Sustainability Updates for this week

Sustainability committee spearheads efforts for a greener TCU

By Mariana Rivas

TCU might bleed purple, but the TCU sustainability committee wants to make it green. The committee is looking to broaden its reach on campus by bringing more awareness to their efforts. “So many things have been done in the background to make it a very efficient campus that we don’t advertise it very well,” said Chris Honkomp, assistant vice chancellor for facilities. According to Honkomp, the most significant factor of the improvements in sustainability is investments in new construction. Twenty-three buildings on campus are LEED certified, which is the most widely-used certification for green buildings in the world. The average use of water consumption on college campuses is 20 gallons per person per day, but in the TCU dorms, about 16 gallons per person per day are used, Honkomp said. Dr. Wendy Macias, a professor of strategic communication at TCU, has been involved in the university’s sustainability committee since its start three years ago. The sustainability committee began studying sustainability on campus and noticed that “communication was an area that just really needed some work,” Macias said. This lack of communication caused Macias to reach out to the student-run advertising and public relations firm on campus, ROXO. ROXO students rebranded TCU Sustainability from TCU Recycling this past semester. Among their various efforts to increase the visibility of sustainability on campus was their push week. Over the week, ROXO students collected over 1,000 plastic bags and their promotional Snapchat filter was viewed over 6,700 times.



Shell has announced the first round of cleantech startups chosen for its GameChanger Accelerator program GCxN

by Andrew Woods

Antora Energy is building large batteries for the grid at remarkably low costs using modified solar panels to efficiently change heat to electricity; e-Zn The first company in the world to “metallize” electricity, e-Zn’s zinc-based energy storage system is both affordable and flexible; Electrical Grid Monitoring Ltd. EGM created its Meta-Alert™ system to secure real-time communications and perform self-learning analytics on the whole grid; Feasible, Inc. is developing a technology platform that uses sound waves and data analytics to deliver insights about batteries across the value chain.



Why TD Executives are Banking on Sustainability

by Jake Hiller 

TD was the first major North American bank to go carbon neutral. TD were the first Canadian bank to issue a green bond, raising CDN $500 million in 2014, with the proceeds helping to finance green loans on commercial banking side. TD issued their second green bond – USD $1 billion in 2017 – that was hugely successful, oversubscribed, and attracted even more investors to the bank.



Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is adding a graduate certificate in sustainable agriculture in the spring

The graduate certificate is a 17-credit, 5-month program for farmers, agriculture educators and others interested environmentally sound agriculture. “Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is committed to a set of core values, among them sustainability. This graduate certificate program is a natural fit for the College and its mission because it promises to prepare the next generation of responsible growers to make sustainable farming choices to benefit our earth,” said Janet Clark, vice president for academic and student affairs. The program, developed by Dennis Tarasi, is housed in the Department of Sciences and Mathematics at SMWC and students will also be able to gets hands-on experience at a farm operated by the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice. White Violet Center Director Lorrie Heber says more sustainable farming is needed for our planet. The first cohort runs from March to July 2019. Click here for more information on the new program.



Impact focused capital Network

Impact Capital Managers is a network that brings together the general partners of market-rate funds deeply committed to impact investing in the United States. Collectively representing over $8 billion in impact-focused capital, we are working together to accelerate impact and financial performance.



The Alpha in Impact

How operating with an impact objective can add financial value for investors. This report identifies the ways in which impact objectives enhance financial performance, based on transactions in the portfolios of market-rate investment managers. This concept is known as “impact alpha.”



B Corp Analysis Reveals Purpose-Led Businesses Grow 28 Times Faster Than National Average

New research from B Corp, a network of purpose-driven companies using business as a force for good, has revealed that certified B Corps in the UK are growing 28 times faster than the national economic growth of 0.5 percent.



Exclusive: “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”

By Jeff Beer

The new mission statement impacts every single job in the company. About six months ago, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard gave the HR department some new marching orders. “Whenever we have a job opening, all things being equal, hire the person who’s committed to saving the planet no matter what the job is,” he says. “And that’s made a huge difference in the people coming into the company.” To figure out the best way the company could have the most effective impact, Chouinard and Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario had to ask themselves questions like, what are Patagonia’s resources? Where does the company have influence? And what should it be putting money into? They came up with three key answers: agriculture, politics, and protected lands.


