Category Archives: CSR Minute

Principles and Profits: The Container Store Story – The Minute

SOURCE: 3BL Media, LLC

DESCRIPTION:

Profits versus virtue: that’s the cover story of the current issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. Its graphic illustration of two poles of business activity that have been historically thought of as opposing, but are increasingly looked to as complementary, define the point of the issue’s feature about the Container Store. The article reports the company’s DNA as “conscious capitalism,” a business strategy with a bottom line built on a higher purpose. By profit standards, the Container Store is doing very well. Its sales for 2014 are estimated at $790 million, with adjusted earnings of $94 million. It operates 70 stores with 5,000 employees. Principles are healthy, too. The company pays those employees an average of $48,000 a year, about twice the typical retail salary, and provides many other employee benefits.

Founder Kip Tindell has trademarked his business philosophy as “the Foundation Principles,” which include considering suppliers and customers as family. The Bloomberg story ranks the Container Store with Costco, Starbucks, Panera, Zappos, and Southwest Airlines as companies that are doing well while doing good. There’s just one catch: since the Container Store went public in 2013, its share price has dropped from $46 to $20. The story details the company’s solutions to benefit shareholders as well as stakeholders. It makes for compelling, compulsory reading.

I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.

Video source: Principles and Profits: The Container Store Story

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KEYWORDS: Business & Trade, Human Resources, Bloomberg Businessweek, Container Store, Kip Tindell, Costco, Starbucks, Panera, Zappos, Southwest Airlines, CSR Minute, 3bl media llc

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Living Building Challenge 3.0 Calls for Net-Positive Buildings – The Minute

SOURCE: 3BL Media, LLC

DESCRIPTION:

The Living Building Challenge, sponsored by the International Living Future Institute, encourages architects to design net-positive buildings. Now the organization has issued an enhanced version of the Challenge, Version 3.0. The net-positive building program is a step beyond the idea of net-zero impact, in which the total amount of energy used by a building is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. The net-positive concept actually adds to the renewable resources used, not merely replaces them.

The Living Building Challenge Version 3.0 outlines ambitious goals in several performance categories. Build in the right location, in harmony with community. Supply on-site 105 percent of a project’s energy needs. Supply on-site 100 percent of a building’s water by captured precipitation or recycling. Create a calm atmosphere for health and happiness by creating an uplifting design. And support an equitable world by promoting the best in human and architectural interaction.

To date, five buildings have achieved Living Building Certification. Two hundred more projects have registered for the certification process.

I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.

Video Source: Living Building Challenge 3.0 Calls for Net-Positive Buildings 

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KEYWORDS: Energy, Awards and Recognition, International Living Future Institute, Living Building Challege 3.0, CSR Minute, 3bl media llc

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Divestment Day Calls for Withdrawal from Fossil Fuel Investment Products – The Minute

SOURCE: 3BL Media, LLC

DESCRIPTION:

Friday and Saturday, February 13th and 14th, are the dates set for Global Divestment Day. Two days are scheduled for the campaign to accommodate the more than 300 different events across six continents that are planned, from petitions delivered to government and financial institution offices on Friday to public marches and rallies on Saturday.

Organizers of the two-day Day are asking individuals to close their accounts with banks and pension funds that invest in fossil fuel companies. They are urging college students to plan flash-mobs, vigils, and sit-ins to request university endowments to divest. Faith leaders are being asked to urge pension funds and communities to divest. And public rallies are planned for financial capitals around the world to call on investment institutions to join the campaign.

By divestment, the campaign means for investors to get rid of stocks, bonds, or funds engaged with fossil fuel production, in response to concerns about climate change. Since 2012, 181 institutions and local governments, and 656 individuals representing over $50 billion in assets have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.

I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.

