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Legacy Vacation Resorts Debuts Reimagined Lake Buena Vista Location

By Business

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (August 10, 2023) – Legacy Vacation Resorts (LVR), the highest scoring Certified B Corp hotel company in North America, has just debuted their latest eco-friendly renovation project at the company’s signature Lake Buena Vista property. The multi-million-dollar redevelopment includes enhancements to the resort across the design, guest experience, and sustainability programs. Encompassing 28 three-bedroom villas, the project showcases a seamless integration of the brand persona and core values towards a more regenerative approach to tourism thanks to a variety of elements that lower the overall carbon footprint of the business. Highlights include a new solar panel array, elimination of single-use plastic amenities, eco-friendly building materials like carpet tiles made from recycled fishing nets, low-flow plumbing fixtures, Verdant smart thermostat system, Energy Star rated appliances, high-efficiency windows, and much more.

The Lake Buena Vista property is among the highest visited per year across the brand thanks to its prime location along Palm Parkway in Orlando and proximity to world-class attractions and shopping such as Walt Disney World®, Universal Studios® Orlando, SeaWorld® and Disney Springs®. With that in mind, the company knew they had an opportunity to deliver a lower carbon travel experience for guests at this bustling destination, and to also educate a large number of visitors on ways in which they could use travel as a force for good. Each design decision throughout this project was intentionally made to best align with the company’s mission to help families and friends create unforgettable memories on vacation in a manner that respects the local environment, LVR team members, and the surrounding community.

“Travelers today are seeking more responsible ways to explore and enjoy the destinations they love,” said Alex Smith, Chief Operating Officer at Legacy Vacation Resorts. “With this renovation and all of our enhancement projects in the pipeline, we are hoping to create a place where guests don’t need to leave their values at home just because they are going on vacation, and instead embrace a way of traveling that helps create tangible positive impact for people and the planet. Since becoming a Certified B Corporation in 2019 and committing ourselves to a purpose-driven business model, the data we are tracking shows that there has been simultaneous improvement of our social impact and profitability– proof that our mission to do good is working quite well.”

A major element of the project was a robust overhaul of their energy creation and consumption activities. In addition to the existing energy-efficient lighting fixtures and complimentary EV chargers, the property introduced Phase 1 of a new solar array project which will thus far generate over 87,000 kWh of power annually. Thanks to a blend of power generated from our own array and off-site solar panels from Duke Energy’s Clean Energy Connection program, 100% of the resort’s electricity is now powered by clean, renewable energy. Efficient appliances, and smart thermostats further reduce consumption, ensuring maximum guest comfort and Earth-friendly energy savings. Each new room is complete with the latest in sustainability-forward water technology including low flow shower heads, faucets, and toilets. Once the entire resort is outfitted with these water-reducing fixtures, over 189,000 gallons of water will be saved per year. Like every LVR property, Lake Buena Vista resort check-ins will receive a reusable water bottle to refill at several stations across the resort, a program that debuted in 2018 and has since avoided the use of 51,000 plastic bottles. Sustainable wooden keycards and refillable bath amenity pumps further reduce single-use plastics and encourage guests to make more conscious consumption choices back at home.

The design enhancements are just as exciting. The project introduced a completely new room category for the resort, a deluxe 1,200 sq. ft. three-bedroom suite that can accommodate up to 10 guests. This allows for even larger families and groups to enjoy traveling together with plenty of space to sleep, play, and dine while enjoying the local area. The refreshed Florida Botanical theme embodied via large-scale wall art and decor not only pays homage to native flora, but is also a call-out to the company’s 1% For The Planet partnership – a commitment which delivers 1% of LVR’s annual hotel sales to environmental charities. Modern, eco-friendly finishes are found throughout the room in a serene color palette for a relaxing aesthetic, and thoughtful design takes center stage with things like an open-concept full kitchen with island and dining table, living room with ample seating, spacious bedrooms, oversized primary bathroom vanity, and bedside charging ports.

Originally certified as a B Corp in 2019, LVR recently achieved a 42% increase in their B Corp score with a new total of 126.0 points out of 200- a testament to their work towards creating a better tourism industry. This project at Lake Buena Vista is but one element of a holistic approach of their commitment to becoming stewards of the regenerative travel movement. Their operations and initiatives spanning climate action, carbon reduction, stakeholder equity, social justice and environmental protection all combine to reflect their company values of accountability and transparency. Despite their previous achievements, LVR and their leadership are ever-focused on the future with ambitious goals including getting to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030, reducing water usage per check-in (UPC) 25% and energy UPC 10% by 2025, achieving 100% renewable energy company-wide by 2030, and aiming to better support local economies with at least 50% annual spend with local & independent suppliers.


Legacy Vacation Resorts provides vacation experiences for families and friends to create unique moments and lasting memories in a manner that respects the environment, employees, and community. The company boasts eight locations across Florida, New Jersey, Colorado, and Nevada, delivering a variety of options for travelers of all ages. With a core passion for sustainability and using the power of business as a force for good, this Certified B Corporation offers carbon footprint offsetting, waste reduction programs, living wage initiatives, sustainable lifestyle awareness campaigns, and green-focused renovation projects. To learn more, visit

Media Contacts

Lorin Augeri

Public Relations



Tay Mauro

Legacy Vacation Resorts


How ESG Factors Align with B Corp Values

By Business, Uncategorized

B Corps Speak to Business Benefits of Environmental, Social, and Governance Impact Improvement

The investment and business philosophy that takes into consideration a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors has become a focus of U.S. policy debate in recent years. While some policymakers are pushing for policies and laws to limit the use of ESG factors in business or investment decisions, others advocate for protections of ESG considerations for risk management and resiliency.

This includes action at the federal level, where the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently finalized a rule clarifying that, under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, retirement fund managers may consider ESG factors as part of their investment strategy. This reversed a previous DOL rule that restricted the practice. Congressional Republicans, joined by a small number of Democrats, passed legislation that would have repealed the latest DOL rule, but this was vetoed by President Biden. In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission is finalizing a new rule that would require most publicly traded companies to disclose certain climate-related information, including carbon emissions and other climate-related financial risks. This rule is expected to be announced this year and likely will be the subject of legislation and litigation to prevent it from taking effect.

