Arizona Higher Education Sustainability Conference Recap

April 11, 2014 by

On March 24-25, the inaugural Arizona Higher Education Sustainability Conference — hosted by the University of Arizona brought together Arizona universities, colleges, and community colleges in one place to focus on sustainability issues distinct to Arizona and the Southwest region. AHESC served as a platform to inspire, inform, and create engagement opportunities for students, faculty, staff and administrators working or studying in higher education institutions across Arizona to advance sustainability solutions on our campuses and in our regional community.

AHESC 2014 was a first year event which gave our marketing team the opportunity to create a custom event logo and branding identity. Working with the AHESC Steering Committee, we were able to develop a brand that highlights aspects unique to the southwest region and the University of Arizona.

rev_AHESC_Logo

Event Highlights

  1. The inaugural Arizona Higher Education Sustainability Conference brought together a statewide group of individuals working or studying in higher education institutions that might not have had the opportunity to meet without the conference.
  2. The Mentorship Track allowed current students to engage with speakers and local business leaders for post-college advice
  3. Behind-the-scenes tours of the University of Arizona’s Chiller Plant and Compost Cats San Xaiver Co-op Farm Work-site highlighted best sustainability practices in action.

View select photos from the 2014 event below. Photos courtesy of Jun Mo and Alex Ross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AHESC 2014 | Yalmaz Siddiqui of Office Depot Provides Insights on Sustainability and Green Teams

March 12, 2014 by

ImageWe are gearing up for the inaugural Arizona Higher Education Sustainability Conference taking place in Tucson, AZ at the University of Arizona and could not be more excited to have Yalmaz Siddiqui of Office Depot as the closing Keynote. Siddiqui is responsible for setting strategic direction and integrating a wide range of environmental programs into the global organization. Office Depot’s industry-leading environmental programs span all parts of the company – from supply chain (buying green) to internal operations (being green), to business and consumer markets (selling green).

AHESC: Office Depot was ranked as the#1 greenest large retailer in America by Newsweek Magazine’s Annual Green Rankings in 2011. That is a huge accomplishment as a company that serves consumers in 59 countries and has over 2,200 retail stores. At this type of scale how do you integrate sustainability into Office Depot’s core business functions? What strategies are most efficient and successfully shared with employees working in over 2,200 stores to drive the positive impact?

YS: The key is to understand what the role of the environmental team is versus the rest of the organization. At Office Depot we’ve avoided creating a ‘green ghetto’ by helping our functional partners recognize that just because it’s ‘green’, it doesn’t mean it’s owned by the green team.

We’re still not fully there yet, but the most important strategy is to get buy-in and budget allocation for green initiatives through more functions and at more levels of hierarchy in the company.

Making the business case in terms of cost savings and customer interest has also been a major part of our success.

AHESC: Since Office Depot launched and implemented corporate environmental initiatives such as the environmental paper procurement policy and carbon emission reduction efforts, what significant correlations you have seen in the company’s triple bottom line? How are the customers and stakeholders reacting to Office Depot’s environmental initiatives?

YS: Both customers and the wider set of stakeholders have responded very well. We focus our efforts on ideas that deliver both an environmental benefit and economic benefit – so the correlation is significant, but that is by design.

AHESC: You’ve been with Office Depot since 2006 and have led Office Depot to #1 greenest large retailer in America for three consecutive years. What advice can you give to colleges students who will be entering workforce this summer and who are interested in the field of sustainability such as yours?

YS: Remember that green teams and sustainability in organizations are small and will remain small for years to come. So while you are of course free to pursue a role that is 100% dedicated to sustainability, organizations need more people with an interest in the subject – in core functions such as marketing, finance, purchasing, H.R., sales, customer service and beyond. So my advice is to think about the core function you’re most interested in, and bring your sustainability passion to that role.

Ready to find out more about best sustainable practices and implement materials into your business or university? Be sure to check out resources from Office Depot, including the Top 20 ways to Go Green at Work and the GreenerOffice section of their website!

