Solutions, now Suntech, has been great at working round us, but even then, if you are doing a parking lot installation you still need to allow for some days when you have to encourage teleworking or find alternative parking for your staff.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ranking Corporate Sustainability Performance

We have been conditioned to want rankings. It starts with our Apgar score at birth and continues throughout our lives as students, consumers and investors. So of course in the sustainability world we want to see companies ranked according to their sustainability credentials.

But I am skeptical of broadly scoped CSR and sustainability rankings.

Rankings require quantification and quantification requires applicable data to be available consistently and transparently. And then the scores need to be weighted. A broad ‘most sustainable company ranking’ needs to compare the relative importance of diversity, philanthropy, environment, workers rights and a dozen other things.

The correct weightings will vary enormously across countries, across industry sectors and even between companies in the same sector. The quantification underpinning a ranking can appear deceptively scientific. But the final ranking is predominantly determined in a subjective judgment of the weighting accorded to each measure.

Hopefully my skepticism is a healthy one. I fully understand the value of ranking companies as a tool for continual improvement in the general level of sustainability across the business world. And rankings can be more representative within a single industry vertical, or within a single theme such LGBT equality in the workplace as defined by the Corporate Equality Index of the Human Rights Campaign or its UK equivalent the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.

My suggestion for the c-suite exec is that when it comes to ‘best overall company’ rankings, not to worry too much about precise positioning in the ranking. If the criteria and rankings are not transparent don’t pay much heed at all. If they are transparent and they are representative of what is material to your sector then it is worth taking applicable action and striving to improve your position. But focus on what quartile or decile you are in. Don’t worry too much about why you are sixteenth and not fifteenth – the methodology is unlikely to justify that level of granularity.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Why Weren't We at the Top ?

C-suite executives are becoming increasingly interested in how their organization fares in sustainability awards and rankings.

In the last few weeks I have participated in discussions on various rankings and methodologies for assessing the sustainability credentials of a company. The context varies considerably from a closed group of corporations developing a scorecard type methodology for their own use to a media company and investor analyst who work together to publish a yearly ranking. With such a broad scope out there, where should the C-suite and the sustainability team be focusing their attention ?

BT has faired fairly well in these various recognition initiatives. Last Wednesday, November 25th, BT won the ‘Green Award’ at this year’s World Communications Awards (WCA) in London. As I posted in October, Gartner included BT very favorably in a report on the greenest IT vendors worldwide. In September the company won one of Oracle’s 2008 'Empower The Green Enterprise' awards and earlier in that same month was named Global Super Sector Leader for the telecommunications sector of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the eighth year running. This alone illustrates the broad scope of organizations running such initiatives.

The interest in rankings is considerable right now. In speaking with colleagues in other companies, I know that c-suite executives in many companies want to know why their company is sometimes overlooked or further down the rankings than they expected. But even some large companies are finding it hard to resource all the different requests for information required by some of these ranking programs.

The different awards and rankings programs serve different purposes and over the Thanksgiving break I had some time to reflect on the differences. In some forthcoming posts I plan to comment on some thoughts from my involvement.