From Monday, April 10 to Wednesday, April 13, HBS will host its second Green Week, a series of activities aimed at raising environmental awareness throughout the HBS community.
Sponsored by the Student Association, the event is jointly organized by the Business and Environment Club (BEC), Restaurant Associates and HBS Operations. Green Week events include a panel on Environmental Sustainability in Business (Wednesday at 3:00 p.m.), a Green Pub Crawl (Tuesday at 9:00 p.m.), and a projection of The Next Industrial Revolution documentary (Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.).
Through Green Week, the BEC aims to inform HBS students about the environment, an issue that will be a source of both threats and opportunities throughout their careers and lives. As future global leaders HBS graduates will indeed have to address such serious challenges as global warming and the destruction of life-supporting ecosystems (which bring us air and water cleansing, flood and climate control, soil regeneration, crop pollination, food and medicines). As business people and entrepreneurs, HBS alumni will be able to seize huge opportunities in sustainability-related fields such as green building, renewable energy (35 percent annual growth over the past five years for wind energy in Europe), and organic food (19 percent U.S. growth since 1997 versus 3 percent for total food).
Demonstrating the huge economic opportunities that lie in environmental sustainability, Wednesday’s panel on Environmental Sustainability in Business (3-4pm, Aldrich 107) will bring together
Mainstream corporations redefining their business model to make it environmentally sustainable and profitable:
Wal-Mart: The company has recently decided to put the environment at the center of its business strategy. On its website, Wal-Mart explains, “Environmental leadership is critical to our future ability to grow and thrive as a company. As a large international company, we know we must play our part to restore the life support systems of the earth. Fortunately, we’ve identified plenty of opportunities that, if captured, can transform our entire industry.” And Wal-Mart is already taking serious actions in terms of sustainable energy, waste reduction, and smart products. For example, by rolling out innovations and investments in its stores and trucking fleet, the company plans to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over the next eight years and save millions of dollars along the way. The company has also set a zero net waste goal which it deems “good for business, great for the environment, and it even creates jobs,” and introduced an organic cotton line that sold out in just 10 weeks at SAM’S CLUB stores.
Hewlett-Packard (HP): According to the company, “HP is committed to being an industry leader in global citizenship by working to create a sustainable future for all. For HP, sustainability means integrating long-term economic, environmental and social dimensions into the way we operate our business. Our environmental commitment is to reduce the environmental impact of our products, services and operations, thereby enabling both HP and our customers to operate more sustainably.” Examples of such sustainability include recycling used IT hardware products from any manufacturer as well as that of LaserJet supplies. The latter operation has helped recycle tens of millions of HP LaserJet and inkjet print cartridges and divert thousands of tons of materials from landfills.
Innovative start-ups thriving on environmental opportunities
Recycline: The company makes high-quality recycled content and recyclable consumer products, such as razors and toothbrushes. According to the company’s founder and CEO (and Green Week panelists): “When I saw the unsustainable nature of the typical consumer product’s lifecycle, I knew we had a great opportunity. What makes Recycline unique is that we are both a manufacturer and a provider of recycling solutions.” The company’s Preserve line is sold in more than 2,000 natural-food stores and supermarkets across the country.
Environmental consultants: help companies implement environmental and cost-saving solutions
Upstream Waste Management: The firm redesigns the way companies and communities deal with trash in order to increase process efficiency, operational safety and regulatory compliance, all while decreasing costs.
The Chemical Strategies Partnership: This consultancy works with corporations to decrease the use, waste, risk and cost of chemical products. It does so by transforming the chemical supply chain and the way chemicals are used and sold. The firm helps its clients switch from purchasing chemicals to purchasing chemical services: assistance in purchasing, managing, and tracking chemicals. This shift creates a direct alignment of incentives between the supplier and the manufacturer, thus reducing chemical use and costs.
Another important initiative during Green Week is the carbon-neutrality initiative. Throughout the week, “Green Week Reps” will give global warming presentations to each section and offer students the opportunity to neutralize carbon emissions by retiring CO2 emission credits from the Chicago Climate Exchange. Although there is no regulation on CO2 emissions in the United States, the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) already trades CO2 emission permits, and companies such as Ford, Motorola, and IBM, and universities, including Tufts and the University of Iowa, and cities like Chicago are already members.
CCX members receive a quota of CO2 credits based on past emissions and voluntarily agree to decrease emanations by 1 percent a year. If members manage to exceed the required decrease, they can sell extra credits to companies that did not meet reduction objectives. As a consequence, the overall CO2 emissions of CCX members go down by at least 1 percent a year.
In Europe, Japan and Canada, this cap-and-trade system has come into law, following the ratification of the Kyoto Treaty. In the United States, Senators Joe Lieberman (D) and John McCain (R) are working on bipartisan legislation that would create a similar cap-and trade-system.
Individuals emit CO2 mostly through transportation (automobiles, motorcycles, airplanes, etc.) and electricity usage (fossil-fuel burning power plants). On average, U.S. citizens generate about 20 tons of CO2 per year. If you are interested in calculating your own CO2 emissions, you can do it at //safeclimate.net/calculator/.
With this carbon-neutrality initiative, the BEC wants to raise awareness about global warming, a problem Former President Clinton said “is the only problem that has the power to fundamentally end the march of civilization as we know it, and render all other efforts we are making irrelevant and impossible.”
Have a good Green Week!