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Leading Business Schools Commemorate Earth Day

earth dayFrom Philadelphia to Los Angeles, business schools and their students are endeavoring to combat climate change at both the campus and the corporate level through innovation, conservation and awareness raising.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, for its part, is hosting the 8th Annual Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) Conference. This year’s theme, “Business Takes the Lead,” will examine how business innovation holds promise for helping the world both mitigate and adapt to climate change.

The day-long event will feature dozens of speakers addressing topics including how to drive innovation in water, food and energy solutions; ways for business to adapt to climate change through innovative capital deployment; and climate risk and its impact on national and military security. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin will deliver a keynote address reflecting on Earth Day.

Across the country at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, Earth Day falls in the middle of Social Innovation Week, an entire week of events designed to advance discussion around social entrepreneurship, social impact in media and entertainment and more. Today, a lunchtime panel discussion featuring speakers from DirecTV, Deloitte and Toyota will look closely at corporate social impact and how the private sector can drive change.

At Harvard Business School (HBS), a video touts impressive strides the school has made toward greenhouse gas emission reduction, waste reduction and water conservation. Harvard University President Dean Faust in 2008 announced a university-wide drive to reduce emissions by 30 percent by 2016. Hoping to lead the university’s schools in this charge, HBS features a sustainability program focused on four main areas: energy conservation, waste management, best management practices for construction and occupant engagement. Even though the school has added 250,000 square feet to its footprint, its energy consumption has returned to where it was 13 years ago, says HBS Professor Forest Reinhardt. Ten of HBS’s 34 buildings are LEED rated, adds Senior Lecturer John Macomber. Through recycling, composting and source reduction, HBS has also reduced its trash production by 43 percent since 2005, Matthew Himmel, MBA 2014, reports.

Columbia Business School, meanwhile, marked Earth Day with the “Business Case for Going Green.” CBS tweeted today about a recent article in its alumni magazine by that title, which argues that going green offers businesses a way to not only help the planet but also benefit their bottom line. By practicing the three Rs—recycle, reduce, reuse—corporations can cut costs, mitigate risks, impress investors and attract talent.

How is your school celebrating Earth Day?