Monday, November 7, 2016

Theme of the month: CSR

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not the best term to really define what is Corporate Sustainability, because the name CSR is focusing only in the social aspect; when in reality, sustainability must address the three bottom lines: social, environmental and economic.
First, let me define sustainability. In The Sustainability Handbook, Blackburn offers a definition of sustainability as: “The wise use and management of economic resources; and, respect for people and other living things” (Blackburn, 2007).
However, taking in consideration the realm of corporations, in Mainstreaming Corporate Sustainability, Farver defends the right equilibrium between the three bottom lines while also being accountable to the stakeholders: “Corporate sustainability means balancing environmental stewardship, social well-being and economic prosperity while driving toward a goal of long term success for the health of the company and its stakeholders. A sustainable corporation is transparent in its management of these responsibilities and is held accountable to its stakeholders for its results”. 
The ingredients for a health Corporate Sustainability are: transparency, footprint measurement, an efficient infrastructure, stakeholder engagement and supply chain management. Such ingredients would allow a company to put in place a strong Sustainability Management System, which is the final framework for the sustainability implementation in all levels of the corporation.
In the subsequent week of this month, I’m going to explain more about the basic core steps of Corporate Sustainability: Corporate Governance and Stakeholder Engagement. So first, the Sustainability Footprint Measurement.
The catalogue of all activities, products and services that have environmental and social effects derived from an organization existence is the sustainability footprint, which when calculated and valued, defines how impactful a company can be (Farver, 2013).
The calculation process is not trivial, and needs to follow a process and a scope in order to be effective. The scope must be defined at the beginning of the process, thereby setting boundaries for the inventory-impact analysis. The boundaries are necessary to limit the process/processes that will be analyzed, and to access the data in full, not letting any detail escape. Such boundaries may later be expanded in order to cover the whole organization footprint (e.g., manufacturing shops, employees commute, suppliers, product end-use, power consume and type, etc.) (Farver, 2013).
After setting a specific boundary, it is necessary to evaluate the use of resources and its wastes. The Process Mapping, a process improvement tool that depicts every activity flow in a procedure, is a powerful tool since it assesses not only the most obvious or core processes, but also the support processes within a scope (e.g., HVAC, water treatment, lightening, etc.); and even able to supply workflows and value stream maps (Farver, 2013). In spite of the hard work involved, it is worth to use process mapping not only to measure the footprint, but also to analyze and find improvements to the process (Dias & Saraiva, 2004).
It is also possible to make use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to make analysis from cradle to grave of a product; understanding and quantifying the socio and environmental impacts generated from manufacturing, packing, distribution, use and waste of a material (Farver, 2013).
Another concept to measure footprint is through its cost. The Value Chain Activity Inventory method entails that each step of production is an activity, and that measuring and managing its costs taking in consideration the view of resources utilized and lost, improves production control (Farver, 2013).
In order to decide which method to follow, it is necessary to take in consideration the risks, core-values, vision, and stakeholder’s interests of the company. The amount of scrutiny and transparency may affect the final result, therefore following a well-accepted reporting methodology, (such as the Global Reporting Initiative framework) and performing internal audits is a good practice to avoid errors or brand image damage (WRI & WBCSD, 2004).
The result of the sustainability footprint can later on be analyzed and used for setting targets and balanced scorecards throughout the corporation, also systematizing the way it is measured.


Blackburn, W. (2007). The Sustainability Handbook: The Complete Management Guide to Achieving Social, Economic and Environmental Responsibility. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.
Dias, S., & Saraiva, P. M. (2004). Use Basic Quality Tools to Manage Your Processes. Quality Progress, 37(8), 47-53. Retrieved October 28, 2016 from
Farver, S. (2013). Mainstreaming corporate sustainability: Using proven tools to promote business success. Cotati (CA): GreenFix.
WRI & WBCSD – World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (2004). The Greenhouse Gas Protocol: A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, revised edition, Washington, DC. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hello Energy enthusiasts!
This Friday and Saturday, the HBS Energy and Envr. Club will host an awesome event:
2016 Energy & Environment Club Symposium: Shaping the Future of Energy
More information at:
See you there!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Exclusive Interview with Rachael Miller of The Rozalia Project!

