How to Get People to Change (for the Greener)

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In 2010, Chip Heath and Dan Heath (of Made to Stick fame) were featured in an article in Inc. Magazine titled, How to Get People to Change, in which the brothers discussed their new book on change management.

At Strategic Sustainability Consulting, the article sparked lots of internal discussion about what it takes for people to shift  both their thinking and their actions—and of course we looked at it through a sustainability lens. What followed was a series of SSC blog entries about how to get people to change (for the greener). We’ve rounded up those blogs and compliled them in a short white paper. It covers:

  • Consider your Communication
  • Let Them Convince Themselves
  • Focus on a Few Specific Priorities
  • Don’t Block the Path to Success
  • Use Peer Pressure Effectively
  • Preach Hope, Not Fear
  • Look for the Bright Spots

(9 pages)

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Sustainability Through the Value Chain

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Greening an entire value chain within a company can seem like an overwhelming task. Furthermore, not all companies have the resources to engage in a full-scale greening of their supply chain.  For the small- and medium-sized companies, a targeted approach may be a more feasible option.  By choosing one specific product, a company can more easily determine the environmental impacts of that one product and engage in actionable steps to reduce its footprint.  It’s important to prioritize where you can make the most impact and start with focused and more attainable goals to get going. This white paper takes a look at the process of greening a company’s value chain, but through a smaller, more manageable scope: making a single product’s supply chain more sustainable.  It covers:

  • Greening Your Product’s Value Chain
  • The Life Cycle Assessment
  • Opportunities for Operational Changes
  • Standards and Measurements
  • Implementation in Supply Chain Management
  • Operational Advantages and Challenges
  • Next Steps and the Future of Sustainable Supply Chain Initiatives

(20 pages)

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Introduction to Life Cycle Assessments: A Primer for Business Owners

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A growing number of companies are investigating the environmental impacts of the products they sell. But how do you know whether to invest in better packaging or switch to a more local supplier? Should you prioritize energy reductions or water conservation? The truth is, you can't make effective decisions about product eco-optimization without first understanding the life cycle impacts of your product. This is most effectively done with a product life cycle assessment (LCA). LCAs come in a variety of shapes, forms, and budgets. It's a complicated topic, which is why we've put together this concise primer for business owners. It covers:

  • Defining a Life Cycle Assessment
  • Why an LCA is Important
  • Who is Utilizing LCAs
  • The  Process: Four Phases Explained
  • The Full Service Approach
  • The Self-Assessment Approach
  • Questions to Ask Yourself Moving Forward

(9 pages)

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Sick Building Syndrome: When Good Air Goes Bad

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While the consequences of outdoor air pollution have been topics of public concern for decades, the threats of poor indoor air quality (IAQ) are lesser known. Outdoor elements such as ozone depletion, greenhouse gas emissions, and smog are widely discussed and harmful to the planet—but what about the air we breathe inside? Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and sick building syndrome (SBS) aren’t as well known as the previously mentioned threats, yet anyone who works or lives indoors is susceptible to the health effects of poor indoor air quality.

This paper presents the employee health and productivity risks of poor IAQ while examining the potential consequences to a business’s bottom line, if the indoor environment is not properly maintained. Additionally, this paper will introduce the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for monitoring indoor spaces and provide solutions to combat poor IAQ.

The paper provides information on:

  • Sick Building Syndrome
  • Building Related Illness
  • Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality
  • Productivity Losses and Costs
  • What LEED Has to Say
  • Solutions and Next Steps

(25 pages)

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Food Network: A Plan for Comprehensive Restaurant Sustainability

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Restaurants are positioned at the center of a network of producers and consumers in such a way that affords them the opportunity to have beneficial social as well environmental impacts.  This white paper presents successful models from sustainable tourism in order to develop a comprehensive definition of sustainability that addresses social and economic as well as environmental considerations.  These models are then adapted to Strategic Sustainability Consulting’s methodology to develop a framework for sustainability that leverages the restaurants position at the center of a learning network.  A step-by-step plan is offered to guide restaurant owners and managers through the process of evaluating their processes, identifying weaknesses and opportunities to have a positive impact, prioritizing these goals according to their strategic business objectives, and identifying measurable targets.

The paper provides information on:

  • Need for a Sustainability Strategy
  • Sustainable Tourism as a Model
  • Sustainability Strategy within Restaurant Operations
  • Creating a Vision of Success
  • Setting Goals
  • Three Phases of Sustainability Applied

(25 pages)

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Green Marketing: Think Before You Act

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This paper provides a brief background on green marketing and the associated risks of greenwashing.  It describes the important role of standards and certifications in green marketing, offers an analytical framework to help businesses choose among them, and explores the other green marketing tools as they are most appropriate for each company.  The paper provides information on:

  • Green Marketing vs. Greenwashing
  • Reporting Standards, Certifications, and Labels
  • Useful Green Marketing Tools 
  • Definitions, Benefits, and  Establishing Credibility               
  • Applicability and Feasibility            
  • Special Concerns in Green Marketing Communications

(32 pages)

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Choosing Sustainability Management Software for Your Business

A Guide for Small and Mid-Size Organizations

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This guide has been designed to help you answer questions related to sustainability management software. Would you use a spreadsheet to track your corporate finances? To monitor your inventory? To log all of your personnel data? The old saying goes “If it is important, you must manage it; if you want to manage it, you must measure it”, but too many companies today use spreadsheets to track their environmental impacts. 

