As part of my Earth Month quest for all things sustainable in and around Portland this April, I had the good fortune to get a personal tour of a small, sustainably farmed Oregon vineyard--Tonnelier Vineyard. Owners Mike & Julie Slater showed me around their pinot noir planted (Dijon clones 114, 115, 667 and 777 on Riparian stock, if you're really interested), south sloped, Willakenzie soil, 4-acre vineyard in the Willamette Valley’s Yamhill-Carlton AVA.
I saw the first bud break on the 2017 grapevines (pictured below). The Tonnelier Vineyard has been Low Input Viticulture and Enology (or "LIVE") certified since 2012.
LIVE is a rigorous, third-party certification process and a marker of the environmentally and socially responsible farming methods used to grow and harvest grapes. LIVE is certified internationally by the International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC) and implemented locally by a non-profit organization of Oregon winegrowers.
After the vineyard tour (capped with some yummy fromage and smoked salmon), we scooted over to one of the wineries where the Tonnelier grapes become wine--Bells Up Winery.
I'm not sure which I enjoyed most—touring the sustainable vineyard with Mike and Julie, tasting the wines (including a 3-year vertical of the Titan Pinot Noir), hearing Dave and Sara's story about building their winery and wines, or witnessing the magical partnership between a micro wine grower and wine maker. Altogether—a great way to experience earth’s bounty.
If I were pressed to pick only one favorite bottle from the Bells Up Winery collection, I'd have to go with the 2014 Villanelle Pinot Noir. It is a really special, limited edition reserve sourced solely from Tonnelier. Lots of dark berries with the smooth, silky finish you’d expect from a great Oregon Pinot Noir. But, don’t make me choose—they were all high quality wines.
If you're interested in an authentic, un-corporate, un-domaine sustainable Oregon Wine experience where you chat directly with the winemaker (and if you're lucky enough, the wine grower too) - make an appointment for your #BellsUpMoment @bellsupwinery.
Thank you for reading my post. Here at Corporate Sustainability Advisors LLC blog and at LinkedIn, I regularly write about organizational, community, and personal sustainability. If you would like to read my future posts then please click 'Follow' and feel free to also connect via Twitter and Facebook.
Happy Earth Month! It’s been 47 years since the first Earth Day events on April 22, 1970. Here at Corporate Sustainability Advisors, every day is Earth Day. We’re proud and honored to help companies and other organizations address their environmental impacts while growing thriving businesses and pursing their missions. Earth Month provides an opportunity for us to reflect on why we do what we do and how we can do better.
In many ways the imperative to understand and to act has never been greater. As we often do, we look back at the words of Rachel Carson for continued insight and inspiration. We see her attempts to sound the siren about the most pressing environmental issues of her day and see their truth and relevance to today’s challenges.
A couple examples:
Sound familiar? If Rachel were to have written those words in 2017, perhaps ‘pesticide applications’ and ‘insect controllers’ would be replaced with ‘fossil fuels’ and ‘fossil industry’.
We approach the one-year anniversary of the signing of the historic Paris Agreement (April 22, 2016) with escalating evidence of the economic, public health, and natural security risks from climatic changes. The Earth Day Network’s 2017 theme—environmental and climate literacy—seems particularly apt with so much anti-science charge in the atmosphere.
A couple more Rachel Carson quotes emphasize the importance of environmental literacy by the masses.
We encourage everyone—individuals, families, neighborhoods, businesses, and even government agencies—to read up on peer-reviewed climate science (or summaries if you don’t want to be in full-on geek mode).
For a very brief primer, here are ten undisputed facts with broad consensus in the scientific community and which many business leaders and government officials concur.
[Reference sources: NASA https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/, NOAA http://www.noaa.gov/climate, EPA https://www.epa.gov/climatechange/climate-change-basic-information, Climate Central http://www.climatecentral.org/what-we-do/our-programs/climate-science, IPCC https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf, UN http://unfccc.int/files/essential_background/convention/application/pdf/english_paris_agreement.pdf, FSB https://www.fsb-tcfd.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/16_1221_TCFD_Report_Letter.pdf]
We also encourage everyone to reflect on the natural and human-created resources that we rely on each day. What ways can you find to conserve, reuse, recycle—or even regenerate—these resources to help sustain our way of life for the near-term tomorrows and for future generations? The small (or large) steps you take matter. Act locally or globally. Just act.
