NBIS | Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability » NewsNBIS. Network for business innovation and sustainability.



Welcome to NBIS

We provide regional leadership, professional development programs and a collaborative cross-sector community to advance sustainability through the power of business.

What we offer:


Deepen your capacity to lead and implement sustainability initiatives. Learn more about NBIS’ track record and leadership.


Access the latest tools and strategies, from the tried-and-true to the most innovative approaches. Learn more about our programs and events


Form valuable connections across industries and sectors. Learn more about our broad member community.

Join our campaign to raise $20,000 by May 3rd!



For over thirteen years, the NBIS community has demonstrated what we can accomplish together. We’ve empowered business owners, professionals, and aspiring change-makers with innovative strategies, practical tools and cross-sector collaborations to leverage the capacity of business to make a difference, locally and globally.

BPS foundry meeting 1There has been outstanding progress from the business community worldwide and here in the Pacific Northwest. All over, companies are measuring the environmental impact of their operations and products and identifying opportunities for sustainable innovation. They are implementing fair labor policies to improve working conditions and equitable development for people domestically and abroad. They are engaging in pre-competitive collaboration to leverage momentum from their industries as a whole, and engaging in advocacy for progressive environmental policies, as demonstrated in Paris during COP21.

But as forward-looking businesses know, in order to meet the challenges of climate change, resource scarcity and related social and economic disruption, we need to do more.

Breakthrough Sustainability

NBIS’ new Breakthrough Sustainability programs help the business community take the next step.

Tacoma RoundtableBy offering educational seminars and tools, peer learning roundtables, networking opportunities, facilitated partnerships and expert consultation, we are enabling businesses to set bolder goals that fully account for the scientific urgency of today’s challenges, discover innovations that deliver enhanced value propositions while reducing direct and indirect costs, and engage in broader collaboration that convenes stakeholders from the private and public sectors around shared value initiatives for better coordination and scaled impact.

But we need your help.

Giving to NBIS

This year, NBIS’ goal is to raise $20,000 during the Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG campaign. The funds we raise during GiveBIG, along with increased memberships and sponsorships, will be critical in enabling us to:

  • Launch new “Breakthrough Sustainability” seminars presenting leading-edge thinking, innovative strategies and examples of companies putting them into practice
  • Publish a new white paper and other educational resources and case studies
  • Host more Eco-Hours showcasing the sustainability efforts of local companies
  • Grow current initiatives to convene stakeholders and build capacity for regional leadership

With urgency from the challenges facing today’s world, and excitement about what we know we can accomplish together, we invite you to partner with us in building a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous world.

How to Give

This year, the Seattle Foundation is making it even easier to give. Instead of waiting until May 3rd, you can pre-schedule your gift today! Simply visit NBIS’ profile on the GiveBIG portal, and schedule your gift online any time between April 18th and May 3rd.

We thank you very much for your support!

GiveBigLogo_colorMore about GiveBIG

GiveBIG is a unique, one-day, online charitable giving event encouraging residents of King County to give locally. Through GiveBIG, King County residents are asked to give to local nonprofits of their choosing through The Seattle Foundation’s online Giving Center. Contributions are partially matched by a “stretch pool” provided by The Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG sponsors.

Help us spread the word about GiveBIG (and NBIS’ campaign) to colleagues, family and friends through your social networks and tag #GIVEBIG in your posts!

“After COP21” Seminar Inspires and Calls Washington Businesses to Action

By Julia Goldstein, Freelance Commercial Writer

COP21, the 21st Council of the Parties that convened in Paris in December 2015 to address climate change, was historic for several reasons.

  1. Delegates from 195 countries pledged support of the first universal climate change agreement. High-level support from the U.S., after notable absence at previous COP meetings, sent an important signal to the global community.
  2. Businesses from many different sectors – including real estate, finance, manufacturing, and healthcare – traveled to Paris to show their support, suggesting recognition that climate change represents a threat to their long-term financial success and a willingness to be part of the solution.
  3. The “Compact of Mayors” included representatives from over 400 cities around the world, sending the message that local governments are supportive of and engaged in addressing the risks of climate change.
  4. The non-governmental sectors were also strongly represented adding to the diversity of voices and augmenting the pressure on governmental decision-makers to enact a significant agreement to address issues of climate change and its impacts.

