CE3 Brownbag, Friday, Sept. 23 @ 12pm: MSES Environmental Student Panel

Join us this Friday, September 23 from 12 – 1 p.m. in Bldg. 22 on The Ridges, Room 221, for the first CE3 Brownbag Lunch this semester as a panel of Master of Science in Environmental Studies students highlight their great environmental research and service projects at the Voinovich School.

The Consortium for Energy, Economics & the Environment (CE3) and the Environmental Studies program hosts a CE3 Brownbag Lunch Series each semester. These Friday forums include an informal lunch presentation and Q&A related to environmental topics of interest. The events are open to all Voinovich School students, as well as OHIO faculty, staff and students and the community.

Free pizza will be available, but feel free to bring your own lunch. This is a green event so bring your own water bottle and make efforts to reduce your food waste.

Not sure how to get up to The Ridges? Check out the Red Line CATS Shuttle, the Athens Public Transit routes, walk or ride your bike.

For additional information, contact Elissa Welch, welche@ohio.edu.


A Shifting Business Paradigm: Building the Green Economy through the Voinovich School

Business leaders today are beginning to wake up to some hard truths. These realities are at the forefront of a paradigm shift occurring in business to a greener economy and more responsible form of capitalism. By working with CE3, I am able to contribute to this movement.

We are taxing the planet’s finite resources faster than we can replenish them. In fact, the Global Footprint Network estimates that we are currently using the resources equivalent to 1.5 times what the earth can replenish. World Overshoot Day, the day of the year in which our resource use surpasses the equivalent of one planet Earth, occurred on August 22 this year, a date that continues to get earlier. The first World Overshoot Day occurred in the mid-1970s. Clearly, for humanity to continue to flourish, something needs to change. Our current open-loop economy, in which we extract raw materials that eventually end up as waste, will not work forever on a closed-loop planet.

A man named Giles Hutchins is working at the forefront of this shifting business paradigm. My father worked with him at Atos Origin, a large global software company, where Giles was the Global Director of Sustainability Solutions. Giles recently stepped down to write a book called The Nature of Business, in which he writes about “firms of the future” and calls for a new paradigm where businesses do not merely mitigate their impacts, but go beyond that and put value back into society through natural and social capital. These concepts, and the “triple bottom line,” (people, planet, profit), in which companies look at more than just their monetary profit, provide significant potential for positive change should the business world adopt them on a large scale. The positive-feedback loop that could occur with such a movement is truly revolutionary. Giles is also working on a documentary with the BBC on the same subject (he is British).

Some of his work touches on biomimicry (applying nature’s principles to business) and industrial ecology. The idea behind this is that nature has had 3.8 billion years to evolve and adapt for survival on this planet. We have only been around a fraction of this time, and can learn a lot from nature to survive in the challenging times ahead. You can read more at his blog here: http://thenatureofbusiness.org/.

I am currently working through CE3 to set up an event for Giles to come to the U.S. and speak at OU and other major universities in the state. Business schools are the target audience, as Giles’ focus is on moving the business world to adopt principles like values-led business and the triple bottom line. Having looked at MBA curricula, I know these philosophies are starting to gain ground in graduate schools, but they have yet to be adopted in business courses at the undergraduate level. The Voinovich School has provided me with the resources to pursue such an important initiative.

Getting it done: Working with the Voinovich School to improve the region

Last year, when I was selected as an Undergraduate Research Scholar for the Consortium for Energy, Economics, and the Environment (CE3), I couldn’t have been more excited. Since deciding that I wanted to focus my studies and career to sustainability, it was the best thing that has happened to me since being on campus. It also fit along perfectly with my desire to get more involved in activities outside the classroom this year, which I find to be more practical and fulfilling. In addition to working at the Voinovich School, I am volunteering at the Office of Sustainability on campus and finishing up an internship with the Sierra Club that I did over the summer. Getting involved with multiple organizations has greatly increased my understanding of environmental issues and has allowed me to see how they each approach various problems from different angles. Because of this, I have continued to develop a more complete worldview about which methods are most effective, what groups are doing the most to make change, and how we can best solve our environmental problems.

So far with CE3 my assignments have focused on communications, one of my strengths as a journalism major. Through the projects I have undertaken, I have learned so much about which businesses and organizations are stepping up to the plate and coming up with the innovative solutions that we so desperately need right now. The Voinovich School is one of these players, and I am proud to say I have been able to contribute to the work at CE3 that helps make our region and state a better place. The knowledge I’ve gathered will also be very helpful for me as I seek opportunities in a career related to sustainability.

Most recently, I attended a conference put on by the Voinovich School that focused on energy efficiency projects and new EPA greenhouse gas reporting regulations. There were excellent speakers and many industry experts in attendance. One in particular stressed the need of “speaking the language” of the business world. For example, instead of asking a CEO to cut his energy use because it would be good for the planet, show him how it could save money and improve the value of his company. Whether or not business leaders believe in climate change, despite it being well established by science, reporting and monitoring their emissions and energy use can identify opportunities to save money and improve business practices. I think “speaking the language” like this is very important in getting the results desired in the business world.

I learned so much attending this conference, especially from those that are getting it done in various industries. It was an awesome experience that wouldn’t have been possible for me if I wasn’t involved with CE3. I even got to network a little bit and learn about some opportunities after talking to an environmental consultant. Needless to say, I was thrilled to do this, because becoming a sustainability consultant is my dream job.

I’m very excited to continue my work with those at the Voinovich School who
understand that the relationship between energy, economics, and the environment is currently contributing to a lot of our problems, but can also provide the solutions. Working on these meaningful projects with such talented people gives me hope that we will be able to rise up and tackle the great challenges concerning resource scarcity and environmental degradation that we face today.