Category Archives: Uncategorized – Executive Summary

By Ratan Agarwal 

July 12th, 2018

Vision: Make the sustainability a reality for all – in our lifetime

Mission: Leverage the power of masses & technology to accelerate sustainability inflection point – from trickle-down to tsunami of impacts

Business challenge & opportunity

Given the rapidly manifesting impacts (global warming, extreme droughts and fires, depleting resources, rising inequality, violence against disadvantaged groups,..), sustainability awareness and number of organizations and activities are at an all-time high. However, it is also clear that we continue to lose the battle – in fact the gulf between adverse impacts and mitigating solutions continue to widen at an alarming pace. Rapid growth in multitude of initiatives has also brought widespread sub-optimization (duplication, re-inventing, silos,..), along with minimal leverage of solutions and resource pools – we are suffering from “trickle-down sustainomics”. There is a need for a radical new approach to change the tide. Fast progress in multiple game-changing technologies (IoT, Cloud, Mobility, Solar economics, CrowdSourcing / Shared Economy, BigData & AI) offers that unique opportunity TODAY.

Solution Description – Sustainability MarketPlace (“SM”)

MarketPlaces as a mega-scale enabling platforms have proven very successful across multitude of industries – with well-known examples of Amazon, EBay, AirBnb, and Etsy. The same model offers several fundamental benefits in Sustainability domain to change the game: a unifying platform for all the siloed current entities and initiatives, with benefits of cross-sharing and de-duplication, rapid global spread of best-practice solutions and innovations, effective utilization of currently untappable variable capacity of massive resource pools-with-intent (millennials, retirees, in-day-jobs), which would then drive massive leverage at Internet speeds through iterative and concurrent adaptations & innovations, match-making for the highest leverage and many more. Further, MarketPlaces have the unique characteristic of rapid scale through intrinsic network effect. Net result: exponential impact leverage from every single scarce resource at our disposal, and thus reversing the losing battle!

Technology Architecture & Key Capabilities

SM would have numerous elements found in popular marketplaces (logical directory structure and catalogs, participant demographics, interaction enabling common-services, rating engines, audit trails & reporting). Similar to traditional ‘products & services’, SM would be about sustainability projects, initiatives & solutions which would engage a variety of stakeholders & users as described below. Some of the key technical capabilities would be dynamic match-making between ‘givers’ and projects, Sustainability Impact Multiplier Score (SIMS) engine, dynamic project spin-up (matching enough appropriate distributed ‘doers’ to open replicable projects for solution adaption or development), connectivity with existing entities for bi-directional exchange, rewards, gamification, communities, and real-time transparency, and impact tracking.

Target Users & Stakeholders

Two main SM communities would be ‘givers’ (entities with resources ($, technology, talent) to lend) and ‘doers’ (entities with development & implementation capabilities). Each would represent diverse set of global groups such as Corporations, NGOs, foundations & charities, millennials and retirees, technologists, and students.

Competition, Marketing & Sales

SM is intended to fill key capabilities gaps and connect-the-dots to amplify the impact of existing activities, and hence it does not compete with or usurp any existing commerce or platform. Rather, it adds value to all the existing entities by expanding the reach & scope, accelerating impact, and optimizing their operations through common services – thus positioned as a natural win-win. Hence, existing entities would become marketing partners. Two main strategies to build the initial critical mass of participants would be: influencer/sponsor ‘pull’ and social-media based ‘push’, and import of existing memberships of partner entities. Other marketing tools: success celebrations, events, seminars & campaigns.

Financials (Cost, Revenues, Funding)

Overall, SM would be a non-profit business model. On the cost side, it is expected to be a very lean model tapping into variety of charitable sources (hours from technical and business experts, equipment and tool from corporations, off-the-shelf modules). Multiple revenue streams (nominal transactional fees for match-making, fees for subscription to common SM services, advertising, commission from 3rdparty sales) would support build and operate and expansion costs. Initial MVP scope development, projected to be under $100k would be supported mostly through grants.