About The Arizona Higher Education Sustainability Conference

rev_AHESC_Logo

The Arizona Higher Education Sustainability Conference (AHESC) is the first conference to bring together Arizona universities, colleges, and community colleges in one place to focus on sustainability issues distinct to Arizona and the Southwest region. AHESC is designed to inspire, inform, and create engagement opportunities for students, faculty, staff and administrators working or studying in higher education institutions across Arizona to advance sustainability solutions on campuses and in the regional community.

We hope you will join us Monday and Tuesday, March 24-25, 2014 at The University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona for AHESC 2014!

Social Enterprises, Inc. Joins Ranks of Oregon Benefit Corporations and Becomes a Certified B Corporation!

February 12, 2014 by

PrintWe are proud to announce that we have gained certification as a B Corporation and officially changed our legal corporate status to a Benefit Corporation.

What is a Certified B Corporation?

B Corporations are a new kind of business that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

After a lengthy process 3rd party, B Lab, verified signed and stamped that we have worked hard to achieve a higher level of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

We are joining over 900 businesses worldwide where we are not only competing to be the best in the world, but FOR the world.


BcorpOrgSpectrum21


Social Enterprises was founded in order to give organizations generating important change on the frontiers of sustainability and social impact an affordable and professional resource to execute events that support their ongoing work.

With the Benefit Corporation framework, we are able to hold ourselves accountable to the same standards we recommend to our clients and assure our stakeholders that we mean business when it comes to implementing the triple bottom line across all aspects of our enterprise.

Not only is sustainability the focus in the events we plan, it’s also the aim of how we take care of our employers, contractors, sponsors, community, and of course the environment.

We are proud and incredibly grateful to be recognized for the work we have done for the community and the environment. We are excited to represent B Lab’s mission and be a part of the B Corporation movement!

 

WAHESC 2014 | PSU’s Jennifer Allen Digs into Sustainability in Academics

January 22, 2014 by

Jennifer AllenYou won’t want to miss this keynote address by Jennifer Allen, February 7th during The Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference. With areas of expertise in environmental and natural resource policy and administration and sustainable economic development,  Jennifer Allen is an associate professor of Public Administration and director of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University. Her areas of research encompass environmental and natural resource policy and administration and sustainable economic development, with particular focus on green buildings and rural-urban market connections.

WAHESC: As an educator and a researcher, you are serving on several boards for many sustainable and environmental conservation organizations. What are the gaps or disconnects between the academic and businesses in terms of carbon emission reduction, natural resources development and green economy growth?

Jennifer Allen: One of the main challenges to linking academic and business communities is the frequent “disconnect” in terms of timeframe and organizational rhythms; specifically, academic terms will rarely be aligned well with the needs of other organizations for research or support.  In addition, faculty have their own research agendas and may be reluctant to shape these around what organizations need or adapt them with an eye toward economic growth—even if that growth is “green.”

We also lack effective channels for the private sector to share their research needs with academics, and the converse is also true: We lack good channels to share academic work—in a non-academic, more accessible vocabulary—with the private sector.

WAHESC: To bridge those gaps, what are your recommendations and ideas on how private sectors and academics can collaborate to lead sustainability initiatives and build healthy environments on campuses and in communities?

JA: One of the most important things we can do to bridge this divide is to build stronger relationships, mutual understanding, and trust between the community and the university.  One of the ways we are attempting to do this at PSU is through our “Research to Action” event series. We host themed symposia—on topics such as urban sustainability, social determinants of health, and ecosystem services—and invite faculty and community partners to share their ongoing work in clustered 5 minute “blasts”, followed by opportunities for dialogue and partnership-building.  This approach distills PSU’s research activities and the community’s research needs into digestible “bites” and presents them in an accessible format, allowing for give and take discussion between practitioners and researchers.

PSU is also actively engaged with the business community in the area of social entrepreneurship; in our Impact Entrepreneurs program, social enterprise professionals, nonprofits, students and community members work together to “unleash the power of business for social impact”.  One of the most powerful aspects of this program is that it creates an innovation space where academic assets and strategic business thinking come together to address critical social issues.

WAHESC: What leadership role should academics play in environmental stewardship that can effectively influence public policy, sustainable economic development and climate change solution innovation beyond the ivory tower?

