Business Sustainability Professionals
For organizations adopting sustainable business practices, appointing a sustainability manager is often an essential first step. Here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, a growing number of businesses have appointed sustainability managers (sometimes called coordinators or officers). The sustainability manager may be based in any of a range of departments, whether corporate social responsibility, marketing, communications, real estate, operations, HR, or another. It may be a dedicated position, or duties the sustainability manager performs among other responsibilities under another formal title. All can benefit from meeting regularly with peers through Champions for Sustainability’s Business Sustainability Professionals.
Since its formation in 2008, the Business Sustainability Professionals affinity group has proven highly valuable for these professionals in advancing their knowledge, highlighting achievements, and sharing emerging best practices for sustainable business practices. In addition, participants have played an important role in identifying needs for advancing their profession and developing resources and performance programs. The Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge and Southwestern Pennsylvania Sustainable Business Compact are but two programs developed with leadership from this group.
March 2019: 10th Annual Sustainability Conference Sparks Conversation About Smart Cities
By Laura Almendinger
The 10th Annual Sustainability Conference, co-hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers – Pittsburgh Section; the Environmental and Water Resources Institute – Pittsburgh Chapter; Metro21: Smart Cities Institute, Carnegie Mellon University; and Sustainable Pittsburgh/Champions for Sustainability; was held Wednesday, March 6 at the August Wilson Center in downtown Pittsburgh.
Titled, “Smart Cities: Transforming Cities for a New Era,” it covered a broad range of subjects exploring the relationship between technology and smart city planning, including their impact on the three tenets of sustainability. Presenters discussed how they and others in the Pittsburgh region are implementing smart tech for energy grids, transportation, air quality, and more in order to achieve increased cost savings, public safety, social equity, and environmental quality.
Keynote speaker Dr. Donald Carter, Director of Remaking Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, set the stage with an overview of the prevalence and advancement of tech, from the chronology of mobile devices to the trade-off between convenience, safety, and privacy that it introduces. He touched on case studies of existing smart cities without sugar-coating the difficulties, both in planning and practice, that they’re facing. His words and the topics clearly sparked people’s interest, with many comments and questions from the audience on issues of privacy, equity, ecosystems, and how individuals can engage in the conversation as governments and corporations are making decisions that affect all of us.
Grant Ervin, Chief Resilience Officer at the City of Pittsburgh, emphasized the need to address our aging infrastructure stresses, saying that if we don’t, “they often and immediately become shocks.” He also outlined recent efforts by the City to be smarter about development and redevelopment, focusing on performance, not just appearance; these include using the EcoDistricts Protocol to implement high level strategies at the district level, such as in the Uptown EcoInnovation District, and the plans for the UPMC Vision Rehabilitation Hospital, which will see significant reductions in energy use intensity over similar buildings.
A panel discussion on the same topic followed, with local experts from the electricity distribution and research sectors explaining some of the current work on smart grids and how behavioral changes can reduce emissions, such as driving electric vehicles.
An earlier point about the world population shifting to urban areas was reiterated by Karen Lightman, Executive Director of Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. This is important, she stressed, because urban areas produce the majority of the world’s greenhouse gases annually, so smart cities have a vital role to play in reducing these emissions. This ties in with an increasing focus worldwide on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 70% of which can benefit from smart tech, according to Lightman.
The afternoon panel discussion further explored the roles of the SDGs and tech in the built environment and energy, emphasizing the importance of not leaving the public sector behind and sharing data and resources across partnerships. The final conversation focused on workforce development in smart cities and how, in Pittsburgh, it is currently being paired with efforts in land stewardship, innovation, and addressing youth unemployment.
Thank you to all the speakers and sponsors!
Laura Almendinger served as Sustainable Small Business & Community Program Coordinator at Sustainable Pittsburgh through an SCA Sustainability Fellowship. She has earned LEED Green Associate and EcoDistricts AP credentials, and is a mechanical engineer.
October 2018: Partnering with Suppliers for a Competitive Edge
More companies recognize that good business depends on successful supplier relationships. After all, the supply chain accounts for 50–70 percent of total expenses and greenhouse gas emissions at most manufacturing companies. The benefits of a sustainable supply chain can be significant: greater efficiencies, a boost to brand value, increased risk management, a better product, even new sources of revenue. Yet, in a recent global survey, only 52 percent of companies had adopted any sustainable sourcing practices.
