Author Archives: GoGreen

Interview with Sce Pike, CEO and Founder of IOTAS

Sce Pike_HEADSHOTBy making it easy to turn off electronic devices when not in use—IOTAS’ technology helps to save electricity. Was this technology created with sustainability in mind?

First and foremost we designed it for comfort and convenience for residents and messaged it that way because we were concerned that sustainability may imply something that could make the residents work harder. However, we knew that the technology could have huge implications on how individuals save energy (without having to go out of their way to do so) and how the building could be managed and optimized to save energy. If the residents leave for the day and everything automatically switches off behind them such as the lights, thermostats, and designated plug-loads without them having to think about it, there is an opportunity to save tremendously. Same with building controls, if the IOTAS system knows that the south east section of a building has very few residents in it right now, the system could automatically turn off common area thermostats and lights in that area.

As part of your pilot program, you’ve offered smart technology for free in at least one building in Portland. Moving forward, do you envision such technology being a standard feature?

We hope so. We’re facing strong demand so we believe that will be the case. We believe the demand is there because the apartment developers and owners also see a benefit to their net profits through cost savings and marketing differentiation for their buildings which increase the valuation of their buildings. We also see strong demand from residents who are moving in to experience the IOTAS Smart Apartment in the pilot building.

What is next in development for IOTAS? How does this help drive our sustainable future forward?

At the moment, we’re in the process of integrating with Amazon Echo, Nest, Apple HomeKit to allow for seamless integration of consumer devices that residents bring on their own. We’re also going to be integrating with building systems such as boilers, HVAC, etc. to make them more efficient by giving those systems more data such as presence/occupancy information.

There are 24M apartments in the US out of 124M total US households. IOTAS focuses on those 24M apartments. For residents, IOTAS automates energy savings without the resident having to actively do anything to save energy while providing smart home control plus insights about their usage patterns. For building owners. IOTAS automates energy savings, enables building-wide control, and provides insights in all vacant units and shared areas. We are engaging 24 million families and building owners in helping reduce energy usage even further by saving them money and providing them comfort and convenience.

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Interview with Augusto Carneiro of Nossa Famillia

AugustoIn what ways did B Corporation certification benefit Nossa Familia? What challenges did you face when trying to get your B Corp certification?

‘Nossa Familia’ means ‘Our Family’ in Portuguese. My family has been growing coffee in Brazil since the 1890’s. I believe the generations of coffee farmers in my family approached sustainability as ‘sustain-ability,’ or ‘the ability to sustain,’ both environmentally and economically. So pursuing the B Corp certification was simply a continuation of the hard work done over our 5 generations of coffee.

Now more specifically, I’d say the challenges and benefits go hand in hand. Let’s start with some of the challenges:

  • The certification process is very involved and time-consuming. This is good because it makes the certification thorough and meaningful, giving every B Corp a high level of credibility.
  • As a fast growing company we more than tripled our staffing level from 2012 to 2015, going from 8 to more than 24 employees. This meant writing our first employee handbook, creating and perfecting systems and procedures. The B Corp process instigated more motivation and even provided guidance for what to focus on. It helped us codify and put into writing things that we were already doing, and also think hard about adopting best practices when it comes to taking care of our employees.
  • Coordinating with our coffee suppliers was not easy. There is a whole section of the B Corp assessment focused on our suppliers – who are coffee farmers around the world. They are not sitting at their computers waiting to answer our questions and documenting every single part of their operation, and they might not even speak English. They are usually out in the fields or in their coffee labs, working on preventing fungus from taking over their coffee trees, or working on harvesting and processing their coffee.

Different languages in different time-zones, all in developing nations. The very cool thing we found out is that some of the farmers already did a great job tracking many important sustainability factors. Other farmers and small coops are sustainable and ‘semi-organic’ simply because they can’t afford to purchase pesticides / herbicides, and these are harder to record and harder to get adequate data from.

As for benefits:

  • This process helped us codify much of the good we were already doing in a way that allows us to tell these important stories, both externally to customers and prospects, but also internally helping get our team fired up!
  • The certification gave us great ideas on what other areas we could focus on, as well as forcing us to look at the business from outside-in, giving us a new perspective in certain practices and area of operations, leading us to improvement.
  • The community has been very welcoming and supportive, and the events have been great networking. We are already working on some really fun collaborative partnerships with other local B Corp companies that we hope to announce soon!
  • We are newly certified (Jan/Feb 2016), so there are still many of the benefits to realize. Something big we are looking forward to is in the recruiting process, we believe it will helps us continue to attract a diverse workforce that share in our core values.