If you’re a business leader or an employee wanting to take action – Earth Day and Month present great opportunities to start or boost your organization’s go green program. Today is always the best day to be more sustainable.
Thank you for reading this blog post. Here at Corporate Sustainability Advisors LLC blog and at LinkedIn, I regularly write about organizational, community, and personal sustainability. If you would like to read my future posts then please subscribe via the adjacent link. Also, feel free to connect via Twitter and Facebook.
Everyone is a little Irish on March 17th, right. I come by it naturally from my Irish-born grandmother Irene so the wearing & living of the green is a wee more constant presence for me.
I’ve always thought of St. Patrick’s Day as one of the greenest days of the year. Second only to Earth Day (April 22nd). In fact, it’s a great precursor to all of Earth Month. Embracing these two green days is a wonderful way to celebrate the wonder of nature’s beauty as spring bursts with new life.
Enough waxing, let’s get to the drinking!
Although I prefer something black & tan most St. Pat’s days, I’ve been known to have a green beer or two. As lrish luck would have it, it’s never been easier to drink green! That’s great because who really wants to drink a bunch of pesticides?
Like many consumer products, the adult beverage industry is greening itself and becoming more sustainable. There’s even a Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable.
Today we see:
Distilled Tips | A few things to look for in finding the most sustainable spirits to drink. Search out:
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Irish expressions…
May brooks and trees and singing hills
Join in the chorus, too.
And every gentle wind that blows
Send happiness to you.
Remember to drink responsibly. You are what you drink.
What other ways do you like to green your drinking? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you for reading my post. Here at the Corporate Sustainability Advisors LLC blog and on LinkedIn, I regularly write about organizational, community, and personal sustainability. If you would like to read my future posts then please click 'Follow' and feel free to also connect via Twitter and Facebook.
Sharing a couple news items regarding GSA's Alliant 2 GWAC.
1. GAO recently denied protests. Evaluations and awards can now proceed. See the January 11th decision here.
2. GSA issued a revised Information Collection Request (ICR) notice for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions information required under Alliant 2's Section G.25. Based on comments to the first ICR notice, including those of Corporate Sustainability Advisors, GSA has a new burden estimate for the GHG reporting. Per the new calculation, GSA estimates that the average Alliant 2 awardee will take about 120 hours each year to comply with the G.25 provisions. This is up from GSA's original estimate of 80 hours. The revised ICR notice is here. The public comment period closes February 13th.
The year-end holidays always serve as a reflection point for me. If you’re like me, the last week of the year is a great time to make your annual charitable donations. Not only can you (and/or your business) help causes you’re passionate about—you can also reduce your 2016 taxable income. Take this opportunity to do something special for your favorite non-profit!
This year, why not green your giving? As 2016 wraps up, I am slanting my giving to a few select environmental non-profits. Every year my concern grows about current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts from the changing climate. The recent data about the artic warming are uniquely alarming, especially for those in coastal communities.
In 2016, we witnessed unprecedented progress in collective actions from the public and private sectors to acknowledge and address climate change impacts—from the 200+ countries that signed the Paris Agreement—to the trillions of investment dollars shifting to companies with strong environmental, social and governance programs—to state and local efforts—to large businesses increasing their sustainability commitments and disclosures—to the growing number of B Corporations.
Some of the U.S. presidential campaign rhetoric and president-elect nominations, on the other hand, cast a pall on the common ground forged in 2016. With uncertainty at the U.S. federal level, the importance of environmental non-profits is greater than ever. From Apple to Leonardo to Zuckerberg—sustainable giving is the thing to do in 2016.
As you reflect how to increase your green giving, here are a few questions to ask to help align your giving with what’s most critical—from a sustainability perspective—to you. These questions will help identify what’s important and serve a general strategy to guide you as you select one (or more) environmental charities. All are in need of your support. Many organizations address multiple factors.
5 Factors to Focus Your Green Charitable Donations
Resources for Supporting Climate Resiliency and other Environmental Causes
After you’ve focused on the reasons for giving and have a general strategy, here are some resources about environmental non-profits. Most are national (U.S.) or global. If you want to give locally, use these and the general resource list below to help you with your research and selection process.