While the policy debate looks likely to continue, companies across the United States are demonstrating how the risk-reducing values behind ESG consideration also help create long-termbottom-line benefits. Investors looking to build more resilient, risk-averse portfolios also are incorporating ESG considerations into investment processes.

Some businesses are going beyond ESG factors to create positive social and environmental impact on stakeholders beyond shareholders — treating employees fairly, creating good jobs, operating sustainability, and contributing to local communities — while also producing a profit. This includes the more than 2,000 Certified B Corporations in the United States, the majority of which are small-to-midsized companies with a stakeholder business model that incorporates and goes beyond ESG considerations to focus on positive impact. What that means in practice varies by company, but the common mission is to value people and the planet as well as profit and to sustain the company’s mission and positive impact.

In industries ranging from seafood to finance to travel and leisure and beyond, the B Corps highlighted in this article share how a focus on ESG impact improvement helps them create more resilient businesses and connections with their workers, customers, and communities.

Take Effective Policy Action at Your Company

This free resource shares how B Lab U.S. & Canada and the B Corp community are building a stakeholder economy and driving collective political action to make the rules of the game more equitable and beneficial for all.


ESG Factors Drive Decision-Making and Business Growth

B Corps speaking up to share the benefits of ESG considerations with policymakers include Luke’s Lobster, a family-owned Maine seafood business with an online market and restaurants in the United States and Asia. Co-Founder Ben Conniff recently shared testimony with a Maine legislative committee considering legislation that would prevent ESG considerations in the investment of Maine Public Employees Retirement System funds.

With more than 250 workers in Maine, Luke’s Lobster processes about 5 million pounds of lobster per year. In his testimony, Conniff said the B Corp also produces a positive impact on its stakeholders, including the environment and workers. “This type of decision-making has made us profitable and enabled our rapid business growth over 13-plus years,” he said. “This type of decision-making allowed us to survive COVID. This type of decision-making is the reason we are one of the only restaurants in Maine with enough employees to be open seven days a week.”

The proposed Maine legislation on preventing ESG considerations for public employee retirement funds would alter Luke Lobster’s business model and harm its bottom line, Conniff said.

“I am certain that if we operated with the goal of maximizing shareholder value by paying our team and suppliers as little as possible, charging our customers as much as possible, and operating in a way that damages our surrounding environment, we would long ago have gone out of business,” Conniff said. “The fact is that considering environmental, social, and governance factors in your business is synonymous with smart long-term financial strategy. Folks who ignore these considerations do so at their own peril, and the peril of their investors.”

Through the years, Luke’s Lobster has proven the worth of its business model to institutional investors, he said. “They know that history has shown that companies who perform well in these impact areas also typically outperform their competitors financially and are therefore better investments,” he said. “This means we’ve gotten more investment dollars while retaining more family ownership of our business, which has propelled our growth and profit while allowing us to double down on the positive impact we have on our community. It’s a virtuous cycle that has allowed us to make Maine stronger.”

Speaking to policymakers on the federal level, California-based Beneficial State Bank CEO Randell Leach said in a recent op-ed in The Hill that financial markets are increasingly recognizing the value of acting in alignment with a broader set of stakeholders. “Why have more and more businesses integrated environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into their models over the last decades? The answer is that they are simply aligning their resources with their stakeholders’ interests — which is efficient, profitable, and both economically and environmentally beneficial,” he said.

With locations in California, Oregon, and Washington, Beneficial State Bank offers stakeholder-driven financial services with a commitment to using deposits to support communities and the planet. Leach said the B Corp aims to prompt others in the financial industry to see the bottom-line benefits of positive social and environmental impact.

“Burying your head in the sand is not a viable approach in a market with finite natural and human resources, changing consumer demands, and increasing climate risk,” Leach said. “Companies that prioritize social and environmental impacts while still generating returns for their shareholders are a model that we should applaud and replicate.”

B Lab report

The Systemic Change Our Economy Needs

A new impact economy is being built, one where businesses prioritize and consider their impact on all the stakeholders they impact — including communities, workers, customers, and the environment. This free report shares how the stakeholder model as practiced by B Corps is gaining global traction and validation.


How ESG Factors Can Drive Resilient Business and Investment Value

B Corps in the financial industry have seen the holistic value of ESG factors over time. Tripp Baird, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of The Builders Fund, said ESG considerations are a framework for the B Corp’s investments to build a better world and a resilient portfolio. The fund partners with companies whose business models address environmental and social challenges. Its current investments include Acelero Learning, an outcomes-driven early childhood education platform; PosiGen, a residential solar and energy efficiency provider for low- to moderate-income families; and B Corp Traditional Medicinals, a wellness tea company that nurtures connections with the herb-sourcing communities in its supply chain.

“In our experience, purpose-built companies can outperform their peers by leveraging their mission and values to attract and retain talent, increase employee and consumer engagement, earn media, drive customer loyalty, and lower their cost of customer acquisition,” Baird said.

“We believe incorporating better operating practices while considering ESG risk factors makes us better fiduciaries of our investors’ money, and that improvements on these dimensions drive better decision-making and, ultimately, better returns.”

In its investments with private companies, Builders Fund works with management teams to create economic and stakeholder value, Baird said. This includes filling board seats that help drive strategic decision-making. “In Builders’ experience, an engaged and dynamic board of directors and advisors can amplify organizational purpose and ESG priorities, holding the tension between long-term aspirations and short-term realities, as well as integrating the perspectives of multiple stakeholders,” he said.

With each investment, Baird said Builders Fund works to create programs to share equity value creation with the management teams and employees. “These profit pools create and maintain economic value for those who are most integral to the success of the company and add value on top of living wages, health care coverage, paid parental leave, and other bonuses and benefits,” he said.

Internally, Builders Fund uses the B Impact Assessment to set baseline standards, track progress toward goals, and aggregate impact across investments, said Amelia Ahl, Director of Impact. The values of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion guide its approach in selecting partners and supporting leadership at portfolio companies. “We believe that equitable and inclusive practices are not only better for businesses and people alike, but also demonstrably improve performance,” Ahl said. “Our hiring process ensures that a representative cross-section of the population is interviewed for any open position.”

