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Wesley Community Center Increases Local Impact with $150,000 Grant from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 9:37am

 Wesley Community Center is increasing its capacity to support more Houstonians with the help of a sustainability grant from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club. The Sun Club selected Wesley to receive $150,000 for solar power, energy efficiency upgrades and resource conservation for its community center and food pantry facilities. Expected energy savings made possible by the sustainability improvements will have the potential to help Wesley provide an additional 6,000 meals each year.

“The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club is helping organizations that are making a real difference in our community to become more sustainable,” said Mark Parsons, president of Green Mountain Energy Sun Club. “Wesley Community Center focuses on strengthening local communities by directly supporting the people who live there. We’re proud to help them improve the lives of even more Houstonians.”

The sustainability grant from the Sun Club is funding a 12-kilowatt solar array, new high-efficiency air conditioning units and windows, LED lighting and spray foam insulation. Wesley’s community garden is also being equipped with a smart sprinkler system. The sustainability and energy efficiency upgrades will help reduce the nonprofit’s electricity and water usage, allowing the money saved to provide additional services for infants, children, adults and seniors seeking financial stability and a better life. 

“On behalf of the staff and clients of Wesley, I want to thank the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club for this generous gift in support of our mission,” said Linda Flores Olson, president and CEO of Wesley Community Center. “Not only will these improvements help us reduce our environmental footprint, every penny we save will go directly to helping the individuals and families we serve, allowing us to further strengthen families and build neighborhoods.”

Serving the Northside neighborhood of Houston, Wesley engages children, families and seniors with a comprehensive array of programs and services along the circle of life – from early childhood education and out-of-school elementary and youth development programming to senior and social services and emergency assistance. By empowering individuals, Wesley creates opportunities for them to help themselves.

The Sun Club also works to empower others through solar and sustainability projects. To date, more than $6.5 million has been donated to nearly 100 nonprofits in Texas and the Northeast. To learn more about the Sun Club and how to nominate a worthy nonprofit like Wesley for a sustainability grant, visit gmesunclub.org.

About Green Mountain Energy Sun Club

The Green Mountain Energy Sun Club is a nonprofit organization advancing sustainability for people and our planet by investing in communities in Texas and the Northeast. Since the program’s founding in 2002, the Sun Club® has donated more than $6.5 million to nearly 100 nonprofit organizations. As a 501 (c)(3) organization, the Sun Club focuses on projects related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and resource conservation. Contributions to the Sun Club come from Green Mountain Energy’s residential customers in Texas, as well as from Green Mountain, its employees and other Sun Club supporters. To learn more about the Sun Club, please visit gmesunclub.org.

About Wesley Community Center

Since 1904, Wesley Community Center has been committed to improving the quality of life for the community it serves, providing an array of programs which include early childhood education, out-of-school elementary and youth programming, senior and social services, and economic development services dedicated to helping low-income families achieve and maintain financial self-sufficiency and move up the economic ladder.


SmartSimple Unveils Most Flexible Corporate Giving Solution on the Market

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 9:37am

 SmartSimple Software Ltd. (“SmartSimple”), a global leader in cloud-based automation software, today announced the launch of SmartSimple Corporate Giving, an enterprise-ready solution for powering philanthropic initiatives.

From foundation and community granting, to in-kind donations, disaster relief, and sponsorships, SmartSimple Corporate Giving equips corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals with powerful features to address some of the world’s most pressing issues.

SmartSimple already works with 13 of the largest Fortune 500 companies who utilize SmartSimple’s technology platform for a variety of process needs, including managing their corporate philanthropy programs. The official launch of a dedicated corporate giving solution marks the company’s formalized approach to providing solutions that cater to the corporate market specifically.

“Many of our existing corporate clients found their way to us based on our work in the philanthropic space. We’ve always had a strong posture in the corporate market because of our flexibility, functionality, and security,” said Mike Reid, COO and Co-founder of SmartSimple.

“Development of our new Corporate Giving solution is a direct response to the market that’s indicated to us that they’re looking for a flexible, robust, all-in-one corporate giving solution that’s difficult to find today.”

SmartSimple Corporate Giving’s unique feature set include:

  • Ability to manage any corporate giving program type, all under one roof

  • Support for every currency and language

  • Role and attribute-based portals configurable to any unique requirement for any number of stakeholder groups

  • Robust reporting capabilities and interactive visualization options that demonstrate the true impact of giving efforts

SmartSimple complies with some of the industry’s most stringent standards and retains SOC 1 and SOC 2 certifications. It is also compliant with the standards for PCI DSS Level 3 and FIPS 140-2 encryption.

For more information about SmartSimple Corporate Giving, or to request a demonstration, visit www.smartsimple.com/corporate-giving.html.

About SmartSimple
SmartSimple Software Ltd. (“SmartSimple”) is a global leader in online Corporate Giving and Employee Engagement solutions. Its flexible software transforms how enterprises manage, track, and measure the full impact of their CSR programs. 

Pushing the limits on the most complex process challenges in corporate responsibility, SmartSimple delivers innovative, client centric solutions that strengthen their triple bottom-line. 

SmartSimple's technology supports 13 of the largest Fortune 500 brands, foundations, and government agencies globally. With offices in New York, Toronto, and Dublin, SmartSimple connects over 90,000 active monthly users in more than 192 countries. 

SmartSimple maintains compliance certifications for SOC 1, SOC 2 plus standards for PCI DSS Level 3 and FIPS 140-2 encryption. For more information, or to request a live demonstration, visit www.smartsimple.com

Sustainable Brands Allures Global Brand Leaders to Copenhagen Conference

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 9:37am

 Sustainable Brands® kicks off its pan-European conference SB’17 Copenhagen today at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark. Over 350 business executives from 25+ countries are convening today to continue the conversation on Redefining the Good Life, or how business can meet evolving consumer demands and continue to deliver value for their customers.

More than 100 influential brand leaders and practitioners of social and environmental innovation are sharing disruptive business strategies, tools and frameworks for understanding, quantifying or responding to shifts in consumer attitudes towards The Good Life.

Full program highlights include:

  • Long Run Works leads a deep dive studio sharing their unique storytelling methodology that leverages the ‘hero’s journey’ to share business successes.    

  • The Finnish Innovation Fund convenes a research roundtable to explore what The Good Life means to consumers, and how they imagine brands can help take them there.

  • The UN Global Compact Nordic Network, Chr. Hansen and PwC host the ‘Good Global Goals’ Innovation Lab to discuss best-practices for reporting progress on the UN Global Goals.

  • Radley Yeldar facilitates a breakout session on creating a new visual language for sustainability and explore how brands can depict sustainability and “The Good Life” in a way that resonates with their consumers.

  • Ørsted, previously known as DONG Energy, shares the latest big reveal from the energy company as they shift from a fossil fuel intensive business to a renewable energy giant.

  • Unilever and Oxfam discuss lessons learned through their groundbreaking partnership to tackle gender and inequality.

  • Ikea Switzerland and EDGE Certified Foundation outline how top brands can leverage the EDGE certification process to measure and advance gender equality in the workplace.

  • Everycs delivers the first ever ‘public’ demonstration of the largest data and tools platform for product sustainability.

  • Quantis presents on the engagement tools, communication strategies and metrics necessary to get clear buy-in on your sustainability initiatives.

  • Ecofys hosts a lunch presentation on achieving global sustainability goals by extending science-based targets along the entire value chain. 

Networking and collaboration activities continue in the Activation Hub at SB’17 Copenhagen where attendees are gathering to cultivate conversation around complex problems in the market sectors of mobility, packaging, homes, chemistry, energy, cities, food and supply chain. The Activation Hub pavilion activities at SB’17 Copenhagen include:

  • A Good Homes pavilion, hosted by SC Johnson, addresses the opportunities and challenges for leadership in product transparency.

