Friday, 17 October 2014

Climate Miles Survey: Do we need a new sub-category of restaurants titled “Sustainable/Green Eateries” ?

If given a choice, we would rather go to a restaurant that conducts itself in a sustainable manner - whether it is with respect to food sourcing, handling its energy and waste, or trying to eliminate pesticides from its ingredients. From anecdotal discussions it seemed that we are not alone. It was interesting to realise that there are many food lovers who would like to be informed about these parameters and there are many restaurant owners as well who would like to reach out to such customers by highlighting their own green/ organic/ sustainable  operations.  At Climate Miles, instead of relying on anecdotal observation, we decided to do a quick survey - for both customers and restaurant owners to share the results of this survey with all of you.  In this digital age, an important link between the customer and the service provider is the online directory service. These services have replaced ‘yellow pages’ both in terms of volume and quality of content. They provide not only the names and contact details of th service providers, but also prices, special services and even customer reviews.

Our larger aim in doing this survey was to underscore the role of online food directories like zomato, burrp, timesfood guide in how they 'tag' eateries.

We conducted our customer survey over 2 weeks, (primarily among restaurants in India, customers between the age of 15 to 50 ) in order to highlight the need and relevance of such a sub-category in the hospitality sector by understanding customer choices. Then we contacted restaurant/eatery owners to understand their level of interest in sustainability. Many of whom were already on the path.

Objective of the survey:

To gauge the following:

For customers,
·         Apart from taste, presentation and ambiance, what else is important to a customer when they walk into their favourite restaurant?
·         Whether customers would like the option of a “green eatery” among other categories on popular food apps like #zomato #burrp #timesfoodguide #justeatin #foodpanda
·         Whether such an option is important to customers and could be one of the criteria that helps them decide between restaurants.

For restaurants,
·         Whether restaurants would like to be a part of the emerging trend. For those who already are, whether they would like to be recognised and highlighted for it on food directories like zomato, burrp, timesfoodguide justeatin  and foodpanda.

Let use see what the survey reveals!

Questionnaire for CUSTOMERS (Date: 2nd October 2014)

Apart from taste, presentation and ambiance, which of the below characteristics are important to you when choosing an eatery/restaurant to dine-in.
a.     Where the food comes from (locally sourced)
b.    Whether the food is organic
c.     The initiatives put in place by the restaurant to minimise energy/water use and yet keep the guest comfortable.
d.    The cutlery used at the restaurant or during take-away (packaging using recycled/recyclable plastic, cloth, paper etc).
e.     What happens to the left-over food once you have eaten (homeless, fed to stray dogs or composted)

Among the above choices, which would you say means the MOST important to you?

As seen from the above, what happens to left-overs (70%) food at restaurants is the biggest concern for customers. A Close second is if the food served at the restaurants is organic (69%) and finally third if the food is locally sourced (65%). Goes to show that customers do inherently care about their own health and the waste they generate. Packaging& Cutlery(50%) and Energy/Water Usage(53%) at the restaurant is also relevant to them.When asked what was MOST important to them, 38% felt that it was where the food came from.

When you lookup restaurants /eateries on food apps (like zomato, timesfoodguide, tripadvisor, justeatin & burrp), would you like the added option of also knowing the ‘green eatery(s) inyour neghborhood along with the preferences like vegan, organic etc?

a.    Yes
b.    No
c.     Don’t care either way

Highly encouraging to know that 56% felt it is important to add a new category on food apps to highlight “green” or “sustainable” restaurants in the area. While 42% felt it would be great to have such a category but it is not critical.

Would a sustainable rating be a deciding factor for your selection between two or more restaurants with similar attributes?
a.     Yes
b.    No

The above shows that if customers are given an option, they would ideally like choose a more environmentally responsible restaurant. This shows the need for such a category to inform the customers of the initiatives taken by their favorite restaurants and eateries to become sustainable.

Questionnaire for RESTAURANT OWNERS (Date: 2nd October 2014)
Do you want your restaurant to be highlighted as a green/organic/ promoting local produce / energy efficient /sustainable restaurant in food directories like zomato, timesfoodguide, tripadvisor, justeatin & burrp etc.
100% of all the restaurants we approached said YES!
Among the few of restaurants who participated in the survey - popular Organic / Vegan Restaurants in Bangalore, India such as Carrots, greentheory paradigm shift participated in order to spread the word about their approach and efforts.

Others who participated in the survey

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A Climate Miles Study : 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change Signatories


At the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Change Summit, on the 23rd of September 2014, the 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change was presented.