This interview is a followup to Rachael's Lecture sponsored by the HEEC last Friday, October 30th. 
            Rachael Miller is the co-founder of the Rozalia Project. The Rozalia project filed for status as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation in December of 2009. Rachael Miller has a multitude of responsibilities within the organization. She coordinates volunteers on the “American Promise”, the sailing research vessel that The Rozalia Project uses to collect data for research on microfiber pollution, and for active ocean cleanup utilizing ROV technology. Rachael Miller also oversees the work of Brooke Winslow, the technical designer of the microfiber catcher the organization is developing. The microfiber catcher is a 3-D printed sphere approximately the size of a small cantaloupe that collects microfibers in consumer washing machines, shown below.

The last, but not least of Rachael’s responsibilities is serving as the face of the Rozalia project, giving public lectures, like the one hosted by our environmental club this past Friday.
            Rachael’s story and the story of the Rozalia project started when she was a child. She never planned to campaign for ocean conservation, rather, her intimate relationship with the ocean throughout her life led her naturally to protect it. As a child, she was on vacation with her grandparents in Bermuda when she noticed the captain throwing hundreds of full garbage bags off the back of the boat into the ocean. She was so upset by this that her grandparents had to physically restrain her from going to have a stern talk with him. She was always part dolphin, she started swimming at an early age and in college joined competitive teams for both swimming and sailing. In fact, after college, she went on to pursue her dream of becoming an Olympic sailor. In college, she began to study advertising, but later changed her major to underwater archaeology. She also was fascinated by science during and after college and took advantage of many opportunities to take part in scientific expeditions studying marine biology. Immediately after college, Rachael spent over two years attempting to qualify for the US Olympic sailing team. She never made the team, but she met her husband and the co-founder of the Rozalia Project, James Line on her journey. After her Olympic campaign she quickly moved on to start two bootstrap for-profit ventures, one teaching windsurfing, kitesurfing and snowkiting and later, leading ROV shipwreck tours. After around five years of making a mediocre profit leading shipwreck tours, all of her experiences came to a head while on vacation with her husband on Matinicus Isle, Maine. The beach was covered in trash and she knew what she had to do. She remembered the captain of the boat on her vacation to Bermuda, she remembered stepping around hypodermic needles on Miami beach during her campaign to be an Olympic sailor, and she remembered all of the stretches of polluted ocean floor she explored on her ROV tours. She knew in that moment that something needed to be done to keep the ocean clean and passionately felt that she needed to be part of it.
            The most important takeaways from Rachael’s story are twofold. Firstly, the path towards sustainability change agency is not always straightforward and one should attempt to leverage all of the skills and experiences they have gained throughout the course of their life in order to determine how they can achieve the greatest impact. Secondly, change agents should not think too small with the scale of their project. The foundational work one achieves, however small, has the potential for rapid and widespread adoption if proper data and compelling rhetoric is presented to key decision makers.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

An Open Forum to mark in your agenda:
Greening the Global (and Massachusetts) Economy
with Dr. Robert Pollin
Co-director, Political Economy Research Institute and Professor of Economics, UMass Amherst 
Author: Greening the Global Economy (M.I.T. Press)
WHEN: Wednesday, October 5 7pm – 9pm
WHERE: Cambridge Friends Meeting House
5 Longfellow Park (off Brattle Street out of Harvard Square)
Come hear Robert Pollin lay out his economic plan for how we can meet the carbon reduction targets that will actually avert climate catastrophe, generate vast numbers of new jobs and protect those employed by fossil fuel energy companies.
Great things are happening in Massachusetts. And across the country. Are they enough to stop catastrophic climate change? How would we know? What would be required to actually bring about success?
Is it possible to prevent climate change as long as the U.S. engages in constant war and preparation for war? The U.S. Pentagon with its wars, bases and weaponry is the largest single producer of carbon emissions on the face of the earth. And a major goal of these wars is to protect the constant expansion of the global economy and the fossil fuel energy system that powers it.
In addition to Dr. Pollin’s talk/discussion we will have a brief presentation on how climate and anti-war activists can connect their issues
And Emily Kirkland of 350MA will join us to discuss important climate initiatives and opportunities for action this fall.
More Info: 617-354-2169,