  • A Good Energy pavilion, facilitated by Natalia Gorina of South Pole Group, explores the political and economic systems that work in tandem with energy production and the barriers as renewable energy goes mainstream.

  • A Good Packaging pavilion, facilitated by Jenny Andersson of The Earthkind Company, shares innovative designs and circular principles for reducing packaging materials.

  • A Good Food pavilion, facilitated by LEADx, discusses the shifting tides of global food systems and how to influence consumer preferences for more sustainably grown food.

In addition to the co-creative Activation Lab sessions, attendees are invited to a series of special conference events. Ørsted (formerly known as DONG Energy) brings attendees to the Ørsted Avedøre Power Station, a power plant that was recently converted to run entirely on sustainable biomass instead of coal. Carlsberg features a tour of their Copenhagen brewery as well as an evening reception for conference attendees and Max Burgers hosts a lunchtime tasting of its vegan burgers. 

Sustainable Brands is proud to recognize BASF, Ørsted (formerly known as DONG Energy), Ecofys, SC Johnson, Quantis, The Carlsberg Group, Chr. Hansen, PwC, the UN Global Compact Nordic Network and 599 Labs as Major Sponsors for SB’17 Copenhagen. Supporting sponsors include Nature Bank, South Pole Group, everycs and Trucost. Additional sponsors and partners include: Ecosphere+, Plastic Bank, Scouts, CSR.dk, brandchannel, D&AD, SustainAbility, treedom, dopper, Terracycle, FIBS, and Business in the Community, among others. 

For a complete list of sponsors and speakers as well as the conference schedule, please visit the conference website at www.SB17Copenhagen.com. Registration is still available and tickets can be purchase onsite at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel. 

About Sustainable Brands
Sustainable Brands® is the premier global community of brand innovators who are shaping the future of commerce worldwide. Since 2006, our mission has been to inspire, engage and equip today’s business and brand leaders to prosper for the near and long term by leading the way to a better future. Digitally published news articles and issues-focused conversation topics, internationally known conferences and regional events, a robust e-learning library and peer-to-peer membership groups all facilitate community learning and engagement throughout the year. Sustainable Brands is a division of Sustainable Life Media, headquartered in San Francisco, CA.


SC Johnson Leading Discussion on Transparency and Earning Consumer Trust

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 12:36am

As consumers continue to lose trust in business*, companies are being held to higher standards for disclosing the ingredients in their products. Building on its legacy and leadership in ingredient transparency, SC Johnson will come together with a panel of experts from Harvard University, GlobeScan, Marks and Spencer plc and Edie.net for an interactive discussion on the opportunities and challenges for transparency and how it affects consumer trust. The open dialogue will take place Tuesday, Oct. 31, in the Good Homes Innovation Lab at the 2017 Sustainable Brands conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“We believe that transparency is a critical way to earn consumer trust,” said Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President – Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability at SC Johnson. “Research, and our conversations with consumers and stakeholders around the world, show a clear and growing desire for companies to provide more information about what goes into their products and why. We go beyond what is required and make this information available because it’s the right thing to do.”

In line with insights being seen across other parts of the world, a recent survey** conducted by SC Johnson found that 85 percent of Nordic consumers believe that household cleaning product companies should disclose more about the ingredients in their products. The survey also revealed that 58 percent conduct their household cleaning product research while they are shopping, underscoring the need for companies to make the information easily accessible via mobile devices.

SC Johnson has undertaken several initiatives globally to provide more and more information on the ingredients in its products – from where and how they are used to allergens that may occur. The company’s transparency website, WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com, lists easy-to-access and easy-to-understand information for more than 5,300 SC Johnson products sold in 52 countries worldwide.

SC Johnson Transparency Journey

SC Johnson began its transparency journey by launching its WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com ingredient website in 2009. The website offers consumers unparalleled access to a comprehensive list of product ingredients for such iconic brands as Glade®, Pledge®, OFF!®, Raid®, Windex®, Mr Muscle®, Scrubbing Bubbles®, and Ziploc®.

In 2012, it added a comprehensive list of fragrance ingredients used in its products. The SC Johnson Exclusive Fragrance Palette excludes about 2,400 ingredients that don’t meet the company’s high standards even though they meet industry standards and are legal in commerce. 

In 2015, working closely with fragrance houses, SC Johnson added to its website product-specific fragrance disclosure. Consumers with questions can find on WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com the list of fragrances in individual SC Johnson products, across its categories. In 2016, the company expanded its disclosure program to Europe. In 2017, the program rolled out across Asia with Latin America to follow next year. 

In 2017, SC Johnson broke additional ground announcing its plans to disclose, on a product-specific basis, the presence of 368 skin allergens that may occur in its products. The list of these allergens has already been published on WhatsInsideSCJohnson.com, and by 2018, the site will list the allergens when contained in a product.

The recent survey** conducted by SC Johnson of more than 1,000 people across Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden found that 88 percent would like to know the list of allergens in their household cleaning products, information that SC Johnson is already providing. With this initiative, the company goes well above and beyond regulatory and industry standards, including those in the European Union, when it comes to allergen disclosure.

SC Johnson at Sustainable Brands Copenhagen

For those attending the Sustainable Brands conference in Copenhagen, SC Johnson and thought leaders, including a panel of experts, will come together in an interactive and engaging discussion on the opportunities and challenges for leadership in transparency. The session, which is part of the conference’s Good Homes Innovation Lab, will take place in the Norway Room at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel Tuesday, Oct. 31, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. During the session, SC Johnson will discuss results from their recent consumer survey.

About SC Johnson

SC Johnson is a family company dedicated to innovative, high-quality products, excellence in the workplace and a long-term commitment to the environment and the communities in which it operates. Based in the USA, the company is one of the world's leading manufacturers of household cleaning products and products for home storage, air care, pest control and shoe care, as well as professional products. It markets such well-known brands as GLADE®, KIWI®, OFF!®, PLEDGE®, RAID®, SCRUBBING BUBBLES®, SHOUT®, WINDEX® and ZIPLOC® in the U.S. and beyond, with brands marketed outside the U.S. including AUTAN®, TANA®, BAMA®, BAYGON®, BRISE®, KABIKILLER®, KLEAR®, MR MUSCLE® and RIDSECT®. The 131-year-old company, which generates $10 billion in sales, employs approximately 13,000 people globally and sells products in virtually every country around the world. www.scjohnson.com

About Sustainable Brands

Sustainable Brands® is the premier global community of brand innovators who are shaping the future of commerce worldwide. Since 2006, our mission has been to inspire, engage and equip today’s business and brand leaders to prosper for the near and long term by leading the way to a better future. Digitally published news articles and issues-focused conversation topics, internationally known conferences and regional events, a robust e-learning library and peer-to-peer membership groups all facilitate community learning and engagement throughout the year. Sustainable Brands is hosted by Sustainable Brands Worldwide, a division of Sustainable Life Media headquartered in San Francisco, CA.

*2017 Edelman Trust Barometer study:  https://www.edelman.com/news/2017-edelman-trust-barometer-reveals-global-implosion/

**SC Johnson commissioned Edelman Intelligence to conduct an online survey of adults across four Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. This survey was fielded between September 12-27, 2017. The margin of error for this study (n=1,002) is +/-3.1% at the 95% confidence level.

Covestro LLC Awards $150,000 Grant to Expand Food Bank’s Backpack Program

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 12:30pm

In an effort to combat childhood hunger in southwestern Pennsylvania and level the playing field so all students are ready and able to learn, Covestro LLC has donated $150,000 to Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to expand its Backpack Program throughout the region over the next three years. 