How B Corp Measurements Hone Business Focus on ESG Impact

“I think of B Corp measurements as business measurements of our humanity,” said Jared Meyers, Chairman of Legacy Vacation Resorts (LVR), a Florida-based B Corp that operates family resorts in four states. He said these measurements of humanity are embedded in several of the company’s policies and practices:

  • Making sure employees can afford rent, clothing, and food through a living wage reflects caring for a fellow human being.
  • Ensuring customers can travel with significantly less harm to the environment demonstrates business responsibility instead of shifting the burden to them.
  • Volunteering and supporting Destination Stewardship principles demonstrates to communities that LVR exists to lift them up rather than to profit from them through exploitation.

“These are all B Corp values that the B Corp Impact Assessment has helped us strengthen through measurement and focus,” Meyers said, adding that LVR has been able to establish stronger connections with stakeholders as a B Corp that operates with compassion and reciprocity, offering values-aligned workplaces and products. “When we care for each other, our relationships grow, and when we make our business culture about caring, we create a bond with our stakeholders that delivers true belonging, appreciation, and a shared prosperity. These underpinnings have led to our resilience and our incredible financial success these past few years.”

LVR and other Florida companies share ESG best practices and lessons as part of Florida for Good, a state network of B Corps and other purpose-driven businesses. They include Ocquatics Swim School, where Founder Miren Oca said gaining B Corp Certification formalized the company’s commitment to ESG principles. “As a small business, Ocaquatics has chosen to adopt the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as our framework for working toward social and environmental sustainability,” she said. “We start with small, achievable goals and actions.”

The company’s 2022 Impact Report serves as a public record of its commitment to and progress on the SDGs, Oca said, with other resources the B Corp shares in encouraging its stakeholders to follow suit. “We lead by example and amplify the impact of our actions through communications to our families and the community, and with our social media voice,” she says. “We educate and inspire our team members and families to work toward the SDGs at home and in the community.”

Why Community Is the B Corp Movement’s Biggest Strength

By Business

Over the past two decades, BLVR has evolved from a small digital agency to a global company specializing in rebranding, new brand creation, and brand amplification for purpose-driven businesses. At the heart of the company – and as its name suggests – is belief. When they first worked together, Partners Scott Hancock, CEO, Adam McWethy, COO, and Todd McWethy, Senior Designer, discovered a shared passion and desire to work with businesses that create impact through a deeper conviction. Businesses that believe something.

Since then, BLVR has grown and works with many clients, from lifestyle brands such as Legends and Vessel to consumer goods and other purpose-driven spaces like clean energy and health tech.

Hancock told me how BLVR holds itself to the same standards it preaches to its brand partners – using business as a force for good. A Certified B Corporation since 2020, the agency also gives a percentage of its profit and pro bono services to organizations providing disadvantaged children and families around the globe with opportunities to thrive.

I sat down with Hancock to learn more about how businesses can take more responsibility for the community and the world, the company’s work with other B Corps in its home community of San Diego, and BLVR’s focus on future generations.

Christopher Marquis: Tell us a bit more about BLVR and its approach. How do you empower your clients to use business as a force for good in this way?

Scott Hancock: BLVR was founded 20 years ago. We’re more than a strategic brand and creative agency, we’re a global belief company. I joined brothers Adam and Todd McWethy as a partner in 2012, and we quickly realized how well we worked together. We’ve always been passionate about businesses giving back to their communities, and as a company, BLVR has always had a huge heart for making a difference in the world.

We believe that the brands and leaders that make the greatest positive impact are those led by a deeper conviction. We want to work with brands to define that conviction and help them live it out through everything they do. This is what drives our business now and is at the core of our approach to all partnerships.

The common tie between the brands we work with is that they know there is more to business than just answering to shareholders. They are driven to make a difference in the world around them. But often, their business could be more active. They need to grow; their brand doesn’t reflect what they hold true, and their programs feel fragmented.

That’s where we do our best work to empower clients. We show them that if they want to use business as a force for good, they need to put conviction at the heart of their business and, in turn, their brand. It’s more than just having a social impact strategy. It’s about connecting what you believe to every aspect of your business – from your long-term vision to defining the products you sell, how you run your business, and how you treat your people.

Marquis: What thinking has most influenced the way you do business?

Hancock: If you look around our world today, the people, businesses, and organizations that make the most significant impact are the brave storytellers, altruists, and entrepreneurs who passionately live their purpose, envision a better future, and strive to make it so. Belief shapes our company’s perspective on the world and guides our business. It has inspired our name, methodology, and purpose—to transform business, people, and the world through the power of belief.

The consumer world is changing. Organizations hoping to create resilient legacy brands built on a solid foundation of loyal customers and employees must push beyond products, features, and benefits to lead with a more profound belief. Because when consumers support a belief-led brand, they’re not just buying things. They’re buying a code of ethics, a shared conviction, and a badge of personal identity. Whether this revolves around reducing environmental impact, investing in community projects, or helping to root out unethical practices, it’s about finding your reason to exist and how that benefits the rest of the world.

This belief is distinct from purpose. Where belief conveys a brand’s unwavering core, purpose is all about what a brand intends to do about that belief. For example, National Geographic’s belief is that ‘the earth and all of its inhabitants deserve respect’ and its purpose is ‘to explore and protect our planet. Similarly, Dove believes ‘everyone is beautiful’ and strives to ‘help women and girls realize their full potential’. Putting belief, purpose, and behaviors at the center of a brand gives companies the framework to move beyond short-term transactions. It allows them to create deeper emotional bonds with consumers, with the power to become lifelong relationships of shared values.

Marquis: How did BLVR come to be a B Corp? What does B Corp certification mean to you? What is its true value to both the business and sustainability more generally?