Monday, May 9, 2016

Earth Day Eco-event with Senator Tarr

Senator Bruce Tarr joins Earth Day Eco-event
$1,000 solar electricity donation to Action, Inc. & Premier of new TV show, Ecolibrium

April 26, 2016 (Gloucester, MA) Senator Bruce Tarr joined the Earth Day event on April 22nd at the Cape Ann Community Cinema. Gloucester resident John Livermore presented Action, Inc. with a donation of $1,000 of clean solar electricity for two of their clients. Livermore created the first renovated home in Massachusetts, and one of the first in the U.S., to produce more energy than it uses. Livermore donated the “banked” electricity, from the credit on his family’s National Grid electric account, to help two local families in need. 

Renovating homes to be energy producers is a powerful tool in our national toolkit to reduce carbon pollution and achieve climate goals. Livermore says, “We are thrilled to be able to show that homes can be renovated to be net energy producers, that can contribute positively to their community. We are honored to make this donation to Action to help support the great work they do here in Gloucester every day.” 

“We hope that John’s generous example will set a precedent for other net positive energy innovators, working toward the creation of an ‘electricity bill credit bank’ that could help out low-income families while also helping to combat the effects of climate change,” said Action, Inc.’s Vice President for Energy Services Elliott Jacobson.

“This donation will go a long way to help two families who, like so many others on Cape Ann, face the high cost of living in this area and struggle to keep up with basic needs like housing, heating, and food expenses,” said Action, Inc. Executive Director Peggy Hegarty-Steck. “Action works with families facing hardships every day, and we’re very appreciative of the support we receive from community members like John.” 

Event participants had the opportunity to view the first episode of the new TV series, Ecolibrium. This dynamic show shares stories of sustainability found across the greater Boston area, and the first 20-minute episode is about the Livermore’s net positive energy home in Gloucester. The show is produced by award winning filmmaker, Margo Attaya and hosted by Dr. Paul J. Wolff III, a celebrated educator and eco-entrepreneur. Ecolibrium is produced in association with Wincam (Winchester Cable Access Media) and provides viewers with insight and information about cutting-edge projects, inventions, businesses, community-based outreach, activism, technologies and entrepreneurial ventures associated with sustainability.

Livermore is launching a non-profit organization, Healthy Home Healthy Planet (H3P), whose mission is to empower people to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their quality of life. For more information about H3P, and to see the 10-minute video on the Livermore family’s innovative renovation of their 1970’s Gloucester home - and their quest to eliminate their energy bills and carbon footprint - please visit, and see them on Facebook and YouTube.

John Livermore, Executive Director
(978) 325-1701

John Livermore presents Elliott Jacobson of Action Inc. with a solar electricity donation of $1,000

Left to right, Peggy Hegarty-Steck, John Livermore, Senator Bruce Tarr, Elliott Jacobson,
Rita Carvalho and the Action Inc. team

Premier of Ecolibrium TV, covering dynamic sustainability stories around Greater Boston

A Student's Journey With Food

My Spring Food Journey by Johan Arango

EMR 110: The EMR of Food:
How Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights Are Parts of the Food We Eat

If you feel like having pizza for dinner, you can either use an app on your cellphone or make a call to get it delivered. It’s very easy and there’s really no need to think too much about all the activities that take place to get that piece of pizza to your door on time, with the right ingredients, and safe to be consumed.

We have a food system that excels at being convenient.

That convenience may make that system into an invisible web that we increasingly grow unaware of and could easily completely ignore.

Food systems can be very hard to understand ,especially when you start asking yourself what really happens from seed to fork. Whether is health interests, religious beliefs, economic prospects, human rights concerns, or any other reason, some of us start navigating this complex journey.