Click to tweet: .@CovestroGroup helps combat childhood hunger w/$150k grant to expand @PghFoodBank’s backpack program: http://bit.ly/2y5C207

The donation, part of Covestro’s i3 (ignite, imagine, innovate) corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative in the United States, affirms the company’s commitment to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and its efforts to implement those goals in the local communities where it operates. 

The Backpack Program supports the two key UN goals of “Zero Hunger” and “Quality Education” by addressing the issue of food insecurity – or the lack of consistent access to enough food – among the region’s children. The program supplements the weekday meals they receive at school with nutritious meals and snacks for the weekend.   

Roughly 71 percent of Pittsburgh Public Schools students qualify for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program. In the Southside Hilltop neighborhoods, 60 percent (three out of every five) qualify for free/reduced meals and among the Northside’s public charter and religious schools, the qualification rates are higher still at more than 86 percent.

The Covestro grant will support the Food Bank’s existing Backpack Program in these neighborhoods and enable it to grow from 75,000 backpack inserts – the equivalent of 450,000 meals – distributed in 2017 to 120,000 backpack inserts as more students enroll in the program. The grant also will support research that examines the impact of the Backpack Program on local students.  

“At Covestro, we are committed to helping create sustainable communities and promote quality education, with a focus on STEM. However, we also recognize that if students cannot pay attention because they are hungry, they cannot learn,” said Rebecca Lucore, head of CSR and Sustainability, Covestro LLC.  “With this donation, Covestro is giving Pittsburgh’s most vulnerable children the most basic tool they need to achieve academically and reach their fullest potential.”

Proper nutrition is critical to a child’s development. According to Share Our Strength’s Teachers Report 2013, Hunger in Our Schools, public school teachers and principals say hungry students can’t concentrate (88 percent); show poor academic performance (82 percent); lack energy (82 percent); and are at risk for disciplinary problems (67 percent).

“We are grateful to Covestro for this generous grant and for recognizing that food insecurity is especially devastating to our children and their futures,” said Lisa Scales, president and CEO, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. “Some children rely on school meals to fulfill their daily nutritional needs. What happens when they go home for the weekend? The Backpack Program ensures they have access to food seven days a week.”

In addition to school performance, childhood hunger also is tied to health issues like obesity, behavioral issues such as ADHD and emotional issues including depression. 

According to Lucore, this impacts the sustainability of the region. “When nearly three out of every four students enrolled in Pittsburgh Public Schools face hunger that threatens their ability to live a long and healthy life, it also threatens the future of our region. With this grant, Covestro is building on its relationship with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the important work they are doing to eliminate hunger and make Southwest Pennsylvania sustainable.”

The donation comes on the heels of another recent human capital contribution Covestro made to the Food Bank in the form of a skills-based volunteer project. That project involved a team of Covestro employees volunteering their time and talent to design a new, state-of-the-art inventory tracking system that increases efficiency and will help enable the Food Bank to meet its overall goal of providing 60 million meals throughout the 11-county region by 2025.

Zero Hunger, Quality Education and the 15 other global UN SDGs will be introduced locally at THINC30 on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Covestro will host the one-day summit for business leaders, organizations and individuals interested in using the SDGs as a guidepost to secure the Pittsburgh region’s own economic, social and environmental sustainability by 2030 and beyond.

About Covestro LLC:
Covestro LLC is one of the leading producers of high-performance polymers in North America and is part of the global Covestro business, which is among the world’s largest polymer companies with 2016 sales of EUR 11.9 billion. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, electrical and electronics, and medical industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employed approximately 15,600 people at the end of 2016.

Find more information at www.covestro.us 

About Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank:
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, a member of Feeding America, is a nonprofit organization founded in 1980 that distributes more than 31 million meals annually throughout a network of nearly 400 member agencies across 11 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. For more information on hunger in our region or how to get involved, visit www.pittsburghfoodbank.org.

Forward-Looking Statements
This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available at www.covestro.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

This press release is available for download from our website. Click here to view all our press releases.

Editor’s Note: Follow news from Covestro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CovestroGroup

Smithfield Foods and its Farmer John and Saag’s Brands Donate Nearly 90,000 Pounds of Protein to California Wildfire Relief Efforts

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 12:30pm

Smithfield Foods and its Farmer John and Saag’s brands have donated nearly 90,000 pounds of protein to the Redwood Empire Food Bank in California. The donation is part of Smithfield’s Helping Hungry Homes® initiative, a program committed to alleviating hunger and helping Americans become more food secure, and will help victims of the ongoing wildfires throughout Northern California.

“Throughout our region, many individuals are suffering from tremendous losses,” said Steve Armstrong, director of operations and logistics at the Redwood Empire Food Bank. “This generous donation allows us to better assist our neighbors and their families with support, nourishment and comfort during this devastating time.”

As Northern California continues to recover from and fight off dangerous wildfires, many individuals and families in the area are facing limited access to proper nutrition. This Helping Hungry Homes® donation will provide nearly 360,000 servings of protein to the Redwood Empire Food Bank and its partners and member agencies across the region.

“Essential needs are greatly amplified by a disaster of this measure,” said Dennis Pittman, senior director of hunger relief for Smithfield Foods. “We have members of the Smithfield family throughout California at facilities in Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Leandro. Our hearts are heavy for our friends and neighbors throughout the state impacted by this disaster. We hope this donation will provide much-needed nutrition to those affected while inspiring others to get involved in relief efforts.”

Donations to support the Redwood Empire Food Bank's ongoing hunger-relief work following the devastating fires in Sonoma County and the surrounding region of Northern California can be made online at refb.org. Checks can be mailed to the Redwood Empire Food Bank, 3990 Brickway Boulevard, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.

Individuals can also get involved by contributing to relief efforts from responding organizations such as The Salvation Army. Donations to support The Salvation Army’s wildfire relief efforts can be made online via the organization’s secure site HERE, by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) or by mail to The Salvation Army–Western Territory, PO Box 80066, Prescott, AZ 86304-8066. Please designate "Northern California Fires" on all checks. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations, with 100 percent of donation amounts used in support of wildfire relief efforts.

Helping Hungry Homes® fights hunger by donating food to disaster relief and community outreach programs, food banks and school nutrition programs across the country. Since 2011, Smithfield Foods has provided more than 80 million servings of protein to hunger-relief organizations coast-to-coast through this initiative. For more information about Helping Hungry Homes®, visit helpinghungryhomes.com.


About Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including SmithfieldⓇ, EckrichⓇ, Nathan's FamousⓇ, FarmlandⓇ, ArmourⓇ, John MorrellⓇ, Cook'sⓇ, KretschmarⓇ, GwaltneyⓇ, Curly'sⓇ, MargheritaⓇ, CarandoⓇ, Healthy OnesⓇ, KrakusⓇ, MorlinyⓇ and BerlinkiⓇ. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com.

About Redwood Empire Food Bank

The Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) is the largest hunger-relief organization serving north coastal California from Sonoma County to the Oregon border. Since 1987, the REFB has provided food and nourishment to those facing hunger, currently serving 82,000 children, families and seniors in Sonoma County, while striving to end hunger in our community. The REFB collaborates with local and regional partners to obtain and distribute 15.5 million pounds of food annually, the equivalent of more than 35,000 meals every day. Through more than 200 of our own direct service distributions and partnerships with 166 other hunger-relief organizations, we form a network of over 450 weekly and monthly distribution sites serving low-income residents in Sonoma, Lake, Del Norte, Mendocino and Humboldt counties. Visit www.refb.org or call 707-523-7900 to learn more.


