Friday, October 31, 2008

SSC Has Moved!

SSC has moved to a new blog home. Please change your bookmarks to See you there soon!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value and Build Competitive Advantage
by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston

"No executive can afford to ignore the Green Wave sweeping the business world. This book shows how to make sustainability a core element of strategy - and profit from it." ~ Chad Holliday, CEO, DuPont

Environmental issues are no longer just the concern of government, NGOs and eco-minded individuals. Societal knowledge, and awareness of these issues has led to an increase in corporate accountability. This book offers a structured guide on how to become a part of the Green Wave and achieve Eco-Advantage for your business. To do this, authors Esty and Winston provide examples of corporate losses and gains, strategies to achieve Eco-Advantage, and tools needed for eco-tracking, redesign and culture-building. This book builds an organized argument for the importance of proactive environmental planning and decision-making that even the most conservative, profit-minded businessman cannot refute. 

The argument begins with background case study examples from  Sony and BP to compare the downside costs and upside gains that can result from ignoring or managing for environmental risks. The authors then follow with background information on the top 10 environmental issues, important stakeholders, and the top 50 Green Wave corporations doing the best to address these issues. The book then addresses how to get started on obtaining your Eco-Advantage.

The authors offer an organized Eco-Advantage toolkit. This includes how to: cultivate an Eco-Advantage mindset; develop eco-tracking through AUDIO and Life Cycle Assessment tools; redesign and drive innovation; and create a business culture that incorporates Eco-Advantage decision-making as part of everyday actions. Their green-to-gold plays address eight important areas to help reduce downside costs and risks and maximize revenues and intangible gain. This includes managing for things such as eco-efficiency, eco-risk control, eco-sales and marketing, and intangible value. The book has a very positive outlook on the value of joining the Green Wave, but it does not ignore the fact that some environmental initiatives will fall short or fail. To address this the book explains thirteen actions that lead to failure along with solutions and tools to avoid them.

The examples and strategies in Green to Gold are best geared towards medium to large businesses or corporations, however, as the authors point out environmental accountability is also becoming more and more important for smaller businesses as well. This book offers an interesting read with numerous examples, summary tables, and key highlighted points that make the information and strategies very accessible and easy to follow. For this reason, SSC recommends this book to any business owner or manager concerned with their bottom line and how to deal with environmental issues that affect it. 

Friday, June 27, 2008

NEWS: Sports For Nature

What’s more fun than playing sports? Playing sports that raise money to protect our wildlife! This past April we joined seventeen other companies to sponsor an event called Tennis For Nature, a doubles benefit tournament held in Herndon, VA. Fifty-six players were cheered on by over 400 spectators to raise money for two environmental organizations: Defenders of Wildlife and Alaska Wilderness League. Winners were awarded trophies, a one-month membership to the Sport & Health Club, and most importantly, voted to split the funds raised 50/50 between the two organizations. In the end, the event raised a grand total of over $32,000! These funds will help to protect the gray wolf population of the Northern Rockies, support polar bears in Alaska, and improve and protect the habitat of gopher tortoises in Florida. Now, that’s an ACE for the environment!

Monday, June 23, 2008

NEWS: Companies Reporting Sustainability Data Come Out On Top

As many of us have suspected, a recent report by GMA and PricewaterhouseCoopers titled “The Food, Beverage, and Consumer Products Industry - Achieving Superior Financial Performance in a Challenging Economy - 2008” now confirms that those companies which report sustainability data consistently generate higher cash flow, outperform on gross margins and return on sales, and experience rising shareholder return and higher return on assets than non-reporting businesses. Greater return on assets and cash flows can likely be explained by wise investment decisions and operational improvements. Better overall performance may be attributed to the following two explanations. First, sustainable practices often result in leaner operations which in turn yields cost savings on energy and inputs. Second, consumers support environmentally-conscious companies, paying a premium for goods produced through sustainable practice. Still, it may be too soon to determine if green companies are better at a) meeting consumer demand, and/or b) adapting to fluctuating markets, than non-green firms. We can, however, safely conclude that sustainable practice is paying off at the bottom line for those companies committed to green business.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

NEWS: A Recipe for Success – Sustainable Restaurants Pocket More Green

The Green Revolution hits the restaurant world as illustrated in a recent article on, which details how restaurants (or any business, for that matter) can reap the benefits of “going green.” The National Restaurant Association estimates that one million U.S. restaurants serving 70 billion meals annually and employing 13 million people generate revenues of over $500 billion each year. Recognizing the industry’s substantial economic impacts, the article explores the pay-offs and steps to take for sustainable restaurant practices.