5-year Projections (Key Metrics) (below numbers are placeholders for update shortly)

Fiscal Year            2018       2019                       2020         2021          2022           

# of Entities             10         200        5,000         20,000       30,000

# of Members (in K) 10       100        1,000         10,000      100,000

# of Projects            300       2000     100,000     400,000     800,000

Costs (in M$)           0.1          0.5            1              2                 4     

Revenues (in M$)     0            0.6            2             10                50

Phase-1 (MVP)

To ensure rapid learning and cost minimization, MVP will be focused on a handful of sustainability domains (plastics pollution, human trafficking, clean energy); and technical capabilities (catalog, database, dynamic teaming & projects).


Lead group (Ratan Agarwal, Govi Rao, Shayne Veramallay,..) brings 100+ years of technology, business, innovation, and incubation to large-scale operations management experience across variety of industries and non-profits.                                                    


Energy Policy Now: Lessons from a Decade of Cap & Trade

March 20th, 2018

Arthur van Benthem is a Faculty Fellow with the Kleinman Center and Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Wharton School of Business. His research and teaching focus on the economic efficiency of energy policies, and the unintended consequences of environmental legislation. Earlier, he worked as an economist and strategist at Royal Dutch Shell.

Carbon cap and trade is gaining momentum, most recently with China’s plan to build the largest carbon market. What can new markets learn from cap and trade’s past mistakes?

Carbon cap and trade has made headlines in recent months as governments turn to carbon markets to limit greenhouse emissions. The biggest announcement came in December, when China formally announced the establishment of a national carbon trading system that will initially cover its electric power industry. Once China’s market is up and running, it’ll dwarf the largest existing cap and trade market, the European Emissions Trading System that started in 2005.

Developments are underway in the U.S. as well. In January, New Jersey announced that it will rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, commonly called RGGI, which it had previously abandoned. And Virginia has announced its intention to also join the carbon market, which spans nine northeastern states.

Kleinman Center Faculty Fellow Arthur van Benthem discusses the of cap and trade cost-effectively limiting carbon dioxide emissions, and takes a look at the impact have cap and trade programs economic competitiveness.

The Energy Policy Now podcast, now in its second season, offers insights from Penn experts, industry and policy leaders on the energy industry and its relationship to environment and society.

Energy Policy Now: The Promise and Peril of Self-Driving Trucks

Featuring Steve Viscelli is a Senior Fellow with the Kleinman Center and a lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Sociology, where he researches policy in the areas of energy efficiency and employment relations. Steve also worked as a truck driver while researching his 2016 book, The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream.

February 27th, 2018

Self-driving technology promises to revitalize the trucking industry. But increased energy demand and air pollution are possible downsides.

Self-driving technology is making its way onto America’s roads. Companies including Lyft, Ford and Google’s Waymo are investing heavily to develop driverless vehicles and transportation services. Driverless technology is also being developed for the trucking industry, a cornerstone of the economy that moves 70% of manufactured goods yet finds itself challenged by high fuel costs, safety concerns, and a shortage of drivers.

Guest Steve Viscelli, Senior Fellow with the Kleinman Center, looks at the potential for driverless trucks to stake their claim on the nation’s highways and create a more efficient transportation system.  He also talks about potential impacts that vast fleets of driverless trucks may have on energy demand and air quality, as well as labor, and the choices policy makers face in balancing these outcomes.

The Energy Policy Now podcast, now in its second season, offers insights from Penn experts, industry and policy leaders on the energy industry and its relationship to environment and society.

Improved Metrics for Minimizing Business Risk Impacts

December 4th, 2017

SB Pic

We have seen evolution of sustainability goals from targeting operational areas in environment and energy to focusing on all-encompassing goals around the community and employees. Thanks to the initiatives at leading brands, the metrics catering to supply chains and products are also poised to be mainstream. This is important because over 50 to 70% of environmental impacts come from the upstream value chain for consumer product companies. In addition, uncertainty in value chains can morph into unexpected issues in quality, safety, emissions, or labor and lead to consumer and investor dissatisfaction.

