Posts Tagged ‘Sustainability’

2015: A Year of Sustainability and Social Cause

December 30, 2015

SE Team Photo 2015.pngOur team has kept busy this year with a variety of events geared at advancing sustainability and social cause. Combined, over 4,000 attendees and change-makers came together to champion the green movement through our 14 events in 2015.

We are thankful for our continued partnerships and were elated to work on several new events in 2015. Here are some highlights:

The Green Sports Alliance brought us to Chicago this year for their annual Summit. Along with keynotes, breakout sessions and workshops, the event had venue tours, a special performance by spoken-word artist Prince EA, and a reception that kicked-off with a Chicago Bears drum line!

We got to B the Change at B’Corporation’s B Inspired event in October. As a registered B Corporation, it was an honor to share the organization’s values with over 1,000 attendees through TED-style talks, an outdoor festival at Pioneer Square, and a concert at the historic Crystal Ballroom. B Inspired’s motto was: sometimes to make a change you have to throw a party. We couldn’t agree more. Attendees from all over the world got a true slice of Portlandia: tasting beer & ice cream floats, jamming out to Ural  Thomas and the Pain and even getting to stop by our own Social Enterprises booth for a game of cornhole!


So what’s next? We are looking forward to a full schedule for 2016.

Check out some of the 2016 events we have lined up:

Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference | February  4-5, 2016

Oregon Wine Symposium | February 23-24, 2016

GoGreen Seattle |  March 30, 2016

Living Future |  May 11-13, 2016

Oregon Wildlife Dinner and Auction | June 11, 2016

Green Sports Alliance Summit | June 28-30, 2016

EV Roadmap 9  | July 20-21, 2016

Oregon BEST FEST | September 2016

Rewards NW | September 13, 2016

Getting to Zero National Forum | October 12-14, 2016

Cheers to 2016 from the Social Enterprises, Inc. team and we hope to see you at some of our upcoming events!

WAHESC 2014 | An Inside Look with Keynote Nancy Lord

January 15, 2014

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!

The Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference (OHESC)

March 13, 2013

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.


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.

The EcoDistricts Summit 2012

November 14, 2012

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!

EcoDistricts ’11 Scaling Innovation: Sarah Heinicke

October 26, 2011

The Lloyd District is one of Portland’s five Pilot EcoDistricts and is moving forward to build a green-minded, diverse and unique neighborhood with a strong identity and strong ties to sustainability with a business case baked in. District Sustainability Director, Sarah Heinicke, shares her vision and an update on how this neighborhood is tackling environmental and social issues, while seizing opportunities, all at the district scale.

EcoDistricts: Each of the Portland EcoDistrict Pilots are quite distinct in terms of neighborhood culture and circumstance. How does the Lloyd District differ from its counterparts in the program and what priorities have come out of that unique perspective?

Sarah Heinicke: The Lloyd Eco district is comprised of large superblocks, suburban-style office development and governmental uses. The board itself is comprised of leaders from those key stakeholder firms and institutions. Currently there is no representation from the relatively small residential population, or small businesses interests, though we intend to reach out to those communities.

These are the obvious differences when you think of Lloyd District compared to Foster Green, or South Waterfront. Those are material differences, but I think we have a lot more in common than not. The process of implementing these kind of transformative changes on this scale, the issue of board involvement, community advocacy, and the prospect of implementation in a bearish market are challenges all the districts face no matter what their mix.

We are just now initiating our project priorities discussion and although I don’t have a final list to share with you, I can tell you there is a lot of excitement to just get started on something. It’s my job to make sure the project mix is right—from big multi-year, multi-stakeholder efforts to smaller, simpler projects. Projects that are feasible, impactful, executable and have a funding mechanisms built in are the strong favorites. Another priority that has emerged is getting our governance structure in order sooner rather than later so that we know exactly where we stand and to approach the community for support, either in terms of mission or funding.

EcoD: You’ve been in your role for several months now. What kind of vision has your working group developed for the Lloyd EcoDistrict in that time? How is success defined now that you’ve become acquainted with the project, the stakeholders and their priorities?


