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The 7th Annual
Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference

December 3rd, 2014 at the Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee, WI

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this conference a success! A special thanks to our keynote speakers, Matt Levatich and Dr. Jeff Thompson, who made the conference phenomenal. It was great to see all of Wisconsin’s sustainability leaders come together and learn about ways to foster sustainable business in Wisconsin. Check out this year’s conference video and breakout session speaker videos below.

2014 Conference Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment

Here you can find a link to the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council Conference 2014 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment: Conference Greenhouse Gas Emissions Memo-2014


For the past seven years, the Conference has been tracking their environmental footprints in order to evaluate the success of the conference, and to identify opportunities for reducing the impact of future conferences. This assessment includes the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from building energy use and attendee travel over a 24-hour period. It also provides charts to better display trends over the years, as well as information on the reasons behind the trends, the assumptions used, and the carbon offsets purchased as a result.

2014 WSBC Conference Summary


Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014; Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee, WI

Welcome and Opening Remarks: 

  • Tom Eggert – Director of Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council

  • Kathy Kuntz – Director of Cool Choices

  • Buckley Brinkman – Director of WMEP


The Business Case for Climate Change Action:

  • Tom Eggert – Director of Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council


Harley-Davidson Welcome:

  • Matt Levatich – President of Harley-Davidson

(Harley-Davidson asked that we post an abridged version of Matt‘s talk)


Morning Breakout Sessions


Sustainability Metrics: Development and Use

  • WMEP’s Mark McDermid kicked off the session with an overview of key topics in sustainability metrics; benchmarking, carbon calculation, and external shareholder and stakeholder expectations. Jeff Jaeckels, Director of Safety and Environmental Affairs at Madison Gas & Electric, provided a glance into MG&E’s 5-Step Benchmarking Process- identify issues, determine maturity & goals, measure performance, benchmark, and communicate. Nina Schaub, Business Manager and Global Environmental Sustainability Coordinator at Rockline Industries, followed with insights on the calculation and effective marketing of carbon-related metrics, specifically through the lens of a private label product manufacturer. Finally, the session heard from Kate Schrank, J.D., of Sustainability Partners, Inc. about the value and practice of ESG reporting, with a focus on current and future investor demands for standardized sustainability metric reporting by industry.


The Employee Value Proposition/Engaging Employees

  • Raj Shukla, Director of Programs at Cool Choices introduces the importance of employee engagement as related to productively and decreased turnover. Sustainability has increasingly become an attractive and essential piece of employee recruitment and retention. 96% of employees desire to work for a company that has strong sustainability initiatives. Amanda Goetsch, Sustainability Manager at InPro, describes the company’s strategies in educating and engaging employees with InPro’s sustainability goals. Using the 2014_WSBC-54symbol of a sustainability super hero, Goetsch brings diverse employees together to play Cool Choices games and interact with each other to develop new ideas and learn how to incrementally make green-driven choices. Kim Marotta, Sustainability Director at MillerCoors, tells the story of the creation of MillerCoors sustainability objectives. In 2008, the Sustainability Leadership Council was formed to focus on supply chain, packaging, marketing/sales and operations efficiency goals. MillerCoors conducts an annual employee engagement survey that has recently recognized the sustainability interest of new employees. Their Welcome to MillerCoors training includes an intensive sustainability training. Finally, Riley Didion of Didion Milling emphasizes the value of strong teams and creating a open, transparent and trustworthy culture. The formation of compatible teams is driven by group decision-making and mentoring relationships. Didion’s culture of teamwork has led to rapid, yearly increases in sales and employee-managed Safety, Green and Wellness teams.


CFOs and Sustainability

Women in Sustainability

  • Pam Barker, Lisa Geason-Bauer and Heather Goetsch provided insight into the evolution of women in sustainable efforts. Representing the baby boomer, X and Millennial generations respectively the women share insight into how women influence the work force in many fields, mostly focused on environmentally aware companies. The women talk about issues from sexist clients to how to be assertive and respected as a woman without coming across as rude or snooty. They also address how family plays a part in your work life and what driving forces brought them to sustainable companies.