Oil and Gas Industry Leaders Invest in Solidia Technologies’ Sustainable Cement and Concrete Innovations

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 9:30am

 Solidia Technologies® announced today that OGCI Climate Investments has made in an investment in the company to support the adoption of Solidia’s patented cement and concrete technology using CO2.

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) is a CEO-led initiative of ten oil and gas companies that collaborate on action to lead the industry response to climate change. OGCI Climate Investments, its billion dollar investment arm, supports the development, deployment and scale up of new technologies that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

“We believe that Solidia Technologies’ product and process can provide a step change in lowering the greenhouse gas and water footprint of the cement and concrete industry,” said OGCI Climate Investments CEO Dr. Pratima Rangarajan. “We are committed to helping them commercialise on a global scale to increase the adoption of their carbon recycling technology.”

Solidia’s technologies start with sustainable Solidia Cement™ and cure Solidia Concrete™ with CO2 instead of water, reducing carbon emissions up to 70 percent and recycling 60-80 percent of the water used in production. Targeting the estimated US$1 trillion concrete and US$300 billion cement markets, Solidia’s processes offer manufacturers significant cost savings compared to water-based curing of conventional cement based on faster curing times, lower energy and raw material consumption, reduced waste generation, and reduced labor requirements.

“Bringing a sustainable technology to market wouldn’t be possible without support from investors like OGCI Climate Investments,” said Solidia CEO and President Tom Schuler. “It’s admirable that so many big players in the oil and gas industry have come together to address climate change. Their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through funding ground-breaking solutions will increase our speed to commercialization and adoption.”

Based in Piscataway, N.J. (USA), Solidia’s investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Bright Capital, BASF, BP, LafargeHolcim, Total Energy Ventures, Bill Joy and other private investors. Honors include: 2017 ERA Grand Challenge (formerly CCEMC) Second Round Finalist; 2016 Sustainia 100; 2015 NJBiz Business of the Year; 2014 Global Cleantech 100; 2013 R&D Top 100; 2014 Best Place to Work in NJ; 2014 CCEMC Grand Challenge First Round finalist; 2013 Katerva Award finalist; and MIT’s Climate CoLab shortlist. Follow Solidia at www.solidiatech.com and on LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter: @SolidiaCO2.

# # #

 About Solidia Technologies®

Solidia Technologies® is a cement and concrete technology company that makes it easy and profitable to use CO2 to create superior and sustainable building materials. Solidia’s patented processes start with a sustainable cement, cure concrete with CO2 instead of water, reduce the carbon footprint of cement and concrete up to 70%, and recycle 60 to 80% of the water used in production. Using the same raw materials and existing equipment as traditional concretes, the resulting CO2-cured concrete products are higher performing, cost less to produce, and cure in less than 24 hours. Based in Piscataway, N.J. (USA), Solidia’s investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Bright Capital, BASF, BP, LafargeHolcim, Total Energy Ventures, Bill Joy and other private investors. Follow Solidia Technologies at www.solidiatech.com and on LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter: @SolidiaCO2.


About OGCI Climate Investments

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) is a CEO-led initiative which aims to show sector leadership in the response to climate change. OGCI is made up of ten oil and gas companies that collaborate on action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Combined, OGCI members produce over one-fifth of global oil and gas production and over 10% of energy supply. In November 2016, OGCI launched OGCI Climate Investments (OGCI CI). Now established as a company, OGCI CI will invest $1 billion dollars over ten years to support start-ups and help develop and demonstrate innovative technologies that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

To learn more about OGCI, please visit www.oilandgasclimateinitiative.com/.  

Coca-Cola HBC Recognised for Environmental Leadership on Climate and Water by the Carbon Disclosure Project

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 9:30am

As part of its annual A list which names the world’s businesses leading on environmental performance, the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), the non-profit global environmental disclosure platform has recognized Coca-Cola HBC as a global leader in corporate sustainability areas for climate and water.

Coca-Cola HBC is one of only 25 companies to score an A rating for both climate and water. This achievement is the result of the Company’s actions during the last reporting year to manage environmental risks, cut carbon emissions and enhance water stewardship. Specifically, on Climate Coca-Cola HBC contributed during the year to the global effort to limit the average temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius, by setting carbon emission reduction targets for its entire value chain.

The inclusion in CDP’s A list for water reflects Coca-Cola HBC’s consistent adherence to pursuing best practices in water stewardship. Coca-Cola HBC implements a publicly available water policy across its 28 countries, which ensures there is regular measurement of how much water is utilized, discharged and eventually consumed across its locations. This policy also includes supplier reporting on water use, risk mapping and management.

Marcel Martin, Group Supply Chain Director of Coca-Cola HBC AG, commented: “We are very proud to be one of the 25 companies in the world which lead the way toward a more sustainable economy. Sustainability goes to the very heart of our business; in all the countries we operate, our people are very passionate and committed to implementing new and better solutions for protecting the environment. “

The 2017 A List is comprised of 156 global companies, and has been produced at the request of 827 investors with assets of over US$100 trillion.

CDP’s Executive Chair Paul Dickinson said: “Congratulations to all the companies that made it onto the A List this year. It’s inspiring to see so many taking bold action to mitigate environmental risks and grasp the opportunities that come with the transition to a sustainable economy. These companies are driving the transition as we approach a tipping point on environmental action”.

The A-List and full company scores are available on CDP’s website: https://www.cdp.net/en/scores-2017   


Kelvin Igbodo  

email: kelvin.igbodo@cchellenic.com 

Group external communications manager,

Coca-Cola HBC NG


About Coca-Cola HBC

Coca-Cola HBC is a leading bottler of The Coca-Cola Company with an annual sales volume of more than 2 billion unit cases. It has a broad geographic footprint with operations in 28 countries serving a population of approximately 595 million people. Coca-Cola HBC offers a diverse range of primarily non-alcoholic ready to drink beverages in the sparkling, juice, water, sport, energy, tea and coffee categories. Coca-Cola HBC is committed to promoting sustainable development in order to create value for its business and for society. This includes providing products that meet the beverage needs of consumers, fostering an open and inclusive work environment, conducting its business in ways that protect and preserve the environment and contribute to the socio-economic development of the local communities.

Coca-Cola HBC is ranked food, beverage and tobacco industries’ leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability World and Europe Indices, and is also included in the FTSE4Good Index. Coca-Cola HBC has a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: CCH) and its shares are listed on the Athens Exchange (ATHEX: EEE). For more information, please visit


About CDP

CDP is an international non-profit that drives companies and governments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard water resources and protect forests. Voted number one climate research provider by investors and working with institutional investors with assets of US$100 trillion, we leverage investor and buyer power to motivate companies to disclose and manage their environmental impacts. Over 6,300 companies with some 55% of global market capitalization disclosed environmental data through CDP in 2017. This is in addition to the over 500 cities and 100 states and regions who disclosed, making CDP’s platform one of the richest sources of information globally on how companies and governments are driving environmental change. CDP, formerly Carbon Disclosure Project, is a founding member of the We Mean Business Coalition. Please visit www.cdp.net  or follow us @CDP to find out more. 

OppenheimerFunds Honored With 2017 Community Investment Award

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 6:30pm

The Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) is pleased to announce OppenheimerFunds as the 2017 recipient of the prestigious Community Investment Award. The award was presented at the MFEA’s 21st STAR Awards Celebration on October 25 at the J.W. Marriott Chicago.