A Few of My Favorite Things | 14 Links to Help Make the Most of Your Donations
Many organizations provide other tips and resources to guide your charitable giving. Here are a few of my favorites—first focusing on general (primarily individual) donations; and, secondly, on corporate philanthropy.
General Charitable Donation Resources
Here are six general resources to guide your charitable donations.
And a couple newer—slightly contrarian—perspectives that I like.
Resources for Business to Consider and Boost Charitable Engagements:
Here are six resources to guide your corporation’s charitable donations and engagement.
What other tips or resources would you add to this list? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you for reading my post. Here at Corporate Sustainability Advisors LLC blog and at LinkedIn, I regularly write about organizational, community, and personal sustainability. If you would like to read my future posts then please click 'Subscribe to Blog' and feel free to also connect via Twitter and Facebook.
Homeowners in Portland Oregon soon will. The City of Portland just joined a small group of other US (Austin, Berkeley, Boulder, Santa Fe) and international cities (in the UK, Denmark and Australia) to require energy scores as part of home sales.
Beginning in 2018, sellers of certain single-family homes in the City of Portland must obtain a home energy score and share the report with:
To reduce costs and carbon emissions, the City has adopted its new ordinance in hopes of increasing the pace of energy efficiency improvements in its residential stock. The energy assessment and report is similar to a miles per gallon sticker required for car sales.
Among other benefits, these disclosures help homebuyers make more informed decisions about the total cost of owning a particular home.
Read the adopted City code language, Title 17.108, and FAQs from the City.
This move follows a similar push in the City’s commercial buildings market. In 2015, the City adopted an ordinance, Title 17.104, mandating energy benchmarking and disclosure for large commercial buildings. That rule requires owners of buildings greater than 20,000 square feet to report annual energy use. The City estimates that by mid-2017, about 80% of Portland’s commercial building stock will report energy performance data via the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool. The US Environmental Protection Agency maintains the Portfolio Manager tool. It is widely used in the commercial market. Read the associated administrative rules for the commercial building ordinance here.
You’ll want to read this if:
These issues are most relevant to a publicly capitalized company’s board of directors and its financial and risk executives and sustainability leaders (if any). Also, all employees might want to be aware of how climate risks and opportunities might impact their company.
A Financial Stability Board (FSB) task force of the G20 nations released recommendations that encourage companies and financial-sector organizations (e.g., banks, asset owners and managers, insurance companies, lenders) in G20 countries to assess and incorporate climate risks and opportunities in their mainstream public financial reporting.
These recommendations send a strong market signal that climate-related risks are financial risks. The guidance is designed to “elicit decision-useful, forward-looking information” on climate-related financial impacts to help “investors, lenders and insurance underwriters to appropriately assess and price climate-related risks and opportunities.”
The Recommendations | Companies are Encouraged to Address 4 Areas
The recommendations focus on four thematic areas that the FSB feels reflect how many organizations operate. These include: governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets.
The FSB recommends specific disclosures that organizations should include in financial filings. See the report’s Figure 3 below. For example, the task force recommends companies conduct and publish a 2 degree scenario business plan, Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and any ‘appropriate’ Scope 3 emissions. The FSB provided supplemental guidance for sectors it judges are most affected by climate change.
The FSB states that the recommendations are applicable to organizations across sectors and jurisdictions. It also recognizes the key role that large asset owners and asset managers play “in influencing the organizations in which they invest to provide better climate-related financial disclosures.”
Climate Risks and Opportunities with Financial Implications
The report provides context about the range of financial implications posed by climate change. It summarizes why some organizations haven’t yet factored climate change into their business strategy.
“The large-scale and long-term nature of the problem makes it uniquely challenging, especially in the context of economic decision making. Accordingly, many organizations incorrectly perceive the implications of climate change to be long term and, therefore, not necessarily relevant to decisions made today.”
It noted that climate-related risks and an anticipated transition to a lower-carbon economy will impact some industries (e.g., organizations dependent on extracting, producing, and using coal, oil, and natural gas) more significantly than others. It also remarked that these fossil fuel-centric organizations are not alone: “in fact, climate-related risks and the expected transition to a lower-carbon economy affect most economic sectors and industries.”