This guide provides information on:

  • Deciding whether you need sustainability management software
  • Creating a short-list of vendors
  • Determining budget and implementation costs
  • Identifying the capabilities you really need in a software platform
  • Understanding who will be using the software, and what kind of training they need
  • Establishing the right technical support requirements
  • Preparing for third-party audits 

(26 pages)

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Sustainable Energy Solutions for Small to Medium Sized Farms

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This paper explores a number of energy solutions, including alternative energy and efficiency best practices, for small to medium sized farms. It presents the advantages and disadvantages of various options, so that the reader can make an informed sustainable energy decision that best works for his or her farm. The paper also focuses on farm operations, but does not consider the farm’s residence, or “building envelope.” Although the geographic focus of this paper is New York State, the solutions can be easily applied to other states and countries.

The paper provides information on:

  • Why a Sustainability Assessment is Key
  • Onsite Transportation
  • Alternative Fuels
  • Efficiency Best Practices
  • Incentives

(32 pages)

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Reducing Your Organization’s Carbon Footprint: Addressing Commuter-Related Emissions

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As organizations seek to effectively address their environmental impacts, carbon footprint reduction has become a common practice.  This white paper takes a closer look at reducing your organization’s carbon footprint and the many factors that come into play.  Organizational emissions tied to employee commuting can represent a very large or a very small part of an organization’s overall carbon footprint, depending on a great number of factors.  Factors may include facility location, organizational culture, and industry sector.  However, the carbon emissions associated with employee commuting can represent a significant portion of the organization’s overall carbon footprint size.  By reducing commuting related emissions, an organization can reduce its overall carbon footprint, sometimes dramatically.

This paper provides information on:

  • Carbon footprint of commuting baseline
  • Alternative transit modes
  • Detailed carbon emissions reduction calculations

(32 pages)

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The New Way to Shine: A Guide to Greening Your Cleaning

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This paper will provide an overview of ways in which you can become more environmentally friendly with several “quick fixes” that can drastically improve the overall health of both you and the environment. Specifically, re-vamping your—and your organization’s—green cleaning practices. Improving employee health and the surrounding environment will result in greater profit for organizations. This added value will be seen in the form of increased customer loyalty and employee productivity, as well as decreased health insurance payments and absentee days. 

The paper provides information on:

  • Chemicals to avoid and the illnesses that they induce
  • Eco-friendly products
  • Step-by-step instructions on switching the way in which your cleaning practices operates.
  • Business case for employing eco-friendly cleaning
  • Product and value comparisons

(26 pages)

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Sustainable Manufacturing: Comparing Lean, Six Sigma, and Total Quality Manufacturing

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This white paper provides information on Lean Manufacturing, Six Sigma, and Total Quality Management (TQM). It takes a closer look at environmental and social decision making as part of a manufacturing organization’s sustainable strategy. Although each strategy has a different philosophical foundation and set of guiding principles, each is inherently concerned with improving product quality to drive customer satisfaction. Both Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma use established guidelines to analyze and assess how to improve the manufacturing process and decrease product defects in the production line. TQM is primarily focused on satisfying stakeholder expectations to increase company value. 

The paper provides information on:

  • How sustainability can improve manufacturing operations.
  • Lean, Six Sigma and TQM comparisons.
  • The philosophy, history, pros and cons, and some practical examples of sustainable manufacturing.

(39 pages)

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Sustainability and Agriculture Go Together like Peanut Butter and Jelly

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The agriculture industry consumes huge amounts of energy and water resources. In doing so, it contributes to significant carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. The agriculture industry’s often overlooked and environmentally harmful rates of natural resource consumption are largely-in-part due to poor land and resource management, inefficiencies in agricultural equipment, and a lack of awareness to the benefits of sustainability initiatives by agriculture industry members. This white paper provides information on:

  • Incentives, technologies, and cost-benefits from sustainability initiatives and natural resource conservation practices
  • U.S. federal programs helping agriculture industry members sustain the natural resources of their lands
  • State programs helping agriculture industry members obtain fossil fuel independence through the application of: (1) Water efficient practices and technologies, (2) Energy efficient practices and technologies, and (3) Onsite renewable energy generation.

(39 pages)

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Sustainable Winemaking: A Liquid Revolution

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This paper provides an overview on how small- to medium-sized wineries or vineyards can take steps towards becoming a sustainable business. It will help you understand the steps that must be taken in order to make sustainability a part of your business model. Resources and examples will be provided throughout the paper so that you will understand how to incorporate sustainability into your winery and vineyard.

The paper provides information on:

  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Sustainable architecture
  • Greening the supply chain
  • Environmental impacts of winemaking
  • Ways to communicate sustainable progress
  • Case studies 

(43 pages)

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Sustainability Change Management: We’ve Had the Green Audit...Now What?