On February 25th, NBIS invited panelists who had attended COP21, as well as other local advocates, to discuss the summit’s results and business strategies moving forward. Attendees at the Seattle meeting represented a broad spectrum of industries and nonprofit organizations, as well as local governments.

The “After COP21” event began with a Report from Paris panel, in which KC Golden, Senior Policy Advisor with Climate Solutions, provided an historical viewpoint. Golden has attended previous COPs and applauds the efforts of the U.S. to finally step up to the table. He boldly stated, “The U.S. Senate has been holding up the whole world for 25 years,” delaying climate change efforts.

The COP21 attendees focused on the issue of leadership – from the U.S., from Washington State, and from local governments and businesses. “This is not an issue we can ignore,” said former King County Council member Larry Phillips. He noted that King County has chosen to be a leader and recently updated its climate change plan.

The county has adopted the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, and the city of Seattle is working toward the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. Cooperation from cities throughout King County is necessary to improve the chance of achieving this goal. To that end, mayors of 13 King County cities are working together to develop strategies that will help the entire region reduce carbon emissions and create a sustainable economy despite explosive growth. As one example, Metro Transit is making changes, such as replacing aging vehicles with electric buses, that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the Puget Sound region.

Sarah Severn, an industry consultant and advisor to Washington Business for Climate Action, said COP21 experienced “a complete shift and a sea change” in the global approach to climate change because of the significant business presence at the summit. Richard Eidlin, Co-Founder of the American Sustainable Business Council, spoke about the growing community of progressive businesses who support carbon tax policies and the power they hold to disrupt entrenched assumptions that addressing climate change is bad for business.

The Business Strategy Seminar panel that followed the Paris report emphasized that while government support is necessary for combatting climate change it is not sufficient without the participation of business. Brenna Davis, Director of Sustainability at Virginia Mason, emphasized the achievements of its hospitals in reducing energy consumption and waste. “Planet health is patient health,” she said, in reference to the effect of air pollution, increases in infectious diseases, and natural disasters such as hurricanes on community health. Resilience of hospital facilities in the face of climate disasters is also a significant challenge.

Brett Phillips, Director of Sustainability at Unico Properties, said “Opposition from the business community will quickly be drowned out” as major players make advances in reducing emissions while maintaining profitability. Google, for example, has pledged to make its facilities completely solar-powered by 2025.

Severn urged Washington’s businesses not to miss the opportunity in front of them, making the point that businesses in countries with cap and trade agreements will be future industry leaders and will be better situated to attract capital due to their innovativeness and advanced risk management strategies.

Panelists discussed the role of leveraging business’ buying power and collaborating with their suppliers to broaden their impact both within industrial factories in the U.S. and abroad. For example, because of Pacific Market International (PMI)’s proactive approach to working with its factories in China, one of its factories reported a 54% drop in carbon footprint, based on emissions per 10,000 units of product produced. The company is currently installing solar panels on the roof of one factory and benefitting from local incentives to offset costs.

Demonstrating the Circular Economy in action, Unico has partnered with Cedar Grove Composting, which has facilities in Seattle and Woodinville, to compost restroom paper towels in some commercial buildings and in turn buy Cedar Grove compost for landscaping at these same properties.

For some companies, even though multiple technologies exist today to address greenhouse gas emissions, the price of implementing them still poses a barrier. The Seattle 2030 District, a private/public partnership, presents solutions for overcoming these barriers by, among other efforts, providing a platform for group buying power.

Local governments and businesses are making progress toward addressing climate change, but they need to share their success stories to spread the circle of influence. As Severn said, “Legislators need business voices to step up and tell them to get their act together.”

A first step that businesses can take to build this voice is to sign the Washington Business Climate Declaration and to learn more about the related work of Washington Business for Climate Action, Climate Solutions, and the American Sustainable Business Council. An equally critical step is for companies to focus on accelerating implementation of sustainability initiatives and on building collaboration opportunities. Companies seeking to do so are encouraged to join NBIS’ member network of sustainable business leaders, attend its educational and networking events and participate in its peer roundtables.

