WRI and Sun Talk Energy and Sustainable Business at 2008 Net Impact Conference

WRI participated in the annual 2008 Net Impact Conference, held at the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia on November 15th. GHG Protocol joined a panel for the three-hour OpenEco Energy Camp Saturday morning session, sponsored by Sun Microsystems. The session centered around Sun’s global online-community OpenEco.org, that provides free tools to help participants measure, track, and compare energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) performance.

The unconference style encouraged the MBA attendees to take part in the conversation and share their ideas about sustainable business operations.

. Also on the panel were Kyle Sandburg of Accenture, Kevin Stack of Northeast Green Building Consulting, Blaine Collison of US EPA, Natasha Scotnicki of Ceres, and Lori Duvall of Sun Microsystems. Panel topics included the impact of the current economic crisis on energy efficient projects and the carbon market, the role of regulation in company energy efficient policies and practices, and carbon accounting trends and best practices. Audience participation was encouraged towards the end of the panel, where eager students asked a variety of questions including how to change consumer behaviors such as excessive consumption. The importance of the role of the corporation in changing behavior was emphasized by the panelists, especially practices such as employee engagement. Lori Duvall stated that there is power on the business and policy side to motivate employees to change behavior. Businesses should produce products that are cleaner and use less energy. Kyle Sandburg responded with an example, “Reducing commuting is such a difficult task at Accenture as 20% of people have 80% of the impact. It has to start from the top down.”

The role of International Partnerships was a favorite topic area with the students. WRI explained GHG Protocol’s work in developing countries, and how valuable partnerships have been created such as the work with China Business Council for Sustainable Development to create the Cement Sector emissions management program. The program allows cement companies in China to take steps towards measuring and managing CO2 emissions across the entire cement sector.

Following the panel, breakout groups were formed and table discussions took place on topics such as energy and the environment, corporate impact, energy and investment, and residential efficiency. Many valuable key lessons resulted from the breakout sessions, including the need for transparency, consistency and leadership in today’s organizations and Corporate Social Responsiblity fuctions.

Sun Microsystems and WRI are in the process of partnering on OpenEco.org, a global on-line community focused on energy performance, sharing best practices to reduce GHG emissions, and encouraging sustainable innovation. The OpenEco Community was launched in 2007 and focuses on how technology can help create a sustainable future. This is an open source project dedicated to sharing ideas around sustainability. WRI and the GHG Protocol team will partner with Sun on calculation tools section of OpenEco.org 2.0, allowing GHG Protocol’s tools to be available in software format.

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