Video source: Divestment Day Calls for Withdrawal from Fossil Fuel Investment Products

Tweet me: #DivestmentDay Calls for Withdrawal from #FossilFuel Investments http://3bl.me/s8dgkg via @3BLMedia #CSRminute

KEYWORDS: Finance & Socially Responsible Investment, Business Ethics, CSR Minute, Global Divestment Day, 3bl media llc

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Banks Work to Measure Culture as Well as Numbers – The Minute

SOURCE: 3BL Media, LLC

DESCRIPTION:

Last fall, New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley used the word “culture” forty-four times in a speech warning bank executives that regulators would break up the big banks if they didn’t change their practices. Today, culture has become the new buzzword of the moment in the financial sector. Banks are now focusing on employee attitudes and values to head off the bad behaviors that led to the 2008 financial crisis. But how are banks to measure such a qualitative factor as culture when they have historically scored their worth by quantitative number and data crunching?

Some consultants are working to provide answers. The Better Banking Project has developed culture assessment tools, including an analytical survey for bank employees that examines beliefs that could turn into problems, such as that salary is the best measure of success. Promontory Financial Group is proposing methods to measure the response time by management to audit challenges and drafting action plans to track internal communications about regulators’ challenges to make sure they reach senior officials. The bottom line? Banks are working to measure their ethics as well as their profits.

I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.

Video Source: Banks Work to Measure Culture as Well as Numbers 

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KEYWORDS: Business & Trade, Reports, CSR Minute, 3bl media llc, banking, Culture, business ethics, Better Banking Project

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Solar Power Utilities Look to New Investment Models – The Minute

SOURCE: 3BL Media, LLC

DESCRIPTION:

Two-thirds of the nation’s solar capacity installed in the U.S. last year was utility-scale solar power. The rapid growth of this new industry has been driven by government loan guarantees and an Investment Tax Credit worth 30 percent of a project’s cost. The results have been the Ivanpah plant, a venture between BrightSource Energy, NRG Energy, and Google, and two plants developed by the Spanish energy company, Abengoa. Located in the Mojave Desert, all three produce electricity when the sun is not shining by storing solar power for overnight use. Between them, they produce enough electricity to power over 300,000 homes throughout California. But the loan guarantee program has expired, and the tax credit drops from 30 percent to 10 percent at the end of this year. So solar power companies are looking to other financial tools to attract investors.

Congress is debating allowing the industry to use master limited partnerships, investment vehicles used by the oil and gas industries. And solar advocates are lobbying the administration to allow large-scale solar farms to be included in real estate investment trusts. Both mechanisms let companies pass much of their income directly to investors. An innovative industry requires equally innovative business models.

I’m John Howell for 3BL Media. 

Video source: Solar Power Utilities Look to New Investment Models

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KEYWORDS: Energy, Environmental Policy, 3bl media llc, CSR Minute, solar power, BrightSource Energy, NRG Energy, Google, abengoa

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Global Investment in Clean Energy Rises 16% in 2014 – The Minute

SOURCE: 3BL Media, LLC

DESCRIPTION:

Bloomberg New Energy Finance is reporting that three hundred ten billion dollars was invested globally in green energy last year, a rise of sixteen percent over 2013. That amount almost matches the record total of three hundred seventeen billion, set in 2011. It should be noted that due to decreasing costs, the dollars invested in 2014 bought almost double the clean electricity capacity than in 2011.

Solar power, with its rapidly dropping costs, was the main driver, attracting over half the total funding for the first time. Solar investment rose by twenty-five percent in 2014, while wind power rose by eleven percent, to one-third of all investment. The nineteen point four billion invested in offshore wind projects was a record for that category. Energy efficiency and electric vehicle investment increased ten percent.

Measured by country, China was the leader, with clean energy investments rising thirty-two percent to ninety billion dollars. The U.S. was second, up eight percent to fifty-two billion, while Japan was up twelve percent to forty-one billion. Europe saw investment rise only one percent, but to a big number, sixty-six billion dollars. I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.

Video Source: Global Investment in Clean Energy Rises 16% in 2014

Tweet me: .@BloombergNEF reports global investment in #cleanenergy rises 16% in 2014. Read more at http://3bl.me/22627b via @3BLmedia #CSRminute

KEYWORDS: Energy, Green Business, CSR Minute, 3bl media llc, csr, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, China, Solar Energy, wind power

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