JA: Because of their nature as educational and research institutions, universities have the opportunity to serve as respected and effective “conveners” around challenging topics, providing a platform and forum where complex issues can be constructively explored.  For example, PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions has supported research by PSU faculty on the implications of a carbon tax for the State of Oregon, and has provided a number of opportunities for dialogue about the findings of this research. Oregon Solutions is another program at PSU that provides a neutral forum to help partners come together to address challenging community issues.

Another important role for universities is to identify and analyze “best practices” related to sustainability challenges to better understand what works, what doesn’t, and how solutions need adapt to reflect particular organizational or geographical contexts. For example, I’ve done some work in the area of green chemistry, looking at what other states are doing to advance the adoption of safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. In particular we focused on what strategies could help businesses realize a competitive advantage from developing and adopting safer alternatives. Another approach that will resonate with this conference’s audience is to explore how we can make our campus operations “living laboratories” where innovative sustainability strategies are tested and shared—ideally in collaboration with other public and private sector partners.

Finally, institutions of higher education need to be more intentional in developing the leaders of the future: our students. We can do this by providing them with opportunities—both inside and outside the classroom —to grapple with complicated issues, engage with diverse partners from both the public and private sectors, and bring their best and most innovative thinking to develop solutions to the challenges we face and the challenges we don’t yet recognize. This is perhaps the most critical role we can play. I’m excited to learn more about what other colleges and universities are doing on this front and in other areas at the Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference.

About The Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference

The Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference (WAHESC) is a regionally-focused opportunity for those teaching, working or studying within higher education to come together and learn about sustainability in academics, operations, and research. Through facilitated conversation, workshops, presentations and networking opportunities, participants will play a role in advancing environmental performance at Washington State institutions of higher education, support regional policy goals and initiatives, and drive the development of a generation of professionals for whom sustainability is a core tenet of their work and life philosophy.

We hope you will join us Thursday and Friday, February 6-7, 2014 at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington for WAHESC 2014!

WAHESC 2014 | An Inside Look with Keynote Nancy Lord

January 15, 2014 by

Nancy LordWith the Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference right around the corner, we jumped at the opportunity to interview one this years Keynote speakers: Nancy Lord, Author, Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate-Changed North. In our Q+A, Nancy shares her observations on the real impacts of climate change and where we should put of our focus concerning solutions as well as a preview of her keynote address taking place on February 6th.

WAHESC: What was the one thing in particular related to the environment and human relations that surprised you while writing Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate-Changed North?

Nancy Lord: I don’t know that anything particularly surprised me, but a couple of things definitely impressed me.  Much of my research involved Native communities in Alaska where climate change is clearly present and acknowledged.  I discovered that there’s so much change happening—not just environmental but social and economic—that it’s difficult to isolate climate change from the rest.  For example, where people are trying to grow their own food and are implementing alternative energy projects—these are definitely related to climate change but also to the high cost of importing food and fuel.

And a second thing that became very clear to me was that global warming/climate change issues are really human rights issues.  The people suffering the most are most often those who’ve contributed the least to the problem.  There are basic human rights to life, health, subsistence, and not to be forcibly evicted from homes and homelands.  Many coastal Alaskans—not to mention people in other low-lying parts of the world—are being forced to relocate because of climate change.

WAHESC: How does global warming affect the livelihood of fishermen, indigenous people and beyond in Alaska that is normally overlooked by mass media coverage and climate change studies?

NL: The media tends to focus on extreme cases, such as communities flooding.  When the immediate event is over, they move on to the next and the problem disappears from public attention while still being acute to the people affected.  Climate change studies have historically focused on science, which sometimes seems abstract or futuristic.  More recently, studies have been increasingly directed to social aspects and adaptation—with more focus on people and communities.

Global warming is neither abstract nor only a future threat—it’s here and now, very much endangering the lives and livelihoods of people.  If we begin to consider the costs of not addressing it, the costs of mitigation seem much more reasonable.

WAHESC: As an active leading member of several conservation and community-building organizations in Alaska, how do you advocate climate change awareness that reaches beyond the choir?

