Category Archives: Energy Audit

United States Carbon: Benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility

benefits-of-corporate-social-responsibility

 

No longer is the term ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ a novel idea amongst businesses. A 2011 sustainability study by MIT showed that sustainability, in the US at least, now plays a permanent part in 70% of corporate agendas.

Organisations such as Unilever haven’t simply been championing sustainable business as a form of corporate philanthropy. Since implementing their Sustainable Living Plan, they have increased growth and profits. Quite simply, doing good is good for business.

How have Unilever achieved this growth? By being a responsible, sustainable business, they have saved money (energy, packaging etc.), won over consumers, fostered innovation and have managed to inspire and engage their people.

Benefits of corporate social responsibility

The Unilever success story is well publicised, but it can be hard to identify with a business of such size. However, the great news is that even the smallest of organisations benefit when putting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at the heart of their business.

Whilst profit may be the end goal for any business, responsible businesses have managed to attract more investors, reduced their risks and addressed stakeholder concerns. With there barely being a day in the news where a business hasn’t made an embarrassing error of judgement, more interest is being show in business demonstrating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The benefits from adopting CSR can be less obvious than say, helping the environment. For example, a survey from Net Impact found that 53% of workers said that “a job where I can make an impact” was important to their happiness. Interestingly, 35% would take a pay cut to work for a company committed to CSR.

Examples of corporate social responsibility

CSR isn’t about giving money to charity, or just asking people not to print emails for the sake of Mother Earth! First and foremost, businesses exist to make profit, and this isn’t meant to change as a goal. The reality is that no organisation operates in isolation; there is interaction with employees, customers, suppliers and stakeholders. CSR is about managing these relationships to produce an overall positive impact on society, whilst making money.

So how do you put CSR into action? Below are a few examples of what businesses around the World are doing.

Making ‘green’ fashionable: The Body Shop

The Body Shop forged a reputation as a responsible business long before it became fashionable. They were one of the first companies to publish a full report on their CSR initiatives thanks to founder Anita Roddick’s passionate beliefs of environmental protection, animal rights, community trade and human rights. The company has gone so far as to start The Body Shop Foundation, which supports fellow pioneers who would normally struggle to get funding.

Over 20 years ago the company set up a fair trade programme, well before the term ‘Fair Trade’ started to become popular on supermarket shelves. Of course, The Body Shop is famous for its anti-animal testing stance. Whilst this makes testing their products more difficult, especially in markets such as the USA and Japan, their position has created a loyal customer base. The results? From opening her first store in 1976, 30 years later Annit Roddick’s empire was taken over by L’Oreal for £652m, where it has continued to make annual profits of over £40m.

Putting the fun into CSR: Walt Disney

Moving beyond making cartoons, today the Walt Disney Company additionally owns the ESPN and ABC networks, holiday resorts and publishing businesses to name a few. The result is a lot of social and environmental impact, as well as the ability to influence a huge amount of people.

Importantly, Disney recognised that you can’t entertain a family on the one hand and then disregard the world and circumstances in which they live. Acting responsibly gives the company credibility and authenticity. Accordingly, they have set themselves strict environmental targets and disclose their figures in the Global Reporting Initiative which provides a comprehensive set of indicators covering the economic, environmental and ethical impacts of a company’s performance

Setting ambitious financial targets together with environmental performance targets may sound like an oxymoron, but Disney has managed to do this with initiatives such as running Disneyland trains on biodiesel made with cooking oil from the resort’s hotels. They also created the ‘Green standard’ to engage and motivate employees in reducing their environmental impact when working, having meetings, travelling and eating lunch. With more than 60,000 staff, the results are enormous when everyone is pulling in the same direction.

A clear example of financially benefiting from reducing environmental impact is made with this simply statistic: a 10% reduction in the corporation’s electricity use is enough to power the annual consumption of 3 of their theme parks. Whilst their CSR efforts may have taken a great deal of organisation, dedication and investment, 2012 was a record year for Disney’s profits.

Haagen-Dazs and honeybees

This might sound odd at first, but honeybees are an important part of the global food chain as they pollinate one-third of all the food we eat! With numbers lower than ever, this is bad news for companies such as Haagen-Dazs and their all-natural ice creams. To raise awareness, they created a website, started a social media campaign and donated a portion of proceedings to research.

As you can see, a campaign like works fantastically from a number of different angles. Not only is it helping society as a whole, in keeping with the company’s CSR goals, it helps to show a human side to consumers, which can’t hurt sales. In fact, research shows consumers are more likely to pay a premium for a product linked to a charity donation.