This prestigious award is presented annually as part of the MFEA STAR Awards program to recognize a company’s leadership in philanthropic efforts through special programs, partnerships, in-kind goods and services and employee volunteer programs. The award recognizes OppenheimerFunds for their robust philanthropy and community efforts, including their 10,000 Kids by 2020 initiative, which aims to introduce and engage 10,000 students in math literacy programs through non-profit partnerships and active employee volunteerism. The firm works closely with organizations including the National Museum of Mathematics, the Boys & Girls Club, MATHSWORLDUK and Cross-Cultural Solutions, which provides impactful and sustainable service opportunities and skills based volunteer programs. In addition to its math literacy initiatives, the firm encourages employees to get involved in their communities through its matching donation and volunteer time-off programs.

“We are delighted to receive the MFEA Community Award for our math literacy efforts,” said Art Steinmetz, Chairman and CEO at OppenheimerFunds.  “Our employees actively volunteer in this space and are passionate about making an impact in their communities.”  

MFEA Director Kimber Lintz explains that this award serves to honor asset management companies that create programs designed to foster community betterment and support. “Mutual fund companies are strong corporate partners in their communities and OppenheimerFunds is a testament to the impact made in the communities where they live and work,” says Lintz.

The STAR Awards recognize excellence in marketing, communications and innovation in the asset management industry. Prior to the announcement of this year’s winner, asset management marketing leaders gathered for a day of discussion on industry trends and best practices at MFEA’s Marketing Council Summit, held at Morningstar’s Chicago headquarters.

For more details on OppenheimerFunds’ award-winning Community Investment program, visit www.theSTARawards.com.

About MFEA
The Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) is a national trade association dedicated to strengthening ways the investment management industry serves investors and advisors. Since 1971, the MFEA has been dedicated to informing and educating the investing public about how they can use mutual funds to achieve important lifetime goals. MFEA members are among the leaders in the industry, offering a variety of financial services to investors. This strong industry alliance is well recognized for its leadership in investor education. 

About OppenheimerFunds
OppenheimerFunds, Inc., a leader in global asset management, is dedicated to providing solutions for its partners and end investors. OppenheimerFunds, including its subsidiaries, manages more than $245 billion in assets for over 13 million shareholder accounts, including sub-accounts, as of September 29, 2017.

Founded in 1959, OppenheimerFunds is an asset manager with a history of providing innovative strategies to its investors. The firm’s 16 investment management teams specialize in equity, fixed income, alternative, multi-asset, and revenue-weighted-ETF strategies, including ESG. OppenheimerFunds and its subsidiaries offer a broad array of products and services to clients, who range from endowments and sovereigns to financial advisors and individual investors. OppenheimerFunds and certain of its subsidiaries provide advisory services to the Oppenheimer family of funds, and OFI Global Asset Management offers solutions to institutions. The firm is also active through its Philanthropy & Community initiative: 10,000 Kids by 2020, reaching children with introductions to math literacy programs.

Web:  oppenheimerfunds.com
Tweets:  twitter.com/OppFunds
Podcasts:  oppenheimerfunds.com/advisors/podcasts

National Grid’s Dean Seavers Joins National Commission to Slash Transportation Energy Use by Half

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 3:29pm

Dean Seavers, U.S. President of National Grid, will co-chair a national commission launched today by the Alliance to Save Energy that will develop recommendations to reduce energy use in the U.S. transportation sector by 50 percent by 2050 while meeting future mobility needs.

“As our region shifts its attention to efficiency in the transportation sector, we must be ready to support our customers and communities in that transition with services, infrastructure, and affordable solutions,” said Seavers. “I’m proud to be part of developing a path forward that works for the people we serve and moves the dial on the fight against climate change.”

The Alliance Commission on U.S. Transportation Sector Efficiency (Commission) is comprised of leaders representing vehicle manufacturers, utilities, federal agencies, cities, environmental and consumer groups, infrastructure providers and public transit. The Commission is convened by the Alliance to Save Energy, the leading national coalition advocating for enhancing energy productivity – doing more with less energy.

Transportation represents roughly one-third of U.S. energy consumption. The sector is undergoing a transformational change – ranging from the increased viability of alternative fuels such as electrification to advanced vehicle technologies, automation and shared mobility – offering enormous opportunities to improve energy efficiency. Improvements in efficiency will create jobs, improve energy security, boost competitiveness, save businesses and consumers money, and reduce emissions.

The Commission will work through six Technical Committees (Light-Duty Vehicles; Non-Road Vehicles; Heavy-Duty and Freight Vehicles; Enabling Infrastructure; Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Shared Mobility and Automation; and Outreach and Implementation) to develop the regulatory, policy and investment pathways to achieve the “50x50” goal. Following an outside peer-review process, the Commission will publish a final report, and engage local, state, and national officials, key stakeholder groups and the public to act on the recommendations.

Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy, said: “Transportation in the United States is changing rapidly and it presents an enormous opportunity to improve mobility while at the same time saving energy. We’re bringing together experts from across this sector because we need a comprehensive approach to maximize the energy efficiency gains. The response to our invitations has been overwhelming and we’re eager to see this group put their heads together.”

More information about the Commission, including the full list of commissioners, is available at: www.50x50transportation.org

About National Grid

National Grid (LSE: NG; NYSE: NGG) is an electricity and natural gas delivery company that connects over 20 million people to vital energy sources through its networks in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the Northeast. National Grid also operates the systems that deliver gas and electricity across Great Britain.

Through its U.S. Connect21 strategy, National Grid is transforming its electricity and natural gas networks to support the 21st century digital economy with smarter, cleaner, and more resilient energy solutions. Connect21 is vital to our communities' long-term economic and environmental health and aligns with regulatory initiatives in New York (REV: Reforming the Energy Vision) and Massachusetts (Grid Modernization).

For more information please visit our website: www.nationalgridus.com, or our Connecting website. You can also follow us on Twitter, watch us on You Tube, Friend us on Facebook and find our photos on Instagram.


CONTACT: Media Relations – 781-907-3980

Xylem Provides Expanded Support for Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 3:29pm

Xylem announced plans to expand its support for the ongoing recovery and rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria. The Company has pledged financial support, including matching employee contributions, as well as a new effort to bring clean water to several of the hardest hit areas of the island.

“It is deeply troubling to see communities remain in such dire straits several weeks after this hurricane,” said Patrick Decker, President and CEO of Xylem. “The ravaged infrastructure has significantly slowed progress in the recovery efforts. We remain committed to continuing to help these communities’ meet their immediate needs and provide expertise and guidance in their rebuilding efforts.”

Xylem, a leading global water technology company, has pledged a substantial contribution to Mercy Corps to deliver humanitarian assistance and start rebuilding the communities ravaged by the hurricane. In addition, the Company is working with Planet Water Foundation to fund the construction of 10 aqua towers in remote areas of Puerto Rico. Each aqua tower provides up to 10,000 liters of clean water on a daily basis. A number of Xylem employees will volunteer to help in the construction of those towers. The Company is supporting other local organizations in the relief efforts as well.

About Xylem

Xylem (XYL) is a leading global water technology company committed to developing innovative technology solutions to the world’s water challenges. The Company’s products and services move, treat, analyze, monitor and return water to the environment in public utility, industrial, residential and commercial building services settings. With its October 2016 acquisition of Sensus, Xylem added smart metering, network technologies and advanced data analytics for water, gas and electric utilities to its portfolio of solutions. The combined Company’s nearly 16,000 employees bring broad applications expertise with a strong focus on identifying comprehensive, sustainable solutions. Headquartered in Rye Brook, New York with 2016 revenue of $3.8 billion, Xylem does business in more than 150 countries through a number of market-leading product brands.