The farmers you work with share your B Corp values. How do you evaluate your partner farms practices?

My family in Brazil produces beautiful coffee and we were not in a hurry to add new origins, but we recognized that, much like wine, coffee from other parts of the globe offer distinct and exciting flavor profiles. Once we decided to open up our world to other coffees, the connections just started happening. This will sound a bit esoteric to some…but I believe the universe loves connecting like-minded people!

As we began to hone in our values, become focused on our purpose, and transparent on our way of doing business, the easier it became to find and be found by people who care about the things we are passionate about. Most new connections came in the way of an introduction, however some are mere chance, bumping into people in the corridors of a 10,000+ industry trade show, and knowing immediately that we have something in common.

Now for an evaluation…1. We start with trust, based on how the connection was made. 2. Then we travel. Nothing is as meaningful as visiting farms and seeing for ourselves how the operation is run, how people are treated on the ground and what, if any, emphasis is given to the environment. So we try to visit ALL our suppliers. It helps that I love traveling, and love to offer my staff a chance to travel. In the rare occasion that we cannot visit a coffee supplier, we always work with an extremely reputable importer that has direct relationships with the farmers, such as another local B Corp, Sustainable Harvest.
 
You’ve said that the City of Portland’s recycling program was taken into account when selecting sustainable packaging.  Can you tell us more about this? Did you consult with local agencies when selecting materials?

Unfortunately, the coffee industry is inherently riddled with waste and one-time use packaging. From to-go coffee cups to foil coffee bags, there is so much that gets thrown in the garbage when it comes to coffee! This applies to both the retail café environment as well as when we’re talking about coffee bags at the grocery store. Because of the need to preserve freshness in coffee, most coffee bags use materials that cannot be recycled or composted. We currently use a paper, PLA-lined coffee bag for our retail coffee, a choice that was made to lower the upstream environmental costs of our packaging. Unfortunately due to the lining in this bag, it still cannot be put in Portland’s recycling program. We are also now going through another packaging overhaul, in which we will be moving to a biodegradable/compostable material called Biotre, which is manufactured by Pacific Bag Inc. This bag is made from renewable wood pulp and Polyethylene, and has undergone significant research and testing. According to PBI, “It is best disposed by placing it in a privately managed compost pile where the 40% PE layer and one-way degassing valve can be removed manually and disposed in the regular trash. When a portion or all of Biotre is properly disposed with regular trash, its impact on the environment will be much less compared to a standard plastic/foil material which is made from 100% non-renewable resources and is not considered biodegradable in any way.” We feel that this is the best option out there in terms of sustainable packaging options, and want to invest in a company and material that shares our values of environmental responsibility and the cycle of continuous research and improvement. More info on Biotre: http://www.pacificbag.com/biotre/
 
Where do you see Nossa in five years? Are you hoping to begin new sustainability initiatives and/or expand those that are already in place?

We are super excited for the future! It’s been a lot of work building our base and now we’re ready to grow. We are actively working on expending our retail presence in Portland, opening 2-4 new locations in the next 5 years. We’re also expanding to a new market. We have rep in the L.A. area working on growing our presence there, where we hope to have a new hub. We will also have an international presence with retail and wholesale (still a secret at this point, as we’re still in negotiations for our first licensing agreement).

Green Line Series | Deb Hatcher, Founder of A to Z Wineworks

Deb Hatcher

Our latest installment of the Green Line Series digs into the wine industry, sustainable practices and what it takes to become the first Certified B Corporation winery in the world. Deb Hatcher will be joining us at GoGreen Portland in October as a moderator for our closing plenary: Oregon Wine Industry Sustainable Showcase with Wine Tasting where she along with five industry experts will share their know-how as well as some of their delicious wine!

GoGreen Conference: Can you share some of the best practices you have put into action on the business side in the past year?

Deb Hatcher: One of the most exciting developments for us this year is that our Director of Viticulture, Ryan Collins, developed a unique Comprehensive Vineyard Summary we provide to many of our grower partners.  This report has helped us to improve our margin growth, cost controls and quality control by giving an accurate picture of the fruit we receive from their sites.  The summary covers chemistry and quality parameters (measurements of the water or various tannin content, for example), a general assessment of their soil breakdowns and a vineyard management scorecard that measures everything from canopy management to disease severity.  Importantly, they are also able to see how their fruit quality compared to their peers.  This tool is a game changer.

