This week, Dr. Sroufe set up a visit for our class to visit Scalo Solar Solutions to further the cohorts’ understanding of solar and green roofing options. The site visit included a tour of the Sunscape Demonstration Project, which is a rooftop display that shows five solar arrays, five green roof system, three types of daylighting and three advanced systems. Below is a video discussing the Sunscape Demonstration Project:
Dr. Robert Sroufe
Each semester Dr. Sroufe teaches a unique course that he developed in the MBA Sustainability program. In the fall we had him for Sustainability Theories and Models, and currently he is teaching Sustainable Theories and Processes. The case involves a variety of case studies, sustainability plan writing, and my favorite part a variety of guest speakers.
January and February speakers included:
- Apple White, Environmental Sustainability Manager at BNY Mellon
- Dr. Patty DeMarco, energy and environmental policy analyst and educator
- Mackenzie Crigger, Sustainability Coordinator from Chapman University and MBA Sustainability alumna
Dr. Sroufe and other professors leverage their professional networks to allow our students to learn from various business leaders locally and internationally. The exposure to these business leaders as a professional development tool is one of many reasons I am thankful to be receiving my MBA at an urban campus. Moving forward into the semester our class with Dr. Sroufe will include more speakers and a few site visits to places like Phipps Living Building.
Last week, Christoph Koffler, technical director for PE International, Inc., came into our Sustainable Theories and Models class to train our cohort on how to use the GaBi software. GaBi is the #1 life cycle assessment tool, and we will be using this software as we begin our analysis of different products.
GaBi software can model every element of a product or system from a life-cycle perspective, equipping businesses to make the best informed decisions on the manufacture and lifecycle of any product, everything from a mobile phone to a match-stick to an airport. The software is used by over 1500 companies, including Dupont, Bayer, Siemens, Timberland, Ford, Bombardier and Daimler. Understanding LCA for products gives organizations a competitive advantage.
Christoph explained that he was willing to do any life cycle analysis comparison during his training. One classmate, Dallas, suggested that we compare hand dryers and paper towels. This comparison proved to be a complex analysis, and it showed that hand dryers produce more global warming than paper towels, which surprised the vast majority of us!
Throughout the upcoming weeks, each group within the cohort will do its own life cycle analysis and present their findings on two comparable products. The GaBi training was challenging; however, we have a much better grasp of the LCA process.
To learn more about GaBi visit the following website: http://www.gabi-software.com/america/index/
Personally, when I began to shop around for an MBA program I knew I wanted an MBA to advance my career, but sustainability was not even in my search box. After much needed research into the topic I realized that sustainability was a lot more than just the “green movement”.
Then I wondered – how could I be so naive? Sustainability has to do with all parts of business from reporting financials to strategic planning.
A widely accepted definition of sustainable development is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs”. In Dr. Sroufe’s Sustainable Theories and Models class we used this definition to as a jumping off point to create our own definition of sustainability.
My classmate Peter shared his interpretation of sustainability in a simple, but an easy to understand manner. He compared sustainability to the Boy Scouts’ mantra to “leave the campground cleaner than when we found it”. Often it is hard to find the words to describe our program to family and friends, but Peter’s point makes it easy for all to relate to the concept of sustainability in business.
Now that I understand sustainability – how I could have ever not wanted an MBA with a sustainability focus? Our unique program allows us to leave the world a better place through sustainable business practices, which is more than most MBA programs can say.
Last Friday, Matt Lepri, a student in our cohort, attended the North American Passive House Conference. Matt is a sustainability fellow who focuses on sustainable building techniques in his research work with Dr. Sroufe.
Passive House is a new building design technique developed in Germany that captures solar energy and applies it throughout the building through use of high performance windows, innovative insulation, balanced energy ventilation, and thermal bridging. PH can decrease energy use in a building up to 90%.
Europe already has over 15,000 buildings that have been Passive House certified. The U.S. has been slow to adopt, but about 100 PH buildings, nearly all residential, are constructed or being built at the moment.
At the conference, Matt spent time with Craig Stevenson, executive vice president of James Construction, a regional firm that offers general construction, design-build and related services for Government, Civic, Healthcare, Commercial and Retail markets. A Duquesne MBA alumnus, Craig is a member of our MBA advisory board and an active supporter of the sustainability initiatives at Duquesne. Craig has offered to be a resource for Matt as he digs deeper into his fellowship work.
According to Matt, “Mr. Stevenson is one of the very few commercial contractors/builders in the country who has passed the rigorous training program, making him a Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC). He is extremely knowledgeable in low energy building design techniques and spent almost every available minute in between presenters on Friday helping me understand the technical details of low energy and Passive House design.”
For more information on the Passive House Conference or PH, visit this website: http://www.passivehouse.us/phc2013/