Companies With Purpose: A Look At Three Making A Difference

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Solar Power Systems and Suitability

Belinda Sharr

At GreenBiz on Feb. 23-25, CR Magazine sat down with Nautilus Solar Energy’s CEO Jim Rice to talk about solar energy and its impact on the environment.

Nautilus Solar Energy, which is headquartered in Summit, N.J., was founded in 2006. It is a full-service solutions provider for business-sector and public-sector customers across North America. Nautilus attributes their solar success to their efforts developing, funding, executing and managing the physical and financial aspects of distributed generation solar electric projects.

The company delivers full-service financial and technical capability by customizing cost-saving solar solutions to help customers meet their sustainability goals. Nautilus has been involved in more than 100 MW of solar solutions in the United States and Canada.

To Nautilus Solar, sustainability means “creat[ing] a clean, energy independent future by providing widespread access to electricity generated from solar power,” according to Rice.

Solar power has the ability to compete with the energy grid supply today. Solar is a fixed cost, whereas other forms of energy supplies can fluctuate. “It’s available to a broader market now,” Rice says. However, many companies do not use this form of energy yet, for multiple reasons.

“More companies aren’t using solar energy because either they do not have the space for solar systems on their property or the solar technology is not yet economic for them. This can result from regulatory impediments in the company’s area or from inadequate financing options,” Rice says.

Those that do use solar power will note that it is both measurable and deployable, and the savings are meaningful to the bottom line.

“Production and PPA rate costs can be tightly measured with the strong analytical tools available to solar developers. We are able to source accurate data on utility rate schedules, electricity escalation, and technology prices in each customer’s region, providing them with the most up-to-date look at system costs and electricity savings,” Rice says. “Our proposals to a CFO provide clear and effective visualizations showing price comparisons between a company’s current electricity expenses and what they would be able to save by investing in solar. The standard methods and processes that have matured in the industry are generally reliable; a developer only sees positive returns on its project when the CFO is saving on his or her electricity bill.”

Other benefits of solar energy include the ability for consumers to better understand their energy usage and control their production and expenses.

“Solar owners are able to produce electricity during the times of day when purchasing from the grid has historically been most expensive. Generating electricity at the location where it will be used mitigates inefficiencies and costs associated with existing stress on the grid. Finally, supporting the solar industry in your area helps build a network of local jobs,” Rice says.

The Future of Ridesharing

‘Ride’ is a ridesharing service that helps people manage their daily commute by assisting them in connecting, communicating, planning a route, managing transactions, and more. CEO Ann Fandozzi spoke with CR Magazine at GreenBiz to discuss her presentation, ‘The Daily Grind: How the Shared Economy Drives Sustainability Innovation,’ as well as Ride’s goals for the future of ridesharing.

Ride’s app for carpooling handles all of the details: creating and managing carpools, tracking live routes and easily exchanging money between passengers and the driver, the company says. It uses proprietary technology in its app to set people up with the service. Ride also works with companies to provide this service to their employees. The act of carpooling is beneficial to the environment, and convenient for passengers.

The company makes it easier to create a carpool because it creates more certainty. “There are three key pieces of information anyone needs to set up a carpool: people’s origins, destinations and general time of request to ride,” Fandozzi says. “Most ridesharing companies’ strategy is to figure all of that out in real time—meaning they’re asking users to connect based on starting and ending point and timing as a live experience. With this approach, there are so many variables that have to fit into place at the right time to make ridesharing work,” she says, which can make the process complicated.

“For Ride, we believe the path to success is to remove as many ‘unknowns’ as possible in creating and activating carpools,” she continues. “That’s why we optimize the process with an activation strategy—for example, commuter events where we can determine a carpooler’s destination and ideal drive time. From there, the last piece of the equation we need to do the math is only their origin. We think this approach will have the best success at creating sustainable carpools.”

Sustainability means a lot to Ride

“At Ride, we believe true sustainability will only happen when it’s a part of our daily routine,” Fandozzi says. “A major part of that routine is our daily commute, which pumps 276 million tons of C02 equivalent emissions into the atmosphere every year—a number so massive it would take over 200,000 Central Parks to offset the impact. While some see the daily commute as a massive problem, we see it as one of our greatest opportunities for behavior change and positive environmental impact…So for people who care about sustainability, the commute is a heavy hitter, and Ride provides a solution— an immediate, actionable strategy for accelerating transportation innovation.”

Ride’s goals for the future include making the ridesharing habit mainstream. The company notes how ridesharing can provide opportunities for greater time and money saving and even health benefits like reduced stress and mood improvements.

“As technology continues to handle the annoying parts of ridesharing like coordination and logistics, you’re going to see carpooling become a more widespread habit in people’s daily lives,” Fandozzi says. “Beyond commuting, think about parents who shuttle their kids and their friends to school and sports countless times every week. An app like this is invaluable [to them].”

Sustainable Forest Management Efforts

Domtar President of Pulp and Paper Michael Garcia recently spoke with CR Magazine at Green Biz after his session on ‘A Collaborative Approach to Sustainable Forestry Management.’ In his session, Garcia discussed how sustainable forestry management has been prioritized in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a critical component of climate change mitigation, along with a panel of three other experts.

Domtar designs, manufactures, markets and distributes a variety of fiber-based products including communication papers, specialty and packaging papers, and absorbent hygiene products. “For our pulp and paper business, our priority focus is where our fiber comes from,” Garcia says. “Our Sustainable Forestry Principles, which are based on the highest standards and are an important part of our EarthChoice platform, require transparency, collaboration, and accountability in the wood fiber procurement of our business.”

The company notes the increase in deforestation in recent years, and it is working to prevent the practice, which is described as the ‘removal of trees where the land is afterward is converted to a non-forest use.’ Garcia describes how Domtar works with landowners in the southeastern

U.S. states to prevent deforestation:

“We work to provide more appealing incentives and opportunities to landowners who might otherwise sell their land to competing industries that don’t have the same commitment to sustainability as we do,” he says. “That way, their forestland can remain in their families for generations to come instead of becoming a parking lot.”

Domtar’s efforts have been successful thus far.

“Our landowner empowerment efforts in the Southeast U.S. alone have resulted in the conversion of more than a half a million acres of now-FSC-certified forestland,” Garcia says.

A challenge in sustainable forest management is working with certifying bodies. Achieving third-party certification is the best way to ensure that forests are managed in a responsible, sustainable, and transparent manner through certification by internationally-recognized, third-party organizations, Garcia explains.

“We have found this to be challenging because the certification process can seem costly and time-intensive to small landowners. That’s why we’re working to with landowners now, through grassroots programs like the Rainforest Alliance Southern Woodlands Alliance, to make certification more accessible for landowners [and] in turn have a greater source of certified, sustainable wood product and forests can remain forests,” he says.

What’s next in sustainable forest management efforts? Garcia explains: “We believe that it’s not enough for companies to promise to do no harm in the future [without] being held accountable for damage inflicted today or in the past. As we commit to in our Sustainable Forestry Principles, we hope to see more companies focus on, of course, reducing their environmental footprint—but also committing to leaving the forests we depend on and the communities we are a part of better for the long term,” he says.

“Our industry must also continue to expand our view of sustainability beyond just assessing the environmental impacts of our products and operations to also consider our social and economic impacts in the communities in which we operate,” Garcia says.

Posted May 2, 2016 in Sustainability