Posts Tagged ‘environment’

Walmart’s Green Initiatives

May 31st, 2011 Comments off

Like arch-rival Target, Walmart is seeing investment in environmentally friendly practices flow to the bottom line.  It has long been my position that companies will embrace “green” when it results in “green” to their income.  That seems to be the case here as well.  Through some tweaking, Walmart has turned expenses into revenues:

A seemingly unrealistic goal of zero waste to landfills is suddenly looking attainable; the company cut its waste 81% in California, a pilot program now going nationwide. The trick to it was finding new uses for former trash: turning plastic waste into dog beds, food waste into compost sold in its stores, expired but still healthful foods into food bank donations. The waste Wal-Mart once paid to have hauled away is now earning the company more than $100 million a year.

Read more at:,0,5608647.story

Target tests “green” refrigerant at 11 stores

May 18th, 2011 Comments off

As mentioned in class, companies are taking a close look at environmentally-friendly initiatives and sustainability.  Management accountants can help with this by identifying opportunities and measuring performance against environmental criteria.  In a local example, Minnesota-based Target was featured in a Star Tribune piece this week as testing a new refrigerant at 11 stores with the idea that it could be expanded to other stores if it is successful.  This new material is supposed to result in fewer leaks and, ultimately, reduce operating costs though I’m sure Target will play up the fact that it is using “green” chemicals and processes as well.

The bottom line is that the gas is a “high temperature” refrigerant less prone to leakage and more energy efficient. It is also used in automobile air conditioners.

“These are very complex systems,” said Target’s Dan Riley of the coolers and freezers in the chain’s “PFresh” food sections. “In each Target store there are many, many miles of coils. At every junction there is an opportunity for a leak. These [existing] gases are very leak prone. They are under pressure.”

In December, Target announced its commitment to sustainability and the GreenChill program fit into the chain’s intention to use resources responsibly and reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

Ultimately I don’t think many companies will do things like this if they don’t see a benefit in terms of reduced costs or marketing opportunities, but those opportunities exist and the planet and society can benefit as a result.  Management accountants need to be prepared for this role and to seize the opportunities.

Target tests green chillin’; The retailer is trying a new, more energy-efficient refrigerant in 11 stores around the country as it tries to go green. By David Phelps. Star Tribune. Minneapolis, Minn.: May 15, 2011. pg. D.4

Coke’s Eagan operation: A new energy-efficiency model

March 1st, 2011 Comments off

Don Shelby of WCCO fame has landed at MinnPost and offers a look at local sustainability success at Coca-Cola.  As with nearly every business decision, the benefits have to outweigh the costs for any long-term efforts to take root.  As with other environmental initiatives elsewhere, the opportunity to save money, increase profits, and become more marketable to green-conscious consumers are all drivers of decisions to push environmental practices.  I expect this snowball to continue to grow.

Has Coca-Cola become a great steward of the earth? In many ways it has, but that alone won’t carry the day with businesses out to make money for investors. Coca-Cola gets the attention of the industrial world when it announces that all of these efficiencies have made, or will make in the future, higher profits for the company. Coca-Cola says the economic, environmental and social implications of business are more important than ever. “We understand that sustainability is core to our business,” the company says in a statement. Coke’s new in-house motto is “Live Positively.”


Mark Blaiser, executive director of the Chamber’s “Waste Wise” program, said: “Sustainability is smart business. Saving energy is smart business. Environmental sustainability is not going away, it is not a fad. There are great economic opportunities for businesses that adopt a sustainability model. Those are the businesses that will lead the way to the future.”

via MinnPost – Don Shelby: Coke’s Eagan operation: A new energy-efficiency model.

Sustainability Emphasis at the AICPA

September 1st, 2010 Comments off

In Chapter 2 of the Blocher text, we discussed the idea that Sustainability is becoming a new focus in the accounting profession. Coincidentally, today I received the following by email from the AICPA. It is interesting to see this emphasis coming from the primary association for CPA in America.

AICPA Sustainability Workshop
September 1, 2010

Dear Brenden,

One of the most significant forces certain to impact the accounting profession in the coming decade is sustainability – the ability to create value over the long-term, in a context of high expectations for environmental and social responsibility and improved corporate governance.

According to Robert Harris, CPA/CFF, Chairman of the AICPA, “The push to sustainability is not about government regulation or new laws. The trend is market-driven. Sustainability is about bottom-line business operations that are impacting the supply chain.”

I would like to share with you a new cutting-edge event designed to help you better understand the business case for sustainability, how sustainability relates to your organization, and how sustainability relates to the accounting profession and your role as CFO, Controller or other CPA executive.

I encourage you to take a look at the outstanding agenda of speakers, topics and cases being covered at the inaugural Sustainability Workshop to be held in the AICPA Boardroom in New York, September 30 and October 1.

This unique workshop, presented in collaboration with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA), offers an exceptional interactive learning experience. The workshop is designed to explain the financial, as well as environmental and social benefits, of adopting a successful sustainability initiative for your organization. Participants will depart with the tools, resources and networks necessary to develop and implement a solid sustainability strategy.

It will also be an ideal opportunity to network with peers from both the US and Canada, featuring a tour, presentation and reception at the Bank of America Tower, the first skyscraper to attain a platinum LEED certification.

Access details on Sustainability Workshop here (PDF).

To encourage your participation in this event, I am offering an additional $100 discount in addition to the member discount of $300 and $75 Early Bird discount – if you register by September 10. Simply use discount code STX when registering.

I look forward to meeting you at this important new forum.


