Response: Why Some Sustainability Projects Will Fail

Eco-Ed’s response to discussion on Chief Sustainability Officer’s Network on “Why Some (Too Many) Sustainability Project Will Fail:”


Sustainability ties together many facets of a business. While being a “zealot” has its merits, it is not enough to gain broad acceptance of the concept of Sustainability.
The “movement” must have bottom line implications to have legs. These impacts will be on top line growth (product extensions, increase in customers/sales), efficiency (cost reduction), risk management (reduction in cost and liabilities), consistency of supply chain logistics, etc. Having the right people to quantify those impacts is the key to adopting Sustainability throughout an Enterprise.

What Is an Eco-Enterprise? Why is it so successful?

Many companies are embracing Sustainable practices for a litany of reasons, including improved profitability, social justice, environmental stewardship, operational efficiency, positioning in the marketplace, investor relations, regulatory requirements, just to name a few.

What is an Eco-Enterprise?

There are no minimum criteria which differentiate a company from being defined as an Eco-Enterprise. Every company has a carbon footprint, uses resources, energy, materials, etc. An Eco-Enterprise is defined as a company that has taken steps to: 1) adopt more environmentally sound practices, 2) create more environmentally sound products, 3) foster a closer relationship with the planet, to reduce its impact on the Earth. The first step in setting goals is to benchmark the current status. To make progress, the goals must be accurately measured and consistently tracked and reported. There are many resources available from third party organizations. These groups can be governing bodies, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s), Non-Profits, or For-Profit entities.

The United Nations has set up guidelines that encompass not only environmental stewardship, but also other facets of Sustainability. The UN Global Compact has principles that also address human rights, labor, and anti-corruption aspects. Ceres is a non-profit organization that leads a national coalition of investors, environmental organizations, and other public interest groups working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change and water scarcity. Their mission is iintegrating sustainability into day-to-day business practices for the health of the planet and its people. They are facilitating the transition by creating their well respected guidelines:The 21st Century Corporation – Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a network-based organization that produces a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that is widely used around the world. They foster accurate and consistent reporting and transparency for enterprises. They are committed to the Framework’s continuous improvement and application worldwide. GRI’s core goals include the main streaming of disclosure on environmental, social and governance performance. GRI’s Reporting Frameworkis developed through a consensus-seeking process. In fact, ten global companies have stepped up as sponsors of the next generation of Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, which was announced by GRI this past June. Among them, Alcoa, Enel, GE, Goldman Sachs, Natura and Shell are supporting GRI during the two year development of the Guidelines, which will also be supported in development by top consulting firms Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC.

There is one key facet of an Eco-Enterprise worth mentioning, and that is the championing of these efforts by the Executives or Board of Directors. Only through the commitment of their leaders can an enterprise successfully establish a culture of Eco-Awareness and incorporate it into the DNA of that enterprise.

Documented Performance and Continuous Improvement.

There is widespread agreement that once the Benchmarking phase has taken place, collection and accuracy of data is paramount. This data will be aggregated and used for setting goals, forecasting results, documenting performance, and tracking results. Once measurable goals have been attained, striving for continuous improvement should become part of the DNA of an Eco-Enterprise.

Building the Enterprise around a Mission of Sustainability.

More and more, marketplace niches are being exploited, allowing companies to tie this core mission into their entire corporate culture. Organic farms and products strike a chord with consumers, as they are viewed as healthier and having less of an impact on the planet. Stonyfield Farms is a well-known organic farm that has built their company and brand around these core principles, once again proving that profitability does not have to be sacrificed for Sustainability. In the very competitive and low margin marketplace of supermarkets, Whole Foods has emerged as a leader, developing their core mission around the tenets of Sustainability. They have bucked the trend of selling on price, and have built value around quality, health and safety, fair trade practices, and supporting products and companies that align with their mission. These examples can be found in many industries, and have proven time and time again that environmental stewardship can successfully align with maximizing profits and market share growth.

Leveraging Green Initiatives for Product Line Extensions

Front runners of the industry have successfully adopted the Eco-Enterprise model to drive significant growth in parts or all of their enterprise. GE took an aggressive approach and has successfully branded their efforts as Ecomagination. Eco-Options was launched by Home Depot to capture an under-appreciated part of the home improvement marketplace. They have highlighted products that offer energy savings, are healthier, more earth-friendly, use recycled/recyclable materials. IBM has built an entire multi-billion dollar practice around their Smarter Planet Initiative, which focuses in large part on Sustainability initiatives.