Hancock: Since our inception, BLVR has always been about giving back and using our business to make a difference in the world. Over the years, we’ve committed to choosing a different nonprofit partner each year and giving a percentage of our profits and pro bono services to help advance their mission. In 2020 we partnered with an organization called Love Does to help fund scholarships for children in Uganda. In 2021, we worked with Love Light + Melody to help build a school in Nicaragua. In 2022, we partnered with PUSH For Empowered Pregnancy to help raise awareness around preventable stillbirths in the U.S.

When we learned about B Corp, it seemed like a natural fit for how we operated. Joining B Corp in 2020 wasn’t a significant shift in behavior for BLVR but a way to amplify what we were already doing. It was an opportunity to join a growing community of like-minded businesses and become advocates to drive more attention to the B Corp movement. Now that we’ve been a B Corp for almost three years, we’re learning that we still have a long way to go and are discovering more ways to improve the world beyond philanthropy. While we will continue to engage in philanthropic work, we’re looking to become more holistic in how we view what it means to be a ‘Benefit Corporation’ throughout our entire business. This means continually revisiting our practices, policies, and procedures and being more deliberate about improving environmental impact, diversity and inclusion, governance, and employee engagement, to name a few.

We see immense value in being a B Corp. On the one hand, it brings a heightened level of transparency and accountability to our work and gives us a space to work with a community of change-makers. But at a macro level, we see it as an investment in running a better business that aligns with our values and a way to participate in the conscious economy. It allows us to take more responsibility for our community, the world, and how we want to leave it for future generations.

At the 2022 Champions Retreat, Jorge Fontanez, CEO of B Lab U.S. & Canada shared, “I see a community that prioritizes human wholeness, collective care, and interdependence. We are more than the sum of our parts. This historic moment for making deep changes to our current system – change powered by businesses acting as the B Corp movement.”

I couldn’t agree more with Jorge, and it’s incredible to think that what we are doing in San Diego is also happening in many other cities around the globe. We’re organizing, collaborating, sharing information, and promoting each other and the broader B Corp mission. We’re holding B Local breakfasts, speaking at local universities, volunteering for different causes, and guiding future B Corp members to engage in the movement. Community is the power, and it is effecting change.

Marquis: Where do you see BLVR, the B Corp community, and capitalism being in 10 years?

In 10 years, I envision every state in the U.S. will recognize Public Benefit Corporations as a legal business structure. Currently, only 34 states in the U.S. allow it. B Corp will be much more predominant, and there will be global knowledge of what it is.

B Locals will be in every city, and our collective voice will be even more influential in establishing standards, policies, tools, and programs that shift capitalism’s behavior, culture, and structural underpinnings. A community mobilized towards collective action to address society’s most critical challenges.

Though capitalism has positively impacted our world and helped many people, prioritizing short-term profits for individuals has sometimes meant that the long-term well-being of society and our environment has been lost.

As we continue to understand and experience the downsides of capitalism, it is forcing governments, business leaders, nonprofits, and individuals to find ways to evolve and improve. B Corp and all the businesses that belong to it, like CotopaxiAllbirds, and Warby Parker, to name a few, are excellent expressions of this evolution.

Consumers and the workforce are also playing a role in driving change. More now than ever, consumers are using their buying power to support businesses whose values go beyond merely making a profit. The workforce is also taking a stand and seeking employment with companies that balance their duty to drive returns with an authentic commitment to using their business to drive positive change.

In 10 years, I hope we’ve flipped the script, and there are more socially conscious and impact-focused businesses than companies focusing solely on making a profit.

As for BLVR, our vision is to create a future where everybody is a world changer – and we want to be right at the heart of it, delivering belief-led strategic thinking and award-winning creative—positioning the world’s most meaningful companies to lead markets, shape culture and create positive change.

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Consumers care about sustainability—and back it up with their wallets. A recent joint study from McKinsey and NielsenIQ examines sales growth for products that claim to be environmentally and socially responsible.

By Business, Uncategorized

Total US consumer spending accounts for over $14 trillion annually and two-thirds of the US GDP. An important subset of this spending goes toward everyday consumer packaged goods (CPG), ranging from foods and beverages to cosmetics and cleaning products. The sheer size of the CPG sector—with millions of employees and trillions of dollars in annual sales—makes it a critical component in efforts to build a more sustainable, inclusive economy.

CPG companies increasingly allocate time, attention, and resources to instill environmental and social responsibility into their business practices. They are also making claims about environmental and social responsibility on their product labels. The results have been evident: walk down the aisle of any grocery or drugstore these days and you’re bound to see products labeled “environmentally sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” “fair trade,” or other designations related to aspects of environmental and social responsibility. Most important is what lies behind these product claims—the actual contribution of such business practices to achieving goals such as reducing carbon emissions across value chains, offering fair wages and working practices to employees, and supporting diversity and inclusion. But understanding how customers respond to social and environmental claims is also important and has not been clear in the past.

When consumers are asked if they care about buying environmentally and ethically sustainable products, they overwhelmingly answer yes: in a 2020 McKinsey US consumer sentiment survey, more than 60 percent of respondents said they’d pay more for a product with sustainable packaging. A recent study by NielsenIQ found that 78 percent of US consumers say that a sustainable lifestyle is important to them. Yet many CPG executives report that one challenge to their companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives is the inability to generate sufficient consumer demand for these products. There are many stories of companies launching new products incorporating ESG-related claims only to find that sales fell short of expectations.

How can both of these things be true? Do consumers really care whether products incorporate ESG-related claims? Do shoppers follow through and buy these products while standing in front of store shelves or browsing online? Do their real-life buying decisions diverge from their stated preferences? The potential costs—particularly in an inflationary context—of manufacturing and certifying products that make good on ESG-related claims are high. Accurately assessing demand for products that make these claims is vital as companies think about where to make ESG-related investments across their businesses. Companies should therefore be eager to better understand whether and how these types of claims influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. Is a shopper more likely to purchase a product if there’s an ESG-related claim printed on its package? What about multiple claims? Are some kinds of claims more resonant than others? Does a claim matter more if it’s appended to a pricier product? Is it less meaningful if it comes from a big, established brand?