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Once an organization has had a green audit depicting the current sustainability status, leading the change initiative can be overwhelming. Change requires a lot of time, planning, and management. Because people are the key to successful organizational change, business leaders must take appropriate steps to involve and engage employees in the sustainability vision and implementation process. This paper offers the framework for business leaders to successfully lead their organizations through a sustainable change to an eco-conscious culture, and:

  • Identifies the change curve cycle and key indicators for each level
  • States a properly framed message to employees
  • Applies key factors to create a shared vision
  • Demonstrates how to develop a proper communication plan
  • Employs techniques to engage employees in the change
  • Creates meaningful metrics to measure change
  • Provides effective rewards and recognition
  • Applies methods for continuous improvement

(23 pages)

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Cut the Wrap! Packaging Waste and Strategies for Mitigation and Reduction

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Packaging waste is an issue that affects almost all businesses, from food and beverage to electronics. Unfortunately most of the materials used in packaging is discarded in ever-growing landfills or burnt, causing severe pollution. In fact, containers and packaging contribute the most to total municipal solid waste. Although packaging can be an unavoidable element to your organization, there are ways that you can reduce your harmful contributions to waste and improve your organization’s overall sustainability. This paper explores the various ways businesses can reduce or even eliminate their packaging waste, make smarter and more sustainable packaging choices, and utilize packaging alternatives.

This paper provides:

  • An overview of the current packaging industry
  • A breakdown of the negative impacts of packaging and the positive environmental outcomes of reduction
  • Detailed strategies that can impact all aspects of production
  • Examples of success stories from businesses of all sizes from around the world

Not only will these choices reduce the strain on resources needed to produce packaging and reduce the overall social costs of additional waste and pollution, but they will also reconfigure your business to be more cost-efficient and sustainable. This paper shows you just how simple and effective reducing your packaging waste could be!

(30 pages)

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Sustainability Reporting and SMEs: A Closer Look at the GRI

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This white paper explains sustainability reporting and takes a closer look at why more and more firms are reporting. There has been a growing interest in corporate social responsibility which has led to an increase in firms assessing their environmental and social impacts, and reporting on these impacts to their stakeholders. This paper surveys a few popular reporting standards that companies have used in their reporting, before focusing on the prevailing standard—the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). 

The paper provides information on:

  • What sustainability reporting means for small and medium sized businesses and the challenges they face
  • Sustainability reporting standards and guidelines (UNGC, CDP, GRI)
  • Steps to consider when preparing a sustainability report

(24 pages)

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Sustainable Commercial Interior Design

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We all want to be surrounded by beautiful, modern offices and homes, unfortunately it comes at a cost! This white paper explains the importance of sustainable interior design. Many businesses are taking part in the green movement, however this does not always translate into the office space interior. This paper will help you to identify eco-friendly interior products that translate your green message and will impact employee health and productivity, reputation, and profits. 

The paper provides information on:

  • Management strategies based on end-of-life/beginning-of-life
  • Biophilic design and materials
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Ratings, product standards and certifications
  • Green design product information

(61 pages)

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A Bright Idea: Energy Efficient Lighting for Offices

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This white paper explains the importance of energy efficiency lighting for offices. It looks at the cost implications for businesses, when renovating or building a new office space. Renovating an existing building calls for certain considerations, while incorporating a comprehensive lighting plan during initial construction involves other strategies. Federal and state financial incentives may apply in either scenario and should be utilized. This paper will help you to identify the crucial issues applicable to your office and energy efficiency lighting as well as recommend energy efficient lighting strategies.

The paper provides information on:

  • Office lighting systems 
  • Energy reduction strategies
  • Office design optimization and employee productivity
  • Energy consumption
  • Renovation and quick fixes
  • Financial cost implications
  • Incentives for energy efficient lighting

(28 pages)

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Sustainability Certifications and Standards: Making Sense of the Maze for Your Business

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This white paper reviews the most important sustainability-related standards and certifications and provides a concise description of the standards, their reporting requirements, and their advantages and deficiencies of each.

The paper provides:

  • Analysis of ten certifications/standards that are most relevant to the industry
  • Direction to begin your efforts and learn more about the certifications/standards
  • Review of twenty additional certifications/standards with a concise descriptions and links to resources for more information

(37 pages)

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Green Roofs and Living Walls

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What if buildings could function as ecological structures in addition to being places to live, work, learn, or relax? In other words, what if buildings could function as a part of nature: filtering air and water, providing habitats for plants, animals and birds, reducing carbon content, retaining storm water, or even having therapeutic effects on people? It doesn’t stop there—what if buildings could be constructed so that they are better insulated, reducing utility costs? The reality is that they can, and the answer is simpler and more effective than one might think: green roofs and living walls.

The paper provides information on:

  • Understanding green roofs and living walls
  • Benefits for small businesses
  • Preliminary aspects to consider if you are interested in green roofs and living walls
  • Installations and information on how it works
  • Alternatives to green roofs and living walls

(36 pages)

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