Thursday, June 8, 2017

Economy is thriving and emissions are down in California, but emissions from transportation are up and still the best opportunity for improvement

California is heading in the right direction, but transportation emissions buck the trend.

Critics of California's environmental policies are attributing California's gains to the departure of manufacturers from the state, but the fact remains that California's economy is thriving and total emissions are in decline. Population growth, the surging economy and stable gasoline prices have produced a surge in SUV and truck purchases over the last 18 months, along with a decline in the percentage of new vehicle purchases  in California that were plug-in or hybrids. In 2016, Ford sold more F-series pick up trucks than Toyota sold Prius in the state. At roughly one third the fuel economy of the Prius, the trend toward trucks and SUVs could start to create strong headwinds to California's progress on carbon emissions.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sustainability at Progress Brewing

Brewing beer is an inherently resource-intensive process, consuming water, energy, agricultural products, and more in order to produce some of our favorite beverages.This means there are many opportunities for breweries to improve environmental sustainability while potentially increasing profitability of the business, doing well while doing good. At the same time, pursuing all available environmental strategies would be neither time, nor cost-effective. For our final project, Team 5 worked with local craft brewery Progress Brewing to evaluate potential environmental strategies that could help them grow their triple bottom line: profit, planet, and people. We sought to identify the actions that would be most cost-effective for Progress and capitalize on any synergies that may exist between actions. In this report, we will discuss Progress’ current state of operations, the potential environmental strategies that we considered, and our recommendation for Progress going forward. The sustainability measures we analyzed for Progress include: Greenhouse Gases (GHG) (CO2 recovery), water reduction, a facilities energy audit, and the use of aluminium cans or glass bottles.

Our recommendation to Progress Brewing is to take a cost-reduction strategy when implementing sustainability measures. Through an analysis of greenhouse gases (CO2 recovery), water reduction, and a facilities energy audit, we’ve learned that C02 recovery is not a cost-effective measure at this time. More appropriately, water reduction measures include: 1) implementing recommendations from The Brewer’s Association, 2) adjusting water flow for Brewing Equipment, and 3) implementing facilities fixtures improvements and leak detection.  We also suggest Progress Brewing reach out to SCE regarding a free commercial energy audit.  The energy audit will allow for appropriate scope development, depending on what is economically feasible or has an efficient payback period.  Water reduction measures can be a part of the EA scope. Progress Brewing can make many small cost-effective changes that would make it more sustainable, but large changes may have to wait until they become larger.

-Anna Huang, Jon Okada, Sean Quintana, Jen Roks, Rob Young

"Climate Change" Google Trends

Hi everyone--

I was doing a lot of 'trend' checking for the final paper and came across a result I thought might be of interest.  This is the world-wide trend of searches for the term "climate change" since 2004.  No doubt the MAJOR spike at the end of the graph had to do with the US pulling out of the Paris Agreements.

Maybe it's a small ray of hope that more people are really trying to get educated about the issues?

Well, as a point of comparison, here's the same trend in the U.S. vs. searches for "Yelp."

The Irvine Company and AB802 - Data Analytics and Behavioral Energy Efficiency

Power Generation and Supply is responsible for as much as 182.4 metric tons of CO2 equivalent (64% of total equivalent emissions from all sources) emissions in the real estate sector.[1] These figures indicate the substantial scope for reducing the amount of energy used by buildings. An increasing number of companies involved in the real estate sector are therefore trying to address this issue, by investing in energy efficient equipment and adopting greener technologies.

For example, The Irvine Company, a privately held real estate company, advertises seven principles[2], with their second being Thoughtful Stewardship - striving to operate their “properties in a sustainable, environmentally sensitive way”. They already operate the most number of LEED certified buildings in California, and rank No.1 in the nation among all building owners, in terms of the total number of Energy Star Certified office buildings for 2015.[3] These achievements directly convert to cost-savings on energy bills for newer properties, where the company pays for utilities (gross lease).

Further, they argue, that even in many of their older, low-rise buildings where tenants pay for utilities (triple net leasing), they are able to recoup their energy efficiency investments through higher rents. In order to determine the priority and type of investments to make, it is necessary for them to have building energy-use data at their disposal, to which end they have invested in sub-metering infrastructure for approximately 100 of their 500 commercial real estate properties where tenants pay for utilities.

