Month: March 2010

It’s a great time to be talking about the business case of sustainability; it isn’t about tree hugging and philanthropy.

SAP launches local Sustainability Executive Advisory Council

Despite the increasing focus on carbon emission reductions within IT and business, the widespread appointment of chief sustainability officers (CSOs) across Australia is unlikely, according to enterprise software giant, SAP.

Speaking to Computerworld Australiaahead of the company’s launch of its local Sustainability Executive Advisory Council, SAP’s chief sustainability officer and executive vice president of sustainability, Peter Graf, said an eventual carbon emissions trading scheme or tax on carbon emissions was unlikely to result in an increase in chief sustainability officers.

“When you have a tax or legislation it becomes a compliance issue, so [a CSO] is more prone to having the sustainability issue moved into the risk management or financial optimisation/finance department,” he said. “The point is that if you wait for legislation to hit, you’re not going to create any competitive advantage out of sustainability.”

CSOs who had been employed to address sustainability often face a hard time, struggling to be heard within their companies, Graf said.

“The successful sustainability officers I know are the ones who have an intrinsic understanding of how the business creates its value and have a career in where the value is created. That is the predominant model,” he said. “If I weren’t part of the development organisation and didn’t help create solutions for customers, then I would have smaller voice in the organisation.”

The net result for CIOs was that there was now a strong opportunity to sit down with the business and discuss sustainability beyond greening the data centre. “CIOs I see in many organisations are distracted by the share of voice the data centre gets,” he said. “Greening the data centre is important but it is only 0.4 per cent of global emissions, according to McKinsey, so the real opportunity for the IT organisation is to understand the wider impact that sustainability has on every business process in the organisation.”

For its part, SAP’s Sustainability Executive Advisory Council will seek to address the issue of sustainability as it applies to every organisation regardless of market vertical or size, Graf said.

“Sustainability is an overarching concept which touches every industry in parallel,” Graf said. “It’s also a nascent software market, so for us it’s key to work with leading companies, understand their challenges in dealing with sustainability and examine the practices they have put in place. We can then put those practices into software and then help many, many companies based on the lessons these leaders have learned.”

Current Sustainability Executive Advisory Council members include Telstra and Corporate Express.

“It’s a great time to talk about the business case of sustainability; it isn’t about tree hugging and philanthropy,” Graf said. “There is a lot of money at stake in driving down the costs of compliance and improving resource intensity and energy efficiency of companies and have them bring out more sustainable products.”

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Heathcare and Resource Intensity

Public purchasers are positioned to lead, having a hold on 33 percent of the insurance market

Diane Lund-Muzikant

The Lund Report

March 10, 2010 — As the largest purchaser of healthcare — next to Medicare – public purchasers are positioned to transform the delivery system under the leadership of Barney Speight.

Together, state employees, schoolteachers, Oregon Health Plan members and local government officials comprise 33 percent of the insured population in Oregon, according to a recent analysis.
“We can have a major footprint,” said Speight, director of healthcare purchasing for the Oregon Health Authority.
Initially, he intends to focus on the two largest purchasing pools in the state – the Public Employees’ Benefit Board, which has 126,437 members (state employees and their dependents) and the Oregon Educators Benefit Board with 142,966 members (school teachers and dependents) – by focusing on pay for performance, patient-centered medical homes, evidence-based care practices and new payment methodologies.
“Our goal is to impact the transformation of the delivery system, but not through any pool consolidation,” he said. “Consolidating pools is incredibly political and people worry about this. If local governments find these standards attractive and useful, then they can adopt them.” 
Transformation inevitably leads to bending the cost curve, and Speight is drawing on his expertise as a health insurance executive to engage the purchasing community. He intends to encourage hospitals, for example, to re-tailor their reimbursement system.
Instead of being paid for inpatient costs on a formula known as “discounts on billed charges,” he suggests that hospitals use a prospective payment system known as DRGs, which bundle charges. Such a payment system is widely used by Medicare and was once the mainstay by commercial insurers, particularly HMOs……….   
 ………………. Speight also wants to take a serious look at outpatient hospital costs, which have grown quickly with technology advances, giving providers the ability to treat people in a single day. Medicare has grouped such procedures by resource intensity and affixed a price, which could be used by public purchasers. “But not by paying at Medicare rates,” Speight insisted……………….

Novel syringe demonstrates cost benefits of sustainable product design

Novel syringe demonstrates cost benefits of sustainable product design

Cambridge Consultants has unveiled an innovative concept for a high-quality prefilled syringe, cutting the volume of a typical pack in half.


Cambridge Consultants, a leading technology product design and development firm, today announced its novel pre-filled syringe concept ‘Syreen.’ A revolutionary ‘green’ syringe design, Syreen is a highly effective, safe, and easy-to-use drug delivery device for self administration use, designed to ease the resource intensity and material wastage associated with traditional syringe development and manufacture.

Instead of glass, Syreen syringes are made with COP (cyclic olefin polymer) plastic, which has enabled Cambridge Consultants to shed the need for secondary packaging altogether, a first in this medical device arena. The makeup of the Syreen allows syringes to clip together, nesting in a pack while the COP design doubles as the outer shell of the packaging itself. The Syreen therefore eliminates the need for wasteful fillers such as cardboard and styrofoam, reducing the packaging weight by 30 percent and volume by 50 percent from today’s standard packaging. The United States alone produces 6,600 tons of medical waste per day, equalling well over two million tons per year—approximately 85 percent of which goes to landfills throughout the country.

“What makes Syreen so exciting is that while it is a sustainable alternative to the status quo, it can truly introduce a paradigm shift in the existing supply chain,” said Phil Lever, Commercial Director, Drug Delivery Devices for Cambridge Consultants.