Logistics is a key first step for greening your restaurant. American food products are estimated to travel 1,500 miles before consumption- an unsustainable distance given today’s fuel economy. One offered solution is to use local food sources, which in turn provides consumers with food that is fresher and tastes better- a competitive advantage for you- while supporting the local economy.

And what about pay offs? Eric Haley, Vice President of America’s first franchised national green restaurant chain Pizza Fusions states, “What we are seeing is that customers are voting with their dollars in support of businesses that are offering green solutions.” We vote our support!

For a detailed guide of how to get your restaurant on the path to sustainability, check out our new book:
A Recipe for Going Green: Sustainability 101 for Restaurant. Its three sections work together to form a comprehensive resource for restaurant owners and managers, from initially asking the right questions to harnessing the entire restaurant community’s skills and enthusiasm—from simple steps for energy efficiency and water conservation to collaboration with communities to support local economies.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

NEWS: SSC publishes new book - A Recipe for Going Green: Sustainability 101 for Restaurants

Strategic Sustainability Consulting (SSC) is excited to announce a new addition to its online bookstore: A Recipe for Going Green: Sustainability 101 for Restaurant. This book is designed to help guide your restaurant on a path to sustainability. Its three sections work together to form a comprehensive resource for restaurant owners and managers, from initially asking the right questions to harnessing the entire restaurant community’s skills and enthusiasm—from simple steps for energy efficiency and water conservation to collaboration with communities to support local economies.

At SSC’s online bookstore, small businesses and individuals can purchase and download helpful tools with tips on sustainability and green living. Customers can choose from an extensive list of publications, such as SSC’s Sustainability 101 series, as well as a host of other useful publications with tips and advice for "going green." The material can be purchased and immediately downloaded to the desktop.

Visit the Marketplace by going to and clicking on "Visit Our Store."

Check out other publications such as:

• Ten Simple Ways to Cut Energy Costs
• Guide to Buying Eco-friendly Paper
• Sustainable Food Production
• Green IT
• Making Cents Out of Sustainability
• Green Meetings and Events
• Sustainability 101 for Healthcare Facilities

Orders of more than 10 publications may qualify for a discount. Contact SSC at for more information.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

VIEWS: Sustainability Consulting: One Size Does NOT Fit All

To remain competitive in an increasingly global marketplace, companies of all shapes and sizes and from different industries and sectors are introducing sustainability programs to gain a competitive advantage. Companies are expected to react to these changing dynamics and to address the changing consumer preferences for environmentally and socially sustainable products and services. The ideas of corporate social responsibility and sustainability are no longer fringe issues or passing trends, but are topping the list of strategic issues of executive management at Fortune 500 companies. Most multinational firms have incorporated some sort of sustainability initiative within operations, such as ethical sourcing, measuring and reducing carbon usage and recycling initiatives.

However, small- and medium-size companies are in a unique situation when it comes to sustainability. These firms don’t necessarily have the time, money or other resources to lead a full-blown, comprehensive sustainability program. Because of these differences, it is important to realize that sustainability consulting cannot be a “one size fits all” approach. What works for a Fortune 100 company most likely will not be a good fit for a small business. This is why it’s so important to hire consultants that really understand the process of developing and implementing sustainability programs, the resources available and constraints to expect, as well as the stakeholder “buy-in” necessary to execute a successful sustainability strategy for a small- or medium-size company. With these pieces in place, professional sustainability consultants can successfully navigate companies through the sustainability arena.

Sustainability consultants must remain flexible and adaptable, and should be competent in assessing the feasibility of programs and identify long-term opportunities and constraints. Consultants should recognize that a company typically cannot make one isolated change without addressing the impact of that change on other issues in the business. This “results-oriented” thinking ignores the complexity of execution and implementation of programs and does not provide opportunities for the necessary reflection and evaluation of the sustainability initiatives.

One of the key factors contributing to success of a sustainability plan is the level of collaboration and engagement among employees and other stakeholders during the planning process. This balance of top-down and bottom-up planning increases the likelihood of the plan gaining support and advocacy from stakeholders during the implementation phase. Finally, consultants should work with companies to plan long-term sustainability programs that are tied into business objectives, which will deliver a more integrated approach to sustainability. This is critical, as most “knee-jerk” programs that are not well-thought out, planned or executed have not proven to be very successful or sustainable.
If you are a small business that is interested in hiring a sustainability consultant, contact us for a free consultation. We can help you think through the best way to approach "going green" with special attention to your small business realities. Call (202-470-3248) or email us ( today!