With AB 802 coming into effect on January 1, 2017, information on whole-building energy consumption will now have to be provided to building owners by utilities. This simplifies the tracking of success of energy conservation programs and the process of benchmarking energy use of buildings. With all of this increased transparency, investments into sub-metering infrastructure could be by-passed, as information on energy use will now be readily available.

We recommend The Irvine Company to take advantage of this information, implement programs to influence behavioral changes in their clients and tenants and correspondingly follow a different approach towards reducing energy consumption. These programs have the potential to save as much as 16 to 20%[4] of the energy consumed with little to no cost, once the data is obtained. Programs involving education and training can motivate simple behavioral changes: like selecting energy efficient appliances, switching off lights when not in use, setting reasonable temperature setpoints for HVAC systems. A software-based platform which would collect energy use data (available, thanks to AB 802) and analyse the effectiveness of these programs must be developed, which would also double as a benchmarking platform to compare energy used by all buildings over the company’s portfolio.

We believe that our recommendation has the potential to achieve significant reduction in energy use for the amount of required investment. With all of the other initiatives taken by The Irvine Company towards sustainability, it would only be logical for them to explore the possibility of engaging their tenants in such a program, and continue to drive the value of their properties higher than their competition.

By Falgun Patel, Andrew Sharp, Toru Terai, Pedro Vazquez

[1] Carnegie Mellon University Green Design Institute. (2017) Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) US 2002 (428 sectors) Producer model[Internet], Available from:
[2] The Irvine Company, “Principles”,
[3] The Irvine Company, “About”,
[4] Frankel et al, “Sizing the Potential of behavioral energy-efficiency initiatives in the US Residential Market”, McKinsey & Company, November 2013.

Greenopia's Rebirth

Founded in 2006, Greenopia was a trail-blazer in bringing ‘green living’ to mass markets.  Its model centers on a Life-Cycle Analysis methodology, the results of which are synthesized into a 4-point ecolabel, the Green-Leaf Award.  With its focus on ‘the neighborhood business,’ Greenopia offers a 3-tier value proposition:
  • For private consumers, it creates an accessible communication system to connect consumers with local eco-friendly businesses.  
  • For private business, Greenopia is a valuable marketing platform to differentiate its eco-commitment in a highly fragmented field.  
  • For the public good, Greenopia encourages infrastructure around environmental health issues by helping private players connect on the value of their positive externalities.  
In recent years, Greenopia has waned in public interest and, after having focused energy toward a 2015 Fellow position at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative Program, Founder Gay Browne is looking to reignite the firm.

But, Greenopia faces a much more saturated and highly competitive market than in 2006.  As of June 2017, The Ecolabel Index, the largest global directory of ecolabels tracks 465 ecolabels in 199 countries across 25 industry sectors.  Additionally, it competes against other ecolabels that have now stronger histories of longevity, credibility, and robust partnerships.  However, Greenopia still distinguishes itself in a few notable ways.  First, it is a “green business” ecolabel versus a “green product” label.  It targets several types of complementary businesses across a few industries.  Finally, its mission to promote individual environmental health is a significant strategic differentiator that can help Greenopia stand out amongst a crowded field.
Relaunching a brand is no small feat, especially in the small-business space.  But Greenopia has inherent synergies in its ‘local’ environmental and business approach, which, if carefully navigated, can be the rebirth of something quite special.

We have four long-term recommendations for Greenopia centered around leveraging partnerships.  
  • First, it should partner with an existing environmental club like the Sierra Club to build a club membership model consisting of a network of regional chapters and a scheduled conference to facilitate clients and businesses interacting.  
  • Second, it should partner with Yelp! to project Greenopia’s value proposition though the now ubiquitous mobile application channel.  
  • Third, it should partner with Consumer Reports, a consumer advocacy nonprofit, to capitalize on its long-standing efficient product review publishing model as another way to project Greenopia’s value.  
  • Finally, it should seek an endorsement from the Environmental Protection Agency, the ultimate U.S. government authority on environmental regulation and initiatives.