This journey may start by reading a book in the summer, followed by a series of documentaries in the fall. Through the winter, you follow the posts that your foodie friend has been publishing on Facebook, and when it’s finally spring, you go on Pinterest to get ideas to start your garden. At this point, in an already advanced level of Food Inc. inspired paranoia, you have decided that a garden is the only way you can have total control of the food you consume.

As a result of this personal search for answers, this spring I was led to the EMR of Food classroom. EMR stands for Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights. And as the name of the class states, it goes into a search on how ethnicity, migration, and rights are parts of the food we eat. I found out about this class through the Food Literacy Project at Harvard, and as you can imagine from what EMR stands for, we embarked on an extensive and exciting journey.  

First, we discussed local and global food politics. We read about the power of local initiatives to bring access to healthier foods to marginalized communities. We also read about the struggle of African American farmers in the United States, and how difficult is to have a financially sustainable farm in this country. In one of our books, we had a chance to go over general aspect of food politics, and we discussed the current need for a national food policy.

We dedicated one week to bananas and their complex reality. We love them and eat a lot of them, however, there’s a sad history behind those bananas that persist up to this date. After a week of going through the bittersweet history of bananas, we took a trip to Taza Chocolate.

Sidenote: Our trip to Taza was delicious! You should go!

After four weeks, the class was always highly involved with our discussions, the readings, and the everyone of us had a valuable insight that created an amazing academic experience.

This enthusiasm was always steady and every week everyone was eager to be part of the discussion. As a matter of fact, we always ran out of time. It felt like we couldn’t get everything off our chests and had to stop right at the peak of our discussion. Therefore, we had to share our thoughts and stories with our classmates on our online group.

In our following weeks, we explored the systematic structure behind agribusiness and immigration to subsequently go over food culture and food choices.  I don’t want to go over all the content in this article, especially because I want to highly encourage you to be part of this class.

As you can see, we had a broad coverage of topics in agriculture and food production that are strongly related to sustainability.  

We often think of sustainability when we reduce the use of energy and water in our buildings. Other people may think of solar panels. Some may quickly think of fuel and cars.

Yes, those things are part of sustainability but it doesn’t stop there.

Workers’ rights and human rights are part of sustainability.

Transparency is part of sustainability.

Food trade policies have a strong impact on achieving sustainability.

Providing healthy foods to our kids in schools, that’s sustainability!
By the way, did you know that pizza is considered a vegetable in school lunch plans because it has tomato sauce?

Have you ever wonder where to get a food product that is affordable, healthy, that doesn’t harm the environment, that is fair to the farmers and everyone involved in the production chain?

That in my mind is the definition of a sustainable product.
Whether is edible or not.

Perhaps, it’s really hard to find it right now.

Perhaps, a lot of people are opposed to it because is not easy to achieve or because it goes against their economic interests.

Change is difficult but this is our job and commitment as students and future professionals in the field of Sustainability.

We wouldn’t be part of this program if we didn’t believe change is possible.
For those students or members of our Harvard community who are interested in food systems, I encourage you to join this joyful stimulating academic adventure with Dr. Tessa Lowinske Desmond.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Chef by Day, Sustainability Student by Night

Ploy Khunisorn, Director of Event Management of the Harvard Extension Environmental Club, is completing her Master’s Degree in Sustainability in this May at the Harvard University Extension School. She is the founder of Ploy’s Kitchen cooking show and also the Program Manager for the culinary arts, music, science, history, contemporary issues, literature, and writing programs at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (CCAE). She is working on her Consulting with Clients for Sustainability Solutions Capstone as her capstone track to complete the degree. She is offering a new class, “Sustainability 101” this summer at the CCAE as part of the consulting project. She is creating the Sustainability series, “Sustainability in Your Own Backyard: Let’s Go Green.” The series included Sustainability 101, Backyard Agriculture: Experience from Homegrown 30, Building A Small Raised Bed for Gardening, Growing Fresh Herbs, and Cooking with Fresh Herbs. She is going to expand more sustainability hands-on courses for the fall. She is also working with the Farmers’ Market at Harvard to offer a collaborative cooking class to raise awareness about local food and local community. "I passionately love cooking and creating new recipes for fun and delicious dishes," says Ploy.