NL: That is indeed the challenge—to reach those who are not engaged or who are even active skeptics.  We need more environmental education, more science literacy, more attention to the real costs and the effects on people’s lives.  In Alaska, we’ve found that just about everyone has attachments to salmon, so that’s a good rallying point.  People want salmon to be healthy and plentiful—not dying in overly warm streams or starving in the oceans because the food web is upset by acidification or full of mercury from coal burning.

WAHESC: Based on your first hand experience of seeing the threats of the global warming to fresh water resources and marine lives in the North, how can humans change our interaction with environment and what climate change adaptation strategies we can implement to slow down these effects?

NL: This is a big question.  We’re rapidly getting to the point where, regardless of what we do, we’re facing a disastrous situation.  We need a tremendous movement, right now, to avert the worst.  The change needs to happen at all levels—personal up to international.  It’s hard to see how we can achieve some stability without putting a price on carbon—a tax or however you want to design it, but something that will quickly and dramatically reduce emissions and move us into a more sustainable future.  Adaptation doesn’t address the problem but only helps cope with it.  We can adapt to coastal flooding, for example, by building seawalls, but that’s a temporary and costly strategy that doesn’t reduce emissions and warming—in fact, transporting rocks, making concrete, and so on just adds to the problem.

WAHESC: At this important first annual event, please tell us a little about what your Keynote will address at WAHESC. How do you hope to enlighten WAHESC attendees?

NL: In my keynote I’ll try to make the case for why we need to move toward a more sustainable way of life overall, why we need sweeping cultural change.  I come from a place that can provide lessons from both sides of the equation.  In the north, we’re experiencing climate change sooner and more dramatically than in places farther south;  thus, we can demonstrate some of what’s at stake if we, as Americans and citizens of the world, don’t move quickly to more sustainable practices.  And on the other side, I come from a place with intact Native cultures that have sustained themselves for hundreds and thousands of years.  I’ll share some stories for how and what we might learn from them.

About The Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference

The Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference (WAHESC) is a regionally-focused opportunity for those teaching, working or studying within higher education to come together and learn about sustainability in academics, operations, and research. Through facilitated conversation, workshops, presentations and networking opportunities, participants will play a role in advancing environmental performance at Washington State institutions of higher education, support regional policy goals and initiatives, and drive the development of a generation of professionals for whom sustainability is a core tenet of their work and life philosophy.

We hope you will join us Thursday and Friday, February 6-7, 2014 at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington for WAHESC 2014!

Digging Into the Force Behind the GoGreen Conference Series

September 5, 2013 by

Ericka_AboutWho is Social Enterprises, and what do you do? We are asked that question quite often in our line of work. Our founder & principal Ericka Dickey-Nelson had the opportunity to have a radio interview with Mrs. Greens World to discuss who we are as an organization and why we love doing it!

Ericka is the founding force behind Social Enterprises, Inc. — a full-service event planning firm specializing in conferences and summits with a sustainability or social impact focus. Working from a passion for bringing people together around ideas that will shape the future, she has built a formidable expertise in executing events that drive revenue to support the growth and continued success of non-profits, government programs, and educational institutions. In 2008, Ericka co-founded the GoGreen Conference series in Portland with the intent of holding a much needed dialogue on how regional stakeholders can collaborate to create sustainable economies at scale through the adoption of green business solutions at their own organizations. The series has since expanded and is now also held annually in Seattle, Phoenix and New York City.

Mrs.GreensWorldListen to the full radio show here:

GoGreen Conferences – the force behind the idea!

Energize 2013

May 29, 2013 by

On April 11 and 12, the first annual Energize 2013 Summit — hosted by the Energy Commercialization Center (ECC) — brought together diverse and influential stakeholders from the sustainable energy community of the Rocky Mountain West. Energize 2013 was an invite-only summit offering a rare gathering of key regional players from all areas of the innovation ecosystem to help influence the growth of the sustainable, carbon-free energy economy throughout Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

As Energize 2013 was a first year event, we needed to create an event logo and identity. Working with the ECC, we developed a distinct, modern event identity highlighting their identity rooted in the Rocky Mountain West.