In this latest CEOs for Sustainability Speaker Series briefing, leaders from local and global businesses described the benefits and how to get started. Resources at CEOsforSustainability.org/SupplyChain.
Kathy Limper, Global Sourcing Manager / Regional Sustainability Lead NAFTA, Covestro
CEOs for Sustainability Panel:
- Raymond Yeager, President and CEO, DMI Companies
- David Landis, Vice President, EPIC Metals Corporation
- Ciannie Rodriguez, Store Manager, IKEA Pittsburgh
Featured remarks by CEOs for Sustainability Co-chairs Ron Gdovic, Founder and CEO of WindStax Energy; and Jerry MacCleary, Chairman and CEO of Covestro; along with Rebecca Lucore, Head of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, Covestro.
Special thanks to the CEOs for Sustainability Speaker Series sponsors:
October 2018: Building the Sustainability Talent Pipeline at the Energy Innovation Center
Bob Meeder, Ph.D., CEO of the Energy Innovation Center, led participants on a tour of the EIC’s new facilities, sustainability features, and initiatives for training people for good jobs in the trades, energy, renewable energy, hospitals and more.
September 2018: Retail Waste Management at IKEA, from the Receiving Dock to the Café
IKEA is a global leader in sustainability, from its “more sustainable life at home” solutions, transition to a circular economy, and progressive work-life balance policies to its Food Better Programs and work to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Participants learned how IKEA Pittsburgh is demonstrating this leadership through the Sustainable Pittsburgh Challenge, CEOs for Sustainability, and other regional initiatives.
IKEA Pittsburgh and IKEA’s partner, food-waste-prevention specialist LeanPath presented, followed by a behind-the-scenes tour of the store’s sustainability features. Participants enjoyed networking and discussion over lunch in the IKEA Pittsburgh Restaurant and Cafe.
Thanks to IKEA Pittsburgh for hosting us.
September 2018: Tour of The Tower at PNC Plaza followed by tastings at Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurants Corner Mercantile and Or, The Whale
Participants saw state-of-the-art technology systems and heard about “lessons learned” at PNC Tower, before networking over drinks and tastings, courtesy of Corner Mercantile and Or, The Whale. Many thanks to our gracious hosts.
September 2018: Responsible Waste Management Workshop and Tour of PNC Park’s Cleaning Operations
This morning workshop, hosted by Sustainable Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Pirates, detailed the latest waste and recycling options for businesses, organizations, and municipalities located in Southwestern PA.
Local waste management experts and sustainability pros shared updates on recycling and waste management markets, along with best practices for establishing a program, forming a waste hauler contract, getting employees and community citizens on board, and more. Participants got to see responsible waste management in action during a tour of PNC Park and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ cleaning operations immediately following the workshop.
As a highlight of the workshop, Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Business Sustainability Prosintroduced the new Material and Waste Management Resource Guide for Southwestern PA, a project of Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Champions for Sustainability network. Download the free guide here.
- Pam Adams, Centre Region Council of Governments
- Phyllis Barber, Highmark
- Sissy Burkhart, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Debbie DeLong, Ph.D., Chatham University
- Erika Deyarmin-Young, Waste Management
- Marcie Eberhart, American Eagle Outfitters
- Kathy Hrabovsky, Allegheny County
- Rebecca Kiernan, City of Pittsburgh
- Abby Lawler-Morycz, Allegheny County
- Kim Olivito, FedEx Ground
- Jim Price, Sustainable Pittsburgh
- Allison Robinson, Ph.D., UPMC
- Justin Stockdale, Pennsylvania Resources Council
June 2018: Renewable Energy Procurement: Opportunities for Pennsylvania Businesses & Institutions (Webinar)
Corporate procurement of renewable energy is on the rise across the United States. More than half of the Fortune 500 have committed to increase deployment of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Higher education institutions and local governments are committing to clean energy as well. As a result, large energy users are driving the trend toward renewable energy investment across the country.