Carol Scott, CPA, MBA
Vice President – Business, Industry and Government

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, 220 Leigh Farm Road, Durham, NC 27707-8110.

Should Business Benefit Society?

August 26th, 2010 Comments off

We discuss things like “sustainability” and the “environment” and “human capital investment” as new ideas in the business world…but are they really new?  I guess the increased focus is new but it seems like recent postings on this blog have linked to articles where the case has been made that focusing on these things is secondary to focusing on the financial aspects of business.  Many of the Environmental Accounting posts echo this sentiment…they say that business should focus on pleasing shareholders through increased profits and respond to environmental/sustainability only a means to that end.

But maybe focusing on financial measures is exactly what creates the short-term approach and expectations that cause problems for companies and the economy. As I mentioned this week in class, strategy is supposed to be a long-term vision and positioning of a company but time and time again we see that the measures and incentives are increasingly short-term.  A posting at the HBR blog caught my eye with some thoughts on this issue.  Read more at HBR:

It’s an interesting notion that Business, held captive by a narrow definition of fiduciary responsibility, is not able to make the long-term investments that could benefit communities, the environment, and ultimately the shareholders. If this notion is even partly correct, then our most powerful institution will be unable to do enough to solve the social and environmental crises confronting us.

The HBR piece goes on to mention that the state of Vermont now provides for a new kind of organization: a Benefit Organization that exists not simply to pursue profits but also to provide a benefit to society.  Perhaps this is going to spread beyond Vermont and will ultimately cause companies to take longer-term views and set long-term strategies tied to incentives for their employees to think long-term.

Are the directors of a Benefit Corporation still obliged to act in the best interests of the company’s owners? Absolutely. But they have legal protection to make investments with an eye to the long term, aiming for sustainable returns, not fast paybacks for shareholders.

As I mentioned in class, the book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis talks extensively about how incentives influence behavior and that the impacts are real as evidenced by the recent economic meltdown on Wall Street and beyond (you can view a great 60 Minutes piece with the author on this site as well).

Whether through the expansion of the Benefit Organization concept or some other way I think that businesses with long-term visions and strategy ultimately do their shareholders a greater service than the ones that take risks for temporary, short-term gains.  Hopefully that philosophy becomes more prevalent and we begin to demand more of our business leaders so that their behaviors and decisions will align with this concept.

Why is Google buying wind energy?

July 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Here is a short piece I heard this morning on MPR that talks about environmental initiatives at Google which include buying wind energy.  Listen to the audio at the link below for more detail and for a discussion as to why Google would do this.  Mainly it boils down to making business sense in that some customers will use Google primarily because they are doing things like this…or at least that is the opinion of the person from CNET that is being interviewed.

Interesting to see companies enter “non-traditional” areas like this I think.

Most news from Google involves stuff like search ads, web services, mobile computing. The occasional Buzz or Wave, perhaps, that is a little confusing. But at the very least, no matter what Google does, it always involves a computer in some way. Well, not any more. Google has begun investing in wind power. This week, Google agreed to buy 114 megawatts of electricity from an Iowa wind farm.

via Why is Google buying wind energy? | Episodes | Future Tense with John Moe | American Public Media.

Cost/Benefit Analysis & Going Green

September 6th, 2009 Comments off

It isn’t popular to say so, but embracing “green” as a marketing strategy still has to pass the cost/benefit test just like any other business strategy and decision.  Failing to do so would mean that green companies (and projects) would go under until there were none left.

INSIGHT, the magazine of the Illinois CPA Society explores this and related environmental accounting concerns in their latest issue.

  • Is Green Worth the Money?. Criticizing the green movement isn’t politically correct. But is it wrong to want a sound business case for going green? Kristine Blenkhorn Rodriguez. INSIGHT, The Magazine of the Illinois CPA Society.  September/October 2009.
  • Water Water Everywhere. But maybe not for long…What could easily be dismissed as an environmental issue has a heavy impact on business and industry as well. Here’s the business case for why water shortages matter. Sheryl Nance-Nash. INSIGHT, The Magazine of the Illinois CPA Society.  September/October 2009.
  • Green Power. What will alternative energies mean to the US economy? Carolyn Tang INSIGHT, The Magazine of the Illinois CPA Society.  September/October 2009.

GM Pulls Plug on Hybrid Model

July 1st, 2009 Comments off

I can’t take credit for finding this article or coming up with the discussion questions since I got this in an email from the WSJ.  Still some interesting things to think about related to product mix and the environment, a couple topics we cover in class.

FOCUS ARTICLE>>  Technology, Product Mix, Environmental

GM Pulls Plug on Hybrid Model
by: John D. Stoll and Sharon Terlep
Date: Jun 11, 2009 SUMMARY: General Motors pulled the plug the hybrid-electric version of the Chevrolet Malibu sedan for the 2010 model year due to slow sales.


  1. Why did GM abandon the production of the hybrid Malibu? What factors led GM to this decision? Does the company include any other hybrids in its product offerings? Why would GM eliminate this particular model? Why do you think GM chose to manufacture a hybrid version of the Malibu?
  2. What kind of impact does a successful hybrid model have on the overall image of an automotive company? What are the costs and benefits involved in offering a hybrid? Is there a similar technological or green product that is key for your industry or employer?
  3. Compare the hybrid offerings at GM with other automotive companies. Are GM competitors having similar or different experiences? Why? How is your company performing better than the competition? How are your employer’s competitors excelling in other areas? What should your company do to be stronger against the competition?