November 17, 2015 at 2:00 AM
September 21, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Today the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges announced their Energy and Sustainability awards, which represent the best of California's Proposition 39 energy projects. SmartWatt Energy's interior lighting project at Orange Coast College was the highest scoring Proposition 39 retrofit project this year.
July 30, 2015 at 2:00 AM
More and more organizations are discovering that to be energy efficient, they need a comprehensive energy management program. That’s easier said that done, however, as it can be overwhelming to start from scratch or to try to codify ad hoc strategies already in place. Using ENERGY STAR®’s Guidelines for Energy Management as a template, we offer you a condensed guide to creating your own customized energy management program.
July 21, 2015 at 2:00 AM
Many utilities want to learn how to integrate renewable energy into the electrical grid. What better way than to help fund a test bed devoted to that very principle? To that end, National Grid announced recently that it will give two grants totaling $1 million to SUNY Polytechnic Institute for its new 356,000-square-foot ZEN building. At 356,000 square feet, ZEN (Zero Energy Nanotechnology) will be the largest zero-energy building in the world. The building, set to open this month, will be home to SUNY Polytechnic Institute's renewable energy programs. The $191 million building will generate more electricity than it uses and will be surrounded by a two-megawatt solar farm, one of the largest in the Capital Region of New York. The building breaks new ground in demonstrating the ascendance of zero energy as the new energy standard.
June 27, 2015 at 10:34 AM
LoanSTAR Revolving Loan Program (TX): The Texas LoanSTAR (Saving Taxes and Resources) low-interest revolving loan program finances energy-related cost reduction retrofits for state, public school, college, university and non-profit hospital facilities. Borrowers repay loans through the stream of cost savings realized from their energy cost-reduction projects. Interest rates are set with each request for application announcement. Projects must have a composite payback of 10 years or less. Each energy cost reduction measure must pay for itself within the estimated useful life of that measure.
June 25, 2015 at 2:30 AM
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) relates to who a company is, what it believes in and how it’s doing business. These days, it’s central to a company’s reputation and can be used to help establish trust and goodwill amongst stakeholders. Surprisingly, according to a study by the Reputation Institute, a private global consulting firm based in New York, your willingness to buy, recommend, work for and invest in a company is driven 60 percent by your perceptions of the company—or its reputation—and only 40 percent by your perceptions of its products or services. Thus CSR is an emerging tool for companies to use to improve support from stakeholders like consumers, regulators, the financial community and employees. Here are three of the top contenders for best CSR practices.
June 18, 2015 at 2:00 AM
Outsourcing offers a bevy of benefits for industries wanting to achieve optimal energy efficiency. It offers both capital and expertise to oversee and manage common energy functions. An industrial facility that outsources its energy functions to an outside party can reduce costs, improve reliability and, through capital cost amortization, even obtain new equipment. Delegating energy services relieves the industrial host facility of distractions from its core business priorities, allowing the host to become more focused on what it does best.
June 12, 2015 at 12:00 PM
A growing number of institutions across the United States have become more aware of—and concerned with—their environmental performance. Scrambling to be more prudent with resources as well as fiscally conservative, colleges are figuring out to what extent it pays to be green. More and more are turning to Green Revolving Funds (GRFs) as a model of both efficiency and ethical soundness. GRFs offer a mechanism for institutions to invest in their own efficiency efforts, recapture the resulting savings and boost their bottom line—all leading the way to a future that is ecologically and financially stable.
June 11, 2015 at 2:00 AM
Energy efficiency tends to be overlooked as a viable investment. All too often energy retrofits are seen in terms of payout, not payback. But this absence of foresight can mean that many institutions, from universities, to hospitals, to governments, are missing out on a huge windfall hidden in plain sight—the opportunity to invest in a virtually risk-free venture with tremendous returns.
June 4, 2015 at 2:30 AM
Now that formal adoption of corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies has become widespread, the question becomes whether they are living up to their purpose and promise. Many companies are not fully cognizant of the strategic importance of CSR until they end up getting attention for looking socially irresponsible. The upside of PR snafus is that they often give companies the impetus they need to change their focus. According to an article in Global Finance, “some of the organizations most vilified over the years by human rights and environmental campaigners—companies such as Wal-Mart and Nike—have become enthusiastic cheerleaders for CSR.”
The role of CSR is changing and evolving quickly as sustainability issues are making it to the forefront of the public arena. If the first phase of CSR's development was based heavily on philanthropy and public relations, that is now giving ways to a more interactive, stakeholder-driven model. CSR is becoming an intrinsic part of a company’s core business and values.
Sustainability initiatives can help companies break into new markets. The problem of how to reduce one’s footprint and do less environmental harm can actually become part of the solution. The challenge of sustainability often serves as a catalyst for companies to develop innovative solutions and create significant new markets. For example, if a company wants to identify its core initiative as future protection of forests, it requires not only generous financing, but also a new market in terms of monitoring, assurance, project management, adaptation and communications.
The new paradigm for the generation of CSR programs is to make sure one’s charitable efforts and business goals are in alignment. The serendipitous benefit is that both the businesses and the charities stand to gain from this approach. When companies choose issues that they feel passionate about and can authentically get behind, they get more bang for their buck. Plus they tend to be more involved and engaged for the long term.
Metrics and Reporting
As the practice of CSR becomes more structured, the next emerging challenge is the lack of standards against which companies’ performance can be measured. Although companies at the cutting edge of CSR create ambitious targets and try to find the resources necessary to reach them, some critics are concerned that because the targets are self-imposed they are often arbitrary and difficult to compare from one company to another. The goal is to develop universal citizenship standards, which will help investors, customers, regulators and the companies themselves assess their performance on an absolute and a relative level.
As CSR gets interwoven into the fabric of a company’s core mission, the people on the front lines are recognizing the need for better metrics to measure impact. It’s exciting to watch the CSR discussion move from the periphery to the center of the public’s attention. To keep it front and center, corporate citizenship has to become less part of a vision statement and more part of the nuts and bolts of the business plan.