“We found that typical glass syringes use many materials from all over the world and that shipping costs are egregious due to inefficiencies in packaging. This marriage of economy and ecology shows that medical device companies will likely see competitive benefits by taking sustainability seriously.”……………….

Full story at

Today’s leadership challenges demand innovative thinking


Today’s leadership challenges demand innovative thinking

By Jim Hunt

March 7, 2010

Working in today’s unstable economy, leaders are facing new challenges filled with uncertainty and increasing complexity. Competition is intense, and the workforce is struggling to do more with less.

Leaders and managers face problems that are rarely simple with clear-cut solutions. Success now demands that decision makers incorporate targeted innovation and new thinking about their organizations and the challenges they face.

Historically, managerial training has encouraged us to believe that for every problem there is a simple solution. Such a quick remedy, however, may not prove to solve the problem at all. In a world where the slightest mistakes become viral media sensations, it is no wonder we routinely hear Dr. Phil’s mantra, “What were you thinking?” In reality the better question may be “How are you thinking?”

One of Leadership Tallahassee’s 10 guiding principles of leadership is “systems thinking” — recognizing and analyzing the complex interaction of structural, technical, political and personnel issues. Systems thinking integrates new perspective to give leaders the ability to see and understand the big picture. In reality, systems thinking encourages smart design and lasting solutions.

Our fast-paced workplaces are filled with information overload and the expectation of immediate response. Col. George E. Reed, a former director of command and leadership studies at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., speaking on systems thinking said, “While it may be important to orient on values, goals and objectives, the urgent often displaces the important.”

One of the major impediments to systems thinking is the problem of busy-ness, Col. Reed explains. “Immersed in the myriad details of daily existence, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.” Leaders must temper a demand for simplicity and certainty in a volatile and complex environment………………

Full story at

UK manufacturers embrace resource efficiency but reject eco-design


UK manufacturers embrace resource efficiency but reject eco-design

Peta Hodge
10th March 2010
Despite their greater commitment to resource efficiency, UK manufacturers – particularly SMEs – are reluctant to invest in ‘eco-design’ to reduce the environmental impact of their products.
This was a key finding from the latest survey of the sector’s environmental performance by the manufacturers’ organisation, EEF.

The survey of nearly 300 manufacturing companies across the UK, suggests that resource efficiency – particularly recycling, reduction of business waste and energy efficiency – is now embedded in the sector, with around 90 per cent of respondents having taken some sort of action in these areas.

Cost main driver for resource efficiency

Four in every five companies cited cost savings as the main driver behind improving their environmental performance.

However, the survey found the take–up of eco-design – which focuses on reducing the ‘whole-life’ environmental impact of the product from raw material acquisition, through production and finally to recycling and disposal – to be “disappointing”.

Size matters in this respect. Almost three quarters of the largest companies (employing more than 500 staff) have introduced, or are planning to introduce, eco-design strategies. Whereas a mere 34 per cent of the smallest companies have similar plans………………

full story at

Engineers Without Borders: bringing clean water to Haiti

Engineers Without Borders: Bringing Clean Water to Haiti

Posted on 02 March 2010.


Last May, 22-year-old Paul Rodriguez went to a Caribbean country where, instead of soaking in the sun, he spent his week installing 23 water filters in different homes in Milot, a northern town in Haiti. Now he plans to recruit fellow NJIT students in an effort to help the town’s hospital facilities which has recently vowed to treat all earthquake patients and their families

Paul Rodriguez, president of Engineers without Borders at NJIT, made his pitch last week before 60 students in a classroom in Colton hall. Students listened with rapt attention as Rodriguez recounted his last summer’s trip to Haiti.
“Our first project was the bio-sand filter project” explained Rodriguez, “now that we have almost completed that project, we are starting new ones in Milot”

Engineers without Borders is a non-profit organization with over 250 chapters that aims to address the problems people face in financially unstable countries by using student skills in hopes of improving the lives of others through sustainable engineering solutions.

“Seventy five percent of the Haitian population does not have running water and must get water from unsanitary locations. Poor quality drinking water is responsible for many avoidable cases of water borne illnesses ranging from upset stomachs, diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, and typhoid. We believe we can lessen the impact of medical problems associated with waterborne diseases,” said Rodriguez.

For three years, engineers from NJIT have embarked in projects to solve this problem in Haiti. Thus far, they have constructed and installed 23 family-scale bio-sand filters in homes, schools and churches throughout Milot, Haiti, and trained and educated a team of local residents in bio-sand filter production in hopes of stimulating a locally driven expansion of the project.

“A bio-sand filter strips the contaminated water from pathogens which are consumed by microorganisms in the bio-layer. Contaminants are removed through the sand layer as they get trapped and attached to grains of sand and sediments. Remaining pathogens simply die from lack of oxygen at deeper sand and gravel layers. Finally, clear drinkable water flows out into a clean container,” explained Rodriguez.

About 250 locals have benefitted from this project by providing them with a source of clean water. Since the installation in May, Rodriguez was able to contact a family that has had a bio-sand filter in their home for seven months.

“We inspected the filter, which was working as it should, and the mother told us that her kids have been noticeably healthier and have not had to go back to the hospital for water-related illness. This was marvelous news to us,” rejoiced Rodriguez.

A follow-up trip was intended for this month, but was postponed until Spring because of the earthquake. Although Milot was not affected by the earthquake, the filters will be inspected and tested. After their departure, the local water committee will then take charge of the project and continue producing and installing filters throughout the community.

“Our next step will then be to provide the town with sustainable sanitation solutions. This will be our next official project, which we are starting this semester. Since we will continue to work with the community, we will be returning several more times to check up on the bio-sand filter project,” said Rodriguez………..

Full story at

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