Published every week, the new series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energyresourcesinfrastructuremobility and business leadership.

This edition of the ‘Achieving Mission Possible’ round-up highlights some of the tremendous progress we are now seeing right across the globe. From a huge fleet of hydrogen delivery vehicles to a state-wide plan to add solar arrays to new builds in the US, each of these projects and initiatives are empowering businesses and governments to achieve a sustainable future, today.

Achieving Mission Possible: The sustainability success stories of the week (7-11 May 2018)…

ENERGY: California approves bold rooftop solar plan

This week saw California become the first US state to approve a new plan which will require almost all homes built after January 2020 to have rooftop solar panels. The state commission said that while adding solar panels will boost construction costs for a single-family home by approximately $8,000-$12,000 dollars on average, consumers will get this amount and more back in energy savings.

“Adoption of these standards represents a quantum leap in state-wide building standards,” said Robert Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association. “You can bet every other of the 49 states will be watching closely to see what happens.”

Commission figures show that about 117,000 new single-family homes and 48,000 multi-family units will be built in California in 2020. The only units which will be exempt from the requirements will be those where solar panels will not be cost-effective, such as those which are constantly shrouded by shade. However, the requirement still needs to be signed off by the state’s building standards commission.

RESOURCES: Tesco rallies the industry after tasting food waste failure

Food waste was one of the first notable examples of consumers demanding more from the retailers they shop from. It led to a host of new corporate targets being announced to redistribute food to charities and cut out food waste at farm level.

Once such pledge was made by Tesco, which created a two-year target to eliminate all food waste from its UK operations by the end of 2017/18. The supermarket announced this week that it had failed to hit this lofty ambition, with independent analysis from KPMG finding that the company made it two-thirds of the way to this aim.

It may sound odd to have a missed target in the ‘success stories of the week’ but Tesco has taken on more food that would otherwise be discarded at farm level over aesthetics and donated more surplus items to charities as a result of the lofty ambition.

Tesco is now calling on other retailers and suppliers to champion transparency to enable the industry to collaboratively push towards the Sustainable Development Goal aim of halving food waste by 2030. A prime example of why companies shouldn’t be scared of failure.

BUILT ENVIRONMENT: ‘Green’ space in four key markets grows exponentially 

Investing in creating and maintaining energy-efficient buildings is perhaps one of the most significant ways city-based businesses are starting to commit to meeting internal or external sustainability goals. Currently, 54% of the world’s population resides in urban locations, with the number set to rise to 70% within a decade. It’s a global megatrend which city planners are aware of, but the rapid acceleration of this process makes it hard to plan for sustainability.

Nonetheless, according to CBRE’s inaugural International Green Building Adoption Index, the proportion of space which is certified as ‘green’ in 10 cities within four of the world’s key markets had almost tripled from 6.4% to 18.6% between 2007 and the end of 2017. This represents more than 227m sqft of ‘green’ space, out of a total of 1.2bn square feet of office space reviewed. The index, published earlier this week, covers Melbourne and Sydney in Australia; Toronto and Vancouver in Canada; London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Stockholm and Warsaw in Europe; and New York in the US.

“Buildings, particularly commercial properties, have long been at the forefront of pressing issues like water, waste, and significant energy use and the resultant carbon emission,” CBRE’s senior vice president David Pogue said. “As the attention being paid to these issues grows, green building certification programs are becoming much more prevalent and more important to a variety of constituents and stakeholders.”

MOBILITY: Anheuser-Busch InBev orders fleet of 800 hydrogen-electric trucks

Businesses are now widely expected to shift away from diesel and petrol, with several big-name brands having outlined how they will use electric vehicles (EVs) to achieve their sustainable mobility goals in recent weeks, including Sainsbury’s, Heathrow and Green Tomato Cars.

One of the most recent developments in the EV business agenda came from the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, which announced this week that it had ordered 800 zero-emission, hydrogen-electric semi-trucks as part of its bid to run its entire fleet of long-haul trucks on clean energy by 2025.

Once fully implemented, the 800 Nikola Motor Company trucks will reduce the brewer’s CO2 emissions from logistics by more than 18% – equivalent to taking more than 13,000 cars off the road annually. The trucks can travel between 500-1,200 miles on one 20-minute charge and will be integrated into the world’s largest brewer’s fleet from 2020.

LEADERSHIP: A sneak-peak of edie’s chat with P&G’s vice president of sustainability

Wednesday 9 May marked, to the day, P&G’s vice president of global sustainability Virginie Helias’ 30th anniversary at the company. Helias has seen the sustainability department evolve from a “corporate environmental department” created in 1971 to a holistic an integral cog in P&G’s operations.

To mark the occasion, Helias appeared at edie’s Sustainability Communications event in London to discuss in an exclusive interview the key successes and insights that have transformed P&G into a pioneer on sustainability by tackling issues like ocean plastics and renewables integration.

A full article on the interview will appear on the edie website over the coming weeks, but this roundup offers a sneak peak into the valuable insight shared by Helias at the event.

“It is my duty to raise the bar collectively and inspire others and keep them committed to the mission,” Helias says. “In fact, you need to recommit yourself to your mission. This is a tough job and sometimes it feels lonely. I have to ask myself sometimes why I’m doing this. I’m doing it because I want to leave the world in a better place than it is today for my kids.”

Matt Mace & Sarah George

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