Sustainable Pittsburgh, independent advisory firm CustomerFirst Renewables, and Ceres hosted an educational webinar for Pennsylvania business leaders and other large energy users on the benefits of and opportunities for procuring renewable electricity. Participants received an overview of the latest renewable energy trends, heard directly from sustainability leader Mars Inc. on how the corporation is blazing the way on clean energy, and learned how their businesses can benefit from the economies of scale provided by renewable energy aggregation projects.
June 2018: Sustainable Practices Where We Live and Eat
This month the Pros invited their colleagues for a walking tour of Sustainable PA Community Certified Etna Borough and its many stormwater management upgrades, hosted by Borough Manager Mary Ellen Ramage. After the tour, the group enjoyed boxes lunches and a chef lecture by Danielle Spinola, owner of Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant Tupelo Honey Teas.
March 2018: Making Global and Regional Goals Actionable at Your Organization
- Making Global and Regional Goals Actionable at Your Organization – Gina Johnson, Sustainable Pittsburgh
- City Climate and Resilience Initiatives – Sarah Yeager, City of Pittsburgh, Office of Sustainability & Resilience
- How Chatham Breaks Huge Global/Societal Goals into Actionable Steps – Mary Whitney, Ph.D., Chatham University
- Attitude & Behavior Change: Local, Regional & Global Benefits – Debbie DeLong, Ph.D., Chatham University
February 2018: Getting Started with Supply Chain Sustainability Workshop
Attendees learned supply chain sustainability basics, how to get started, and how their organizations stand to benefit.
- Valarie Cofield, Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council
- Patrick Flaherty, UPMC
- Benson Gabler, Pittsburgh Living Product Hub at International Living Future Institute
- Tim Nedley, UPMC
- Richard Price, Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities
- Toni Silva, UPMC
- Justin Stockdale, Pennsylvania Resources Council
- Sara Walfoort, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission
- Bart Wyss, UPMC
Plus: Panel Discussion Moderated by Doris Carson Williams, African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania
View the full program here.
Take the next steps with supply chain sustainability:
- Look for Champions for Sustainability’s Materials and Waste Management Resource Guide, coming soon!
- Plan to attend upcoming professional development events on supply chain sustainability issues.
- Interested in helping to create a supply chain sustainability toolbox for our region’s businesses? Contact us to volunteer. It can be as simple as sharing your experience and advice via phone or email.
November 2017: 9th Annual Sustainability Conference
Engineering a Sustainable Economy: Innovating Solutions for the 21st Century
Champions for Sustainability/Sustainable Pittsburgh
American Society of Civil Engineers – Pittsburgh Section
Environmental and Water Resources Institute – Pittsburgh Chapter
Check out ASCE-EWRI’s meeting recap here.
View more photos on Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Facebook page here.
October 2017: Eden Hall Campus Tour, Chatham University
Presenters shared the business case for and financing considerations of sustainability systems, along with the educational opportunities:
- David Finegold, president, Chatham University
- Walt Fowler, senior VP finance and administration, Chatham University
- Jack Scalo, president and CEO, Burns & Scalo Roofing
- Jamie Moore, director of sourcing and sustainability, Eat’n Park Hospitality Group
- Peter Walker, dean of the Falk School of Sustainability and Environment, Chatham University
- Lou Anne Caliguiri, executive director and dean, Eden Hall Campus, Chatham University
- Roy Weitzell, aquatic laboratory director, Falk School of Sustainability and Environment, Chatham University
- Tony Miga, farm manager, Eden Hall Campus, Chatham University
- Mary Whitney, director of university sustainability, Chatham University
- Iris Grossman, assistant professor of sustainable technology, Chatham University
View more photos at Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Facebook page.
September 2017: Implementing the Triple Bottom Line
- Wendy Lomicka, sustainability leader, NOVA Chemicals
- Kim Olivito, project leader, sustainability, FedEx Ground
- Allison Robinson, director, environmental initiatives, UPMC
July 2017: Supply Chain Sustainability
- Jim Maug, director of building maintenance and property management, PITT OHIO
- Justine Russo, director of sustainability and business intelligence, PITT OHIO
Meeting followed by sustainability tour of Wigle Whiskey Distillery