Who contributed? This Statement was drafted through a collaboration of six organizations: the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC), the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC),Ceres' InvestorNetwork on Climate Risk (INCR), the Investor Group on Climate Change Australia/New Zealand (IGCC), the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

The 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change states the contribution that investors can make to increasing low carbon and climate resilient investments. It offers practical proposals on how contribution may be accelerated and increased through appropriate government action. Highly ambitious climate policies are called for in the Statement which would and can help grow such pockets of leadership. The 2014 Statement was accompanied by another report which shared current investor and finance sector leadership actions on climate change. This report complements the Statement and highlights that finance sector leadership on climate change is not only possible but already happening today.

Who were the signatories? Signatories to the global statement are Institutional Asset Owners and Asset Managers from around the world. Initial Signatories were listed (348 global institutional investors representing over $24trillion in assets) on the Statement presented at the UN Secretary General’s Climate Change Summit on 23 September. Investors will be able to sign the statement after its launch, up until 15 November 2015, prior to the COP 20 meeting in Lima.

The 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change has called on government leaders to provide stable, reliable and economically meaningful carbon pricing that helps redirect investment commensurate with the scale of the climate change challenge, as well as develop plans to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

Study of the Signatories

This study was conducted to better understand  the signatories listed on the above statement. For more information on the study, get in touch with the ClimateMiles team or email us at

Focus points:

§  Whether they are funds or fund managers

§  Countries they operate in

§  Whether they have been exploring responsible investment opportunities in the past (& the kind of projects they invest in)

§ Whether they have their own indices/parameters/approach for choosing investments

§  Any other interesting information that could be highlighted

 Funds or Fund Managers

The list primarily consisted of fund managers – some of whom explore responsible investment options and have been doing so for a while. Almost all have very loose social/environmental impact missions stated on their websites. There were also many church organisations that have set-up funds to explore social-related investments such as better housing, health, community, food, sanitation and clean water. None so far have mentioned being part of the 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change on their websites.

Countries of operation

A majority of the funds were based in USA, the rest in Canada or Europe. Fund managers were also mainly North American, but had offices in Europe, Australia including South and Southeast Asia. A few operated in India. Even fewer in Africa.

ESG & Responsible Investments: Projects invested in

Many of the signatories take into account environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts when conducting their investment analysis and dring decision-making processes. ESG issues often affect companies and sectors over time, they may also affect investment performance and therefore some have stated that they have started exploring ESG issues that could have a material impact on their investment performance. Most of the common ESG/Sustainable projects invested in are:

§  Clean technology - including Renewable Energy
§  Climate Risk
§  Sustainable building & construction (Green real estate)
§  Healthcare, Food and Clean water
§  Sustainable products and services
§  Other Low-carbon projects
§  Social change – social & economic justice
§  Environment protection and conservation
However, there were also many general multi-asset financial products.

Approach to choosing investments

Most of the fund managers explore long-term investment opportunities for their clients. Those who explored responsible investment had their own internal policy and process for choosing the sectors/ projects to invest in. Often dedicated ESG teams were created to conduct focused studies to identify risks and opportunities. Some asset-managers had even signed on to the Principles of Responsible Investment as early as 2007.

A majority made generic statements about making socially beneficial investments, and mentioned some sectors of interest, but did not provide specific parameters for their investment strategy. Some had CDP partnership, or collaborations with other voluntary regulatory bodies.

Detailed descriptions on the previous investments and the impact of the same were not shared.


§  There was a mention of the FTSE Group which launched the FTSE Environmental Markets Index Series in collaboration with the environmental technology specialist, Impax Asset Management (a signatory of the 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change), to provide two new environmental index solutions: the FTSE Environmental Technology Index Series and the FTSE Environmental Opportunities Index Series.

§  Another signatory is BNP Paribas. In the ‘small customer’ category – BNP Paribas is among the least expensive banks. BNP Paribas bank charges are below average. A range of alternative payment methods at no extra cost for the most vulnerable. It is also the only financial institution which offers this service entirely free of charge. Today the group has no establishment in any country designated as a tax haven under the OECD definition.

§  Boardwalk Capital Management is a certified B-Corp has signed the 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change. Environment stewardship and social impact are embedded into its identity. 20% of the future profits will be directed to social impact and charitable enterprises.

§  IL&FS Investment Managers Limited, established in 1989, is India s oldest and largest private equity fund manager. They too are among the signatories for the 2014 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change. IIML is now also expanding to new geographies. It now advises on investments across the Asian region (1st for India). Investors to IIML managed funds include all major banks and institutions in India. IIML invests in various sectors such as telecom, infrastructure, city-gas distribution, shipyards, retail, media and even real estate.

