I was thinking about some posts I wrote last year, and what has happened since then. The posts I had in mind concerned Aqua America, the B Corporation, and the Philadelphia Eagles (one of the Philadelphia area professional sports clubs). I was curious what was happening with sustainability at Aqua, the progress of B Corporations around the country and what other Philly sports teams have been doing on the green front since last year.
Aqua America (my water company)
I got my quarterly shareholder report letter from Aqua America last week. In it, aside from the usual reports of growth, capital programs, etc, is a notation that the 2010 sustainability report had been released at the annual shareholders meeting last month. Not a big deal, just something that the company does. The entire report is available from the www.aquaamerica.com website, via a big button on the front page. This is like the Sherlock Holmes story in which the dog did not back. Sustainability seems to be woven into the fabric of the company.
As some perspective, in 2009 management opposed a sustainability proposal to stockbrokers; in 2010 the company released its first such report with a fair amount of hoopla. In 2011, the sustainability efforts are still there. The tone is different, more business-like. Which probably means that these efforts will continue as long as Aqua’s capital program does.
I noticed that 2 more states have approved “benefit corporations”. New Jersey and Virginia have joined Maryland and Vermont in approving these “alternative” corporate structures. By law, the main corporate purpose for most companies is making money. I am all for making money, especially when the check has my name on it. However, there is an increasing movement in this country of people who want to combine business purposes and broader public benefits.
These laws in general allow companies to declare a public purpose, i.e. to save the environment. So if a company is delivering public benefits in that regard, it cannot be sued for activities in support of that goal.
Philadelphia Sports Teams
Last fall, the Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) announced a pioneering initiative to make their stadium one of the first in the country to be powered by solar, wind, and dual-fuel energy. Six months later, another Philly sports team (baseball’s Phillies) received national recognition for its greening efforts—a 2011 Green Power Leadership Award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This is in recognition of an array of programs the Phillies have implemented in the last few years. A few years ago, for example, the team agreed to purchase 100% renewable power, and they have done this ever since. This year, they put in place an organic composting system at Citizens Bank Park. The idea is divert compostable material from the landfills. They also hosted an e-cycle event during last weekend’s series with the Oakland A’s where could come and drop off a large variety of electronics for recycling such as copiers, scanners, and much more. These are only a small sample of their greening program.
It felt really good to see that the original sustainability efforts I wrote about last year in those posts were not one-shot wonders. Rather, they have become part of an ever-increasing array of initiatives embedded into how the business of these organizations is being done.
Philadelphia Eagles Renewable Power: