Business

How we engaged employees, strengthened community ties, and made the world a little greener

Nearly 2,000 Alcoa employees, their families, and members of their communities learned how to save energy, save money, and help the environment at green fairs over the past three months.

These fairs, organized by the C2ES Make an Impact program in partnership with Alcoa and the Alcoa Foundation, are an example of an evolving approach to corporate social responsibility and employee engagement.

Building awareness of environmental challenges is important, but it isn’t enough. A new approach, bringing together several engagement strategies, aims to build a work force that is both knowledgeable and active in local organizations. The goal is to create stronger relationships among a company, its employees, and community stakeholders, a win-win-win.

Employees, community members and even two mayors came to Alcoa Green Fairs to meet with local businesses and groups providing sustainability solutions. The events took place on weekends or during work breaks in Fullerton and Torrance, Calif.; Hampton, Va.; and Warrick, Ind. Participants could ask questions and get tips about recycling, saving energy and water, and making choices to promote sustainability.

Hands-on activities made it fun. For example, at each fair, we challenged people to see how much physical energy is needed to turn a hand crank (pictured at left) and produce enough power to light an old-fashioned incandescent bulb compared with a modern, efficient compact fluorescent bulb, which requires 75 percent less energy.

The team from Virginia Naturally challenged Hampton fair-goers to guess how long it takes for different types of litter to decompose, driving home the importance of recycling. California employees answered trivia questions from Heal the Bay about storm water management and water conservation.

The fairs informed employees and strengthened Alcoa’s connections to its local communities. More than 50 organizations participated, paving the way for future partnerships and employee volunteer opportunities that will improve the sustainability of each community.

This approach to employee engagement seems natural. Although web-based tools, like our recently updated Make an Impact Carbon Calculator, are becoming more popular for their interactivity and convenience, they may not reach all employees, especially those who don’t spend a lot of time at work in front of a computer. That’s why Make an Impact complements these tools with activities like green fairs, where we can interact one-on-one and approach topics like climate action and energy efficiency from an individual, family, and community perspective.

Companies are increasingly looking to their employees to help them achieve their sustainability and corporate responsibility goals. Creating the right culture – through training, incentives, and social and educational events like green fairs – is essential. Equally important is empowering all employees, not just the company’s environment, health, and safety teams, to help build that culture.

The lessons learned and connections made at this year’s Alcoa green fairs can help employees, community groups, and company leaders all take steps toward a more sustainable future.

 

Companies are part of the equation to address climate change

While the focus in New York this week has been on world leaders pledging to act on climate change, business leaders also stepped up to be part of the climate solution.

In recent years, many companies have acknowledged the risks of climate change and worked to improve their energy efficiency and sustainability. This week, companies announced new efforts to fund clean energy, reduce carbon emissions, and support a price on carbon.

For example, Bank of America announced an initiative to spur at least $10 billion of new investment in clean energy projects. Hewlett Packard announced plans to reduce emissions intensity of its product portfolio by 40 percent from 2010 levels by 2020.

Many companies joined together to take a stand:

The interdependence of water and energy

Have you ever thought that by leaving a light on, you’re wasting water, or that a leaky faucet wastes energy? It’s odd, but accurate.

That’s because water and energy are interrelated. Water is used in all phases of energy production, and energy is required to extract, pump, and move water for human consumption. Energy is also needed to treat wastewater so it can be safely returned to the environment.

C2ES recently hosted a series of webinars (video and slides here) on the intersection between water and energy (sometimes referred to as the “nexus”). The series was co-sponsored by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Participants discussed how the water and energy sectors depend on each other and how they can work together to conserve resources.

CCS projects see progress

Three recent announcements signal important progress toward greater deployment of technology to capture and store carbon emissions that would otherwise escape into the atmosphere. CCS technology can capture up to 90 percent of emissions from power plants and industrial facilities and is critical to reducing climate-changing emissions while fossil fuels remain part of our energy mix.

One piece of good news came when NRG Energy announced it has begun construction on the Petra Nova Project in Texas, where an existing coal-fired power plant will be retrofitted with carbon capture equipment. The Petra Nova Project will be the world’s third commercial-scale CCS power project, following the nearly-completed SaskPower Boundary Dam project in Saskatchewan, Canada, and Southern Company’s Kemper County Energy Facility in Mississippi opening in 2015.