2011 Green Sports Summit—A Better Way to Play

August 13, 2011

Last week our team was fortunate enough to be a part of the inaugural Green Sports Summit. Hosted by the newly founded Green Sports Alliance, the Summit was a three-day catalyst for the dialogue on greening the sports we love. They like to call it “a better way to play” and we couldn’t agree more. It’s an exciting time for a environmentally savvy sports fan!

We just got in some incredible photos from Opening Night from Dabe Alen Photography—who graciously captured the evening through his lens. What stands out to us? The vibrant energy present in everyone involved in this movement.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

More pics to come from days two and three. Stay tuned sports/Earth fans!

2011 Green Sports Alliance Summit: MLB’s Growing Sustainability Street Cred

July 19, 2011

MLB teams, such as the St. Louis Cardinals, are implementing sustainability programs and collaborating via the Green Sports Alliance.

The fields of Major League Baseball are a trademark shade of deep green—and increasingly, so are its team and venue operations. As one of the first professional sports leagues in North America to put a major emphasis on sustainability, MLB is blazing trails and creating best practices for sports organizations and venues worldwide to follow.

Listening to Commissioner Bud Selig speak on the connection between sports and environmental stewardship, it’s clear he and MLB get it:

“Baseball is a social institution with social responsibilities and caring for the environment is inextricably linked to all aspects of the game. Sound environmental practices make sense in every way and protect out natural resources for future generations of baseball fans.”

Teams have been implementing their own greening programs for many years, but recently the National Resource Defense Council and MLB moved to create a more centralized platform for league-wide adoption of sustainable best practices—the MLB Green Tracks program. Teams and venues were challenged to assess their current status on sustainability. They measured and then tracked several key targets in a centralized reporting system, including: energy use and efficiency, water use, recycling and diversion rates, and impact on community (carbon pollution, resource consumption, etc.). By making the information accessible to all within the league, MLB fostered friendly competition, with many teams working hard to “keep up with the Joneses.”

So what are you favorite teams and ballparks up to these days? Have a read through some of MLB’s most exciting and impactful sustainability initiatives:

  • The Seattle Mariners now divert over 80 percent of their waste! They have removed almost all trash cans at Safeco Field and replaced them with Compost and Recycling bins. The Mariners also switched to all compostable food containers within the park, and worked with their composting facility to generate “Safeco Field Compost” to give away to fans on Earth Day 2011.
  • The 2011 MLB All-Star Game festivities are in Phoenix this year, and together with the National Resource Defense Council, MLB and the Arizona Diamondbacks are really pulling out all the stops. Among other things, All-Star Game events will be offset with “Green-e Certified” renewable energy credits and fans will be provided with tips through out the week to live more sustainably. Even the red carpet is getting the green treatment—it will be made with 100 percent post-industrial recycled nylon yard.
  • The Diamondbacks also installed a cutting-edge solar shade covering 17,000+ sq. ft. of Chase Field’s plaza. It not only provides cover from the intense Arizona sun, but also generates solar power for the field’s facilities.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals host Green Week each year in order to educate Cardinals fans about the teams green initiatives and encourage them to take steps to be more sustainable in their daily lives as well. Green Week 2011 at Busch Stadium featured an electronics recycling drive and the offsetting of energy use with RECs (renewable energy credits) for the entire week’s games. The Cardinals also boast a 30 percent waste diversion rate and have lowered energy use over 15 percent in the past five years thanks to their ongoing “4 A Greener Game” program.
  • The Texas Rangers are irrigating their field with surrounding lake water and collecting grass clipping to spread as mulch or put alongside creeks to hold bare soil. They’ve also substantially increased game day recycling efforts by providing 120+ recycling bins around the ballpark and ensuring all trash collected from the stands after games is sorted for recyclable items.

So next time you’re in the mood for a family friendly, and likely eco-friendly, summer activity, consider supporting MLB’s sustainability efforts by taking in a game at your nearest ballpark (via public transit where possible!) and taking advantage of their green initiatives.

Fans in Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area can also learn more about the success and potential of sustainability programs at professional sports organizations at the Green Sports Alliance Summit Opening Program and Reception, August 1, 2011 at Gerding Theater. This event is open to the public and features speakers from the Portland Trail Blazers (NBA), Seattle Mariners (MLB), St. Louis Cardinals (MLB), Nike, NBA and more.