The name Xylem is derived from classical Greek and is the tissue that transports water in plants, highlighting the engineering efficiency of our water-centric business by linking it with the best water transportation of all – that which occurs in nature. For more information, please visit us at www.xylem.com.

Piraeus Bank Reduces Its Environmental Footprint in 2016

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 9:28am

In 2016, Piraeus Bank’s environmental footprint was reduced by 2%, versus 2015, in terms of tonnes of CO2 emissions per employee. Since 2008, electricity consumption per square meter has been reduced by 19% and the total CO2 emissions per employee has been reduced by 36%. In addition to the environmental benefits, minimizing the Bank’s footprint has also resulted in a significant reduction in operational costs. The net economic benefit from the implementation of environmental programmes is €5 mn per annum. 

Piraeus Bank is committed to reducing its environmental impact. In 2008 the Bank developed an award-winning Environmental Management System (EMS). The EMS provides an EU certified framework (EMAS) for recording, monitoring and reducing operational environmental impacts. The EMS is in operation across Piraeus Bank’s 700 branches and 60 administration buildings, with a total area of approx. 470,000 square metres. The scale of Piraeus Bank’s EMS makes it one of the largest corporate entities to implement such rigorous environmental standards in the EU.

In 2016, the development, structure and operation of Piraeus Bank’s EMS was awarded first place in the "Management" category of the European Business Awards for the Environment (EBAE). Piraeus Bank’s EMS received a distinction from EBAE as it was recognized as one of the top four organisations (out of 180 entrants) across the EU. 

In 2016, Piraeus Bank proceeded with the creation of the virtual ‘Energy Office’, which monitors in real time the energy and water consumption in approximately 300 branches. With the use of tailor-made software the branches’ energy performance and thermal comfort conditions are centrally controlled and improved. The programme is being expanded to include all branches by the end of 2018.

Mr. Vrasidas Zavras, General Manager for Green Banking commented, “Piraeus Bank’s policy has a clear orientation towards green business and sustainable development. This mandate together with the top management’s strong commitment to preserving the environment, is the driving force behind the development of programmes that reduce the Bank’s operational environmental footprint and the support provided to investments in technologies and practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

HACR Announces Line-Up for 3rd Annual Leadership Pipeline Program in Chicago

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 6:27pm

The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) is pleased to announce its line-up of featured speakers and business sessions for the 3rd Annual Leadership Pipeline Program (LPP) taking place October 27-29, 2017, at the JW Marriott in Chicago. The HACR LPP targets Hispanic mid-to-senior level managers and directors who aspire to rise up the corporate ladder at their respective companies. The program’s goal is to widen and expand the pipeline of future Hispanic executives in Corporate America. Prudential Financial will serve as this year’s host sponsor for the third consecutive year.

The following are among the many confirmed speakers for the 3rd Annual HACR LPP:

  • Ana Dutra, President & CEO of the Executive Club of Chicago

  • Martin Cabrera, President & CEO of Cabrera Capital Markets LLC

  • Dr. Juan Andrade, President & CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute

  • Amy Gallo, contributing editor at Harvard Business Review and author of “HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict”

  • Jesse Mejia, author of “¡Rise Up, Mi Gente! Standing Out and Moving Up”

Among the featured business sessions include:

  • Navigating the Corporate Structure to Make Things Happen

  • Be the Leader You Want to Work For

  • Conflict Analysis and Resolution Strategies

  • Leadership Insights from the C Suite

“This year’s HACR Leadership Pipeline Program promises to be an impactful and inspiring program for our participants as we advance Hispanic inclusion in Corporate America,” said Cid Wilson, President & CEO of HACR. “As we advocate on the importance of developing Hispanic talent in the workplace, we are also assuring that HACR is a key catalyst to help fuel the pipeline of future Hispanic executives. We want to thank Prudential Financial for serving as this year’s host sponsor as well as all of our major sponsors for their support of HACR LPP.”

To learn more about the HACR Leadership Pipeline Program, please visit http://www.hacr.org/.

About HACR

Founded in 1986, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) is one of the most influential advocacy organizations in the nation representing 14 national Hispanic organizations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Our mission is to advance the inclusion of Hispanics in Corporate America at a level commensurate with our economic contributions. To that end, HACR focuses on four areas of corporate social responsibility and market reciprocity: Employment, Procurement, Philanthropy, and Governance.

How to Make the Business Case for Pro Bono at Your Company

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 12:27pm

Those of us who have experienced pro bono service understand that it is a powerful way to drive social change. Pro bono can equip social good organizations with the expertise and support they need to serve more beneficiaries, become more efficient, and deliver on their missions more effectively.

Yet, many corporate employees looking to bring pro bono service to their company struggle to get buy-in from leadership and other key stakeholders. Although these stakeholders may understand the social value of pro bono, they don't always see the business value. And often, if an initiative doesn't contribute to the bottom line, it is not seen as a worthwhile investment.

That’s why Taproot has developed a new resource for the field that outlines six common business objectives that pro bono can help support. In addition to the social impact that pro bono can help drive, companies have a lot to gain from engaging their employees in pro bono initiatives.

This Pro Bono Week, we're excited to launch Taproot's latest resources - our Business Value Flashcards. Check out this resource to learn how you can articulate the business case for pro bono like a champ. The flashcards include examples from leading companies that have effectively aligned their pro bono service strategies with the broader goals of the company. They also include some stats and quotes that are sure to convince the nay-sayers. Study up so you can make the case at your company!

About the Taproot Foundation
Taproot Foundation, a U.S. based nonprofit, connects nonprofits and social change organizations with passionate, skilled volunteers who share their expertise pro bono. Taproot is creating a world where organizations dedicated to social change have full access—through pro bono service—to the marketing, strategy, HR, and IT resources they need to be most effective. Since 2001, Taproot’s skilled volunteers have served 4,600 social change organizations providing 1.5 million hours of work worth over $160 million in value. Taproot is a national organization with offices in New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Chicago and is leading a network of global pro bono providers in over 30 countries around the world. 
www.taprootfoundation.org @taprootfound

Raffa Leads the Industry on Empowering Women Leaders

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 3:25pm

Raffa, P.C. named #1 on Top 100 INSIDE Public Accounting 2017 list for firms with the highest percentage of females in the partnerships ranks and Raffa’s top female leader wins multiple awards for doing more.  Kathy Raffa, president and audit partner at Raffa, P.C.,  sweeps a triple crown in 2017 and is recognized by the Washington Business JournalJewish Women International and Greater Washington Society of CPAs (GWSCPA) in partnership with the AICPA for her leadership of the largest women-owned CPA firm, her contributions to the profession and to the community.   

Women may be represented in large numbers in the lower and middle ranks, but according to a 2015 CPA Firm Gender Survey,  commissioned by the Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee (WIEC) to gain more insights into the status and situation of women in CPA firms, numbers decline at top leadership levels.

At Raffa, women make up more than 71.4 percent of both the workforce and partners, and it’s not just women who are leaders at Raffa. More than 72 percent of partners, managers and employees are people of color, LGBT, or non-US born. 

“Of the top 100 accounting firms in the U.S., we are the only firm with such a high percentage of female partners,” (the next closest is 45.5%) said Kathy Raffa. “Throughout the firm, women have leaders, mentors and people who support them, and as a result, our retention of women and the opportunities presented to them are terrific.”

“I feel very fortunate to have Kathy as my mentor, she is someone who genuinely cares about me. Kathy has been such an integral part of my career as a great role model who is always very encouraging. Kathy’s determination, integrity and grace are just a few of her qualities that continue to inspire me. With her example and kind words, I always feel that I can conquer any problem at home or at work,” said Gery Ivanova, one of Raffa’s newer partners who started her career with the firm right out of college.