Applying the Energy Service Company Model to Advance Deployment of Fleet Natural Gas Vehicles and Fueling Infrastructure

Applying the Energy Service Company Model to Advance Deployment of Fleet Natural Gas Vehicles and Fueling Infrastructure

June 2014

by Matt Frades

Download the full paper (PDF)

This paper explores the opportunity for using ESCO-style service contracts to advance investment in natural gas vehicles by fleets. Starting with a brief overview of the ESCO market, this paper explains how ESCOs reduce barriers faced by energy efficiency and cost savings projects, presents case studies that demonstrate how some of the features of ESCOs are being employed in cutting-edge NGV fleet projects, and explores how these features could be incorporated into innovative business models that reduce the barriers to NGV fleet project investment. 

 

Matt Frades
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Webinar - Water for Energy and Energy for Water: Innovation and Effective Stakeholder Engagement

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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2 p.m. – 3 p.m. EDTView slides here.See video here.

 

Webinar 3: Innovation and effective stakeholder engagement on water and energy issues

July 24, 2014
2 p.m. – 3 p.m. EDT

Involving other stakeholders or partners for a water-energy project often leads to insights, innovations, and/or greater efficiency. In this third and final webinar, speakers from American Water and East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD; California) discuss how they leveraged stakeholder involvement to address water-energy challenges and implement innovations. 

Suzanne Chiavari, Engineering Practice Leader from American Water, will describe some of her organization’s recent work in using renewable energy technologies, and how they’ve engaged community partners to establish greater integration across their resource management activities. Clifford Chan, Manager of Water Treatment and Distribution at EBMUD, will talk about two projects with multiple stakeholders that have helped the utility to implement its energy management strategy.

View slides here.
See video here.

Risky Business report shows need to act on climate change

You expect a business leader to keep a close eye on the bottom line and to act when a threat is clear. As C2ES and others have noted, it is increasingly clear to many business leaders that climate change is a here-and-now threat that we all -- businesses, government and individuals -- must address.

Today’s “Risky Business” report lays out in stark numerical terms the likely economic impact of climate change on U.S. businesses and the U.S. economy. The initiative – co-chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer – brings high-profile attention to this issue in the hopes that highlighting the risks and potential costs will help spur action to manage the impacts and curb climate-altering emissions.

The report’s outline of the many costs of climate impacts is likely an underestimate. For example, the impacts of diminishing groundwater are difficult to calculate and are not included.

Climate Solutions: The Role of Nuclear Power

Promoted in Energy Efficiency section: 
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9:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m, National Press ClubNuclear power supplies more than 60 percent of zero-carbon electricity in the United States. The unexpected retirement of five nuclear reactors is prompting concerns that additional closures could make it tougher to meet U.S. climate goals. C2ES releases a new brief examining this emerging dilemma and hosts a discussion with government, industry, and policy leaders.

Nuclear power supplies more than 60 percent of zero-carbon electricity in the United States. The unexpected retirement of five nuclear reactors is prompting concerns that additional closures could make it tougher to meet U.S. climate goals.

C2ES releases a new brief examining this emerging dilemma and hosts a discussion with government, industry, and policy leaders.

Monday, April 28
9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m

National Press Club
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045

Speakers:

PETER LYONS
Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

CAROL BROWNER
Distinguished Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
and Former EPA Administrator

BILL MOHL
President, Entergy Wholesale Commodities

DAVID BROWN
Senior Vice President, Federal Government Affairs, Exelon Corporation

KIMBERLY CLARK
Chief Commercial Officer, North America, AREVA, Inc.

SUSAN TIERNEY
Senior Adviser, Analysis Group

EILEEN CLAUSSEN
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions



 

Water for Energy and Energy for Water: Challenges and Opportunities for Utilities

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2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.Webinar 1: An overview of water/energy issues from national and federal perspectivesSee video here. View slides here.

Webinar 1: An overview of water/energy issues from national and federal perspectives

May 8, 2014

2 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET

Dr. Craig Zamuda from the Department of Energy (DOE) will present key findings from DOE’s recently released water/energy nexus report, attempting to distill some of the key issues and risks of which water and electric utilities should be aware. Dr. Kristen Averyt, Associate Director for Science for the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Director of the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado, will present her research regarding water-energy challenges that exist currently and are on the horizon.

See video here. View slides here.

Alternative Fuel Vehicle & Fueling Infrastructure Deployment Barriers & the Potential Role of Private Sector Financial Solutions

Alternative Fuel Vehicle & Fueling Infrastructure Deployment Barriers & the Potential Role of Private Sector Financial Solutions

April 2014

by Sarah Dougherty and Nick Nigro

Download the full paper (PDF)

This paper examines how private financing can address the barriers to demand facing electric, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and their related fueling infrastructure. Starting with a review of the state of the market, it covers significant barriers to market demand and barriers for private investors and concludes with a review of innovative finance options used in other sectors that could be applied to the alternative fuel vehicle market.

 

Nick Nigro
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