Written by Ambika Balraj 
Other Contributors : Priyanka Gupta, Pramod S, Joe Kent

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Maturity Blog 3: The Climate Miles Sustainability Maturity Model

Here at Climate Miles we are continually building innovations to help businesses realize their sustainability goals. In our last sustainability maturity post, we discussed the need for a new maturity model – a model that provides a more objective perspective of how developed a company’s sustainability practice is, and a benchmark to compare performance against other companies in the industry. In this blog, we’ll discuss how we built our new sustainability maturity framework to do this and how it differs from existing models. 

How was our model designed?

First we looked at existing sustainability maturity models, which paint a broad picture of the levels of sustainability maturity. We translated these more subjective maturity levels into a clear set of objective indicators, based on metrics from the Global Reporting Initiative G4 Guidelines, as well as the FTSE4Good ESG Ratings (Environmental, Social, Governance). We included indicators which a company is likely to report or not depending on their sustainability maturity level, such as quantitative data and long-term goals, which are indicators of high maturity.

We mapped each of these indicators to a list of the most relevant and consistently reported environmental metrics for each industry, from water use to product design. For each environmental metric, we can check off the maturity indicators a company has reported on, creating a matrix from which the final maturity score is calculated.

What it Measures

The framework essentially measures how comprehensive an individual company’s sustainability initiative and reporting practice is. We look at the company’s sustainability reports, policies, interventions, goals and progress which are available on the public domain and enter this data into our simple framework to calculate a rating. The framework does NOT capture specific sustainability performance, such as the amount of carbon emission reductions, waste output numbers, or how successful an intervention was. It only looks at the thoroughness of the reporting and policy: whether all important sustainability factors are covered, if meaningful quantitative data is presented, and if goals and progress are established, tracked and reported.

The result is reported in an elegant quadrant that represents a sector. The companies are mapped according to their sustainability performance rating, as well as the time period over which their sustainability-related information is made available on the public domain.

industry rating analysis image
Climate Miles Industry Maturity Rating Analysis

Key Differences from Other Models

Most other models describe the different maturity levels somewhat subjectively, and rely on internal knowledge of a company to make an assessment. Therefore they are useful primarily for broad, internal analysis of a company. The primary advantage our model has is that it is based on clear yes/no type indicators, to allow for an objective, unbiased maturity rating of a company. We also base our model on information that is commonly reported in the public domain.

Benefits of Our Model

Using our model we are able to make a sustainability maturity assessment of practically any company in an industry, map the sectorial sustainability practices and trends, and identify the sustainability leaders and stragglers. Companies can use this information to benchmark themselves against competitors, or to understand trends in their clients’ industries in order to align their sustainability agenda with their clients’ goals.

The Limitation of our Model

While we did our best to ensure that our maturity model ratings are consistently accurate, they may not be perfectly representative of what a company is actually doing. Since we base our ratings only on public information, if a company does not report its practices accurately, their maturity rating will also be skewed.

Despite this limitation, we have found that the model provides good representation of overall trends, and is becoming increasingly accurate as companies adopt good reporting standards and communicate clearly and completely on their sustainability practices. It can also be used to measure the robustness of a company’s sustainability parameters and how consistently and how long a company has been reporting on sustainability.

How we are Using It

So far we’ve used the model to assess sustainability maturity of the major companies in 5 different industries (IT, textiles, fashion, hotels and aviation) and we are rapidly adding more to the list.

We have also integrated the framework into our U-Sustain sustainability management software, so that our clients using the software will automatically get an updated ranking as they enter data and generate reports and see how they compare to their peers and other players in the industry.

Get in touch with us if you’d like to know more about the Maturity Framework. We’ll be happy to conduct a free assessment and help you understand how to improve your company’s score and sustainability practices.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Maturity Model Blog 2: The Need for a More Objective Sustainability Maturity Rating

green rulers

Re-Cap of the Maturity Model

In the first blog of this series, we introduced an array of different sustainability maturity models, all of which served the same purpose: providing a vision for integrating sustainability within a business. Using the models, internal stakeholders can loosely determine their company’s maturity level and get a clear idea of what else they can do to improve their sustainability practice.

The models we looked at are great at providing vision, but they are generally based on subjective, internal information. They offer no means by which to make an external assessment of other companies, so it is not possible to accurately benchmark one company’s performance against the industry average. The models can really only be used for internal benchmarking, and for very rough estimations of other companies’ maturity levels.

The Need for a New Maturity Model

In our work, especially with small and medium-sized companies with nascent sustainability practices, we realized that in addition to an internally-oriented maturity assessment, there is a compelling reason for these companies to access an easy-to-understand comparative maturity rating of other companies within their business environment. To accomplish this, they need a maturity model that can be used to make unbiased assessments of other companies.