For those who missed the After COP21 seminar and want to learn more, a video recording of the entire event will be posted on the NBIS website.

A Refocus for NBIS’ Mission and Membership Structure

Flowers logo

Why Has NBIS Realigned Its Mission?

The landscape of business engagement with sustainability has evolved since NBIS was founded over 12 years ago. More business leaders understand the risks posed to their organizations by environmental and social volatility, and their commitments to fostering change within and without their organizations have matured.

In other words, the business world is ready to accelerate its sustainability efforts, with bolder goals that fully account for the scientific urgency of today’s challenges, more creative innovations that deliver enhanced value propositions through alternative business models, and broader collaboration that convenes stakeholders from the private and public sectors around shared value initiatives for better coordination and scaled impact.

Recognizing this changed landscape, we undertook a strategic planning process to ensure that NBIS was poised to build upon these changes and bring about the acceleration of what we call “Breakthrough Sustainability.”

How Is NBIS Changing?

Our core commitment to helping Pacific Northwest companies and communities develop opportunities that drive triple-bottom-line returns and advance sustainability regionally and worldwide remains the same, and we will continue to offer many of the same services and events.

However, there are several new ways that we are focusing our programs and membership structure in 2016, including:

  • Establishing two levels of organizational membership–Basic and Enhanced–that reflect different levels of engagement with our sustainable business offerings (learn more);
  • Increasing the number of organizations and industries represented by our member community;
  • Fostering more opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and collaboration;
  • Deepening and galvanizing engagement from senior executives;
  • Incorporating more Circular Economy concepts and tools into our By-Product Synergy program;
  • Publishing a third white paper, which will more comprehensively address the concepts, strategies and leaders behind “Breakthrough Sustainability.”

How Can You Participate?

Join NBIS: Select your membership level and join today! Then schedule a meeting with our team to discuss your interests and objectives.

Get involved:  Become an active member of NBIS by attending Eco-Hours and seminars. Consider volunteering and adding your expertise to the discussion and learning.

Support NBIS through a gift or program sponsorship. Exciting sponsorship opportunities are available right now. Contact us for details.

What we’ve been up to!

Celebrating NW Sustainable Food and Agriculture at our Harvest Eco-Hour November 18th!

Meeting with Business & Civic Leaders in Aberdeen – November 13th


Planning By-Product Synergy – waste to profit event for Spring 2015.








Speaking about By-Product Synergy and Zero Waste strategies at ReuseConex Conference, Austin, October 23rd


He’s laughing, not sleeping!



Regulation of Coal Power Emissions: Advocates, Fence-Straddlers and Nay-Sayers

Karl Ostrom, PhD, Co-Executive Director, Network for Business Innovation & Sustainability (NBIS) – June 9, 2014


The Obama administration proposal calls for a reduction in coal plant greenhouse gas emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. The plan offers each state the opportunity to construct its own pathways to this goal; e.g., renewables, switching from coal to natural gas or other new technologies. EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy states, “…we will turn climate risk into business opportunity, we will spur innovation and investment and we will be a world-leading clean energy economy.”

Negativity toward the EPA proposal gets a lot of press. In my review of responses, I am adding balance by highlighting the positive support for effectively addressing climate change that is coming from within state governments and a wide range of businesses.

The Advocates: Responses from States, Businesses and NGOs Who Are Addressing Climate Change but Welcome Federal Action to Strengthen Impact –

KC Golden, Senior Policy Advisor, Seattle’s Climate Solutions: “By providing flexibility for emitters and states to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency rather than just pollution control equipment, the EPA is forging a true partnership with the states and with public and private providers of climate solutions. These federal rules will support innovation and investment in the clean energy transition, building healthier local economies and good, sustainable jobs. …” (See Ceres on Rules attracting documented investor support)

“Northwest states will be able to comply with the federal rules in ways that drive new investment, new job creation, and deeper carbon pollution reductions by developing state climate plans that improve energy efficiency and tap our abundant renewable energy supplies….”