When we purchased REX HILL in 2007, we installed an Integrated financial and inventory system   At the end of 2014, we upgraded to their newest web platform introducing multiple features including an easy to use point of sale system for our tasting room that we helped to develop.  We continued our infrastructure expansion creating more efficiencies and economies of scale by adding 14,000 square feet of production space to be followed by an additional 20,000 square feet next year.   To continue deepening engagement at every level of the company,  we coach new presenters for our national marketing meetings.  At our spring meetings this year, we had 25 individual staff presenters.  These presentations help to build confidence and increase competency as we push authority down the ranks along with increased responsibility.

Last year we became the only certified B Corporation winery in the world.  We are working to help others certify and are pleased to welcome this year additional wineries including two from Oregon.  This year we have also been able to begin to support bee health research.  We added bees to the floral graphics on our Riesling bottle to indicate that we are donating a portion of the sale from every bottle to bee associated research.  We bought some specialized equipment for the Bee Lab at Oregon State University and contributed to Bee Girl’s research at Southern Oregon University into compatible vineyard flora for healthy bee population support.

GoGreen: Which example of sustainable best practices or innovation in the industry really stands out to you as cutting edge and leading the way for other wine businesses to follow?

DH: The Oregon wine industry developed the LIVE Certified Sustainable program for vineyards and wineries.  While being rigorous, LIVE takes a practical approach recognizing that trade-offs are sometimes necessary in agriculture.  For example, if in a wet year an excessive number of tractor passes in the vineyard are required because of mildew pressure, then LIVE allows a winery to improve even more in another area to compensate.  It is important to realize that if a business isn’t economically stable, then any other sustainable practices will be short-lived.  In some cases, growth and size can bring more opportunities for innovation and improvement.  We think more wineries should become LIVE certified and not just vineyards as more change can be made in the winery to not only ensure better quality fruit but also improve the treatment of natural resources and employees.

It also seems time to welcome improved technology which other countries long ago pioneered because they had no agricultural labor force.  Our recycling sprayer captures 98% of any excess spray and eliminates drift.  Our cross flow filter uses dialysis technology to clean the wine without stripping it.  Pulse air technology breaks up the cap in a large fermenter in seven minutes instead of having someone punch it down for an hour and ten minutes.  Finally, using state of the art robotic technology in the field can now deliver individual grapes from the vine to the press in as little as thirty minutes not only improving quality but greatly increasing efficiency.

GoGreen:   You are one of only a handful of wine organizations to be a certified B Corporation. Why did you decide to get certified? How has this certification been beneficial to your business?

DH: As certified Biodynamic farmers, it is a bit like applying Biodynamic principles to business: engage the whole business and examine ways everything is interconnected and serves the greater good.  We are not a “benefit corporation” so we don’t receive tax benefits but we have received media attention and have found more opportunities to inspire others through collaborations with other B Corps.  We hope the changes we made to our legal language, to take into account all stakeholders with our decisions rather than to be required to make the greatest return on investment for shareholders, may offer protection from a possible undesirable purchase.  We are more aware of the importance of documenting all of our practices as well as discovering more best practices.  Finally, it distinguishes us in the marketplace as customers are increasingly concerned with the origins of their food.

We appreciate having third party certification of our practices every two years.  Objective, documented measurements give us a legitimate way to measure our improvement and authenticate that we are being a force for good. Until our B Corp certification, we had few ways beyond modeling best practices that didn’t seem boastful to try to inspire other companies to review and improve the effect of their established ways on their staff, their community and the environment.


Event Details: The eighth annual GoGreen Portland, will take place Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at the White Stag Building. Tickets are available at portland.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 503-226-2377. Save 30% on tickets with promotional code GREENLINESERIES.

Green Line Series | Virginia Mason and the Washington State Climate Declaration

Katerie ChapmanOn this installment of the Green Line Series we had the opportunity to interview Katerie Chapman, Senior Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Virginia Mason Medical Center from the plenary session Washington Businesses Call for Climate Action. Read along to find out more about Virginia Mason’s commitment to better environmental practices and their leadership in climate action.

GoGreen Conference: Why did Virginia Mason sign the Washington State Climate Declaration in 2014?