Being able to compare with competitors and establish benchmarks is fundamental in motivating managers to adopt more sustainable business practices, and helps define their vision of sustainability success. We have found that small and medium-sized companies often do not have a good sense of the state of sustainability practice in their sector – either what their competitors are doing, or what the sustainability agenda of their current and potential clients are. This lack of perspective impedes their ability to take appropriate decision related to sustainability initiatives. 

The Challenge of Creating the New Model

We have been working on the development of a Sustainability Maturity Model that learns from the existing models and overcomes some of their limitations. The goal is to create a more objective, unbiased way to assess a company’s maturity level that is easy for a non-specialist to.

One difficulty in creating such a model is balancing access to the necessary and accurate information with the ability to scale up the model so we can assess more companies and sectors.

There is no debating the fact that the most accurate information about a company’s environmental sustainability efforts – its intent, successes and failures – are recorded with the company’s internal functionaries, and can be accessed only through direct contact with them. A detailed study, even for one company, would probably take considerable time and effort. Even so, it is possible that some of this information might be confidential and cannot be disclosed to an external agency. While a model that is based on such detailed, well-researched information is ideal, it is unlikely that in the near future a concerted effort can be launched to map the sustainability efforts of a significant number of companies on a pre-decided set of parameters. As such, we needed a model based on data that is available in the public domain. Such data is reported by the companies through their websites or sustainability reports. The drawback of this approach is that we cannot be absolutely sure that the data is not exaggerated or under-reported.

Our other challenge in developing the model was balancing thoroughness with ease of use. There are many caveats of sustainability practice which are indicators of a company’s sustainability maturity level, but including them all would make maturity assessment a painstakingly laborious process. Additionally, not all of the indicators would be consistently reported in the public domain.

Introducing the Climate Miles Maturity Framework

After much deliberation, we settled on a solution which met our needs without sacrificing accuracy or ease of use. We have used a simple, objective framework that draws from the most indicative parameters derived from the most popular sustainability reporting standards. Our next blog in this series will give you a sneak peak of how our model works, and the advantages it provides in guiding a company’s sustainability journey.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Maturity of the Sustainability Ecosystem in Hawaii

Written by Joe Kent

I have just returned from a one-week exploration of the sustainability ecosystem in Hawaii. I met with a range of stakeholders on my journey, from grass-roots workers to investors, all who exhibited a high level of enthusiasm for their work, and optimism for sustainable development in the state. I concluded my visit in Honolulu sharing the sentiment. It was encouraging for me to see so many people working towards creating a more sustainable state on many different fronts: sustainable agriculture, water and marine life conservation, education, renewable energy, and corporate sustainability. However, as I learned more about each of their individual efforts, the need for a more cohesive, synergized approach emerged.

My exploration took place in Honolulu and began with the July 15 HI Impact conference, which provided a platform for discussing the needs of the innovation ecosystem in Hawaii, and how it can be supported by Impact HUB, a global network of collaboration-driven co-working spaces and incubation labs which is launching in Honolulu this October. A poll at the beginning of the conference revealed that we were in the company of a mix of impact investors, entrepreneurs, consultants, and government representatives, all from whom Impact Hub enjoyed support.
Group discussion at HI Impact on "What does the Innovation Ecosystem in Hawaii need?" Collaboration, communication, exploration, and risk taking were common responses.
Although the forum was open to experts in any industry, 90% of the people were working to promote sustainability through their professional occupation or their lifestyle. To me that was another indicator that – in case anyone had any doubts – the issue of sustainability is at the forefront of concern in Hawaii. The market demands sustainable options. Entrepreneurs have identified this fact as a business proposition, and the government has adopted it as a platform to gain public approval.

Sustainability is starting to show up everywhere you look; there are more and more environmental bills being passed, eco hotels, energy efficient products, sustainable residential neighborhoods, and specialized sustainability consulting firms like Climate Miles. Even traditional businesses are starting to realize the value of adopting environmental sustainability as a competitive strategy. Since 2009, 74 businesses have voluntarily joined the State Energy Department’s Hawaii Green Business Program. Dozens more are a certified B-Corp or LEED certified.

Although there is undoubtedly momentum in the right direction, the sense I was left with is that each service provider, green tech expert, sustainability consultant, and green certification program is playing a compartmentalized role in the ecosystem, and cutting short the potential for deeper, self-sustaining impact. Sustainability consultants do a good job of mobilizing green tech solutions and certifications during the period of their contract, but are their clients any more empowered to take sustainability a step further on their own? Green business certifications are great for providing benchmarks and goodwill, but do businesses maintain those standards on a day-to-day basis?

