A Light Amid the Smog: Why Living Building Challenge Works in China

by Eileen Quigley on March 27, 2015 , No comments

unnamedCrippling smog in Beijing is being slashed by vibrant sunrises and sunsets displayed on a giant LED screen in Tiananmen Square. The simulation of nature is, if nothing else, an admission that China has an environmental problem with a not so clear-cut solution. Through my work on a construction project with lofty sustainability goals I experienced first hand the unique challenges China faces.

The country’s building stock is just one part of the infrastructure that is sprouting at record rates. The energy supply – provided primarily by coal – is trying to keep up, tarnishing citizens’ outlook and the natural environment as a result. Environmental organizations and consulting companies such as mine are asking the question: how do we apply more than just a bandage to heal the wound?

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A Sinking Feeling: What you might not realize about Fashion Week 2015

by Janna Wandzilak on February 11, 2015 , No comments

iStock_000018606374LargeWhat comes to mind when you think about the environmental impact of the shirt you are wearing? How about that Chanel jacket or Louis Vuitton dress you will see on the runway this week during Fashion Week? You may think about the labor or materials used to make the shirt, or maybe the energy used to create it and ship it to your local store. For most people, water isn’t top of mind.

Water, however, plays a huge role throughout supply chains in the fashion industry. The Stockholm International Water Institute names the textile industry as the 4th largest industrial water user and also the 2nd largest industrial water polluter. While distinct materials, products and processes require different amounts of water, the global textile industry uses 6 trillion liters of fresh water annually. This averages out to several dozen gallons of water used for every pound of clothing made. The largest amounts of water are used to cultivate crops and in dye houses to dye and finish all sorts of garments.

One of apparel’s biggest consumers of water is cotton. A ubiquitous clothing material, cotton is a popular choice for all sorts of outfits, from athletic to casual to business wear. This is not surprising considering 20 million tons of cotton are produced every year in 90 countries. That’s enough cotton to fill 29 Empire State Buildings!

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Inspiration for Sustainability Movements

by JD Capuano on October 14, 2014 , No comments

2014_09_24_cr ny-dc 2014_day 5_0790In late September 2014, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich stood on the lawn of the U.S. Capital and addressed about 100 Climate Riders. He described how our accomplishment of pedaling bikes 300 miles and raising money for environmental non-profits fit within the greater climate mission.

It takes a lot of people pursuing different actions to drive change. And we all power the movement.

I had the privilege of listening to the Congressman after participating in Climate Ride for the second straight year. The NYC to DC ride is a 5-day fundraiser that also raises awareness about climate change. A few weeks later, I attended the B Corp Champion’s retreat – a celebration of a movement to change business to be better for people and the planet.

Similarities between Climate Ride and the B Corp movement sparked in my mind. The feat of athletic endurance that is Climate Ride struck me as a perfect metaphor to describe the challenges and exaltations experienced by companies that are using business as a force for good.

What we do as B Corps (and social enterprises) is just as mission driven as the cyclists who participate in Climate Ride. While the duration of our mission to “B the Change” is far longer, these similarities inspired me to think about three things it takes to keep such movements going.

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How we helped NRDC complete its first GRI report

by Ryan Meinke on July 25, 2014 , No comments

GRIReportWe are happy to announce that our client, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has just released its first sustainability report! We applaud NRDC for “walking the talk” and demonstrating the transparency that they demand from private sector companies. Among major environmental advocacy non-profits (think Sierra Club, Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Defense Fund, etc.), NRDC is the first in the U.S. and one of the first worldwide to produce a comprehensive sustainability report covering their own operations.

GRI FORMAT NRDC’s report is a Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3.1 Level A report – and includes extensive disclosure of their environmental, social and economic impacts. GRI was identified as the best reporting framework for NRDC by a team of Columbia University Sustainability Management graduate​ students in a “Capstone” project for NRDC’s leadership, which Closed Loop Advisors helped coordinate. The graduate student team determined that GRI is the most comprehensive framework, is used across sectors, and is fast becoming the global standard for sustainability reporting.