How can CSR translate to a smaller business? The issues are the same, just on a smaller scale. The key is to start by conducting a review of what impacts your business has. This could be from environmental issues (energy use, waste etc.), to how your employees are treated, your supply chain and the local community. Below is a look at some examples a small business would recognise, and could act on.

The environment

Even the smallest of office-based businesses can make big changes when it comes to the environment. When you consider an average office worker can use up to 11 sheets of paper a day, are you really reusing and recycling as much as you could?

A common lapse is forgetting to turn off your PC’s monitor come home time. Left on overnight, that is the equivalent of printing 800 A4 pages! Multiply that by the varying IT equipment in your office and you’re looking at a lot of unnecessary energy use.

The above examples ideally illustrate how thinking sustainability isn’t just good for the environment; it saves overheads and helps the bottom-line too.

Staff welfare

For a smaller business, extravagances can be hard to justify. However, happier staff doesn’t simply mean bonuses and pay rises.

What employees value is participation: do they get a fair say? Keeping staff updated on the business and inviting opinions keeps them motivated and loyal. Investing in them with internal and external training helps them do a better job and helps in retraining them, too. Would you rather invest less and have a poor performing, unmotivated team with a high attrition rate instead?

Community

You can incorporate your staff welfare plans with your aims to boost community relationships too. If you’d like to support a local charity, why not let your staff vote for their favourite? It’s now common for businesses to allocate charity days where staff get hands-on with their chosen charity, the effects going far further than monetary donation.

In uncertain financial times, employment rates are always an issue. Could your business offer part-time work or training to those in long-term employment, or students looking for their first work experience?

Finally, there’s the supply chain. Do you have a policy to purchase locally? With the internet opening up the world, it’s surprising how far away some suppliers are. Not only could sourcing locally boost the local economy, you’re helping the environment by avoiding unnecessary travel and consequent emissions.

It’s surprising when you break down your organisation’s activities to see how many people are affected by it. It’s also clear that CSR isn’t a cynical marketing ploy for big businesses; there are tangible benefits to be had by all. The key is not to treat CSR as an ‘initiative’, but to simply view it as the way you do business. Applying CSR is just redefining aspects of what you’re already doing; it needn’t be exotic or costly. Instead, start small and gain momentum.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: Smart Power Opens Minds, Opens Markets

“Why give money to people that don’t like us?”

“We’re broke at home, so how can we afford to send money to people abroad?”

These are the two most oft-repeated objections heard by many US senators and congressmen to spending money on international affairs programs. So why would the US Chamber of Commerce and the US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a coalition of over four hundred businesses and non-governmental organizations along with over one hundred thirty retired generals and admirals, call on Congress this week to do exactly that?

It’s just smart business.

A senior sales executive at a major US company recently told me, “We’re the best in the world at designing the next generation of products in [our industry]. But we’re terrible at figuring out the next generation market for those products.” For many American companies, from aviation to pharmaceuticals, the lead-time for product development can take decades. According to this executive, “As a company, we need to be in these developing markets now…investing through our corporate responsibility and citizenship programs,” she said. “That’s why we need partnerships with NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and folks like USAID…they’ve got intimate knowledge, on the ground in developing nations and can help us build trust in those countries now so we don’t show up late to the party after the Chinese beat us to the punch.”

Programs funded by the International Affairs Budget create enabling environments for American businesses to succeed in overseas markets today.   

Unlike many of our counterparts in Europe and Asia, American businesses don’t always think about export markets.

That has to change. “Outside our borders are markets that represent 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power, 92 percent of its economic growth, and 95 percent of its consumers,” testified John Murphy, Vice President of International Affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday.

As these data indicate, the American economy simply can’t afford to ignore export markets any more. In fact, according to Murphy, many American businesses already grasp this reality and take advantage of it, “One in three manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres on American farms is planted for hungry consumers overseas. Nearly 300,000 small and medium-sized businesses export, accounting for more than one-third of all merchandise exports.”

The most forward-looking companies increasingly use their own “smart power” partnerships with international development agencies and NGOs as a way of opening markets. While a country uses smart power when it intelligently combines hard military power with soft – diplomatic, development, economic – power, companies combine their hard power – revenues, contracts, supply chains – with their soft power – brand, corporate citizenship, public-private partnership, philanthropy. A senior corporate responsibility officer at a major US corporation recently described the use of, “CSR and philanthropy in the ‘pre-competitive’ stage,” as a way of investing in new markets before his products and those of his competitors have reached developing countries in order to build both trust and purchasing capacity. These smart power partnerships are another way the international affairs budget pays dividends for American companies.

In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bill Lane, head of Caterpillar‘s Washington Office and Co-President of the USGLC, pointed out that many developing countries have limited ability buy American products and services today. “In these countries the road to development – and the investment, commerce, and trade that follow –may begin (literally) with a road,” testified Lane, “referring to the basic infrastructure that must be improved and, in some cases, created from scratch using machinery and expertise often supplied by companies like Caterpillar.”

Lane said businesses need, “conditions where there are stable governments, transparency, predictability, adequate financial infrastructure, free market economic policies that allow for competition, and rule of law.” Lane voiced the collective conviction of USGLC’s four hundred business and NGO members that, “…programs funded in the International Affairs Budget are vitally important for America’s economic future, national security, and global influence.”

Both Lane and Murphy urged America not “unilaterally disarm,” in the face of growing competition from Chinese and other potential competitors. In their view, the smart power combinations of American businesses, NGOs, and government agencies can level the playing field abroad and expand the economy at home. For firms like Caterpillar, the math is simple, according to Lane, “The more trucks and tractors we sell overseas, the more jobs… in places like Peoria where those vehicles are manufactured.”

Modest investments – the international affairs budget represents just over one percent of the federal budget – can pay big rewards for shareholders, America, and the world. After all, as Bill Gates has said, “Investing in the world’s poorest people is the smartest way our government spends money.”

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

United States Carbon: No More Free-Pass for Carbon Pollution

For more than 40 years, the Clean Air Act has proved itself an effective, efficient and flexible tool that has safeguarded public health while fostering economic growth and innovation.

My colleagues and I at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a new analysis today that finds curbing carbon pollution from power plants using the Clean Air Act would have similarly positive results.

In the analysis — “Less Carbon, More Jobs, Lower Bills” — we found that NRDC’s proposal to cut carbon pollution would create new jobs nationally and lower the average American’s monthly electric bill. This analysis is based on a proposal detailed in our December 2012 report “Closing the Power Plant Carbon Pollution Loophole: Smart Ways the Clean Air Act Can Clean Up America’s Biggest Climate Polluters.”

Specifically, we found that our proposed carbon standards would, in 2020, increase national employment by a net total of 210,000 jobs, lower average residential electricity bills by $0.90 per month and have essentially no overall impact on the nation’s GDP.

Total net jobs added by state (select U.S. states) in 2020 from carbon standard
Total net jobs added by state (select U.S. states) in 2020 from carbon standard.
Credit: NRDC.

The analysis

In December 2012, NRDC shared its proposalfor how the EPA could set carbon standards for power plants that would achieve big reductions at far lower cost than conventional wisdom would have suggested. At the same time, these actions would create vast benefits for the American people, including a surge of investment in energy efficiency. The plan would give EPA the flexibility it has under the Clean Air Act to set carbon reduction goals based in part on states’ current electric generation mixes. It would also allow power companies to draw from a wide range of options to meet emissions reduction targets.

With that kind of practical, flexible approach, we showed that EPA could reduce carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2020 (relative to the peak levels in 2005), while at the same time lowering electricity prices. The price tag? About $4 billion in 2020. But the benefits — in saved lives, reduced illnesses and avoided environmental damage — would be worth $25 billion to $60 billion, or six to 15 times greater than those costs.

That report outlined the big picture. Today, we are releasing a companion analysis that digs into the details and examines how our proposal would affect jobs, GDP and electricity bills for average Americans. This analysis also examines how our proposal would look in several states around the country.

Nationally, we see a total net gain of 210,000 jobs in 2020. Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia jobs would increase and electric bills would decrease. Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota would see job gains, and Maine residents would save on their electric bills.

Energy efficiency upgrades are the primary driver of job gains in the analysis, responsible for 236,000 additional direct jobs in 2020. Shifts in other sectors (including not just power plants, but also industries that supply inputs to the production of these plants) would reduce the net increase to 210,000; some job gains are also offset because households would be spending money on energy efficiency measures instead of other economy-wide goods and services.

Energy bill savings occur even though the efficiency programs add costs to electricity bills. This is because these charges are still lower than the cost of electricity required without such efficiency changes. While electricity rates (cents per kilowatt-hour) could go up modestly in some cases, electricity bills (rate multiplied by usage) go down, on average, because energy efficiency improvements reduce overall electricity consumption.

