Tag Archives: Spring 2013

Energy Efficiency: Still Wasting in the Building

by Silvia Schmid


Last week’s conference “Building Energy Efficiency: Seeking Strategies that Work” offered the opportunity to discuss the many barriers to advancements in energy efficiency beyond current standards. The event was cohosted by the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL), the Institute for Urban Research at the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center, in partnership with the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub and sponsored by SAP. Speakers and panelists provided valuable insights on the current status of energy efficiency in buildings, addressing topics ranging from consumption measurement and increased transparency, to some of the psychological challenges inherent in adopting more energy efficient behavior. The common message throughout the day was how much remains to be done to make energy efficiency a mainstream priority.

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Ethanol Cook Stoves and Fuel for Haiti at the United Nations

by Ruchi Shah

Ruchi1Dr. Stillman and Fritz Clairvil (Path To Haiti) delivering introductory remarks about the project (Courtesy of PPAF Public Private Alliance Foundation)

On April 4th, 2013, The Public-Private Alliance Foundation (PPAF) convened a consultation on cook stove and fuel alternatives in Haiti, held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and hosted by the UN Office for Partnerships. The meeting had two purposes:

1) Advance the expansion of a pilot project by bringing together more partners and discussing the further steps
2) Promote the benefits of new cook stoves in Haiti and elsewhere

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Boosting Household Investments in Energy Efficiency

by Matej Hodek, Hyojoo Kim, Douglas Miller (C’12) & Antonia Weitzer

sunset window reflection

Despite widespread political support for measures promoting investments in energy efficiency in the residential sector, there remains vast, unmet potential. In order to better understand the reasoning behind meager investments in energy efficiency, a study was conducted by four graduate students at Imperial College London – including one former member of the IGEL team – to investigate the role of financial and non-financial factors affecting household decisions to invest in energy efficiency. Continue reading

Penn Enactus Launches Recycling Initiative for Veterans

by Penn Enactus

2013-02-28 20.24.35A close-up of the first mosaic made of recycled tiles and mirrors by the Penn Enactus Green Initiative team. Courtesy of Penn Enactus

In the fall of 2012, our group of students from the University of Pennsylvania undertook the monumental challenge of starting Penn Enactus, the Penn chapter of the entrepreneurial organization Enactus. Our team reached out to various business leaders and faculty members  to gather a sizable Business Advisory Board, and also greatly benefited from the guidance of Professor Keith W. Wiegelt of the Wharton School, and Joanne Spigonardo, Associate Director of the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL).

One of Penn Enactus’ three current start-up projects is the Green Initiative, created with guidance and support from Wharton IGEL. With environmental sustainability and economic welfare in mind, the Green Initiative team takes an ambitious approach to a common social problem: unemployed military veterans. Combining the determination of the target group, and the use of recycled tiles, mirrors and pottery, we are teaching veterans in the Philadelphia area the skills they need to make, market, and sell mosaic artworks. Continue reading

The 2013 Wharton IGEL Conference Workshop


Thank you to all the speakers and participants of our 2013 Wharton IGEL Conference Workshop! Please make sure to visit the conference page for pictures and speaker presentations. In addition, a Knowledge@Wharton Special Report on the conference will be released soon, so stay tuned!

In the meantime please check out the following blog posts from Oikos Penn students Ruchi Shah and Leah Khaler, who covered our 2013 IGEL Conference:

Love Coca-Cola not for its taste but for its efforts

by Ruchi Shah
Businesses and brands are increasingly obliged to healthy communities and constituents for their bottom-line growth. On March 21, 2013 at the IGEL Conference-Workshop on The Nexus of Energy, Food and Water, Coca- Cola talked about their sustainability goals and accomplishments. Continue reading →

Local Economy in a Global World

by Leah Khaler
Entrepreneur, activist, and White Dog Café founder, Judy Wicks provided a different perspective at the 2013 IGEL conference at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Continue reading →

Supply Chain Compliance: Addressing the Elephant in the Room

by Derek Newberry*

If events like Apple’s Foxconn debacle teach us anything, it is that even reputable companies with strong supplier codes of conduct can face serious compliance issues where regulatory mechanisms are lacking.  I reflected on this recently when leafing through the summary report from last year’s Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL) Conference “Greening the Supply Chain”.  While I enjoyed reading about the participants’ experiences in sustainability management, I was struck by the short shrift they paid to the all-important question of compliance, despite acknowledging that when it comes to producing tangible results, this really is the “elephant in the room”.

