Burlington, Vermont: Sustainable by Design

Burlington, Vermont — home to the University of Vermont and our beloved Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA (SEMBA) — recently earned the distinction of being the first city in America to draw 100 percent of its power from renewable sources.

And it wasn’t an accident.

A recent Politico Magazine article profiles how we got therepolitico, through decades of deliberate effort and planning by people who understood — and continue to understand — that sustainability is not a fad, but an important ethic in building livable communities.

It is the same ethic that drives SEMBA to educate and launch the next generation of leaders who will leverage business to solve the world’s most pressing economic, environmental, and social challenges.

It’s another reason to come learn and live with SEMBA, in a place where sustainability is a way of life, and not a marketing slogan.

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.

Learn more >>

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.

READ the full story >>

From the Web: Dutch parliament votes to shut down all of the country’s coal plants

The Dutch parliament voted recently to shutter the nation’s coal industry in order to achieve a 55-percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The vote, which is not yet binding, would require shutting down the five coal power plants currently operating in the Netherlands, three of which just came online in 2015.

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Slashing CO2 emissions by 55 percent would bring the country’s emissions in line with the targets set by the Paris climate deal last December, and set a strong precedent among European nations for policies to slow the effects of climate change.

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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.

Challenging Business to Connect to Sustainable Development Goals

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was previously published on Impakter.com. It was written by Jason Wiff, a member of the SEMBA Class of 2017

global-goalsWith the introduction of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, we are faced with the challenge of implementing these goals into the way we live, impact communities and use business as a catalyst for change. Stuart Hart, one of the world’s leading experts of sustainable enterprise explains his framework for making these changes a reality. This interview has been edited for clarity. Highlights of our conversation are below.

What is your definition of business sustainability?

Stuart Hart: There can be sustainability at many levels. Business sustainability provides functionality that make[s] people’s lives better in ways that are inherently cleaner or regenerative. You’re able to serve and uplift many people in the world, not just a few. Business sustainability has two components: environmental sustainability, social sustainability and financially to propel business forward.

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New Recognition for SEMBA: Making An Impact

This post was written by Aditi Datta, SEMBA ’17

“The University of Vermont’s Sustainable Entrepreneurship MBA (SEMBA) program in the Grossman School of Business continues to bolster its growing reputation as one of the nation’s most innovative business programs by climbing to the No. 2 spot on the Princeton Review’s ‘Best Green MBA’ list…”

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In just the month of October, SEMBA claimed a total of three major awards, joining the ranks of Yale School of Management and the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business. Of course, awards are a staple of academia, providing an objective evaluation for prospective students comparing programs but do awards actually serve a larger purpose?

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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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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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