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Earthshift | USA

Since 2000 American firm, EARTHSHIFT, has worked with organizations across industries to integrate life cycle sustainability practices in to their business conduct.

October 25, 2013

Educating clients and students toward long-term sustainability

“EARTHSHIFT was born out of a concern for the planet and its resources,” said EARTHSHIFT’s Managing Director Melissa Hamilton, who owns and operates the firm. “Our goal from the beginning was to provide businesses and institutions with tools to evaluate environmental impacts and make better decisions.”

 

In the years since, the company, has done just that. Working with clients like Hewlett Packard, GE, and Rubbermaid, the company has a focus on teaching life-cycle techniques so that companies themselves can begin to think sustainably.

 

In particular, Hamilton is proud of the work EARTHSHIFT has done with GE. “We’ve watched them go from learning how to do an LCA, with a couple of SimaPro licenses, to moving into a full-blown, developer multi-user license. They’ve become experts themselves.”

 

“We’re dedicated to building capacity in industry, so that our clients can have the knowledge and the tools to really think in terms of sustainability and environmental assessment,” Hamilton said.

 

To that end, the firm focuses on consulting, training, and software. “We have the world’s largest LCA training program,” Hamilton said. “We have a whole variety of courses, from online and on-site training to certificate programs.”

 

And she believes that education is the key to the future of sustainability. “It’s only recently that universities have started to offer degrees that focus on LCA,” and this may eventually be the change the life-cycle community has been waiting for. “Whatever is happening in academia now, you’re going to see in industry in 10 to 20 years. Those are your future clients,” Hamilton said.

 

Similar values, similar goals

With a shared commitment to encouraging sustainability and client autonomy, it makes sense that EARTHSHIFT has been the North American SimaPro representative for more than a decade. “We felt that we would be a good fit,” said Hamilton of the partnership. “We saw that SimaPro was a robust tool that would help companies get in there and really analyze their environmental impact.” And the partnership has proved beneficial for both PRé and EARTHSHIFT. “I think that we service a market that was previously untapped. We helped build the North American SimaPro market, by giving SimaPro a voice and a presence here,” Hamilton said.

 

EARTHSHIFT has also grown thanks to PRé’s LCA software. Hamilton explained, “Those who want to use SimaPro are often also interested in our consulting services. It’s a symbiotic relationship.”

 

Trickle-down sustainability: Slow and steady

EARTHSHIFT has been influential in encouraging industries across the globe to adopt sustainable practices.

“We’ve guided some very large, influential organizations around the world, helping them make informed decisions that are better for the planet,” Hamilton said. “And when we help these big, multinational companies improve their environmental impact by even one percent, the trickle-down effect is huge, because of what a big impact they have on the planet.”

 

And as Hamilton looks to the future, EARTHSHIFT plans to stay the course and, “just do more of what we’re already doing,” she said.

 

As to sustainability adoption throughout the U.S., it all depends on the state of the economy, and any future legislation. Hamilton explains, “It’s going to be a slow pace until we have legislation that forces it. You see a lot of voluntary compliance, but it ebbs and flows with the budget. It takes time and resources to conduct an LCA.” Yet Hamilton remains hopeful for the future. “Society wants accountability. Customers want to know what you’re doing. The world is asking for sustainability.”

 

And with EARTHSHIFT’s dedication to building capacity in industry, life-cycle thinking is sure to grow in importance throughout North America. Together we will build pathways to sustainability.

 

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Eric Mieras
'Positive impact makes you meaningful'