In Feb 17, I posted a related blog on Wharton IGEL on analyzing goal-setting at consumer product companies using pivot goals data. With Vertaeon’s focus in data analytics and measurement of business impacts, our objective was to identify past core areas and undertake some level of sector and company benchmarking and gap identification that could yield higher visibility into goal-setting.

This preliminary assessment indicated a primary focus on operational goals at leading CPG companies. While product and supply chain goals are increasingly becoming part of sustainability initiatives, we concluded there was room for further adoption. In addition, heterogeneity in consumer expectations has not yet fully translated to goal-setting or reporting. Recent studies indicate consumer expectations are expanding along other dimensions such as risk & compliance and social justice. These broader expectations suggested disconnects between corporate sustainability reporting and stakeholder interests.

There is continuous progress in metrics measurement via new tools and methods — an area of focus in the SB New Metrics 17 Conference. How can we utilize the extensive data that comes out of measurement to quantify impacts to each value chain block and, by extension, your organization? In 2017, Vertaeon launched a web-based, integrated, supply chain analytics platform that seamlessly connects and aggregates data from disparate sources of information on goals set by thousands of companies. Our goal is to deliver a clear, cohesive view of the entire value chain (supplier and market), on multiple attributes ranging from environmental impacts and carbon footprints to compliance, social and governance risk factors. This, combined with operational aspects such as spend analysis, can deliver a comprehensive picture on performance, potential risks, and KPI prioritization.

Where can this improved transparency and impact quantification help? We think in cost reduction via operational efficiency improvement opportunities, revenue generation via new product designs and brand value via mitigating potential red flags in supply chain. As a sponsor of SB New Metrics 17, we are looking forward to seeing you in Philadelphia during November 13-15 and discussing this further!

This blog was  originally posted on November 15th, 2017 on the Sustainable Brands website,.

Rekha Menon-Varma
Co-Founder and Managing Partner
Vertaeon LLC


Energy Policy Now: India’s Now or Never Climate Opportunity

Featuring Radhika Khosla, fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, India and India fellow at the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of Oxford.  She is also a visiting scholar at the MIT Energy Initiative, and a former staff scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

November 29th, 2017

Mass migration to India’s cities will triple the size of its built environment by 2030, driving up energy use and carbon emissions. An expert on India’s energy sector looks at the country’s efforts to balance development and climate impact.

Few countries face the challenge of balancing economic development and climate change as acutely as India, and in no other country is this balance likely to directly impact the lives of so many people.

Over the next decade, some 200 million rural Indians will move to urban centers.  Many will join the middle class, creating new demand for goods and energy while tripling the size of India’s built environment. At the same time, rising temperatures and the desertification of India’s agricultural regions will challenge the country’s ability to feed itself.

Energy Policy Now guest Radhika Khosla, visiting scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, looks at India’s growing demand for energy, and at how the development decisions the country makes today will to a large extent lock in place its energy needs and climate impact for decades to come.

The Energy Policy Now podcast, now in its second season, offers insights from Penn experts, industry and policy leaders on the energy industry and its relationship to environment and society. 

20 Questions on Leadership

Sergio Corbo

SVP Marketing & Communications, Veolia North America

November 26th, 2017



  1. What is the difference between a leader and a manager?

A leader gives direction: WHAT should we do? A manager tells you exactly HOW you should do it.

  1. What motivates you to be a leader?

The team. Working together to grow the business. 

  1. What is the most difficult part of being a leader?

Being tough. I don’t like it. It is not me. I do it because sometimes is needed to get the team back on track. When I am tough I feel like I am a manager, someone that has to tell people HOW to do their job. I prefer to lead.

  1. What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?

I show up. I say yes and then figure it out. If I want my team to be great I have to be the first to try. Truth is, they are all better than me.

  1. Describe a time you influenced without the authority of being the manager.

Every day. Every day we all have to carry forward tasks with no direct authority. We do it by talking to people, we socialize the ideas, the vision and then we figure out a way to make it happen. Together. 


  1. What was your biggest challenge from a corporate function standpoint when you transitioned into the CMO role? And how did you go about resolving?