Per the IPA recognition, “The honor is an important one, as the profession has long struggled with increasing the number of women in its ranks of partners. # 2 on the IPA Top 100 list has 45.5% women partners and in the largest firms, on average, one in six owners are women, a statistic that is not significantly different than a decade ago, according to IPA benchmarking data.”

As the mother of three grown children, Kathy Raffa brings her own experience integrating a rewarding career with a meaningful family life. The firm offers work arrangements that fit each individual’s personal needs including part-time and telecommuting options. 

“A lot of accounting and consulting firms struggle with women rising to leadership positions. Women leave when they are starting families and struggling with workplaces that don’t strive to integrate work with life, family and community,” said Kathy Raffa, who spent the early years in her career at one of the “big four” firms. “Younger women see that women are leaders in our firm and they can see the opportunity and the potential for their own careers.”

“As a women-owned, women-majority firm, we are proud to support multiple clients who are helping women advance industries, improve health and welfare, empower themselves and each other, and better the world,” said Kathy Raffa. “They inspire all of us to do more and we empower them to do more.” “As for our employees, all of our employees, no matter their gender or background, if something is important to them, and it is their purpose, like being with their children or serving their church, it is important to us as the leaders of this firm that they fulfill that purpose.”

"Vital Voices commends our friends and partners at Raffa for this well deserved recognition. The leaders at Raffa are using their wealth of knowledge and experience for good. Together we've developed the Vital Voices Raffa Executive Mentoring Program which provides the most exceptional women leaders we work with around the world with a year-long, intensive virtual mentoring experience lead by Raffa Executives.  The program provides social entrepreneurs and advocates with the financial management and strategic business skills and networks they need to tackle their personal leadership and organizational challenges," said longtime Raffa client Alyse Nelson, CEO of Vital Voices.

Learn more about the Washington Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Awards,  the Jewish Women International Women to Watch Awards and the 3rd Annual GWSCPA Women to Watch Awards

About Raffa
Learn how Raffa does more for women in this video

As a B-Corp certified, majority women-owned, national Top 100 professional services advisory firm to nonprofits and socially-responsible businesses Raffa provides a wide array of services and back-office solutions to support and strengthen every aspect of their  clients’ operations from tax, audit, accounting and HR administration, to IT services, benefits, and wealth management. With a mission to serve as a catalyst for positive systemic change, Raffa is about the people they serve, the relationships they nurture, the individual and collective contributions of their staff, and the myriad of actions they take for the betterment of the community.

Health Product Declaration® (HPD) Collaborative Announces Third-Party Verification Program

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 3:25pm

The Health Product Declaration® (HPD) Collaborative today announced the approval of its Third-Party Verification Program. This program provides a means for manufacturers to obtain an authoritative third-party verification of Health Product Declarations® (HPDs) that they have created for their products. The goal of the program is to provide an optional, extra level of assurance to manufacturers and users of HPDs that the information reported is accurate, reliable and consistent, across products and product categories.

The program has been developed over the past eighteen months, and recently completed a successful Pilot implementation. With official approval achieved, HPDC staff and verifiers now begin program implementation. It is expected that the initial group of approved verifiers will be announced within the next month, and that each of those verifiers will begin offering their services to manufacturers shortly thereafter.

“HPD users and manufacturers have been requesting a third-party verification program for HPDs from the outset of the Standard,” said John Geyer, HPDC Program Director. “We deliberately have waited for the Standard to mature and a critical mass of HPDs to be created (over 3,100 now published) so that we can ensure that the verification program has a strong and stable foundation of practice behind it. We have high interest from the verification companies, and expect to have five or more approved providers before the end of 2017.”

Leading the development and approval process has been the Technical Committee of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative (HPDC). HPDC is a not-for-profit, member-organization, representing almost 200 building industry companies. It is responsible for the evolution of the HPD Open Standard, a building industry standard for reporting product contents and associated health information. Within the Technical Committee structure, the Third-Party Verification Technical Sub-Group, composed of a cross-section of the HPDC members and third-party verification firms, has worked with HPDC Staff to develop the program, using industry best-practices for rigor and quality. 

“We participated as a manufacturer in the Pilot process. We appreciate the rigor this adds to the process, and are moving ahead with additional verifications,” commented Lisa Britton, Director of Sales & Marketing/Sustainability Champion for Industrial Louvers, and vice-chair of the HPDC Technical Committee.

Harmonization is a key element of the HPD Open Standard initiative, enabling data reported with the Standard to be directly used with other standards and certifications. HPDC and International Living Future Institute (ILFI) announced in September a collaboration to enable electronic data upload from HPDs to the ILFI Declare program. This program will now include Third-Party Verification data. “By accepting the approved verification of HPDs for Declare, we can reduce the time, effort and cost for manufacturers to verify their Declare labels,” stated James Connelly, ILFI Vice-President.

“SCS Global Services is committed to the HPD third party verification program to ensure the highest level of chemical transparency and disclosure. We are pleased to support the HPDC on their movement towards material transparency, as well as collaborate with other verifiers and consulting groups to ensure consistency of HPD preparation and verification.” Nicole Munoz, Managing Director – Environmental Certification Services, SCS Global Services.

The program provides for a rigorous application and annual review process for third party verifiers to become approved providers. The verification protocol is also specified, and will be overseen by the HPDC Technical Committee and HPDC staff to ensure its compliance with the HPD Open Standard and Program guidelines. Manufacturers will select from approved verifiers to provide the verification services that meet their needs. When an HPD has achieved “Verified” status, this information will be available to users on the Summary page of the HPD report.

“Third-Party Verification provides a level of quality assurance that is reassuring to design professionals, and particularly important when an HPD contains undisclosed materials,” said Carina Clark, an associate with design firm, HKS, and member of the Technical Sub-Group. “As a designer, I am now confident in selecting products and materials that have been thoroughly vetted by knowledgeable, unbiased verifiers.”

“Our firm has been working with the HPD Open Standard from the very early days. The Standard has progressed now to the point where we have been able to develop a verification methodology that I believe matches—or exceeds—best practices for other comparable standards,” said Ed Pavia, Chair of the Third-Party Verification Technical Sub-Group and Environmental Engineer with ToxServices LLC.

For more information on the HPD Third-Party Verification Program, visit the HPDC website, or contact John Geyer, Program Director, at support@hpd-collaborative.org.

About the Health Product Declaration® Collaborative

The Health Product Declaration Collaborative is a not-for-profit, customer-led, member organization committed to the continuous improvement of the building industry's environmental and health performance through transparency and innovation. The HPD Collaborative created, supports and advances the HPD Open Standard, a format that enables accurate, reliable and consistent reporting of building product content and associated health information, through a consensus-based, stakeholder process. The HPD Open Standard is freely available to all at www.hpd-collaborative.org.

UN Migration Agency and Responsible Business Alliance Sign Agreement to Combat Forced Labor and Exploitation

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:24pm

IOM, the UN Migration Agency and the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), formerly the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on October 17 to boost cooperation, promote ethical recruitment and protect the rights of migrant workers.

According to the latest global estimates on modern slavery, approximately 25 million people worldwide are working in situations of forced labor. Unethical recruitment is a root cause of forced labor, as many migrant workers are subject to high recruitment fees, personal debt, complicated recruitment practices, a lack of transparency about their eventual working conditions, and inadequate legal protections in the countries in which they work.

This MoU provides a formal framework for IOM and RBA to pursue shared goals and objectives through exchange of information, subject matter expertise and connecting global networks. This includes coordinating the objectives and technical aspects of the RBA’s Responsible Labor Initiative (RLI) and the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), which is being developed by IOM and a consortium of partners, as well as IOM and RBA training and other capacity-building initiatives and special projects.