Over the past several months, McKinsey and NielsenIQ undertook an extensive study seeking to answer these and other questions. We looked beyond the self-reported intentions of US consumers and examined their actual spending behavior—tracking dollars instead of sentiment. The result, for CPG companies, is a fact-based case for bringing environmentally and socially responsible products to market as part of overall ESG strategies and commitments. Creating such products turns out to be not just a moral imperative but also a solid business decision.

Products making ESG-related claims averaged 28 percent cumulative growth over the past five-year period, versus 20 percent for products that made no such claims.

To be clear, this is only a first step in understanding the complex question of how consumers value brands and products that incorporate ESG-related claims. This work has significant limitations that merit mention at the outset.

First, although this study examines how the sales growth of products that feature ESG-related claims fared relative to similar products without such claims,1 it does not demonstrate a causal relationship that definitively indicates whether consumers bought these brands because of the ESG-related claims or for other reasons. For instance, the study does not control for factors such as marketing investments, distribution, and promotional activity. It primarily explores the correlation between ESG-related claims and sales performance.

Second, McKinsey and NielsenIQ did not attempt to independently assess the veracity of ESG-related claims for these products. It is of course paramount for the development of a sustainable and inclusive economy that companies back any ESG-related claims they make with genuine actions. “Greenwashing”—empty or misleading claims about the environmental or social merits of a product or service—poses reputational risks to businesses by eroding the trust of consumers. It also compromises their ability to make more environmentally and socially responsible choices, and potentially undermines the role of regulators. This research is limited to assessing how ESG-related claims correlate with purchasing behavior.

Our approach: Getting granular with ESG in store aisles

In collaboration with NielsenIQ, McKinsey analyzed five years of US sales data, from 2017 to June 2022. The data covered 600,000 individual product SKUs representing $400 billion in annual retail revenues. These products came from 44,000 brands across 32 food, beverage, personal-care, and household categories.

What Every Company in Florida Needs to Know About ESG: Investors are seeking companies with good ESG ratings, and consumers are interested in purchasing from sustainable companies.

By Business

You may have heard of “ESG” (environmental, social, governance) and “sustainability” before, but what do these things actually mean for your business? And more importantly, what do you need to do to make sure your company is compliant with ESG and sustainability regulations in Florida? Here’s a handy guide to help get you started.

What are ESG and sustainability, and why do they matter for businesses in Florida?

ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance. Sustainability is the integration of environmental, social, and economic best practices to ensure the health and vibrancy of both our planet and its inhabitants into the future. In other words, it’s about meeting the needs of the present world without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

There are a number of reasons why businesses in Florida should care about ESG and sustainability. First, Florida is one of the most vulnerable states to climate change in the US. Businesses will be increasingly affected by extreme weather events, sea level rise, and other impacts of climate change. Second, Floridians care about environmental and social factors, according to a recent survey, 80% of Floridians think companies should do more to address social and environmental issues. And finally, ESG and sustainability can be good for business, investors are interested in putting their money into companies with good ESG ratings, and consumers are interested in buying products from sustainable companies. In fact, studies have shown that companies with strong ESG ratings outperform their peers financially.

Why is ESG important for Florida?

Floridians depend on a healthy environment for their quality of life and economy. A sustainable Florida is a prosperous one, and that’s good for business.

The E, S, and G in ESG are all increasingly important for companies, consumers, and the residents of Florida. “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

1. Environmental stewardship

Environmental stewardship is vital to the state’s long-term success. As the effects of climate change become more pronounced, we need to do our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect Florida’s natural resources. From energy efficiency to choosing environmentally friendly building materials, there are many ways businesses can help.

2. Social responsibility

Social responsibility is also important. Through initiatives like workforce development, businesses can help build a strong talent pipeline and ensure that all Floridians have the opportunity to succeed. And by promoting diversity and inclusion, businesses can create a more vibrant economy while also making our state a better place to live and work.

3. Good governance

Finally, good governance is essential for ensuring that businesses operate ethically and responsibly. Every business should have policies and procedures in place to prevent and mitigate risks like fraud, corruption, or discrimination. By adhering to high standards of governance, businesses can safeguard their reputations, and help build a stronger foundation for Florida’s future.

Is ESG reporting mandatory in the US?

In March 2022, the US securities and exchange commission proposed rule that climate-related risks be disclosed by public companies. If this regulation is enacted, it is likely that private companies will also be required to disclose similar information in the near future. This would have a significant impact on small and medium enterprises in Florida, as they would need to invest in gathering and reporting this data.

However, many businesses are already voluntarily disclosing this information, as they believe it is important for investors to have a clear understanding of the risks associated with their investments. In the long term, ESG reporting may help to protect businesses from legal liability and increase transparency in the marketplace.

What are the best ESG strategies for Florida businesses?

For businesses in Florida, there are a few key ESG strategies to keep in mind:

1. Energy efficiency and renewable energy

Companies of all sizes must focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. With Florida’s hot and humid climate, reducing energy consumption can help lower costs while also benefiting the environment. Solar power is a great option for businesses in Florida, as the state has plenty of sunny days.

2. Water conservation

Another key ESG strategy for businesses in Florida is to focus on water conservation. With frequent hurricanes and the threat of sea level rise, it’s important to conserve water to reduce the strain on resources. This can be done through simple measures like installing low-flow fixtures and landscaping with native plants that require less water.

3. Waste reduction and recycling

Businesses in Florida should also focus on waste reduction and recycling. With the state’s large tourism industry, there’s a lot of potential for waste generation. But by implementing recycling programs and promoting reduced consumption, businesses can help reduce their environmental impact.

4. Diversity and inclusion

A diverse and inclusive workforce is essential to the success of any business. By valuing and promoting diversity in the workplace, businesses can tap into a wider range of talents and perspectives, which can lead to better decision-making, improved creativity, and increased productivity. Moreover, diversity and inclusion are essential for building a strong employer brand and attracting top talent. In today’s competitive business environment, Florida businesses that embrace diversity and inclusion will be well-positioned for success.

5. Charitable initiatives

Give back to the community through charitable initiatives or pro bono work. By donating your time or resources to a worthy cause, you can help make a difference in the lives of others. Moreover, you can also use your platform to raise awareness for important causes and inspire others to get involved. Not only is this good for the community, but it can also be good for business. When customers see that you care about more than just profits, they’re more likely to support your company. So if you’re looking for an ESG strategy that will benefit both your business and the community, consider implementing a charitable initiative or two.