Someone told me that leadership is a LONELY experience. I dwelled on the concept. I almost saw the point. Over time I realized that leadership is something that at times required to be ALONE, to think, to build the vision, the direction. When I am alone I synthesize and come up with a plan. If I am clear with myself I can be clear and inspiring to others. The time alone helps me with that.

  1. As a CMO and someone who is inherently visible, how do you make a point to maintain that visibility and also get to know your employees at all levels of the organization?

Yes. I always walk the alleys. I like to meet people and learn their stories, their motivations. It is inspiring. There are so many people that believe in what we do. Success starts from there. If I believe it I can definitely make it happen. 

  1. How have visibility and networking impacted your career?

Visibility is a double-edged sword, so I don’t particularly seek it. It just happens. Networking is paramount: without the network, I can never achieve anything. The power of US is infinitely greater than the power of just me. 

  1. What sort of leader would your team say that you are?

I don’t know! Energetic, PASSIONATE, FAST. I value speed over precision. I have the luxury to be free from precision in the role I have. To be a growth leader you have to lean forward, accept imperfections. Of course, I would never sacrifice the basics. Safety is paramount to our business. So, in the case of safety only one outcome is acceptable: zero injuries.


  1. Is competition among a team healthy? Why or why not?

It depends. Healthy competition focused on elbowing each other into greatness, into results for the Customer, is very good. WE ALL RISE, we all get better.

  1. What advice would you offer in a competitive situation, when everyone wants to make a name for themselves?

Don’t focus on yourself. Focus on the Customer. The true competition is with yourself. Do something that makes you better and help others, which, in business, is the Customer. 


  1. How do you measure success?

In its most distilled version, business success happens when we make money. I make a point of this. I am now a functional leader. I don’t have a P&L. However, we are all part of making money here. I work every day to be part of it. I always ask myself what things do I need to do to help the Customer and make money for the Company. 


  1. How do you go about gaining commitment from your teams?

Commitment is gained every day by inspiring the team to do something meaningful. People want to win, they want to do the right thing. If they understand WHY they are much more prone to do it. They will know HOW to do it much better than me. I lead with WHAT, I gain commitment with WHY and then I let them take the lead on HOW.

  1. How do you encourage the development of your employees?

Education. I value education. It may be because of the teaching of my parents: learn every day something new, it may be useful. In truth, there is no magic in it: the biggest value of education is the personal experience. It makes you THINK. And when people think, they come up with very interesting things that make our world better. At Veolia, we live this every day: we are here to make the world better and make a living in the process. How inspiring!

  1. How did you a handle a time when you had to make an unpopular decision?

I raised prices for my business. We were alone. No competitor followed. The sales team thought I was crazy. I took the time to explain why we were doing it. I found people that agreed, that saw the logic. I enlisted them for help. Together we reached out to customers. Some customers understood. Then few more. Then many more. It was a great snowball effect.


  1. Explain a time when you had to make a decision without all the relevant facts.

Every day. If I wait for ALL the relevant facts out customers will be gone. I try to get as many as possible of the relevant facts in the shortest possible time. Then I go forward with a decision.

  1. How can a leader fail? Tell me about a time when you failed as a leader.

A leader fails when he/she does NOT LISTEN. Years ago, I wanted to make changes in my team because we were not moving fast enough. The team tried to convince me otherwise. I was NOT LISTENING. So, I went ahead: I pushed hard. I saw the team change. Turn dark. I was losing them. I called everybody and asked them to tell me again what they had tried to explain the first time. This time I listened. I apologized and changed my mind. It turned out great, but it was a tough lesson. I had pictured myself as the conductor of an orchestra. For the first time in my life I realized something that had been in front of me all along: the conductor does not make a sound. It is all about the orchestra. The team. They make the magic.

  1. Given that you have reached the pinnacle position of CMO, what are your plans for future career growth?

I want to do something good. I have this thing in me about kids and STEM. I want to leave something valuable for the next generations. STEM is the single biggest tool for success in life. Being in a company so rooted in applied science as Veolia is the right place to learn how to do it. 

