Where We Learn Triple Bottom Line – Ep 72

I had the opportunity to sit down with Steve O’Rourke VP Business Development, and Chad Schubert Director of Internal Operations, both of Microgrid Energy. In the 3 episodes with them, we discuss Triple Bottom Line, B Corporations, and how both these affect the day-to-day at this solar and energy management company.

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Here are a few of the notes I took while editing the episode.
Chad realized that business could be used as a force for good. Steve felt similarly that non-profits were the way to go to help change the world. However, a mentor mentioned that his ideas and focus would be good for the business world.
In college, a professor suggested the best thing Chad could do is to make a lot of money and give it back. The means matter to Chad. Social Entrepreneurship and Triple Bottom Line.
Learn about the Solar Coaster and the crazy up and down business of solar.
People, Planet and Prosperity – How you treat your community meaning employees, suppliers, customers, and broader community.  Are they trying to find success in all these areas or more of a marketing term? They’ve always pursued this as a company, not something they’ve just begun.

Even if a company is “Triple-Bottom Line Washing” perhaps that’s ok to a point in that they may actually make a positive difference. In addition, they may see some financial benefit.

For example, if they improve the workplace in small ways, they may reduce retention, which will help the bottom line. In addition, they will be helping the bottom line of people because they won’t be as stressed worrying about their job.

Sometimes I can be cynical about programs like the St Louis Green Energy Business Challenge. I wonder if it’s simply a marketing outlet. But Steve points out that through the program they became aware of new ways to improve their “planet” initiatives. Again, I need to be more open to the benefits of some of the more vocal and popular programs that are encouraging companies to do right. This is actually a big lesson for the cynical-sarcastic-skepitcal-side of me. I need to back off the self-righteous train…or whatever train it is I find myself on. Ok, enough about me, back to the notes that I took while listening to this episode.

Triple-Bottom Line and how does it affect the every day business?

Each item has a committee that is in charge of it. So they have a People Committee, a Planet Committee, and a Prosperity Committee (focused more on governance). They measure success and also engage the employees on the best ways to improve and measure success in each area.

The people committee is working on fun events like happy hours, the company retreat, and also on volunteer opportunities to help the broader committee. So it’s both internal as well as externally focused. This is also HR type of benefits as well. Flexible work schedule allows people to avoid traffic for one.

Autonomy is one great benefit. People are trusted to get the work done.

The planet committee or Green Team is headed up by Steve. A major success measure, it seems to me, is their performance via the St Louis Green Challenge.

The prosperity or Governance Committee works on company policies and how the company is structured to be more prosperous.

A big benefit of the committees: people interact with others within the company they normally with whom they may not normally engage.

These committees aren’t required, but strongly encouraged. People typically find value in belonging.

Is there financial training for the committee members? Not directly. These committees are primarily advisory committees. The executive board then makes the decision.
Challenges – It is tough to balance the three. They are great ideals and can be tough when trying to make a decision that may contradict one of the others.

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Links and Resources

Steve O’Rourke has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Missouri State University, and is a NABCEP-Certified PV Technical Sales Professional who has taught about the business case for solar at St. Louis Community College’s Center for Workforce Innovation. He brings thirty plus years of experience in consulting, sales, marketing and information technologies, including ten years in the renewable energy industry.  Steve has been able to leverage these skills to promote energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy as key parts of a sustainable energy management strategy to a variety of commercial and nonprofit organizations with Microgrid Energy since 2010.  He currently serves on the board of the Missouri Gateway chapter of US Green Building Council, and is a board member and treasurer of the Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association.  His published articles can be found atIntelEfficient.com

Chad Schubert is currently pursuing an MBA at St. Louis University while working full time at Microgrid Energy as their Director of Internal Operations. Chad is a NABCEP Certified PV Technical Sales Professional and spent a year and a half living off the grid in Zambia before joining Microgrid Energy in 2013. Chad leads Microgrid’s Triple Bottom Line efforts and oversees their B Corp Certification. He has a passion for social entrepreneurship and using business to make the world a better place.  More information can be found at www.chadschubert.com.

B Corp – https://www.bcorporation.net/
B Impact Assessment – http://bimpactassessment.net/bcorporation

John Elkington coined the phrase, Tripe Bottom Line – See his story in this pdf (long, but interesting reading) – http://www.johnelkington.com/archive/TBL-elkington-chapter.pdf
John Elkington’s website – http://johnelkington.com/
Microgrid Energy Triple Bottom Line statement – https://www.microgridenergy.com/about/triple-bottom-line/
Microgrid Energy site – https://www.microgridenergy.com/ (Their cool intro video on their website aligns perfectly with my music, LA All Night.)
Namaste Solar – Holy cow they have some cool resources in this company. http://www.namastesolar.com/