Climate Smart ideas abound…

Climate Smart. Met Fine Printers.  Van Houtte Coffee.  Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities.  What do these businesses have in common?  First of all, they are all alumni of the Climate Smart Business program.  But secondly, they give generously of their time and energy to partner with students in the and the class Design Strategies for Business Innovation.

Last week saw the final presentations from the four teams of students — and great, professional presentations they were.  Both Angele and I were amazed at the improvement from the previous project.  Here are some notes on the ideas from the various teams.

The Climate Smart Team

The team worked with Elizabeth Sheehan, CEO of Climate Smart and her colleagues to imagine a whole new clientele for Climate Smart Business — students in the post-secondary sector.  The team investigated whether there is demand for a Climate Smart program for students;  they explored what that might look like through a survey of students, interviews with stakeholders and imagining how such a program might be marketed — especially with business students.  They imagined an information session, an application process and then possibly on-line training for a first workshop to address basic skills and knowledge about sustainability, what carbon emissions are and the way ClimateSmart helps companies to reduce their carbon footprint.  They then imagined a project that could be co-created between students and businesses.  These experiences might culminate in some sort of certification for students in addition to their degree.

See for more info.

The Met Fine Team

This team worked with Metropolitan Fine Printers and Scott Gray — the VP of Branding.  Their goal was to collaborate with Scott and identify an area of opportunity which could help the company enhance their position as a green leader in the industry.  Through a focus group with marketing managers and specific, in-depth interviews, the team identified 4 specific take-aways:

  • Sustainability is an expectation, not a Point of Differentiation.
  • Sustainability is a “product”, not a “process”
  • QPS:  quality, price & sustainability relationship
  • Customer Service is King
See the youtube video for more scoop:

The Van Houtte Cafe Team

The Van Houtte team worked with Morten Schroder, VP Operations;  they discovered that Morten is a strong advocate within Van Houtte for Climate Smart initiatives.  So they decided to build on that idea and they set a goal of reducing the carbon footprint of Van Houtte’s clients (and by extension the Van Houtte business) while adding value to the company.  Like all teams, they used a variety of strategic design techniques to go through the ASK phase of the process.  For example, to do some in-depth observation they shadowed several of the Van Houtte drivers to find out what happens in the client relationship.  This gave them ideas around promoting climate smart-ness in the businesses such as:  create a line of sustainability mugs to extend the drivers’ scope of influence (the mugs are branded with sustainability messages); develop a sustainability starter kit;  create a sustainability brunch series; and, invite more participation in the Climate Smart training program.

The Pacific Arbour Team

This team worked with Karim Winsor, Director of Development at Pacific Arbour Retirement Homes.  Karim had a specific idea that appealed to the team:  carbon food-printing.  This meant investigating the greenhouse gas emissions generated by purchasing food from their suppliers.  So the team investigated the possibility of measuring the footprint by collecting data from the purchasing invoices and using a food-print calculator.  The team discovered that food-prints are hard to measure accurately because there are multiple variables.  The team also visited and interviewed Chef Joseph to better understand the Pacific Arbour kitchen and food buying operations. Finally, they learned from an industry leader, Trevor Bird of Fable Kitchen.  The team’s recommendations ranged from the suggestion of buying a cardboard box compressor (to reduce the number of recycling trips per week) to more fully utilizing the Pacific Arbour greenhouse to develop a “Chef’s Summit” including the suggestion of joining the green table network.  They also made several “long-term” recommendations around finding related companies in Climate Smart that are interested in food-printing and in spreading best practices amongst the various retirement residences.

Just a note that COMM 388:  Design Strategies for Business Innovation is a 3 credit course (3 studio hours/week) so the students necessarily have to “scope” their projects to fit the time available.  Which is good practice in itself.

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