If there’s anything I love more than spring weather and vegan bar-b-que, it’s talking sustainable business at conferences. Last Friday, Forsei attended the Delaware Valley Green Building Council’s (DVGBC) Tri-State Sustainability Symposium, an event that brings together leaders from the area in sustainability and green building for one day to talk about anything and everything green.
I think sustainable buildings are great — everyone wants to work in a net zero, LEED platinum office that’s good for the planet and good for employee’s health and well being. However, the organization that works there also matters. Just because a company looks sustainable on the outside doesn’t necessarily show how socially and environmentally sustainable it is. I’m happy that this is becoming a conversation at Tri-State.
Last year was our first year attending the event, and while it was informative and educational, it lacked discussion around responsible business. Of course, that’s not necessarily DVGBC’s wheelhouse or the goal of the conference, but we were very excited this year to see a number panels and speakers focused on the intersection of business and sustainability: from conversations about consultants in the field, various types of reporting metrics like the Global Reporting Initiative and Carbon Disclosure Project, socially responsible investing, and even a panel of young sustainability leaders.
The lunch keynote speaker, Michele Siekerka of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, spoke about sustainable business being a driver for innovation and an industry disruptor (some of our favorite words) as well as the sustainable return on investment (ROI).
Siekerka’s message was simple: sustainable ROI benefits everyone and anyone if you do it right. Starting the sustainable business conversation with the idea of sustainable ROI puts responsible business in a format that many can get behind: data-backed evidence.
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The panel titled Consumer Companies and Consultants: Big Ideas and Big Movement featured several corporate sustainability officers (CSO), including the executive director of sustainability services for Waste Management and the vice president of public affairs and corporate responsibility of Campbell Soup.
Hearing about a day in the life of a corporate sustainability officers helped me understand the process of engaging employees at larger companies with sustainability initiatives. My only wish was that they had another CSO panel that featured small, local business owners. While more established companies may have a larger beast to tackle, smaller businesses also face constraints including time, money, and resources to try to be the best business they can be. What tools are out there for them? How can the small businesses learn from the large businesses?
— Forsei Consulting (@ForseiCo) March 6, 2015
The rest of the panels covered how to measure a company’s impact, what resources are out there for business owners and employees to use, how to engage employees with sustainability, and more. While the event’s audience was mainly architects, designers, and green building industry folks, a good portion of us were interested in responsible businesses like B Corps and members of the Sustainable Business Network. We hope that next year this track can be more even more in-depth and engaging and the audience grows.
Image via Tri-State SS Twitter/Julie Hancher
Nicole Koedyker is co-founder of Forsei Consulting, a social and environmental consulting firm that helps businesses maximize their positive impact by strategically creating new or improved social and environmental responsibility initiatives that align with their mission to engage all stakeholders – all while benefiting the bottom line.-30-
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