Business and Ethics / Science / Technology and Health

MBA Graduates Develop Free Guide to Help Small Business Lower its Carbon Footprint

Written by Dean Forbes

July 1, 2021

Climate Action Guide graphic

Small businesses that want to measure their greenhouse gas emissions with an eye toward lowering them can access a free guide developed by a group of Seattle University MBA students and their advisors.

The Climate Impact Guide uses a modified version of the EPA’s new carbon footprint calculator to help businesses establish their baseline emissions and employs a nine-step guide to help them find ways to reduce their emissions.

Creating the guide was the result of a capstone project by students in the Management Consulting course taught by Instructor Robert Spencer in the Professional MBA degree program. The course paired a four-student team with advisors Phil Thompson, PhD, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability (CEJS) and Nicole DeNamur, owner and founder of Sustainable Strategies.

In addition to the guide, the Albers team produced a self-help video and website updates, “and arguably have produced a platform for meaningful progress on controlling local emissions,” says Spencer.

“The advisors briefed us on the idea of creating a tool or guide and set us loose to research and propose a solution,” says Kelsey Hofmann, ’21, one of the student creators. “We ultimately landed on producing a simplified tool and guide based on the EPA’s framework, but simplified for small businesses.”

Why small business? 

“Large businesses tend to have in-house teams or larger consulting partners to help manage their sustainability efforts, while small businesses may lack the resources to make it a priority. Our hope was that a free or inexpensive tool would make it more accessible to small businesses with limited time and resources,” says Hofmann.

Small business can have an impact on climate change if they take the time measure their current carbon emissions, says Hofmann.

“Our tool and guidebook focus on first establishing your baseline carbon emissions so that you can track improvement in the future.”

Thompson says the hope is to have another student capstone project team work on a marketing plan during the fall quarter.

“This guide may lead to ‘Climate Action Clinics’ (analogous to the Seattle U Law Clinics) where CEJS student interns work with businesses as consultants who guide them through the process of establishing their baseline emissions and emissions reduction plan,” says Thompson.

Joining Hofmann were students Brooke Carlisle, Cameron Clark and Tyson Lumpkin.

“I am always amazed at how students pour themselves into business consulting assignments and this team was spectacular in going above and beyond,” Spencer says.