ECC_Logo

Event Highlights

  1. The inaugural Energize Summit attracted a mix of stakeholders throughout the Rocky Mountain Region & was well attended across sectors
  2. Speakers engaged beyond their session contributions, staying throughout the day and creating stronger eco-system buy-in, networking and idea-exchange
  3. The Ecosystem Development Track discussion was lively, engaging and reached real and meaningful conclusions
  4. Energize 2013 built lasting dialogue and connections in the Mountain West around sustainable energy where there previously were none – and demonstrated commitment and fortitude to drive the sustainable energy economy

View select photos from the 2013 event below. A full portfolio of images is available here, courtesy of Great Salt Lake Event Photography.

The Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference (OHESC)

March 13, 2013 by

The Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference (formerly the Oregon University System Sustainability Conference) concluded on February 1, 2013 at Portland State University’s Smith Memorial Student Union. Co-Hosted by Portland State University, Oregon State University and Oregon University System, OHESC is a platform to facilitate information sharing, networking, and collaboration related to innovative sustainability practice and research among Oregon’s higher education institutions. The conference featured two days of workshops, plenary discussions, and peer-to-peer learning for professionals, faculty, and students serving in a variety of roles around sustainability in Oregon’s campuses.

Given that the conference was being renamed, we were contracted to develop an event logo and identity. Care was taken to develop a distinct, modern brand highlighting OHESC’s identity rooted in the state of Oregon, higher education and collaborative endeavors.

OHESC

From an event management perspective, below are a few of the many successful aspects of the conference:

  • VENUE: Smith Memorial Student Union –  The layout of space was good, accommodating exhibitors, student summit and all breakout sessions on one floor.
  • AUDIO VISUAL: PSU AV – The equipment was excellent quality and offered at a very low cost,  along with responsive and proactive technicians.
  • CATERING: Aramark – The food quality was amazing, especially the custom lunch with the local vendors. We received many positive comments from organizers and attendees and the use of real dishes and glassware contributed to the value of a sustainable event.
  • REGISTRATION: The registration process ran smoothly with help from volunteer and dedicated SE staff onsite and the check-in rate was extremely high at 88%
Attendee feedback:
  • “Staff were able to answer all questions and never seemed unable to find the information we were looking for.”
  • “Professional and very supportive” “The event team was phenomenal!”
  • “Friendly, efficient staff. Passionate attendees, great mission. Good food.”

View select photos from the 2013 event below. A full portfolio of images is available here, courtesy of Andrew Paul Photography.

Within Our Reach Conference: A Great Ending to a Successful 2012

December 28, 2012 by

The 2nd Biennial Within Our Reach Conference concluded on December 12, 2012 at Oregon State University’s CH2M Hill Alumni Center in Corvallis, Oregon. Presented by the Meyer Memorial Trust and the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board Within Our Reach is a two-day conference designed to connect funders, river restoration professionals, landowners, public agencies, scientists and students across the basin who are working to protect and restore the health of the Willamette River.

As the event managers of the conference we had a great time coordinating and assisting such a dedicated group of people working toward the same goals. The experience started December 10th at Oregon State Universities LaSells Stewart Center for a special pre-conference screening of Willamette Through Film. The following two days of the conference turned out spectacularly with three inspiring keynotes, seven plenaries + reports and nine informative break-out sessions.

On the technical side of things one of our favorite logistical aspects of this event was the OSU venue. Between the LaSells Stewart Center and the CH2M Hill Alumni Center, the facility provided everything that we needed and then some. The staff, AV technicians, and catering team were all on their game and definitely left us with a great impression.

The conference was filled with liveliness, great connections and lasting conversations; check out the photos from the conference below.

The EcoDistricts Summit 2012

November 14, 2012 by

The second annual EcoDistricts Summit came to a close just under a month ago on October 26, 2012 at Portland State University’s Smith Center. Produced by the Portland Sustainability Institute (PoSI) the Summit is one of the world’s leading conferences dedicated to urban and district-scale sustainability exploring topics such as district energy, water utilities, net-zero buildings, smart grid, networked transportation, urban ecosystem services and zero waste. We had a fantastic time working behind the scenes and assisting in the execution of this year’s summit. Check out the action from the Summit and keep your eye out for EcoDistricts 2013!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.