Guest Blog: Energy Burden – Combining Social and Environmental Lenses for Impact

Guest Blog by Michael Oxman

John Lanier is still away on paternity leave. This week, our guest blogger, Michael Oxman, managing director of the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business and Professor of the Practice for the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business talks about the the fact that Atlanta has one of the highest concentrations of energy burden among major metropolitan areas in the United States. With funding from Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute’s Energy and Policy Innovation Center and the Georgia Tech Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain, students and faculty from the Scheller College of Business and the School of Public Policy are conducting the study (with input from a range of stakeholders) to identify potential solution platforms.

While I have worked in the corporate responsibility/sustainability domain for some time, it has only been since I began in my current role that I find myself consistently asking, “What would Ray do?” At risk of preaching to the choir, Ray C. Anderson was inspirational in many ways, but for me what stands out was his willingness to buck conventional wisdom and forge greater impact from corporate sustainability solutions by ensuring that they were also practical and commercially-minded (i.e., doing well by doing good).

I think this mantra is reflected well in John’s recent post on leveraging the triple bottom line where he also notes that all three prongs should work together, rather than independently. That is, in a sports-minded analogy, you don’t set out to load the bases with three singles only to end the inning with all runners stranded, but rather to deliver multiple runs and perhaps even a grand slam!

At the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, we engage on a number of topics across the corporate sustainability spectrum, but we have settled on three strategic focus areas: carbon conscious business, the circular economy, and social performance (our grand slam set up). While research, education, and engagement on each of these has a tremendous amount of merit, combining across two or more extends our chances of real impact.

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