From the Web: Revising the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI)

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is the apparel, footwear and home textile industry’s foremost alliance for sustainable production. Its main focus is on building the Higg Index, a standardized supply chain measurement tool for all industry participants to understand the environmental and social and labor impacts of making and selling their products and services.

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Now, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has launched a new version of its Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI), a cradle-to-gate scoring tool that measures and communicates the environmental performance of thousands of materials used in creating apparel, footwear and home textile products.

The original version of the Higg MSI was developed by Nike and later adopted by the SAC in 2012 and incorporated into the SAC’s Higg Index.

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From the Web: Synthetic Process Converts CO2 Faster than Nature

Scientists have managed to make a synthetic process that converts CO2 into organic compounds faster than plants.

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In a study published in Science, the researchers detail how they managed to make a synthetic pathway that converts CO2 into organic compounds faster than plants. In order to find an enzyme to improve CO2 fixation, the researchers carefully selected 17 enzymatic compounds from nine organisms. These were engineered together using stepwise optimization to form a synthetic pathway that converts CO2 into organic molecules.

The technology is still under development, but holds great promise for carbon fixation.

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From the Web: What Tesla’s new Gigafactory means for electric vehicles

Tesla‘s new Gigafactory opened at the end of July in Nevada, with much excitement from both the media and the general public. Only 14 percent of the massive structure has been built, with the rest of the $5 billion project to be concluded by 2020.

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According to Tesla, battery cell production will start in 2017; by 2018, the Gigafactory should be cranking out cars to the tune of 500,000 Model 3s per year. A big part of Tesla’s need to build the Gigafactory lies in the reduced expenses for lithium-ion battery production it provides.

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From the Web: Renewable Energy Can Improve Lives Of Agri-Food Chain Poor

A new study by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) describes the role renewable energy can have in elevating the livelihoods of the millions of rural poor, specifically in terms of the impact it can have on the billions of people employed in the agri-food chain.  In the study, the agency uses data from the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a SEMBA Advisory Board member.

SELF has pioneered the use of solar power for a wide range of applications including household lighting, water pumping, school electrification, drip irrigation and wireless Internet access.

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Off-grid renewables can support productive activity at all stages of the agri-food chain, from irrigation to support food production, through post-harvest processes, including agro-processing and food preservation for storage and transport. Modern renewable technologies also allow sustainable food preparation and cooking.

Innovation: Top 10 Lessons from John Abele

This story was written by Lauren Hesterman, SEMBA ’17. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: SEMBA regularly brings in business icons, executives, and entrepreneurs for hands-on, face-to-face workshops on issues ranging from sustainability to organizational leadership. In mid-October, John Abele, co-founder of the pioneering medical device company Boston Scientific, sat with the SEMBA cohort and talked about innovation and collaboration.

Not surprisingly, I found myself Googling new and exciting ideas no less than a dozen times while listening to John Abele speak to our SEMBA cohort last month. A dozen times – and it most certainly was not because I was distracted or disengaged. Rather, it was quite the opposite.

boston-scientific-us-boston-scientificJohn is one of those people that has inspiration oozing out of him. His relentless curiosity is apparent through and through. He had me searching for a new Irish company that is selling light instead of bulbs, a human anatomy chart, and the economic theories of Elinor Ostrom. Co-founder of Boston Scientific, where scientific innovation and humanitarian collaboration meet, John Abele has been driving innovative medical solutions for more than four decades. While John’s list of tangible accomplishments is enough to fill up a CV many times over, perhaps his greatest asset is his remarkable ability to collaborate.

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Michael Russo, Leading Thinker on Sustainable Business, Visits SEMBA

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Chris Howell, SEMBA ’17

This post was written by Chris Howell, a member of the SEMBA Class of 2017.

One of SEMBA’s more impressive elements is the program’s direct connection to so many innovators in the discipline and practice of sustainable entrepreneurship. From our well-connected advisory board to the steady stream of speakers from a range of industries, our network grows by the week.

This week, we had the pleasure of attending a talk and class with Michael Russo, professor of Sustainable Management and head of the Department of Management at University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business.

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Living and Learning the Burlington Way

Caroline Hauser, SEMBA Class of 2016 (Valedictorian), on the benefits of spending a year in one of America’s most livable cities

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Caroline Hauser, SEMBA ’16

“I could not have asked for a better experience living and learning in Burlington while working toward an MBA.”

I moved to Burlington to start the SEMBA program last August. I’d visited the prior April — it snowed twice and the lake was still frozen. It was freezing but I still fell in love with the view of the Adirondacks over Lake Champlain, the energy of Church Street, and the dollar oysters at Hen of the Wood.

Arriving for school at the end of summer, I drove up from Pennsylvania with my parents and as soon as we crossed the border into Vermont it just felt different. Everything looked brighter, cleaner, fresher. To this day, I am in awe of how beautiful it is here. I could not have asked for a better experience living and learning in Burlington while working toward an MBA.

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SEMBA: Hope For A Runaway World

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Paul Laudicina, 2016 SEMBA Inauguration Speaker

On August 12, 2016, Paul Laudicina, partner and chairman emeritus of A.T. Kearney, addressed SEMBA’s 2016 graduating class. In a wide-ranging speech with a broad historical arc, Laudicina made a powerful case for the “SEMBA Movement,” where businesses and business leaders committed to sustainability will leading us through this significant and challenging period of history.

Below are excerpts from that address. The full text of Laudicina’s speech can be read here.


“There is simply too much riding on your shoulders as the next generation of leaders for you to unplug. We desperately need your know-how, vision, passion, courage, and purpose to lead us through these challenging times. You could not be going out into the world to apply what you have learned at a more critical time—in many ways a “best of times, worst of times” interlude in world history.

“We stand at the threshold of the most incredible advances ever—in medicine, in life expectancy, in educational attainment, in extraordinary technological advances. Yet, we also live today in a world more troubled and challenged than at any time in modern history—surely than at any time in my history…people are feeling uneasy, apprehensive, insecure, and unhappy with the present, and fearful of the future.

“You will be challenged to lead in a world more complex and difficult than at any time in the past couple of decades.

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The Leaders We’re Looking For

By Joseph Fusco, Vice President, Casella Waste Systems, Inc., and Chair, SEMBA Advisory Board

You should know this about the company I work for: it is a mundane business. We are not superstars in the sustainability movement. Our name certainly wouldn’t escape from your lips should you be asked to name a fashionable triple bottom line company.

uvm-2016-0812-0167However, a few years ago, we had a moment of clarity. Suddenly, we realized our entire existence was based on a business model that was simply unsustainable.

We had to ask ourselves a very important question: what will the world — the planet, our markets, our customers, our communities — expect from us in twenty or thirty years? What will we get paid for?

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