6. More transparency

Be transparent about your business operations and disclose any environmental or social impact information. This will help build trust with your customers and employees, and it will also give you a competitive edge in the marketplace. Furthermore, by being transparent about your ESG performance, you’ll be able to more effectively measure and communicate your progress.

By following these key strategies, businesses in Florida can make a positive impact on both the environment and their bottom line.

How can Florida companies develop and implement ESG strategies?

In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues among investors and businesses. As a result, many companies are looking for ways to develop and implement ESG strategies.

There are a number of factors to consider when developing an ESG strategy. First, it is important to identify which issues are most important to your company and your stakeholders.

Second, you need to develop policies and procedures that will help you meet your ESG goals.

Finally, you need to communicate your ESG strategy to your employees, investors, and other key stakeholders.

There are a number of resources available to help companies develop and implement an ESG strategy. The Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) provides research on a variety of ESG topics. The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) offers guidance on reporting ESG information. And the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) provides standards for the voluntary disclosure of ESG information.

Developing and implementing an ESG strategy can be a challenge, but it can have a positive effect on financial performance and improve public perception. By taking the time to develop a comprehensive strategy, companies can position themselves as leaders in the emerging field of sustainable business practices.

What benefits can businesses expect from implementing ESG and sustainability policies?

Floridians depend on a healthy environment for their quality of life and economy. A sustainable Florida is a prosperous one, and that’s good for business.

The E, S, and G in ESG are all equally important for companies, consumers, and the residents of Florida.

1. Environmental stewardship

Environmental stewardship is vital to the state’s long-term success. As the effects of climate change become more pronounced, we need to do our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect Florida’s natural resources. From energy efficiency to choosing environmentally friendly building materials, there are many ways businesses can help.

2. Social responsibility

Social responsibility is also important. Through initiatives like workforce development, businesses can help build a strong talent pipeline and ensure that all Floridians have the opportunity to succeed. And by promoting diversity and inclusion, businesses can create a more vibrant economy while also making our state a better place to live and work.

3. Good governance

Finally, good governance is essential for ensuring that businesses operate ethically and responsibly. Every business should have policies and procedures in place to prevent and mitigate risks like fraud, corruption, or discrimination. By adhering to high standards of governance, businesses can safeguard their reputations, and help build a stronger foundation for Florida’s future.

Is ESG investing banned in Florida?

In a recent development, the government of Florida has passed a resolution to ban ESG considerations for its pension funds and investment management partners. But, how does that affect small and medium-sized enterprises in Florida? Since small and medium companies are more susceptible to climate risks, they need to pay greater attention to sustainability and ESG factors. Moreover, smaller businesses are more closely associated with their consumers, hence sustainability practices are more likely under the radar. As a result, sustainable investing must be taken into account throughout their business operations.

Is Florida sustainable?

In recent years, there has been an increased focus on the need for businesses to operate in a more sustainable way. However, research suggests that this can be difficult to achieve in practice, and it often requires a fundamental shift in the way that businesses operate. This is particularly true for businesses in Florida, which is one of the least environmentally-friendly states in the country. Florida’s emissions in 2018 were 230.9 million metric tons of CO2e, only a minimal decrease from 1999 levels. As a result, there is much room for improvement when it comes to sustainability in Florida.

The state has set a target of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030, and 90% by 2045. Florida aims to go carbon neutral by the year 2050. But, all this will not be possible without the support of all small and medium-sized businesses. Such businesses can play a vital role in helping Florida become more sustainable, and they will need to make some changes in the way they operate. However, this is necessary in order to protect the environment and ensure that Florida can continue to prosper for times to come.

Florida does not really have fossil fuel extraction but a major part of its power generation relies on coal, petroleum, and natural gas. In order to curb this, the government will need to transfer power generation towards hydro, solar, and wind power and incorporate sustainable practices in all its operations.

In conclusion to corporate governance

In order to achieve sustainability, businesses in Florida must embrace a fundamental shift in the way they operate. This includes making changes in the way they conduct their operations, choosing environmentally friendly building materials, and promoting diversity and inclusion. Although Florida faces many environmental challenges, the state has set ambitious goals to reduce emissions by 2030 and 2050. With the help of small and medium businesses, Florida can achieve these targets and become a more sustainable economy. By working together, we can make Florida a more sustainable state for all.


Define stakeholder capitalism?

Stakeholder capitalism is the idea that businesses should focus on creating value for all of their stakeholders, not just shareholders. This includes making decisions that consider the environmental and social impact of their activities, as well as their financial performance. All the diverse stakeholders expect transparency and inclusion, and ESG investing ensures that. Moreover, financial news outlets are beginning to pay more attention to ESG risks, and companies are increasingly being judged by their ESG metrics. All of which is adding to the importance of stakeholder rights.

Can Florida companies get ESG funds?

ESG investing is a type of investment that focuses on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors while sustainable funds are a type of ESG fund. There are many different types of sustainable funds, and they all share a common goal: to invest in companies that are making a positive environmental and societal impact. Florida companies can get ESG funds from a variety of sources, including financial institutions, venture capitalists, and government agencies (that allow it). In addition, there are a number of online platforms that allow Florida companies to connect with potential investors.

Which state is the greenest?

Oregon is the greenest state in the US, followed by Washington and Hawaii. This is due to a number of factors, including the state’s large amount of forestland, its commitment to renewable energy, and its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Which State in the US emits the least amount of carbon?

The state of Texas emits the most carbon, while American Samoa emits the least. This is due to a variety of factors, including the type of industry present in each state and the availability of renewable energy sources.

Does the US manufacture electric vehicles?

The United States does not have any major manufacturers of electric vehicles. The Tesla factory in Fremont, California is the only large-scale EV plant in the country. A handful of small startups are trying to develop EVs, but they have not yet gone into production. The US market is currently reliant on imported EVs from Asian and European companies.