Registration for the Green Sports Alliance Summit Opening Program is required. Cost to attend is $35/$20 for students with a valid ID. For more information, please visit the event website.

Green Sports Summit 2011: Mariners’ Scott Jenkins Steps up to the Plate for Sustainability in Sports

June 18, 2011

Photo Credit: Liam Moriarty / KPLU News

As Vice President of Operations of the Seattle Mariners, Scott Jenkins is out on the front lines of their entire operations system—reducing waste, increasing efficiency and making investments that meet the triple bottom line (addressing people, planet AND profit). He and his team saved the Mariners organization $1.2 Million over the course of just four years through energy efficiency and waste reduction alone—not too shabby. Jenkins is also spearheading the Mariner’s involvement in the Green Sports Alliance and will be speaking on behalf of the organization at the Green Sports Alliance Summit this August. We sat down with Scott to talk shop on how he was able to make such significant impact in a short period of time and what lessons he’ll bring to the Summit to share with his fellow sports professionals.

Social Enterprises: How did the Mariners get involved with the Green Sports Alliance? Why does your organization feel it’s important to be involved in the early wave of collaboration with the industry?
Scott Jenkins: In the fall of 2009, Jason Twill from Vulcan Development (Paul Allen’s development company) reached out to Dr. Allen Hershkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC) to discuss the greening of the Sounders, Seahawks, and Trail Blazers. Allen suggested including me in the discussion. Allen and I worked together on the Philadelphia Eagles “Go Green” program shortly after Lincoln Financial Field opened in 2003. As we planned our first workshop, it became apparent that we shouldn’t stop there, so we soon invited the Storm and Canucks. We’ve been meeting quarterly ever since and have expanded the concept to include any professional team and venue which has spawned the Green Sports Alliance.

I’ve seen the progress that MLB has made where we tripled the amount of recycling being done in just 3 years. Similar opportunities exist in conserving energy and water as well as dealing with supply chain issues. It all starts with metrics. Immediate results followed once we started tracking and sharing data. Benchmarking performance of our peers and sharing better practices is key to driving change.

The Green Sports Alliance is simply an extension of that thinking. The biggest opportunity we have is the potential to influence the public through our brands and venues. We’ve got to make it cool to conserve. It’s been just the opposite for fartoo long, and I believe a growing sector of the public is starting to come to this realization. The Green Sports Alliance provides a huge opportunity to improve our operations but more importantly influence the public. How could you pass on that opportunity?

SE: How are sports teams particularly suited to promote sustainable, responsible community citizenship?
SJ: CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) has been a big part of professional sports for a long time. Greening sports is relatively new to the mix but increasingly important. We can use our brands and iconic venues to get people to think about what they can do at work, at home, at school, and at play to lead the kind of behavioral change in society that’s needed to begin addressing the environmental issues we face.

SE: Your rate of recycling has increased substantially in recent years. A lot of people tackle waste because it seems like a low hanging fruit, but are you seeing benefits from a profit standpoint? Are your efforts saving the Mariners money?
SJ: Fortunately for us, we’ve been able to make the business case for it and there are a couple of ways we’ve done that. One concerns the sheer cost of getting rid of the waste.

For us, it costs less to recycle than it does to send something to the landfill. So last year, with an average diversion rate of over 70 percent on waste, we saved about $70,000 just by recycling. That’s a pretty good business case. Now that changes based on where you live and what it costs to send things to the landfill, but we’re able to benefit from the fact that we’ve seen growth here in terms of facilities that can handle our compostable waste in an economical way. So it makes direct bottom line sense for our club to do that and it also greens our brand—which ultimately makes bottom line sense as well.

SE: Did waste seem like a natural place to start? Or did you go through an analysis and strategic planning process of some kind?
SJ: It started with data. Fortunately, before I came to Seattle, the data was being kept on energy and water use and recycling rates. So I had the numbers in hand. When I first took a look at the baseline, I immediately saw room to get better from what we’d done historically with those three areas—energy use, water use and recycling.