Indeed, ensuring that suppliers adhere to social and environmental criteria and comply with applicable legislation is a thorny problem in settings where the boundaries of corporate responsibility are unclear and enforcement can be costly and onerous.  This is doubly true in production chains characterized by numerous small suppliers and sparse governmental regulations, as is the case in much of the global agricultural sector.  How can we create regulatory mechanisms that enable these sustainability programs to look as good in practice as they do on paper? Continue reading

Water for Energy

by Iliana Sepulveda*

water mage - Copy

Water is essential for human life. It is also very useful for transportation, and agricultural and industrial production. Energy is also an essential ingredient. The relationship between these two resources has become an important topic for national security and for human development worldwide. With current available technology, vast quantities of water are required to produce energy (thermoelectric production as an example). Moreover, due to the geographical mismatch of water supply and demand, a significant amount of energy is needed to transport water where it is consumed, and to ensure that it has the proper quality for its different end uses (human consumption, agricultural uses, industrial production, and ecosystems protection). Continue reading

Of Climate Change and International Policy Architecture

by Samantha Guidon*

StavinsERobert Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Harvard University. Courtesy of Stephanie Nam/Penn Law.

On February 27, 2013, Harvard University’s Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government Robert Stavins came to Penn for a presentation entitled “Climate Change, the IPCC, and International Policy Architecture” as a part of the Risk Regulation Seminar Series, an initiative jointly sponsored by the Penn Program on Regulation, the Wharton Risk Management & Decision Processes Center, and the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL). Continue reading

Challenges and Opportunities of Investing in Cleantech and Renewable Energy

By Zhan Zhou*


Based on the database of the Cleantech Group, there are about 19,200 cleantech companies in the world, of which over 1/3  are based in the United States.[I] Despite some minor setbacks, there is no doubt that cleantech has become one of the most targeted sectors for both public and private investment. A few numbers can shed light on the fact that the cleantech industry has emerged to be a fast-growing industry of great political and environmental significance:

  • During 2012 alone, cleantech companies around the globe raised $6.56 billion of venture capital across 732 deals [II]
  • For the global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the cleantech sector ranked as the second largest sector after oil and gas by attracting $12 billion from the global FDI into the U.S. in 2011, making it the fastest growth sector for the past decade [III]
  • Through July 20th, 2012, the §1603 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act program had awarded $13.0 billion to nearly 45,000 renewable energy projects [IV]

Market Challenges
With a seemingly growing appetite for investment in cleantech, some important market challenges lie ahead. Continue reading

Peeking into Sustainable Paper and Packaging

by Silvia Schmid*


To some, the idea of a sustainable paper and packaging company can produce an uncomfortable cognitive dissonance, perhaps conjuring up imagery of clear cutting and Styrofoam. Yet as much as we would like to think, do not print emails and traveling mugs are hardly going to replace the paper and packaging products that consumers want, firms demand, and on which the economy relies every day. Although this doesn’t mean that there is nothing being done. There are plenty of efforts to nudge consumer behavior toward the more sustainable, and, as attendees at a recent lecture at Wharton found out, the paper and packaging industry itself certainly considers issues of sustainability.

The Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (Wharton IGEL) invited David Kiser, Ph.D., Vice President, Environment, Health, Safety, and Sustainability at International Paper (IP) and a member of the IGEL Corporate Advisory Board, to speak about the company’s sustainability initiatives. The lecture was cosponsored by the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Continue reading