Reported by: Dean Emerick 

Swimming For Social Impact: How Miami-Based Swim School Ocaquatics Is Helping To Better Their Community

By Business

Miren Oca founded Ocaquatics Swim School to be an agent of change in her community – the company is a member of 1% For The Planet and Conscious Capitalism, offered paid time off for voting and volunteering, and they boasted a variety of programs that benefitted and uplifted their employees, customers, supply chain and other stakeholders. But that wasn’t enough for Miren – she wanted to not only provide these benefits for her direct connection and community but also inspire other companies to do the same in an authentic and transparent way. In 2019 she turned her attention to pursuing B Corp Certification and three years later the hard work of Miren and her team finally paid off and Ocaquatics joined the ranks of B Corps in 2022.

This spirit of dedication is nothing new for the daughter of immigrant parents from Spain and Cuba. When she was a young girl, she was inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of her mother and father who opened two restaurants here in the US. Having a family business seemed like normal life to her and she modeled their hard work and dedication by beginning to give swimming lessons for extra spending money. She originally had no intention of turning that effort into a full-fledged business and instead aspired to attend medical school. Things changed when Miren unexpectedly became a mother of a baby boy after her sophomore year in college and she decided to put a pause on her education until he was older. In order to provide for her growing family, she turned back to her passion of swimming and began a business.

As her business began to grow, Miren was motivated by leading her team of employees to not only be the best they could at their jobs, but also be the best stewards of their community possible. As a single parent, she had a soft spot single mothers, women’s issues, as well as other social issues. She developed a scholarship program with free and reduced priced lessons for children in underserved communities, but again wanted to do more. She viewed Ocaquatics as a business that already did good things because they taught life-saving skills to families, but she longed to have a company that created a shared and durable prosperity for the community beyond what was expected from a typical business.

It was thanks to that desire and to her existing values-aligned programs that helped her and her company in many of its social and environmental initiatives and also achieving B Corp Certification. To learn more about her drive, mission and the journey to one of the toughest ESG style business certifications in the market, I sat down with Miren to learn more about her background and work.

Christopher Marquis: Share a bit about your background and why did you begin your business? Why this industry?

Miren Oca: My parents were immigrants with my father from Spain and my mother from Cuba. When they moved to the United States they opened 2 restaurants. Growing up in a family business meant that we lived and worked in the business and entrepreneurship seemed like normal life. As a lifelong swimmer, I taught swimming lessons throughout high school and I did private swimming lessons for extra money on the side. However, I never had any intention of opening a swim school, or any business for that matter. Instead, I wanted to get my degree in Biochemistry and attend medical school. Unexpectedly, my son came along after my sophomore year in college and I decided to wait until he was older to finish my education. That is when I decided to go back to what I knew best… teaching swimming, and I started my swimming lesson business out of necessity to feed my growing family.

I always loved working with children and families to help make them safer around the water. The more I taught, the more it became my passion. As my little business continued to grow, I loved the impact I could make when I hired more teachers in order to reach more students. Once I started employing others to help me, I realized how much I enjoyed leading a team and the momentum that came with it. I soon learned that there were skills I needed to develop, such as hiring and developing people, and running a business. So I focused on learning everything I could about the business side of things. I found myself really loving my business and all the good that comes from it.

Marquis: You’ve baked conscious capitalism into your business model from the beginning. How did you first learn of this way of working and why was it a fit for you?

Oca: One of my personal core values is growth and I love to read! As an entrepreneur, I have always been an avid reader of business and leadership books. In the early years, I could not afford to buy the books so I would sit in the book store with my son for hours and we would both read together.

As a single parent, I also had a soft spot in my heart for single mothers, women’s issues, as well as other social issues. I developed a scholarship program with free and reduced priced lessons for children in underserved communities. Ocaquatics was already a business that did good things because we taught life-saving skills to families. However, I also longed to have a business that did much more for the community than what was expected from just any business. As a team, we began to extend our social impact work by doing beach clean ups and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and doing all sorts of volunteer work.

About 10 years ago I ran into the Conscious Capitalism movement and I devoured everything I could find about the topic. As I have continued to grow my business throughout this time, I have emulated the principles of Conscious Capitalism.

Marquis: On your mission statement online you have a mission to customers and your team. Why was it important to you to highlight employees as well?

Oca: We have a twofold mission statement:

Our mission to our families is to teach our swimmers to love swimming and become safer, more comfortable, and more responsible in, on, and around the water.​

Our mission to our team members is to grow our people within a framework of social and environmental responsibility, so that we grow our school in a sustainable way and make a bigger impact in our world.

We cannot have our mission to our families without a strong mission to our team members. We want to be a workplace that cares about our people and their development. At Ocaquatics, leadership training and inclusive decision-making is emphasized. We grow our team from within, helping them learn the skills they need to lead in a culture that is supportive and inclusive. Feedback from team members is often sought, highly valued, and always included in decision-making. This encourages recognition and accountability and means we are all aligned in our purpose.

We have found that our team members really enjoy working with an organization that cares about their growth and development. They also want to work with an organization that is making a difference in the community. Because of this, we feel that we have better team member retention and engagement.

Marquis: You also share your purpose is to make a positive difference. How do you think you achieve this?

Oca: Our purpose is to make a positive difference on our team, our families, our community and the planet.

We do this by teaching essential, life-saving skills to children and families that make them safer around the water. We are also a workplace that cares about our people and their development. We teach our team members about social and environmental responsibility and how a business can be a force for good through a number of initiatives: We ask our team to help us designate our charitable contributions by making donations to the charity of their choice on work anniversaries, birthdays and to recognize key milestones; we offer paid community service time; and we offer paid time off to vote in elections. We feel that we help our community and environment with all of these initiatives and are excited to continue doing them.

Marquis: Why was becoming a Certified B Corp important to you if you already have so many other distinguished partnerships?

Oca: Since our founding in 1994, we have always been a mission driven company, teaching life-saving swimming skills to children to make families safer around the water. We have grown into an organization that now makes a positive impact on our families, our team members, our community and our planet. We have always strived to balance purpose and profit while using the power of our business as a force for good.

