How to Succeed in Making the Business Case for Sustainability

When it comes to sustainability, the business case is workable from all angles. Not only is it far more cost effective to invest in sustainable practices, but it keeps workers happy. On November 7th, the UW Green Greeks learned from two women, Annie Thomas and Katie Secrist, who work as consultants at Sustainable Business Consulting, located in Seattle. Essentially, what they do is help different companies integrate sustainability into their business model. They do so by assessing sustainability efforts across all departments and listening to what the business is struggling with and offering assistance where they can.


So, what does the next generation of business look like? Regarding Generation Y and millennials, 88% of grad students and young professionals factor an employer’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) score into where they want to work. 88% would consider leaving their job if their company’s CSR performance no longer held up. Therefore, people want to support sustainable business and are not interested in supporting companies that are lacking in this area.


There are several universal barriers that need to be overcome for business to make the switch. People are frequently overworked and do not have the time to implement any changes. Sometimes people don’t feel empowered and experience a sense of apathy and loss of enthusiasm. So, what is the solution?



Several big-name companies have implemented changes that have greatly improved the quality of their business. For example, UPS stopped taking left turns on delivery routes and saved $50 million. Washington State Convention and Trade Center installed more than 6,000 energy efficient lighting fixtures, which saved them more than $120,000. The simple things make a huge difference.


The argument here is that it’ll always be worth it to make a change. People will be happier coming to work and the company will save a considerable amount of money.


Thank you, Katie and Annie, for your wisdom and expertise in this field. It’s inspiring to know that there are strong players making the business case for sustainability in our community every day!


sbc-picTo learn more about Sustainable Business Consulting and the work that Katie and Annie do, click HERE!

Speaker Highlight: JR Fulton and a History of UW Sustainability

At our most recent meeting, the Green Greeks got to listen to an experienced speaker, JR Fulton, about his role in keeping the UW campus sustainable. He has been passionate about sustainable buildings as soon as he found out that without proper information and execution, buildings can be incredibly detrimental to the environment. He has worked with Housing and Food services for quite some time as an architect and previously spent time living in an Eco Village in Scotland. Thanks to JR’s presentation, we were able to learn a lot from him about sustainability from an operational perspective.


To construct a sustainable building, it’s vital to understand the concept of resiliency. The building need to be able to respond to the climate and be future-proofed to be able to anticipate change that could challenge the design of said building. Sustainable buildings also need to have a high-performance ranking; they must be energy efficient, healthy, comfortable, cost effective to operate, and durable.


There is a sustainable building standard called LEED, which stands for Leadership Energy and Environmental Design. It is run by the US Green Standards Board. The University of Washington has 36 LEED accredited buildings on campus, which is something to be proud of! Mercer Court even has a rainwater system used for laundry; domestic water is not used at all when the system is working properly. There is always room for improvement, and our campus si already off to an amazing start.


So, how does one keep a building both accessible and efficient? Effective engineering. For example, it’s not necessary to strictly limit hot water use, as long as the water heaters are efficient. It is the little details like this that increase the longevity of these buildings and inspire further innovation.


The trick, as JR explains, is to use every sustainable resource available.


These techniques are being implemented on campus, as we speak, in the North Campus housing construction


As far as the future goes, Fulton believes society will move towards eco districts, which entails an entire neighborhood that is hooked together energy-wise. The UW campus is an ideal place for this sort of system.


Thank you JR Fulton, we are so thankful to have you working towards a better future here on campus.


This Week: A visit from CEO of Sustainable Business Consulting Kevin Wilhelm

At our next meeting on November 15th, 2016, the Green Greek Representative Program has the privilege of hosting “one of the world’s pre-eminent business consultants and teachers in the field of sustainability,” Kevin Wilhelm. He will be coming to talk with us about how we as a community can go chase after our dream careers with sustainability in mind. Kevin Wilhelm has been very successful in writing multiple guide books on how to make different areas and aspects of your life more sustainable now and in the future. What’s more, Wilhelm will be giving us insight into his newest book Sustainability Jobs. This book has given people the necessary tools in how to go after their dream job in sustainability.

One of his key concepts is that as a community we need to make sustainability “stick,” a major concern especially within our Greek community. It’s important that we look at these changes not as a temporary solution, but as the beginning of a new lifestyle for our community. Wilhelm is coming to share these ideas and give us some major tips and hints as ways we can continue to make these positive sustainable changes in the Greek community.

Kevin Wilhelm has spoken to hundreds of audiences, many of which share a desire to make their communities more sustainable. We are beyond lucky to host Mr. Kevin Wilhelm and hear just a few ways in which we can enrich the sustainability within the Greek community.