The first year, I looked at the resource use and thought we could save $100,000 in year one alone if we considered what we’d used in the first six or seven years of being in the building and stuck to a goal of keeping to the low end of usage at all times. We found that $100,000 of savings in the first six months and ended up saving around $274,000 in that year compared to the previous one. After that it became pretty obvious that there were some tremendous opportunities to save money by being more efficient—turning off equipment, using automation, setting back temperatures, decommissioning equipment once the season was over, weather stripping and faucet aerators—without actually investing any real money. I knew we were on to something pretty big.

SE: Do you see non-professional sports teams (i.e. colleges and high schools) benefitting from your model of waste reduction and efficiency?
SJ: Absolutely. I even see the Green Sports Alliance influencing the kids soccer game, local swim meets and little league games too. What kid doesn’t look up to professional athletes and teams? We represent the pinnacle of athletic performance and there’s no reason we can’t do the same for environmental performance.

SE: Do you think instituting sustainable practices at work affects the organization? More than influencing the fans, do the ballpark employees and the players benefit?
SJ: Yes. Our efforts in reducing environmental impacts have provided a sense of pride and accomplishment to a wide range of employees. We celebrate the fact that we now recycle 80 percent of our waste and have reduced our natural gas use by 60 percent and electric use by 30 percent. Employees are engaged and involved in making a difference. The ballpark is also a healthier workplace due to the benefits of adopting green cleaning practices. Now, if we could only get everyone walking or riding their bike to work—we’d do the planet a big favor and need fewer trips to the gym to stay in shape.

Scott Jenkins is the Vice President of Ballpark Operations for the Seattle Mariners baseball team. He’s also a founding member representative for the Green Sports Alliance and featured speaker at the Green Sports Alliance Summit, August 1-3, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. For more information on the Green Sports Alliance Summit, please visit:

Green Sports Alliance + Summit

May 3, 2011

Seattle Mariners' Safeco Field (Photo Credit:

A few weeks back the sports, we got a well-reported look at how sustainability is taking hold in the sports world. A small cadre (perhaps akin to Margaret Mead’s small, thoughtful group of concerned citizens) of professional teams announced they have banded together to prove that not only can professional sports teams be sustainable operations—but that a lot of money can be saved doing so (we learned from VP of Ballpark Operations Scott Jenkins at GoGreen Seattle that the Mariners have saved millions from relatively simple efficiency measures). Showcasing teams from all  six major professional leagues in the US (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, and WNBA), the Green Sports Alliance takes a decidedly sustainable perspective to the social responsibility advocacy embraced by pro sports organizations.

We, for one, couldn’t be more excited—except that we are. In addition to choosing the Pacific Northwest as a home base, the Green Sports Alliance has also chosen to hold their inaugural Green Sports Summit in the fair city of Portland and we’re honored to be involved. Stay tuned for more details. This is going to be a good one!

Last Chance: Join Us 2/16 At SIEF For Cameron Sinclair

February 14, 2011

We’re pretty excited about this week—mostly because we’re headed down to (hopefully) sunny Southern California for what has become one of our favorite events: Sustainable Industries Economic Forum. This year’s series has featured the dynamic and fiery Cameron Sinclair, CEO (that’s Chief Eternal Optimist, mind you) and Co-Founder of Architecture For Humanity and Winner of the 2006 TED Prize. He’s back for the final chapter in Santa Monica this Wednesday and we can say with confidence that if you’re in the area, you do NOT want to miss it!

We’ve heard Cameron three times already and we can’t wait for the fourth. Not just because we greatly respect his mission to find architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and bring professional design services to communities in need; but also because his honest, frank dialogue about what really matters in the world of sustainable efforts, how to start doing rather than just talking, and why partnerships and collaboration are just as important as energy efficiency is refreshing, entertaining and always the epitome of “keepin’ it real.”

So if you’re in the Los Angeles area or know someone who is—and needs to go!—here are the details. There are still a few seats available—though it’s first come, first serve.

Sustainable Industries Economic Forum Santa Monica
Keynote: Cameron Sinclair, CEO, Architecture For Humanity
Date: February 16, 2011
Time: 8:30a-11:30a
Location: Sheraton Delfina Hotel, Santa Monica
Cost: $75 ea./$975 per table of 10