Exploring the Triple Bottom Line with Professor Dr. Phillip Thompson
Posted by Caitlin Joyce on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 11:21 PM PST
Professor Dr. Phillip Thompson, director for the Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability will be the keynote speaker at the premier SU Advantage | Networking Event entitled “People, Planet, Profit: Our Obligation to the Triple Bottom Line.” But what is the triple bottom line? We sat down with Dr. Thompson to learn more about the topic and find out what it means to him.
Dr. Thompson, also a professor in the College of Science and Engineering, explains, “The triple bottom line is what it sounds like.” I task my students to play the role of an engineer and entrepreneur, always conscious of the triple bottom line. They must develop a business that will be profitable, while being sustainable and paying a living wage.”
Dr. Thompsons explains that this ethical running of a business is not detrimental to the financial growth of a company. If done correctly, it encourages innovation and increases profits. There is no better example of this than the Bullitt Center, the greenest building in the world, where Dr. Thompson conducts much of his work.
The Bullitt Center was built as part of the Living Building Challenge. For this challenge buildings could not contain any hazardous materials: there is a red list over 400 materials that are harmful to the environment and none of these could be used in the creation of the building.
One of the materials, similar to Tyvek, (a vapor barrier) that was due to be used in production of the Bullitt Center contained one of the red listed materials and therefore, some innovation was required. The manufacturer agreed to create a new vapor barrier that did not contain the harmful material and the end result was a product that was cheaper to produce than the original and proved more effective.
“This is an unintended consequence, but one with improved outcomes. The manufacturer now has a clean product that works better thanks to innovation inspired by care for the triple bottom line.”
How else are Dr. Thompson and his classes using sustainability for a great social and economic impact?
With help of his students, Dr. Thompson is working with Holy Family School, a low income kindergarten to 8th grade Catholic school, to remove concrete and create a rain garden and urban farming project for the school. It will save the school money, allow them to grow vegetables for the community and teach the next generation the importance of sustainability.
Another of Dr. Thompson’s projects is one alumni can see for themselves on a tour of the Bullitt Center. Dr. Thompson and his students test the water produced by a wetland on the 3rd floor of the Bullitt Center, which cleans gray water and sends it to the aquifer below the building. If the water meets the Department of Health’s standards, it will mean success for the team.
“Sustainability impacts every industry. If your company is spending money on energy, and through sustainability you can reduce consumption and therefore increase profits, then you’re looking out for your bottom line.”
If you would like to learn more about Dr. Philip Thompson’s work and the impact of sustainability on business, join us on November 19th at 6:00 p.m. at the Sorrento Hotel for our first SU Advantage | Networking Event featuring Dr. Phillip Thompson and Dean Mike Quinn of the College of Science and Engineering. Registration is now open.