Targeting Zero Waste

  • Beth Churchill of American Family Insurance, Ali Shana’a of Frito Lay and Hank Koch of LaCrosse County Disposal Facility talk about how to target zero waste. Churchill speaks about the why and how to attain zero waste. She mentions the importance of setting goals, educating about these goals, and prioritizing the journey to zero waste. Shanaa informs about the numerous ways Frito Lay cuts back on producing disposal. He emphasizes tracking waste to redirect or reuse it instead of simply throwing it away. Koch finishes the presentation by describing waste as a misplaced resource. He mentions ways the LaCrosses County Disposal Facility turns waste into energy. The presentation ends with audience interaction through Q&A.

Afternoon Breakout Sessions


Communicating Sustainability

  • Russ Klisch begins by describing Lakefront Brewery’s different approaches to communicating sustainability by self-promotion.  Lakefront promotes their practices internally to employees as well as joining relevant organizations. Following, Lee Gordon stresses the importance of employee integration for good publicity.  Mercury Marine’s team-driven mindset both encourages and rewards employees, which according to Lee are the best brand advocates.  Finally, Jessy Servi explains Outpost’s emphasis on both internal and external communication of their sustainability efforts.  She stresses transparency, repetition, and strong story-telling in order to engage their customer-base and the community.


Using Sustainability with Your Supply Chain

  • Pam Barker of Appvion discusses how sustainability in supply change has been changing over the last few years, focusing not just on environmental scope but also from a safety and social scope. Amanda Goetsch and Mike Sekula of InPro describe four key processes to enhance performance and sustainability, communicate health hazards, and provide transparent information within their supply chain. Lastly, Morgan Wiswall of Menasha Packaging examines the use of water, waste and energy in their supply chain and their goal of a 20% reduction in each of these categories by 2020.


Business Preparations for Climate Change

  • Meredith Keller of the WI Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters introduced the Academy’s Climate & Energy Initiative. Their Climate Forward Report was published in 2014 to profile agencies across the state that have exemplary sustainability programs. The report details five pathways to progress including, efficiency & conservation, renewable energy, smart transportation systems and natural carbon storage. Paul Linzmeyer, Sustainability Leader at ThedaCare, describes the immense impact and potential of creating a more sustainable healthcare system. ThedaCare follows key guiding principles to mitigate climate change and increase resiliency including, strong leadership of healthcare professionals, local food sourcing, safe buildings and smart purchasing decisions. Tom Myers, Corporate Director of Sustainability at Jack’s Links, details the formation of Jack’s Links approach to mitigating the impacts of climate change. With the rapidly increasing price of meat over the past few years, Jack’s Links seeks to reduce waste, increase process efficiency, as well as product and packaging innovation. Jonah Smith, a Sustainability Manager at of MillerCoors, addressed the topic of water efficiency and conservation in the agriculture and processing of MillerCoors’ products. 


Sustainability, Transportation and Logistics

  • Dolores Corcoran, productivity systems manager at Lauterbach Group, speaks on efforts to promote sustainable transportation, both internal and external. She also emphasized the benefits of supply chain optimization. Joel Hirschboeck from Kwik Trip shares the sustainability work being done by the company, including the establishment of alternative fueling stations, use of vehicles run on natural gas, and the development of more dynamic and efficient delivery routes. Nick Lichter, the Vice President of Organic Logistics, has found the most beneficial sustainability initiatives started with becoming a Licensed Forwarder, and developing beneficial partnerships with other companies and delivery services. This has largely helped to mitigate Organic Valley’s impact, and practice a higher level of environmental responsibility. All three companies lent a nod to the Smartway Program and emphasized the correlation between sustainability and profitability.


Small Business and Sustainability

  • Small Businesses and Sustainability heard presentations from Leah Samson-Samuel of Madison Environmental Group, Scott Marshall of Marshall Auto Body, and Steve Olson of Hallman Lindsay. These leaders in their small businesses spoke to focusing on what is clean and green in your industry, re-pairing and recycling, overcoming the challenges of frugal business and time, measuring sustainability progress, and reaching out to their surrounding communities to help other businesses embrace sustainability. Within small businesses, a strong sustainability culture can be created and these small business leaders have accomplished this and realized the benefits.

Closing Keynote

  • Dr. Jeff Thompson – CEO of Gundersen Health System


Thanks again to everyone who helped make this conference great. We really appreciate your enthusiasm and support for sustainability in Wisconsin. See you all next year!


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