    Andrew Norris 
    Lisa Tang

Reformation Project

           Reformation is a clothing company based in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 2009, Reformation has incorporated both environmental and social responsibility practices into their business model in their nearly ten years since founding. Examples of some of the environmentally sustainable practices they perform include offsetting carbon and water usage, investing in green infrastructure and technology, reducing waste through use of deadstock and vintage fabrics in their clothing, and utilizing a greywater system at their factory to reduce water waste. Despite their strength in environmental responsibility, Reformation also takes strides in social responsibility. Reformation is striving for 100% livable wages for all their employees, offers health benefits to all full-time employees, and gives their employees access to job training and an organic garden at their factory headquarters. Reformation’s brand is truly an example of fashion-forward clothing with the smallest possible environmental impact.
        Currently, Reformation is entering the denim marketplace by beginning to sell women’s denim. Denim has a notoriously large environmental impact compared to other articles of clothing; estimates range drastically, but a Life Cycle Analysis conducted by Levi’s concluded that one of their most popular lines of jeans, Levi’s 501s, use almost 1,000 gallons of water across their lifetime. Keep in mind, Levi’s has taken significant sustainability strides particularly in reducing water usage, meaning this is likely a low estimate compared to industry standard. Reformation is interested in working both on the manufacturing side and consumer education side to reduce the environmental impact of their recently launched lines of denim. For our project, we are developing a comprehensive marketing strategy for Reformation’s launch into the denim marketplace.
        Our project focuses on three recommendations: consumer outreach, a non-profit partner, and a marketing campaign to effectively communicate their sustainability efforts and encourage consumers to remain “green” after purchasing Reformation’s denim. We encouraged Reformation to know their audience to most effectively outreach to consumers, to promote their pro-social and pro-environmental brand image to influence ethical consumer behavior, and build trust among their consumers to avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing, among other recommendations. Through developing a comprehensive marketing strategy for Reformation, we hope that the company can effectively communicate their work with sustainable water practices when manufacturing such a water-intensive item of clothing, and will influence their consumers to continue these “green” practices upon purchasing the denim.
Teni Adewumi-Gunn
Mika Sugawara
Jennifer Tribble

Christina Van

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Under Armour Summary

Under Armour has done very little in recent years to adopt environmentally friendly policies or communicate policies to consumers and shareholders, and the company does not share information regarding its climate protection policy, renewable energy policy, or target and waste reduction policies. The company’s environmental policies are no clearer, as Under Armour has no policy in place for substitution conventional materials used in the manufacturing of sportswear with environmentally friendlier alternatives, and the 2016 Ethical Consumer report for Under Armour shows that the company scores very low when evaluated for environmental impact. Further, comparing Under Armour to its five major competitors shows how little the company has done in comparison to address the environmental issues we’ve discussed in class.
We compared UA’s supplier information against information provided by competitors.
  • Supplier List - UA discloses little supplier information. Competitors either provide filterable data or more detailed information. 56% of UA suppliers do not work with Nike or Adidas. UA works with suppliers in at three environmentally-unfriendly countries that Nike has chosen not to supply from.
  • Code of Conduct - UA’s supplier code of conduct and sustainability press reads like a company late to the environment game, making sure it has some published content on lofty environmental goals.
While UA is making concerted effort towards sustainable practices, it is not as transparent as competitors. Our analysis concludes that UA is working with less sustainable suppliers and in less sustainable countries.
Broadly speaking, Under Armour is well behind Nike. Nike has made sustainability a key part of its strategy and closely links its environmental goals with its business goals. Nike is a contributor and member to many different apparel-focused environmental groups and has been a pioneer in inventing new processes to eliminate waste, dye use, and water/energy in manufacturing. Nike has a few prominent programs that deserve attention. The first is the Grind program, which converts waste products from manufacturing and recycling from end users and recycles those materials into new products. The second program is the Flyknit brand, which Nike originally developed as a single model shoe, and has now expanded to 28 models. The shoe is intended to be an environmental leader for the company and a template for future product development. The shoe uses less dye, water, and energy, and is designed to be a product that does not distract from overall performance.

Outside of the product supply chain, UA still has strong incentive to institute environmentally friendly policies. Environmentally friendly products have the potential to increase goodwill among business partners, mitigating the risk of future distribution problems, and to attract highly educated professionals, decreasing the company’s cost of labor. Additionally, UA stores and the company’s headquarters can be designed in more economically friendly fashions that reinforces employee satisfaction and retention while increasing consumers’ willingness to pay by evoking a more natural and outdoorsy image rather than the typical sterile retail environment.

Marcus Barton
Jason Besecky
David Shapiro
Michael Clifford

Economy is thriving and emissions are down in California, but emissions from transportation are up and still the best opportunity for improvement

California is heading in the right direction , but transportation emissions buck the trend. Critics of California's environmental poli...