Katerie Chapman: Virginia Mason did more than sign the declaration — we chaired the team that  developed the Washington State Climate Declaration.  We led the effort in Washington state because climate change impacts human health significantly.  Not only is it a risk to health, but climate change is forecast to have major impacts on Washington state’s economy.  Embracing clean energy and technology provides an opportunity to respond to climate change while growing Washington state’s business sector.  By acting on climate, we can protect our region’s health and keep the economy growing.

GG: What is the biggest opportunity/challenge that climate change presents for Virginia Mason?
KC: Our biggest carbon emissions relate to our energy use. Our hospital is one of the most energy efficient in the country and we have achieved Energy Star ratings for three years in a row.  We have been working on reducing our energy use and running our buildings more efficiently since the 1990s.  We have a culture of innovation, so this is a natural process for us.

The big challenge with climate change will come when we see its effects on our patients expand.  Over the next decade, we anticipate seeing more respiratory issues and heat stress due to high heat days and wildfires.  We are leading on climate to ultimately help reduce the impacts of climate change, and our team will be ready to respond for our patients.

GG: How has Virginia Mason’s vision and strategic planning evolved in response to climate change?
KC: Virginia Mason was honored to participate in the Health Care Climate Resilience Roundtable at the White House. During that discussion, the White House highlighted President Obama’s plan to create resilient and sustainable hospitals.  As a result of the meeting, the National Institutes of Health created a toolkit for assessing health care climate resilience.  We were the only health care organization in the Pacific Northwest to test the toolkit prior to the roll-out. The tool kit gave us some “ah-ha” moments. For example, we realized we are not necessarily sizing our HVAC systems for the additional high-heat days that are forecast due to climate change.

GG: Can you describe how Virginia Mason has implemented programs to engage employees with sustainability efforts?
KC: In 2002, we implemented our own “lean” or “kaizen” program by adapting the Toyota Production System to health care.  The resulting Virginia Mason Production System is fully integrated into Virginia Mason’s culture.  Employee engagement and respect for people are at the core of the production system, which empowers employees to facilitate process improvement.

Our focused commitment to quality extends to environmental sustainability.  Sustainability is  integrated into our everyday work along with patient safety and other organizational process improvements.  One simple way that employees can engage in process improvement in their department is through our online “Everyday Lean Idea” system.  Employees enter ideas into the system where they are tracked from testing to refinement and full implementation.  We have a “green idea” category for sustainability ideas, and these “Everyday Lean and Green Ideas” are shared across the organization. Another way employees are engaged is through Kaizen Events, during which a team of employees work together to create solutions to a problem or opportunity.  Kaizen Events have included sustainability topics like hospital pharmaceutical waste management and missioning supplies from the OR.

Event Details: GoGreen Seattle 2015, brought to you by King County, will take place Thursday, April 30, 2015 at the Conference Center located at Eighth Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle, Washington. Tickets are available at seattle.gogreenconference.net or via phone at 206.459.0595.  Single Admission Tickets are $195 and Group Rate Tickets are $175 (groups of two or more).  Special registration rates for student, government and non-profits are available.

GoGreen Phoenix 2013 | Captured Moments

On December 3, 2013 we completed our 3rd annual GoGreen Phoenix Conference at the Phoenix Convention Center West Building. Each year we learn something new and love the enthusiasm our attendees bring to the day. It wouldn’t be possible without all of you change-makers, doers & shakers and most importantly our Title and Presenting Sponsors; The City of Phoenix and ASU Global Institute of Sustainability. Have a gander at some moments throughout the day and stay tuned for news on GoGreen Phoenix 2014!

Photos courtesy of Vanishing Moments Photography by Emmery Rose

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GoGreen Phoenix | Sport’s Game Changing Model for Sustainable Performance

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Share Your Expertise // 2014 Call For Proposals Released!

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Planning for GoGreen Seattle is in full swing and we are very excited to release a Call For Proposals for 2014’s event. We encourage all you change-makers and doers out there to contribute your insights and expertise via a case study or session proposal for the FIFTH annual sustainability conference for business and government in Washington State!

This coming April, we’ll be tackling a new slate of topics relevant to building a sustainable future in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time, we’ll be tying the day’s program together under a theme — urban agriculture and food systems. Additional areas of interest to feature original case studies include: the shared economy; positive system disruption; self reliant/self funding sustainability advancements; and intrapraneurship.

Check out the Call and submission guidelines at the link. Proposals are due by Friday, December 6, 2013

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