Utilities from Minnesota, Colorado, and Northeast Cap & Trade states welcome the stronger policy:

“Minnesota has a jump on other states to meet the 2030 goals. (Utilities)Xcel, Great River Energy, and Minnesota Power say they can meet them.  The proposed EPA rules require investments in energy efficiency and renewable and lower-carbon energy such as natural gas — policies that have been in place in Minnesota for years.” (Star Tribune)

Colorado government and utility officials said the state is well-prepared to comply with the federal rule — a key step for the nation to begin to address climate change. A combination of investments in low-carbon technology, greater efficiency in generating electricity, and shifting coal-fired power plants toward natural gas has set the state on course to meet tighter standards by 2030. (Denver Post)

NE Cap & Trade States — these 9 states are enjoying the “Best of Two Worlds – cutting emissions and accelerating growth that is stronger than the rest of the country! (New York Times)

The 800 business who have signed the Ceres “Climate Declaration,” including Seattle’s Brooks Running, K2 Sports, Microsoft and Starbucks.

The American Sustainable Business Council news release for 6/2 is headlined, “Business Leaders Applaud EPA’s Proposed Power Plant Rules As Good for Business and the Economy.” The ASBC represents a membership network of more than 200,000 businesses nationwide, and more than 325,000 entrepreneurs, executives, managers and investors. The news release directly quotes a sample of C-level officers regarding their support for the new regulation.

The proposed rules were applauded for mitigating the worst impacts of climate change, while opening the door for innovation and job creation. Last year, a national, scientific poll of small business owners commissioned by the ASBC, found that 63% of small business owners support EPA efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions of power plants. It also found that 62% of small business owners oppose continuing subsidies to oil, gas and coal companies. The small business owners in the survey were 47% Republicans, 27% Democrats and 14% Independents.

The Cautious Responders

Cautious responders doubt that the proposed cuts in emissions are enough to make a significant difference and assert that mitigation responses need to be technological rather than regulatory and international rather than unilateral in order to be effective.

A headlined article in the June 2nd Washington Post, reads: “Why The EPA’s New Power Plant Rules Are a Diversion from Serious Climate Policy.” Jonathan Adler argues that a 30% reduction by the United States acting alone is not sufficient to mitigate global warming. Furthermore, he believes that there is no evidence supporting the value of regulations; that, if anything, they are often barriers that need to be removed and suggests that incentives need to be more creative; such as, “offering prizes.” He indirectly admits that his bottom line is ideological, his libertarian leanings, meaning that in general, the least government is the best government because it releases innovation. He chastises those on the left for believing in regulations and those on the right for being deniers of climate change.

A 6/3 article in the New York Times, “ A Paltry Start in Curbing Global Warming,” byEduardo Porter, also argues that the proposed cuts are inadequate, saying that they are a digression from serious climate policy. “Rather than a bold stride into the vanguard of the battle against climate change, the new proposals offer just enough progress to shuffle along with a world that unfailingly falls short of delivering what is needed.”

The Nay Sayers

The Nay Sayers bring together a confluence of those who deny climate change, those who believe in a magical free market that solves problems independently of policies, and those cynical of businesses, states, or nations thinking that they can address a global problem. Unfortunately, this confluence includes the US Chamber of Commerce and the Association of WA Businesses, who often speak as though they are the sole voice of business.

Informed responses to the “Cautious Responders” and “Nay Sayers” can be found in several well-constructed and data rich articles. An analysis of how the so-called “free market” is embedded in its environmental and socio-political context is included in “New Challenges Reshape Corporate Social Responsibility.” Regarding the importance of the proposed Rules for catalyzing the advance of multilateral climate negotiations, see 6/4 article in Washington Post on U.S. leadership and the inspiration of other countries. The best articulated answer that I have seen to the deniers of climate change is in an article recently referenced by Jon Talton of the Seattle Times, “Climate Consensus, the 97%.”

The Time is Urgent for Business to Step Up to the Climate Challenge

The descriptive facts of our planetary societal and environmental crisis are clear. As Jeffrey Sachs puts it, this is “Our Last Chance for a Safe Planet.” Responsible businesses are called to move from incremental to Breakthrough Strategies. John Elkington, who coined “the triple bottom line,” proposes that 2015 to 2025 will be the Breakthrough decade. NBIS is targeted toward this strategic acceleration of sustainable business practices.