IOM’s IRIS is a voluntary multi-stakeholder certification system for international recruitment intermediaries. It is comprised of an international standard, certification scheme and a compliance and monitoring mechanism. RBA’s RLI is a multi-industry, multi-stakeholder initiative that brings together members, suppliers, recruitment partners and stakeholders to use their collective influence and application of due diligence to drive the transformation of recruitment markets and reduce the risk of forced labor in global supply chains.

“The exploitation of migrant workers often begins at the recruitment stage when workers are charged predatory recruitment fees or provided with misleading information about the job on offer,” said Marina Manke, IOM Head of the Labour Mobility and Human Development Division. “It is imperative that governments, civil society and the private sector work together to stop this exploitation and to change the current international recruitment model. We are therefore pleased to be working with the RBA on this important issue,” added Manke.

“The IOM and RBA complement each other’s strengths and capabilities related to ethical recruitment and together we can be more effective at promoting the rights of workers vulnerable to forced labor in global supply chains,” said Rob Lederer, Executive Director of the Responsible Business Alliance. “The combination of IOM’s IRIS and the RLI’s Labor Agency Maturity Model with stepped levels of compliance toward certification is a robust tool in the fight against forced labor.”

For more information, please contact Jorge Galindo, IOM HQ, Tel: +41 22 717 9111, Email: jgalindo@iom.int and Jarrett Bens, Responsible Business Alliance, Tel: +1 571 858 5721, Email: jbens@responsiblebusiness.org

Soil Health Institute, lum.ai and Tri-Societies Partner to Accelerate Soil Health Research

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:24pm

The Soil Health Institute, The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America and lum.ai are partnering on a project that uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to accelerate the retrieval and use of soil health research.

Lum.ai developed an NLP tool that takes unstructured text and turns it into structured data.

“We originally developed this natural language processing application for researchers at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help identify causal pathways in cancer research and children’s health,” said Mihai Surdeanu, co-founder of lum.ai. “It achieves levels of interpretation and precision that are statistically similar to humans, but unlike humans who can become fatigued and bored, the computer’s process is sustainable for an unlimited number of papers,” added Surdeanu.

NLP pushes information derived from published papers to the researcher in a format that is easier to understand than traditional meta-analyses of scientific literature. Human researchers then interpret the automated findings – a subset of the entire body of literature that was automatically searched – to determine the value of the information. Surdeanu’s tool read more than 1 million papers from Pub Med in one year and has the capacity to read one scientific paper in 10 seconds.

Steven Shafer, Chief Scientific Officer at the Soil Health Institute, said, “We imagine it like an ‘earthworm’ because it will ‘crawl’ through the soil science and related literature and determine which papers are relevant to soil health based on our current model, the Soil Health Research Landscape Tool. We will use the NLP application to determine how new literature fits into the Research Landscape Tool’s conceptual model of soil health and its management.”

Given the pace of discovery and evolving needs in scientific domains, rapid access to published research in an increasing number of publications continues to be a critical and growing challenge. “Using the Soil Health Research Landscape Tool, the Soil Health Institute aspires to be the kind of go-to source of indexed soil health publications in the same way that Google Scholar indexes computer science publications and PubMed indexes biomedical journals,” Shafer said. “This NLP application is intended to help us achieve our goal.” 

A common challenge for NLP is gaining access to a large body of literature to “train” and test the NLP application.

To overcome this challenge, The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America partnered with SHI and lum.ai to provide digital access to their journals for this purpose and learn from the collaboration. “We see great value in NLP to advance the science of soil health and other important environmental and agricultural topics,” said Ellen Bergfeld, CEO of the Tri-Societies. “We’re excited to be a partner in this effort to both learn from the process and outcomes, and open new doors of scientific inquiry for our members across all our disciplines.”

“We view Natural Language Processing as a way to accelerate the research goals and priorities in the Institute’s Enriching Soil, Enhancing Life: An Action Plan for Soil Health, released in May of 2017,” said Wayne Honeycutt, President & CEO of the Soil Health Institute.  “We are delighted with this collaboration and are eager to see the outcome.”

“At the Soil Health Institute, we’re excited about the potential in NLP to accelerate our understanding of where current soil health research is headed, and identify connections between processes and outcomes not obvious to a human reader,” added Shafer. “These connections may be the foundation for new process models and research priorities in soil health.”

For further information, visit www.soilhealthinstitute.org.

About the Soil Health Institute
The Soil Health Institute's (www.soilhealthinstitute.org) mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. An evolution of the Soil Renaissance, an initiative established in 2013 by the Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation to advance soil health and make it the cornerstone of land use management decisions, the Soil Health Institute serves as the primary resource for soil health information.

About lum.ai
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GAPFRAME Exposes the Critical Issues Facing Swiss Sustainability

Tue, 10/24/2017 - 12:24pm

On October 23rd, 2017, the GAPFRAME (gapframe.org) was among the topics presented to Dialogue 2030, the Swiss platform for implementing Agenda 2030 on the Sustainable Development Goals. Players from the Swiss government, politics, civil society, business and research had the opportunity to see the GAPFRAME reveal the burning issues Switzerland must focus on.

During her keynote speech addressing approaches for the implementation of Agenda 2030, Dr. Katrin Muff demonstrated how the GAPFRAME translated the SDGs into relevant challenges and opportunities for the Swiss nation. For a country, which appears to be doing well in many areas of sustainability, this demonstration was particularly relevant. Equal opportunity, sustainable consumption, biodiversity clean energy, carbon quotient are the key challenges facing Switzerland. A deep dive to the underlying indicators exposed exactly where the Swiss efforts need to be concentrated in order to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.

In her co-authored publication for The International Journal of Management Education (July 2017), Dr. Muff highlights Switzerland’s GAPFRAME results as an example of how the strong sustainability approach ensures countries like Switzerland, which are doing well in quite a few areas, cannot sacrifice one sustainable dimension for the sake of another. An example of its abysmal results in the issue of Equal Opportunity shows how the GAPFRAME indicators point out the critical areas: challenges with the number of women on boards, female representation in parliament, gender pay gap and income distribution are serious issues. ‘This is precisely the purpose of the Gap Frame: to highlight the biggest gap for a country to focus on. We anticipate that measuring the gap can motivate a country to quantum leap from where it is to where it needs to be.’

Speaking after the conference Dr. Muff said, ‘it has been a great honor to bring the GAPFRAME to the table at such an influential forum. This is exactly what we hoped for when we started the journey of building the GAPFRAME. Today’s debate focused on identifying the major challenges and opportunities for Switzerland in its efforts to achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda at both national and international level and the GAPFRAME provided a clear view of the priority issues facing the nation.’

About the GAPFRAME
The GAPFRAME is an easy-to-use data visualization tool designed to give practical support to everyone working towards a sustainable and safe future.

It is the culmination of 18 months’ work by a group of Sustainability Thought Leaders, driven by the desire to make it easier to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. The GAPFRAME translates the 17 Global Goals into relevant and measurable issues for each nation and presents them in a visual multi-dimensional world map.

Notes to Editors

  1. All data in the GAPFRAME comes from trustworthy and publicly available sources.

  2. A comprehensive explanation of our methodology is available here.

  3. The online tool, GAPFRAME.org, offers the ability to view the data in multiple ways; by country, by region, by dimensions, and by issue.

More about the GAPFRAME

Media Enquiries 
For more information or to arrange an interview or demo of the GAPFRAME online tool, please contact:

Belinda Sadouk:  +41 21 619 06 66 or via email: belinda.sadouk@bsl-lausanne.ch