Bye Bye Baggie

Michael_LaRussa (2)




Posted by:
Michael LaRussa
Solid Waste and Recycling Program Analyst

California banned the use of plastic bags last month, when Governor Brown signed SB270 on September 30. The bags will first be phased out of supermarkets and large grocery stores starting July 2015, followed by convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The legislation sets a statewide standard and expands coverage beyond more than 100 various local bans encompassing an estimated one third of the state’s population.

Because plastic bags total less than a percent of the state’s total waste stream, one might say that plastic bags don’t carry much weight in terms of a waste diversion impact. Yet they do impede the recycling process itself, slowing and jamming sorting equipment at Material Recovery Facilities. Add that to their part in litter abatement costs, and California taxpayers spend an estimated $25 million annually to dispose of the bags. And less than 5% of single-use plastic bags are recycled, contributing to marine debris that harms aquatic organisms and blights a major tourism draw.

While California is the first U.S. state to enact such a ban, Hawaii previously achieved the feat in-effect through local bans by all four populated counties. While it remains to be seen which state will follow, it is clear that plastic bag legislation is covering a growing number of Americans, as major cities from Austin and Chicago to Seattle and Portland address the issue directly.

A number of countries across the globe currently enforce bag fees or outright bans. Ireland’s 2002 plastic bag levy resulted in a 94% reduction in per capita usage. Scotland will introduce a new bag fee later this month, following similar actions by Wales in 2011 and Northern Ireland in 2013. Looking ahead, Jordan’s Food and Drug Administration is contemplating a ban on plastic plates in restaurants, in addition to plastic bags used in food service.

Retail establishments which do not meet the revenue, square footage, or goods requirements for participation under California’s new law may voluntarily comply, earning them recognition by CalRecycle. This brings up a question of approach for companies in impacted sectors, wherever their location: Does such legislation present a compliance issue to manage by a deadline, or an opportunity to lead the competition with a sustainability plan that wins employee and customer support?

Is Safety Sustainable?


Posted by:
Bob Best
Energy and Sustainability Services



What does “safety” mean and is it part of the effort to make buildings more “sustainable”?

The traditional view of “green buildings” is that they have less negative impact on the environment, as measured by such things as greenhouse gas emissions, waste sent to landfills and water consumption.  However, there is growing interest in making buildings more supportive of the people that work inside of them, and that includes making those buildings safer.

Beyond building hardware, like annunciation systems, sprinklers and defibrillators; organizations are looking at safety training and awareness campaigns.  And, it’s not just safety in the workplace, itself.  These efforts are addressing employees at home, as well as at work.  It’s one way to show those employees that the organization is concerned about their well-being,

It’s not a bad message for any organization … “We care about the environment and we care about you!”

A pretty sustainable idea.

Turn it OFF!




Posted by:
Jessica Pasciak
Energy and Sustainability Services

JLL’s New York office participated in Daylight Hour on June 20th, an event hosted by the non-profit organization Green Light New York, that shut their office lights off for 1 hour at noon.

The goal was to help them better appreciate the positive impact of natural light in their work environment.

Lighting accounts for 1/3 of electricity use by New York City commercial buildings, but many of these lights can be turned off when the sun is out.

More than 45 offices, representing over 631,258 square feet participated in the shut off!

JLL’s 330 Madison Ave office in NYC participated in the event, and achieved some amazing results. Just by turning the lights of during daylight hour, they reduced their office’s electricity consumption over 30% on June 20thGreen Blog

Not only did this help save money, our colleagues loved what the natural light contributed to their office space so much, that they decided to continue it, every Friday at noon, through the end of the summer!

Green Light New York estimated that if the JLL office kept the lights off year-round during day-lit workweek hours, they could save $5,200 and 35,000 kWh – that’s the equivalent of CO2 emissions from burning 26,000 pounds of coal or consuming 3,000 gallons of gasoline!

I hope we all can take a lesson from this great project, and remember to Turn it OFF!

2030 Districts

Jiri Skopek



Posted by:
Jiri Skopek
Energy and Sustainability

Judging from the second summit in Seattle, the 2030 District initiative is taking off! In addition to current established districts in Seattle, LA, Denver, Pittsburgh and Cleveland —several other 2030 Districts are emerging, or are about to declare the full membership. Among those are San Francisco, Toronto, Dallas, San Antonio, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Ithaca and Stamford. Focused typically on downtown areas, the objective of the districts is to reduce the combined impact of buildings within the district in terms of energy, water and transportation. Some districts are taking on other issues such as resiliency.

The annual reports produced by the districts already testify to the success of this effort.  Nevertheless creating a standardized benchmarking is still a challenge. While ENERGY STAR is the norm among a number of benchmarking options, the ULI GreenPrint seems to offer the greatest opportunity to harmonize with real estate industry practice. With the upcoming United Nations Climate Summit on September 23 in New York City, Districts are refocusing on even longer term 2050 targets and possible initiatives abroad. With 40% of new global construction over next few decades predicted to take place in China, as compared to 15% in North America, this is likely to be the focus of significant carbon reductions.


Is Your Sustainability Program Suffering because Your Sponsor Left? 


michael jordan outside small



Posted by:
Michael Jordan
Strategic Consulting


This year I’ve seen an uptick in networking requests from sustainability leaders looking to change companies.

When I ask Why? they tell me they’ve done everything the company is willing to invest in, or, more often, there has been a leadership change above them and suddenly they are not seeing as much support for sustainability as they once were.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the average worker stays with his/her employer for 4.6 years. Stands to reason, then, that if you started your company’s sustainability program more than a couple years ago, you or your executive sponsor have probably changed or are about to change jobs.

Nothing wrong with moving onward and upward.  But shouldn’t it be part of every leader’s responsibility to institutionalize their hard work before doing so?

If a single executive sponsor leaving the company has radically changed or depleted the commitment to sustainable business, I’m worried that the sustainability team forgot to do an important part of its job, namely the change management part.  Look around – when was the last time you recruited new champions?

It might be time to refresh your stakeholder analysis and update your sustainability business case.  Engage stakeholder groups, understand their new ideas as well as their resistance to advancing resource efficiency and top line growth from sustainable products.  Then systematically communicate, train, and reward new behaviors that will build on the progress you’ve already made!

If you want to see how other companies have been doing this, email me at