Sometimes businesses do successfully implement a sustainability management system and make commitments to continuous improvement, but more often the progress stops until the next sustainability sales man comes along or it’s time to renew the green certification. One gentleman representing a B-Certified described the B-Corp certification process in the same way as Ron Poeil describes Showtime Rotisserie Grills: “Set it, and forget it!”

The most widely-adopted sustainability maturity frameworks, including our own at Climate Miles, describe a business’ sustainability maturity as on a spectrum. A less mature business is characterized by taking up isolated, desynchronized sustainability initiatives which are made without a long-term, strategic agenda. A fully mature business, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is committed to long-term goals and continuous evaluation and improvement which are reflected in their systems and management approach throughout the organization.

If the sustainability ecosystem in Hawaii is evaluated on a parallel framework, it would rank on the less mature end of the spectrum, which should be expected in this nascent stage. Each ecosystem player acts largely independently of one another, and are working towards independent goals. There is some collaboration taking place in the sector, and long-term goals have been vaguely defined by a few independent organizations, such as the Hawaii 2050 Task Force, but none have been convincing enough to take hold of and guide the ecosystem on one collaborative mission.

I look forward to being a part of this ecosystem as it works to define common interests and goals, begins sharing information and resources, and encourages the system to self-evaluate and make improvements and new targets. All of us, as stakeholders in the sustainability ecosystem, need to start discussing what we are learning, feeding on each other’s momentum, and collaborating on projects to create deeper, long-term impact. If we look at the combined capabilities of our individual organizations – the technology providers, consultants, educators, certifiers, farmers – and continually evaluate our performance and understanding of the market, we’ll start to realize our potential as a community and be able to set targets which reflect this. If we do this, we may find that the state’s current environmental goals are too low. We may also find gaps in our tools or knowledge, but we will be in a position to collaborate and fill them in quickly.

Impact HUB’s launch in Honolulu is symbolic of a more collaborative and inclusive ecosystem. The Sustainable Leader forum is another. As entrepreneurs, we need to make a commitment to use these platforms, to share, and to explore, with the ultimate goal of establishing a cohesive, synergized effort in making Hawaii a more sustainable state.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Green SME Summit – Collaborating across the Value Chain Featuring the launch of the do-it-yourself Software Tool – U-Sustain - GHG Accounting tool developed by Climate Miles under the aegis of the India GHG Program Mumbai on 16th July, 2014

WRI India, in association with TERI and CII has set-up the India GHG Program – a voluntary industry led partnership that aims to build institutional capabilities towards measurement and management of greenhouse gas emissions. By providing relevant trainings, tools, capacity building and facilitating best practices, peer interactions etc., the program aims to eventually promote profitable and competitive businesses in India. The India GHG Program is supported by the Pirojsha Godrej Foundation, Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, and, the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

The program partners, as well as its founding member  (26 of the largest corporates in India, across all industrial sectors) realize there are business benefits associated with management of greenhouse gas emissions, and these are not limited to large organizations alone. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) form the core of the economy, and contribute not just to the supply chains of select large organizations, but to the overall GDP in a significant manner.  However, the challenges that SMEs face in terms of understanding the environmental impacts, benefits or opportunities are very unique and these are generally pertaining to dedicated capacity, resources and availability of tools/guidance etc.

The GreenSME Summit, with the India GHG Program, was aimed at convening various stakeholders and key influencers together to explore potential avenues of collaboration between large companies and SMEs across the value chain using GHG Accounting as a tool.  The Summit also saw the official launch of the do-it-yourself GHG Accounting Software tool developed under the aegis of the India GHG Program. 

Convened by the India GHG Program, the Green SME Summit included participation from leading businesses – YES Bank, Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Ltd.KPIT TechnologiesMahindra & MahindraACC LimitedAditya Birla Group, JSW GroupFord MotorsBayer Group. The SME sector was represented by Matru ChemicalsVijayesh InstrumentsSA Glass, and, SimaPro India

The summit focused on outlining the opportunities, challenges and current developments for SMEs within large corporate value chains to reduce emissions and improve efficiency. The summit included discussion on how engagement among large enterprises, SMEs and vendors in the value chain can promote profitable and sustainable businesses in India.  Remarks by the Keynote Speaker Mr. Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman, Godrej & Boyce, emphasised the shared value across the supply chain and the importance of shifting the perspective from regarding Sustainability practice from a cost centre to a profit centre.

The online demo of Pilot Software developed by Climate Miles for GHG Emissions Inventory of SME’s was enthusiastically accepted by all present.

The press release by IGHGP can be found here:

posted by Jaya