  1. What is the most significant change that you brought to an organization?

I mentioned that success in business is measured in terms of profit. I was very successful the time I helped the business make $100 million in price increase without any loss of market share. That money was all profit. 

  1. We’ve asked all the professional questions, but what do you like to do in your free time and how do you make sure there’s a balance?

I exercise. I sweat it out to stay healthy and happy. I love art, music from rock, to country to classical. I go to the opera. I meet friends: we walk around town and dwell into endless conversations about changing the world. I ride my bicycles. I always say that home for me is a place when I have a bike. I have three in Boston!

Penn’s Green Fund Supports Innovative Light Automation

By Elizabeth Main, Sustainability Coordinator, University of Pennsylvania Facilities and Real Estate Services and David Mazzocco, Associate Director for Sustainability and Projects, Wharton Operations

17 November 2017

Penn’s Green Fund, created in 2009, is an initiative of Penn’s Green Campus Partnership to seed innovative ideas in environmental sustainability from members of the University community. The Green Fund welcomes ideas from students, faculty and staff about ways to improve the University’s environmental performance in support of the goals and objectives outlined in Penn’s Climate Action Plan.

Since its creation, more than 59 sustainability projects have received funding through Green Fund grants, ranging in topic from waste minimization to sustainable transportation, and from improvements to the campus landscape to energy conservation.

One recent project recipient is InstaHub, a multi-disciplinary student initiative comprising Wharton undergrad Michael Wong and Dayo Adewole and Matt Hanna from the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). They developed a battery-powered device with occupancy sensing capabilities that attaches over existing toggle light switches for instant light automation. The goal is to help Penn achieve the Climate Action Plan 2.0 goal of 10% reduction in energy consumption by 2019 through integrating a simple light automation solution. Wharton Operations, Penn Residential Services and SEAS co-sponsored their Green Fund application.

In addressing the problem of leaving lights on in unoccupied residential and small commercial spaces, the team looked to develop a cost effective, simple solution. Where conventional occupancy sensors are a possible option, installation costs to retrofit existing switches can account for more than 50% of the project cost. Instead of removing and rewiring to replace the toggle light switch, the device simply adheres to the faceplate over the existing switch.

To prove the effectiveness of the device, the grant funded a pilot to test prototypes in University student residence halls and staff offices. Current installations include five Wharton Operations staff offices with plans to install 25 prototypes in student lounges of four residence halls. The office installation also includes a data logger to measure changes in energy usage. The team hopes to gather early support and build a strong feedback loop to understand areas of improvements.

As the Fund’s goal is to foster innovation in environmental sustainability, one measure of success is recognition of the recipient’s efforts. InstaHub also received a PennVention award as well as interest by outside institutions to pilot their device.

Do you have a project that would support Penn’s environmental objectives, but need financial support to implement? Please visit the Green Fund website to learn more and submit an application!

Energy Policy Now: Distributed Energy’s Wholesale Opportunity

Featuring Ari Peskoe, Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Policy Program Initiative

November 14th, 2017

Distributed energy resources – namely rooftop solar and, increasingly, battery storage – are becoming an increasingly important part of the U.S. electricity system.  Their next big step may be participation in wholesale electricity markets, the traditional domain of large-scale generators like nuclear, natural gas, coal and, more recently, wind power.

Yet the rules that govern competitive electricity markets were designed with big, traditional generators in mind, and significant rule changes will be needed before distributed energy can meaningfully participate.

In the latest episode of the Kleinman Center’s Energy Policy Now podcast, Ari Peskoe, Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Policy Program Initiative, discusses the wholesale opportunity for distributed energy, and offers a look at the market and policy hurdles that currently prevent their participation in wholesale markets.

Ari Peskoe is a Visiting Scholar at the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy and Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Policy Program Initiative.  Earlier, as an energy attorney, he litigated cases before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Energy Policy Now podcast, now in its second season, offers insights from Penn experts, industry and policy leaders on the energy industry and its relationship to environment and society. 


Wharton IGEL 10th Anniversary Dinner & Conference: The Future of Education in Business Sustainability

This gallery contains 23 photos.