Although companies may have different incentives to become an Eco-Enterprise, all companies must agree on one keystone concept: the need to consider the Planet and its limited resources at every juncture in the decision-making process. That consideration does not come at the expense of profits, but actually aligns well with the increased profit goals of the enterprise. Whether it is through cost-saving measures or revenue generating initiatives, profitability is always paramount. There are many third-party resources available to help companies progress towards their sustainability goals. Benchmarking is the first step, as data collection and integrity is an absolutely critical pre-requisite. Secondly, Eco-Enterprises must commit to continuous improvement. Performance will need to be forecasted, documented and reported, while the underlying data must be reliable and available. This movement is not a fad; instead this movement is becoming an integral part of 21st century business. Whether by regulatory requirement, moral imperative, customer demand, supply chain consistency, or operational efficiency, companies will need to evolve into an Eco-Enterprise to thrive in this new Green era.

Earth Day: Eco Ed teaches the community about the beauty and health of trees

Photo source:

Were you looking for events or green-activities to do this Earth Day? Eco-Ed joined the Ridgewood community to teach children about the beauty and value of trees. The Earth Day Fair has grown considerably and now many schools attend the event.

Last year fair attendees were asked to pledge one environmentally friendly action. What was this years request? fills in the rest of the details.

Quick Renovation Tip

First, make a list of renovations you want done in your home. This could include a simple project like installing LED light bulbs to a more expensive project like putting in insulation.

Second, set aside about $2 per square foot in your house per year. This will make sure you don’t fall behind in renovations, and will finance your list of projects. If you do not keep your house up-to-date you could soon be slammed with an expensive project that may be a financial burden. 

If you need help making a list of renovations get an energy audit. Eco Ed’s team will sit down with you and give you a list of “simple” projects that you can do by yourself and a list of projects that will require professional installation.

Remember, Ed is always here to help answer your questions.







Eco Ed stars on NewlyGreens [part 2]

Eco Ed returns in the award winning series Newly Greens. In this episode, Ed conducts an energy audit to help an elderly home owner to reduce unpleasant drafts in her home. To help eliminate cold air coming in, Ed suggests replacing a typical fireplace with a fireplace insert.

Eco Ed Appears on NewlyGreens [Part 1]

Eco Ed goes to reality TV! “Newlygreens” is an award-winning series that focuses on healthy, sensible living. Like many couples, Greg and Connie decided they want to go green. After doing easy weekend projects, they decided to take advantage of NJ’s program to help homeowners to make improvements in insulation and heating equipment called Home Performance with Energy Star.

The process begins with a Home Energy and Safety Audit and they contacted Eco Ed to guide them through this process. In the video, Ed stresses to the homeowner that safety comes before anything else. In this home he was inspecting, there was asbestos crumbling off the pipes, calcium deposits formed by actively dripping water, molds, flaking paint, and other hazards. If these problems went unnoticed then new renovations would just simply hide these dangerous hazards. The electric system must also be up to date before insulation conceals the wires; making it difficult to get at them later.

If you make the improvements on your home now you get the benefits of having rebates and other incentives. Also, the quality of life you enjoy will increase, which is a priceless value.

See Ed on the newlygreens website.


Green Has Never Looked So Good

Ed shows that old homes don’t necessarily have to be energy guzzlers.The Ridgewood Patch article talks about how he was able to make his 245 year-old house the most energy efficiency historic home in NJ. An added plus? Monthly electrical bills are only $7!

To Read the Full Article written by Nina Minichetti:

Quick Tip: Businesses use Videoconferencing to Reduce Travel Expenses

Videoconferencing. Both Google and Microsoft love it. SAP, in the retrofit of its Palo Alto offices, says adding videoconferencing equipment has had a quicker payoff than any other green technology. Microsoft has reduced travel costs by 30 percent per capita with videoconferencing.

Microsoft using the xbox Kinect to create a virtual video conference. One of many new innovative ideas.

Reduce travel costs $$$
Reduce carbon foot print  <3 world
Keeping the team together- it is easier for a team of people to make a video conference then to all be flown to a certain destination.

Keep Bugs Out of Your House or Building For Good

NJ is home to some beautiful backyards, but with this privileged comes ants, bees, wasps, and all those unwanted creatures. These insects can cause extensive damage to the wood around your home, crawl inside your home, and even ruin electrical appliances. Learn how to keep the beauty of your home and keeps bugs out and away from your home. [Read more…]

Eco Ed is featured on CNBC. [Does investing in Home Energy Efficiency make good financial sense?]

CNBC: Eco-Friendly Home Savings

Click Image to watch CNBC interview Eco Ed on how he invested $100,000 into his home with a five-year return. He now lives in a gorgeous, historic home that has an energy bill that earns him money. Learn how you could do the same.

CNBC uses Eco Ed’s home to explain the financial benefits of investing in a “green” home.  After installing solar panels, insulation, and other energy efficient technology, his house was 80-90% more efficient and put cash in his pocket!