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Companies and regional governments could take lead on carbon costs

by Kate Burrows on November 27, 2013 , No comments
Tar sands - before and after

Image source: Peter Essick, National Geographic via

Shell has a new policy that could lead to investing in lower carbon projects. The company announced last spring that it would be using a carbon cost of $40 per metric ton when evaluating new projects (2012 Sustainability Report).  This means that when Shell assesses the cost of a new project, it will incorporate a $40 dollar charge per ton of carbon, making plans that result in high emissions too costly for investment.

Such a practice for capital allocation, if adopted on a large scale, could help to shift investment patterns and emissions worldwide. Companies that apply this type of policy would make different decisions – potentially passing up on carbon intensive projects because the self-imposed cost renders them uneconomical.

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Top 5 Themes that Emerged from Greenbuild 2013

by Eileen Quigley on November 26, 2013 , 3 comments

GreenbuildLast week 28,000 people poured into the city of Philadelphia to learn about the latest surrounding sustainable buildings. Abundant amounts of information was shared but these are the main things I took away from Greenbuild 2013:

1. The evidence behind human caused climate change has never been clearer
In the wake of typhoon Haiyan, it’s impossible to ignore the obvious that anthropogenic climate change is happening and the effects are real. Hundreds of thousands of deaths per year are climate change related and the U.S. government is spending more money than ever on disaster recovery.

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Helping NRDC Breathe Easier by Achieving a Global First

by Eileen Quigley on November 20, 2013 , No comments
Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, Courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, Courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Do you know that new car smell? And the odors present in new construction from things like carpet and paint? Those odors result from the off-gassing of toxics. Doesn’t it seem backwards that buildings are full of them?

Facilities staff at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) know how detrimental off-gassing is to human health and did something about it in their Chicago office fit out by achieving one of the loftiest green building standards. In late October, they became the first tenant improvement project in the world to be awarded the Living Building Challenge Petal Certification. Closed Loop Advisors served as sustainability advisor to help NRDC achieve this first.

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Closed Loop Advisors is Now a Certified B Corporation!

by JD Capuano on July 11, 2013 , 2 comments

Stamp_B_Circle_Version02The entire team at Closed Loop Advisors was thrilled to become a Certified B Corporation! Becoming a B Corp was one of our objectives when planning the formation of our company, and we’re very excited to have fulfilled that objective. Find our B Impact Report on the B Corporation site.

We are proud to join the B Corp community. Certified B Corporations meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency,
and accountability. B Corporations are a new kind of company which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Check out the B Corp Declaration!

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Etsy leveraged data to lead on sustainability

by JD Capuano on June 28, 2013 , No comments

etsy's DUMBO office

Our client Etsy deserves a lot more attention than it’s getting for it sustainability efforts. We want to point out a few things they’re doing that could be instructive for others.

The Closed Loop team began working with Etsy last fall to measure, diagnose and explain their ecological impact. Check out their blog post about how we were able to simplify this process for them. That first project we partnered with them on raised a few aha moments. We’re excited to still be working with them on their sustainability strategy and a host of initiatives. This relationship puts us in a position to point out some examples of their leadership.

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Energy Efficiency: Basics You Need to Know!

by Matt Codner on June 22, 2013 , No comments

Efficient Tree

Energy efficiency offers plenty of benefits, so how do you unlock them?

First, recognize that any organization can benefit from energy efficiency.  It doesn’t matter how big or small your organization is, or how much energy it consumes.  You can reduce the amount of energy wasted and cut costs, while contributing to lower demand from the grid and reduced emissions along the way.

Swapping out inefficient devices with energy-saving ones seems like a no-brainer.  Some basic due diligence will help you decide what energy conservation measures (ECMs) to adopt.

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