April 25th & 26th, 2017 On April 25th & 26th, founding and current corporate sponsors of IGEL joined leading academics in the field to examine lessons learned in the effort to promote education in business sustainability looking towards the future. … Continue reading

B-School Fundamentals for Sustainability

By John Mandyck, CSO of United Technologies
April 21, 2017

As the chief sustainability officer of United Technologies, I am often invited to college campuses to speak to students about what my company does to advance sustainability in the United States and around the world. And I’m proud of the answer.

People, Communities, and the Environment

The United Technologies sustainability platform consists of three pillars:

People — Among United Technologies’ greatest assets are the expertise, creativity and passion of our employees. We sustain our workforce through opportunity and employee development. In the last twenty years, we’ve invested $1.2 billion through our Employee Scholar Program to help our employees earn 38,000 college degrees.

Communities — We believe that financial performance and corporate responsibility go hand in hand while we strive to improve people’s quality of life everywhere we do business. We support initiatives and employee volunteerism for vibrant communities, STEM education and sustainable cities.

Environment – We believe we can do good for the planet while we do good for our customers and shareowners. Whether it’s developing energy-efficient solutions for green buildings that can change how cities urbanize, pioneering technologies to extend the world’s food supply, or setting the standard for green aviation through sustainable factories and technologies, United Technologies is leading the way to solving some of the toughest environmental challenges of tomorrow.

While we maximize the effectiveness of our environmental technologies, we actively minimize our environmental footprint — in the last 20 years, United Technologies tripled its revenues while lowering greenhouse gas emissions 34% and water consumption 57%, all on an absolute basis.

What does a CSO do?

Often, after outlining UTC’s sustainability program, I am asked, “Ok, but what does a chief sustainability officer (CSO) do every day?” That’s a fair question. Sustainability is still an emerging profession – and no two jobs in this space are the same. In addition to the private sector, large cities are starting to create CSO positions too. CSOs come from all backgrounds – marketing, technology, policy, environmental affairs, and more – and reflect the culture and priorities of their companies.

Some focus on lowering their environmental footprint. Some focus on the role for emerging environmental technologies. Some focus on corporate social responsibility. Some engage with stakeholders to achieve sustainable outcomes. Some focus on thought leadership to bring new ideas forward. We organize our program at United Technologies to do all of these activities.

My day-to-day routine focuses on outreach to key stakeholders – customers, policy-makers, thought-leaders, students and more – to expand the dialogue on three issues important to us: advancing green aviation, accelerating the adoption of green buildings and lowering food waste through cold chain development. To do this, we sponsor research, we convene experts, we share our thinking and we explore possibilities to help the world grow and urbanize more sustainably.

Business Schools and Sustainability

The question of what I do each day is sometimes followed by, “If I want a career in sustainability, what are my options?”

Fortunately, business schools around the country are adopting more and more sustainability-focused classes, as well as entire programs dedicated to corporate responsibility and sustainability. Getting started in one of these programs is a great first step.

Students and business school faculty interested in advancing sustainability curricula should focus on three key areas:

  1. Connect to the mega trends in the world – our global population is expected to grow 35% in just 35 years, and at that point in 2050, nearly 70% of all people will live in cities. These megatrends are redefining our society and our economy with big implications for sustainability.
  2. Recognize sustainability as a business strategy – sophisticated companies realize they can offer a value proposition to their customers by doing good for the planet, which often times can provide differentiation in industries.
  3. Incorporate multiple disciplines into sustainability classes – successful sustainability programs are drawing on multidisciplinary backgrounds in marketing, public policy, business, communications, engineering, science, and more. Many skills and perspectives are needed to help the world advance sustainably.

Making a Difference

Increasingly, workforce entrants are looking for employers who are making a difference in the world. Sustainability is a key way companies can make that difference. And careers in sustainability are a key way business school graduates can immediately make a difference with their careers. Business schools can prepare students for this field by providing the context, strategies and skills to accelerate sustainability around the world.


To continue the conversation, tweet me @JohnMandyck.