Points of Light Seeks the Most Community-Minded Companies in the United States

Points of Light opens The Civic 50 survey, an annual initiative that recognizes the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States. Now in its seventh year, The Civic 50 serves to recognize stronger corporate commitment to community through engagement, volunteerism, and social impact strategies. Participation in The Civic 50 survey is open to companies with revenue of $1 billion or higher, that are prioritizing community-building, enhancing corporate citizenship, and delivering innovative employee volunteer programs. Applications will be accepted Dec. 13, 2018, through March 15, 2019. Results will be announced at the Points of Light Conference in June. Visit to register for the technical assistance webinar and participate in the survey. The Civic 50 survey is an initiative of Points of Light and is powered by True Impact, a web-based measurement tool and benchmarking network for the charitable sector. For more information, visit or email


Take Out Toxics – PFAS Chemicals in Food Packaging – Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are highly persistent, mobile, and toxic chemicals whose use has resulted in widespread contamination of drinking water. Exposure has been associated with liver damage, harm to the immune system, developmental toxicity, and cancer. Paper products used for food packaging are often treated with PFAS for water and grease resistance. Since the chemicals can migrate into food, and contaminate landfills and compost after disposal, the use of PFAS to treat food packaging can lead to unnecessary long-term exposure to harmful chemicals. To investigate the extent to which grocery stores are using and selling PFAS- containing food packaging, we tested food-contact papers from five of the nation’s largest grocery chains and their subsidiaries: Ahold Delhaize (parent of Food Lion, Stop and Shop, and Hannaford); Albertsons; Kroger; Trader Joe’s; and Whole Foods Market (Amazon). See the table below for a summary of our test results for each retailer. We tested 78 samples collected from 20 stores in 12 states. In testing those samples for the presence of fluorine, with high levels indicating likely PFAS treatment, we found likely PFAS treatment in 10 of the 78 samples of food contact materials.


Whole Foods Removes Takeout Packaging Over Chemical Concerns – “Whole Foods Market introduced compostable containers to reduce our environmental footprint, but given new concerns about the possible presence of PFAS, we have removed all prepared foods and bakery packaging highlighted in the report. We’re actively working with our suppliers to find and scale new compostable packaging options.”



Podcast: ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ turns 50, and how Neanderthal DNA could change your skull – Revisiting Garrett Hardin’s “The Tragedy of the Commons” 50 years later.



Scientists have discovered that Earth’s worst mass extinction was caused by climate change. It was called the ‘Great Dying.’ – About 252 million years ago, the vast majority of species on Earth were killed off in the “Great Dying,” the worst mass extinction in our planet’s history. Up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of land animals were killed off during this event, which was even more deadly than the extinction of dinosaurs. Research published in March 2014 suggested the extinction took place over a period of 60,000 years, a very short timeframe in the grand scheme of Earth’s history. A new research study published in Science claims the Great Dying was caused primarily by rapidly increasing temperatures. The researchers arrived at their conclusion after examining marine fossil records and using climate simulations to recreate the effects of rising temperatures 252 million years ago. During the Permian extinction, volcanoes in Siberia released so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that Earth’s temperature increased by about 10 degrees Celsius. Hotter oceans meant that animals needed more oxygen to survive, but the heat also depleted the oxygen in the waters. This loss of oxygen because of rising temperatures, the scientists said, was the primary cause for the Great Dying. Another mass extinction tied to rising ocean temperatures is on track to occur again, the scientists said. By 2100, Earth could see temperature levels as high as 3 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Study coauthor Curtis Deutsch, a professor at the University of Washington, told The Atlantic that from there, 10 degrees wouldn’t be “that far off the charts.” “This study shows that we’re on that same road toward extinction, and the question is how far down it we go,” lead author Justin Penn, a doctoral student at the University of Washington, told The Atlantic. Ocean plants produce up to 85% of the oxygen in the air we breathe, but the volume of ocean water that has been depleted of oxygen has quadrupled over the past 50 years. These studies say oceans are losing oxygen in large part because of human activity.