In a similar vein, the FSB cautioned organizations not to prematurely assume that climate impacts—risks or opportunities—are not material to them. The Task Force believes “climate-related risks are material risks for many organizations, and this framework should be useful to organizations in complying more effectively with existing disclosure obligations.”
It further found that while the risks presented are significant, so are the opportunities for organizations “focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions.”
As illustrated in the report’s Figure 1, “climate-related risks and opportunities can affect organizations’ revenues and expenditures, and possibly estimates of future cash flows, as well as their assets and liabilities in a number of ways.”
Although the recommendations are voluntary, each G20 nation will determine—after the FSB finalizes them in 2017—whether and how to incorporate them into legislation, regulations, or guidance. Many investors are calling for countries and exchanges to adopt them as mandatory as some countries have already done.
Regulators or exchanges in many countries, including the US, already require companies to report on material risks—including climate-related risks—in their financial disclosures. Increasingly, more countries require specific disclosures such as quantitative metrics on energy usage and/or GHG emissions and at least qualitative reporting on climate impacts.
France’s Energy Transition Law (Act 17), for example, requires France-domiciled listed companies and asset owners/managers to report climate factors and carbon emissions footprints by June 2017). The United Kingdom’s Companies Act 2006, Regulations 2013, requires listed companies to publish in its Directors’ Report annual GHG emissions data.
For more details and other examples, check out the Principles for Responsible Investment’s Global Guide to Responsible Investment Regulation.
The FSB’s directs its recommendations to asset owners/managers and publicly capitalized companies. It also encourages other companies to explore and disclose the financial implications of climate risks and opportunities because it believes “climate-related risks and opportunities are relevant for organizations across all sectors.”
The FSB further acknowledged that climate-related financial reporting is at an early stage. The guidance it offers should advance the quality and consistency of mainstream financial disclosures related to the potential climate change effects on organizations.
What Next? Our Suggested Actions for Publicly Capitalized Companies
The FSB’s recommendations provide a great reflection point for publicly capitalized companies to consider their climate-related risks and opportunities.
For the many companies that have already begun this journey, it provides confirmation of the business case for doing so and additional guidance to improve the quality and consistency of the analysis and disclosures.
It provides impetus for increased collaboration amongst a company’s board of directors and leaders from across the organization including: the Chief Financial Officer and other financial leaders, the Chief Investment Officer and other investor relations leaders, risk management leaders, and climate/sustainability leaders.
For publicly capitalized companies that haven’t yet begun to assess which, if any, climate risks or opportunities may impact them, now is a good time to start. If you are a board member or senior leader at one of these companies, consider the following actions:
Whether your company has been addressing these issues or is just becoming aware of them, consider providing feedback on the FSB’s recommendations via the online consultation here. The public consultation process is open through mid February.
Background About the FSB and the Task Force
In response to the global economic crisis, the G20 nations established the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in 2009. The FSB serves as an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system to promote international financial stability.
In December 2015, the G20 nations asked the FSB to establish an industry-led task force to review how the financial sector can take account of climate-related issues. The FSB created and asked the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) to develop voluntary, consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies in providing information to investors, lenders, insurers, and other stakeholders. The FSB choose the TCFD’s 32 members to include both users and preparers of disclosures from across the G20 nations covering a broad range of economic sectors and financial markets. The members which include Unilever, Axa, PwC, Standard and Poor's, Blackrock and Barclays, represent $1.5 trillion in market capital, with $20 trillion in assets under management. See here for task force member statements supporting the report.
Good news for EDWOSB's like Corporate Sustainability Advisors, LLC. A recently finalized FAR rule provides an additional tool for Federal agencies to ensure that WOSBs have an equal opportunity to participate in Federal contracting and ensures consistency among SBA's socioeconomic small business contracting programs. The provision puts the WOSB/EDWOSB Program on a level playing field with other SBA Government contracting programs with sole source authority and provided an additional, needed tool for agencies to meet the statutorily mandated goal of 5 percent of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards for WOSBs.
See here for additional details.