Carbon Standard Bills changes
Changes in net job years and utility bills in the United States and in selected states from carbon standard in 2020 (policy case relative to business-as-usual).
Credit: NRDC.

Conservative estimates

Our estimates are conservative.

In the report, changes in utility bills capture savings from energy efficiency only for the year 2020, yet energy efficiency upgrades installed up to that point will continue to have benefits for consumers for many years beyond. The bill savings we estimated reflect up-front charges on electricity bills for energy-efficiency programs and investments in cleaner generation, all of which occur in 2020, minus savings gained from avoiding some energy generation in 2020 alone).

Additionally, the analysis did not include two positive impacts our proposal would have on GDP; due to modeling limitations, we had to leave these effects out. First, we did not calculate productivity improvements to the economy that would result from the $25 billion to $60 billion in health and environmental benefits. These improvements could be significant: a series of studies led by Dale Jorgenson at Harvard University concluded that the healthier workforce resulting from the Clean Air Act increased GDP by as much as 1.5 percent by 2010. Similar to other environmental damages , climate change disrupts worker productivity because of work days lost to extreme weather (e.g. from damages to homes, businesses, and transportation and other infrastructure) and climate-related illnesses (e.g. exacerbated respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis, and emergency room visits during heat-waves for various health impacts). Extreme heat also directly lowers the productivity of outdoor workers.

Second, our proposed carbon standard reduces wholesale electricity prices in the regions we studied in the eastern part of the country due to reduced electricity demand and the form of the output-based standard (the regulatory limit on power-plant outputs). However, we did not estimate the positive effect this price drop would have on businesses and economy-wide production.

Details aside, though, the big picture is clear. Climate change is fueling extreme weather, heat, drought, forest fires, asthma and many other effects that are harming our children’s health and their future. Yet, one of the largest sources of the dangerous heat-trapping gases driving climate change, our nation’s power plants, emit with no carbon limits whatsoever. They areresponsible for almost 40 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution in the United States.

President Obama has laid out a robust plan for tackling climate change, noting that we have an obligation to protect future generations from its effects.

“Today, for the sake of our children, and the health and safety of all Americans, I’m directing the Environmental Protection Agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants, and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants,” he announced in presenting his climate plan on June 25, 2013.

The centerpiece of that plan is the task of cleaning up dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. These plants are our biggest source of carbon pollution, and while they must observe strict limits for arsenic, mercury, lead and other emissions, they face no limits for their carbon dioxide pollution.

As President Obama said, “That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop.”

So the president is outlining a common-sense step, using a common-sense tool: the Clean Air Act. Just as we used this act to set limits for arsenic, mercury, lead and other dangerous pollution coming from power plants, we can set limits to efficiently cut the carbon pollution these plants emit.

Our two analyses demonstrate that NRDC’s proposal for reducing carbon pollution from power plants by 26 percent in 2020 will add over 200,000 jobs to the U.S. economy, save Americans money on their electric bills and avoid up to $60 billion in health impacts and other climate-related costs.

When we consider that climate change is already happening in the United States, already affecting communities all across the nation, we think that having a path forward to less carbon, more jobs and lower bills is the right path to take.

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology that will help you become greener, cleaner, and more socially responsible please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com

A United States Carbon Sustainability Plan is self-funding. Benefiting People, Planet, And Profits…at the same time.

United States Carbon LLC, is an energy efficiency and Business Sustainability Project Management Company. Our business clients will become more Energy Efficient, Greener, Cleaner, More Socially Responsible and more profitable – all at the same time, and for little or no capital outlay. The energy savings from United States Carbon proposed projects are what is used to fund all project costs.  Simply put, we help companies reduce their energy consumption, increase the value of their  business and improve their company’s social responsibility through our Carbon Reduction Audit, Technologies & Project Funding Process.  United States Carbon combines the best in class technology utilizing, SMART WEB, SAETEC and SHOMEL to achieve the most comprehensive approach to reduction of energy in exchange for Carbon Assets. Our software solutions measure energy consumption and create the baseline for the Carbon Assets. Our solution can be offered as software service (SaaS) to large greenhouse gas emitters for corporate social responsibility, reporting and compliance management.

A United States Carbon Sustainability Plan is self-funding.  Benefiting People, Planet, And Profits…at the same time. 

To learn more about United States Carbon and our energy reduction technology please contact us at (855) 393-7555 or visit our website: www.unitedstatescarbon.com