October 5, 2008

The Greening of SLA

By Davis, Jan

More than 5,000 individuals from six continents attended the Special Libraries Association (SLA) conference in Seattle this June. While the conference theme was Break Rules & Build Bridges, I noticed another theme GREEN. Several sessions focused on environmental issues, such as sustainability, renewable resources, corporate accountability, and green consumer behavior. Some vendors had giveaways made from recycled materials; others offered marketing literature highlighting environmentrelated databases and publications; still others shared tales of how their companies' are trying to lessen their carbon footprint. And, with the help of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center's "Recycle, Reduce, Reuse" initiative, fewer materials were consumed in the process of putting on SLA than in the past.

This greening was no coincidence. In January 2008, SLA announced that it would "take the first steps and begin efforts to become an environmentally sensitive organization at the membership, board, volunteer leadership, and staff level." The "SLA: Knowledge to Go Green" initiative was launched and the conference became a great place to put it into action.

SLA purchased 3,000 reusable water bottles that were handed out by the Pacific Northwest Chapter. Mine was cherry red and I filled it up whenever I got thirsty at water stations located throughout the conference center and the INFO-EXPO. I thought the CAS- sponsored tote bags were a bit dowdy but became less critical when I learned the bags were made from 65% recycled materials. Handouts were noticeably missing from many sessions because these materials were available online to reduce wasted paper. Attendees were asked to recycle their plastic name badges, made from 20% recycled materials, in receptacles at the end of the show. Conference signage was made from 88% consumer waste fiber board from Champion Nationwide. And, believe it or not, all excess food was donated to a local food rescue program. (My city of Portland, Ore., has a similar program.)


My favorite conference session was "Energy Security and Oil: The Current State and Prospects for Alternatives and Renewable." Foster Mellen, a strategic analyst with Ernst & Young, gave a cogent presentation on the current state of oil and gas supply and security in the U.S; it was a sobering but necessary message to hear. He also discussed the potential for alternative and renewable energy. Sharon E. Siesseger, also an Ernst & Young analyst, reviewed dozens of web resources she uses for information on alternative and renewable energies. Here are some of them:

U.S. Energy Information Administration


The EIA website is an excellent source of statistics, reports, analyses, and forecasts relating to renewable and alternative fuels.

Clean Edge


Clean Edge, a research and publishing firm, offers reports on subjects such as "Utility Solar Assessment"; current articles compiled from a variety of sources, such as GreenTech Media and New Energy Finance; and PowerPoint presentations, such as "Carbon Policies and Renewable Markets" from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The materials are available in a variety of formats, such as print and audio; the site also offers an RSS feed.

Center for American Progress


The Center's website contains articles written by energy and environment experts on topics such as global warming, biofuels, green jobs, renewable energy, and conservation. Some materials are available in MP4 and video formats. Check out the interactive map: "Where Is Our Oil Coming From?"

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA)


This trade association represents the U.S. ethanol industry. Its website provides statistics, such as historic and current U.S. fuel ethanol production and demand, prices, U.S. fuel ethanol imports by country, and annual world ethanol production by country. RFA's Ethanol Industry Outlook 2008 is also available.

National Biodiesel Board (NBB)


This trade association represents the U.S. biodiesel industry. Its website provides fact sheets about the industry in addition to links to other biodiesel industry-related sites.

American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)


AWEA is the nation's main trade association for the wind energy industry. Its website provides current data on wind energy projects, both the operational and those in stages of development; companies working in the wind energy field; technology development; and policy developments related to wind and other renewable energy development. Wind Energy Weekly is also available in a educational edition.

Global Wind Energy Council


Based in Belgium, the Council's lengthy Global Wind Report provides current data on wind energy developments, containing figures on installations in more than 70 countries, a forecast for the coming 5 years (2008-20 12), and insights into policy and industry developments in 22 countries.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)


SEIA provides its 2007 Year in Review, which contains a report on solar industry market trends, policy developments, and R&D initiatives in 2007. The PV Roadmap is SEIA's guide to the status and prospects of the photovoltaic industry. Statistics on stateby state incentives for photovoltaic and solar water heating proj ects are also provided.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory


For those needing background information on renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, this website is perfect. Basic information is provided on advanced vehicles and fuel basics, energy delivery and storage, biomass power, geothermal power, solar power, and wind energy. Links to additional sources are provided for each topic. Siesseger didn't mention it, but after the conference I checked Ernst & Young's Renewable Energy Group website: http:// www.ey.com/global/content.nsf/Interna tional/ Oil_Gas_Renewable_Energy

It offers searchers access to its quarterly data, which ranks national renewable energy markets, infrastructures, biofuels, and their suitability for individual technologies.

The Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices follow and rate investments in renewable energy, while the Biofuels Country Attractiveness Indices "rank the attractiveness of the top 15 global markets for investment in biologically derived renewable fuels incorporating both ethanol and biodiesel."

Unfortunately another session, "Alternative Fuels: Technologies for a Healthy Planet," was scheduled at the same time as the "Energy Security and Oil" session. Dr. Richard Nelson, biodiesel expert from Kansas State University, and Alvetta Pindell, head of the Information and Research Services branch of the National Agricultural Library, were the presenters. Pindell's "Where to Look on the Web" for information on biofuels is available at http:// units.sla.org/division/dtrn/seattle08presents/Biofuels ElectronicResources.pdf.

The Green Consumer

The session "The Green Consumer" featured Mandy Levenberg of Iconoculture. "Green consumers come in all different shades of green," said Levenberg. Consumer behavior is affected by different values, and the reasons behind consumer decisions vary. For example, the market researchers at Iconoculture report that the eco-mom is "one tough customer" who wants to provide the best life possible for her family. Did you know that some moms keep current on green celebrity gossip at Ecorazzi.com? (In case you've missed it, Demi and Ashton are building homes for organic farmers in Guatemala.)

How Green Is My Company?

The session "Corporate Social Responsibility: Beyond the Green Corporation" discussed the growing role of CSR in companies throughout the world. CSR is the concept that companies must take the environment and society into account while still making a profit and creating shareholder wealth. The three speakers - Brooke Barton, manager of the Corporate Accountability Program at CERES; Noel Friedman of KLD Research and Analytics; and Dan Bross, senior director, corporate citizenship at Microsoft - discussed what investment analysts are doing to help incorporate CSR into investment decision making and how well companies are reporting on their socially and environmentally responsible activities.

Here are some of the sources of information discussed:

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)


CDP is an independent, not-for-profit organization based in the U.K. The CDP website "is the largest repository of corporate greenhouse gas emissions data in the world." The reports contain data and analysis on how the world's largest companies are responding to climate change. You can pinpoint a particular company or topic in a report by using the website's search template to search by company name, industry sector, keyword, country, and year. The data is used by investors, NGOs, marketers, and activists.


http : //www. corporatereg ister. com

CorporateRegister.com is a global directory of CSR-related resources. After registering with the site, searchers have access to the CSR Report Directory, an online directory of global, company- issued CSR, sustainability, and environment reports. The site also compiles current news from several sources relating to global CSR practices. Ceres


Ceres is a coalition of investor groups, environmental organizations, and investment funds that deals directly with companies on environmental and social issues. Ceres' website provides full-text reports on topics such as "Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States" and "Corporate Governance and Climate Change: The Banking Sector." Sustainability podcasts are also available on topics such as "Green Power: Building a Green Workforce to Support a Green Economy."

The Green Vendor

EBSCO Publishing wins the prize for going green. The firm has developed and incorporated environmentally conscious business practices in order to reduce its carbon footprint and to positively impact the environment. EBSCO has installed solar panels on the roof of its mill building, is converting its fleet of cars in the U.S. and Canada to hybrid vehicles, has plans underway to install four wind turbines on two buildings, recycles four types of materials, encourages employee use of public transportation through a cost- reimbursement program, has installed "Vending Misers" on all vending machines and coolers throughout the company, and has changed incandescent light bulbs to high-efficiency fluorescents equipped with timers or motion/ sound sensors. And those are only some of the energy saving efforts on a company- and communitywide level.

EBSCO also provides free access to GreenFile [http: //www. greeninfoonline.com]. This database focuses "on the relationship between human beings and the environment, with wellresearched but accessible information on topics ranging from global warming to recycling to alternate fuel sources and beyond." To learn more about EBSCO's green initiatives, go to http://www.ebscohost.com and click on Go Green!.

As I reviewed material at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exhibit, a representative handed me a table coaster made from recycled tires. Clever! The EPA's National Service Center for Environmental Publications [http://www.epa.gov/nscep] offers access to more than 26,000 digital titles relating to issues such as indoor air quality, energy conservation, water/food safety, and environmental awareness and education.

A Proud (and Green) SLA Member

Attending SLA was worthwhile on so many levels. I learned more about the current energy crisis and corporate responsibility and added some new information resources to my research toolbox. But I also saw environmentalism in practice. Kudos to SLA for developing and implementing its "SLA: Knowledge to Go Green" initiative; to SLA members for planning such informative sessions; to the knowledgeable speakers who educated us about the issues; and to the vendors who have incorporated environmentally friendly practices into their businesses.

The author shows off her red SLA recycle water bottle.

The Ceres website is great for information on corporate sustainability issues.

EBSCO Publishing is a stellar example of a corporation "Going Green."


Jan Davis

JT Research LLC

Copyright Information Today, Inc. Oct 2008

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