New Rule: Federal Government Contractors Required to Make Representations About GHG Emissions Public Disclosures
Federal agencies have amended the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) to require certain contractors to indicate whether or not they publicly share information about their corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory or goals. Published in the Federal Register on November 18 (81 FR 83092), the new rule does not actually require contractors to calculate or reduce their GHG emissions, just that they indicate whether they publicly disclose either emissions or goals information.
In the final rulemaking the government clarified the purpose and goals of the FAR modifications. The representations are intended to help the government better understand, not regulate, the GHG management practices of its industry partners. The rule is designed to be a low-burden, minimally intrusive effort to enable greater insight into the GHG management practices of the federal supply chain.
Effective December 19, 2016, the final FAR rule establishes an annual representation requirement for contractors to indicate whether or not they publicly disclose GHG emissions data and/or emissions reduction goals. For companies that do publicly disclose such information, they must also indicate where it is publicly available on the Internet. The requirements are applicable to companies that had $7.5+ million in federal contract awards in the prior federal fiscal year.
The final rule is almost identical to the proposed rule released in May 2016 (81 FR 33192). Some minor clarifications where made to address comments made to the draft rule.
New FAR provision 52.223-22 (and an equivalent at 52.212-3 for commercial/COTS items) representations:
The new rule may be a target for repeal by the incoming administration because it is based on an Executive Order of President Obama (EO 13693). On the other hand, the EO and rule mirror the supply chain practices of many successful US-based and global corporations. Applying such practices to the US government’s $400 billion supply chain could well have bi-partisan appeal as they will likely result in cost savings to the companies and taxpayers alike.
GHG management is closely connected with cost savings from energy use reduction, and serves as an indicator of operational efficiency and excellent management practices. Thus, organizations that purchase large volumes of goods and services (e.g., AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Nike, Walmart) have started asking their supply chain (i.e., the companies they buy from) about these practices.
Private and publicly-traded companies are enhancing their environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, including disclosing details about their GHG management and other sustainability practices through tools such as the CDP and the GRI Sustainability Disclosure Database. For example, nearly 10,000 organizations have submitted more than 35,000 reports via the GRI database. Last year, companies representing more than 50% of the combined market capitalization of the G20 reported emissions data to CDP. These public disclosures, and the management efforts behind them, help the bottom line.
In response to these efficiency opportunities, supply chain management practices, and investor expectations, many federal contractors already have GHG and energy management programs. This is especially true of the largest contractors. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) just released the 2016 Federal Supplier GHG Management Scorecard that reflects a survey of approximately 80 companies and represents $214+ billion in FY15 federal procurement spending (about half the annual contracted amount). Of those surveyed, about 57% (by count) or 73% (by contracted dollars) have public GHG emissions inventories in 2015 or 2016.
Slightly fewer have public GHG reduction goals for 2016 or beyond—about 44% (by count) or 62% (by contracted dollars).
Whether or not the new rule remains in effect throughout the next administration’s term, there are compelling business reasons for federal contractors and other companies to manage their GHG emissions and energy use.
The 2016 scorecard about the top federal government contracting companies' greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate risk management activities was released today. Like other organizations that purchase a large amount of goods and services (e.g., AT&T, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor, Nike, Walmart)), the federal government asks its supply chain about these sustainability practices.
The CDP's supply chain program is a widely accepted portal through which private companies seek information from their suppliers about their GHG management, climate risk, and other sustainability practices and impacts The GSA and Navy also use the CDP. The CDP supply chain program represents a combined purchasing power of more than $2 trillion US.
Companies (and investors and academic research) have found a close, positive correlation between financial performance from companies with good environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. Near the top of the list of environmental programming is GHG management because of its close connection to energy usage and costs. Companies with good GHG management programs and reduction goals can realize significant financial savings--something critical to all federal contractors in these hyper competitive times. For example, those reporting to the CDP for three or more years reported an average annual savings of $1.5 million per initiative. First time CDP reporters had an average savings of $900,000 per initiative.
Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis about the 2016 scorecard in an upcoming post.
The federal government's 2016 supplier scorecard is located here. Does your company have red or yellow scores? Let us help you get to green (and save some green).
Hi. I'm Colleen, Corporate Sustainability Advisor's founder and owner. Blogging about corporate sustainability trends, benefits, and best practices.