When we discovered B Corp Certification in 2016, we found a way to objectively measure our impact and discovered implementable ideas for improvement. We had already been working on this for several years, but when the pandemic hit, we decided to focus our efforts and make B Corp Certification a top priority.

Marquis: Your journey to B Corp Certification was long and difficult, not to mention happening during a global pandemic. How did you stay focused on your goal?

Oca: Our certification journey took about three years to align every aspect of the company with B Lab’s requirements. During that time, Ocaquatics introduced multiple efforts towards more sustainability, including becoming: a member of 1% For the Planet, Certified Carbon Neutral, a partner of Conscious Capitalism and a Top Workplace recipient from the Sun Sentinel for the fifth consecutive year.

The positive encouragement we received from our stakeholders during our COVID shutdown made us realize we were doing a lot of things right! Because our culture is centered on doing our best for people we all came together to encourage each other and thrive during the challenging times.

We supported our team during our COVID lockdown by securing PPP loans, continuing to pay employee medical benefits, hosting zoom huddles, and doing celebratory ‘drive-bys’ for birthdays and graduations.

We continued to engage our swimmers through our online school where we provided videos featuring water safety skills that could be practiced at home. We kept in constant contact with our swim families through newsletters, social media, and fun ‘we miss you’ postcards.

When we returned to the pools, we did our best to keep everyone safe by reducing our occupancy, social distancing and masking up.

As a certified B Corp and Florida Benefit corporation, Ocaquatics continues to work everyday to become a better business for our swimmers, our team, our community and the planet.

At Ocaquatics, we always say “We are different and we make a difference!”

We’re committed to inspiring, influencing, and supporting swim schools and other businesses on their journey of sustainability. We are acting as the change we wish to see in the world!

Marquis: Finally, what advice would you give to today’s leaders looking to make an impact through more conscious business practices? How should they get started?

Oca: Every little positive change you make in your business adds to the critical mass of the movement. No change is too insignificant. Each drop, when added to another, becomes a ripple that continues on and can inspire and help others. I would encourage other business owners that are looking to make an impact through more conscious business practices to just start… start small…. but start today. I also feel that we are stronger together and I would encourage anyone who is interested in this space to join a group of like -minded, purpose driven businesses.

How Orlando residents’ wages fared in the past 12 months.

By Activism, Business, Community

Orlando residents saw a bump on average to their average weekly pay when compared to a year ago.

Pay in the metro area rose to $1,068 in August, up from $968 per week in the same month last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The 4.2% increase was lower than what was seen in 166 other metro areas and tied with the Sheboygan, Wisconsin, metro.

Among other Florida metro areas, these ranked higher by percent growth over that time:

  • Sebring (22.6%)
  • Sarasota/Bradenton (10.5%)
  • Homosassa Springs (9.5%)
  • Vero Beach (7.2%)
  • Palm Bay/Melbourne (7.1%)
  • The Villages (6.7%)

The average percentage change among the 394 metros considered was 3.19%.

Increased wages come as the state’s hourly minimum wage grew from $10 to $11 on Sept. 30. The minimum wage for tipped employees also increased at the end of last month, from $6.98 to $7.98 per hour.

Florida citizens voted to raise the minimum wage in 2020 to $15 an hour by 2026, with a dollar increase per year. Some groups, like the Florida Business for a Fair Minimum Wage coalition, have said that was good for business, including Jared Meyers, who owns Legacy Vacation Resorts in Orlando, Kissimmee, Palm Coast and Indian Shores

“We’ve been hiring across the board and Legacy Vacation Resorts is having our best year ever,” Meyers said in a prepared statement. “Paying fair wages and investing in our employees strengthens our business and enhances our resilience for the future.”

Other groups like the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association have opposed the wage increases. That group said it would partner with others who would be impacted negatively by a $15 minimum wage. In the past, the group cited the increased cost of labor for businesses if the minimum wage hike had passed.

Converting Your Business To An Environmentally Sustainable One

By Business, Uncategorized

Years ago, the book, “Let My People Go Surfing,” by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the clothing company Patagonia, inspired Ken LaRoe, CEO Climate First Bank to change the way I live my life and how I run a business. I’m hoping you are ready to change the way you run your business or organization, too. I’m hoping you are ready to convert it to an environmentally sustainable one.  According to a recent study by Accenture, your customers are ready for you to do it:

  • 66% of consumers plan to make more sustainable or ethical purchases over the next six months.
  • 74% of consumers believe that ethical corporate practices and values are an important reason to choose a brand.

The same study says your company revenue is ready for you to convert:

  • 81% of sustainable indices outperformed their peer benchmarks in 2020.

According to a 2019 report from Nielsen, Your employees are ready for it, too:

  • Nearly 40% of employees prefer to work at environmentally friendly companies.

Whatever is holding you back, have the courage to set it aside and use this blog post as inspiration to move forward.  By operating more sustainably, you can have a positive environmental and societal impact all while delivering greater financial value. Each business is different, but there are a couple of elements that most share including a physical facility of some sort, even if it’s your home, and a product or service the business provides to its clients.

Let’s start with the physical facility. Many of the recommendations I made in my last blog about converting your home to an environmentally friendly one apply here.  You’ll help your clients, community and the planet, and you’ll help yourself reduce business costs.  I’ll name a few areas to address, but you can see more details and information available in my last blog post, “Converting to an Environmentally Sustainable Home”.

  • Heating & air conditioning
  • Dual-paned windows
  • Insulation
  • Lighting
  • Water usage reduction
  • Solar panels


Many people think commercial businesses can’t get weekly recycling pick-up, but that’s not true. Start by reaching out to your local city or county government to see what they offer. If they don’t offer it, then you may need reach out to a private company. When First Green Bank was up and running, local government didn’t provide recycling on-site, but our employees were so dedicated that they collected it and took it home for pick-up curbside. Whatever service you end up using, make it easy for your employees and customers to recycle at your place of business by supplying visible collection bins. The lesson is, where there’s a will there’s a way.

O-Town Compost


Many experts say recycling was just a steppingstone to a more evolved process – composting. I’m persuaded they are right. You can only recycle plastic products once or twice before the plastic becomes unusable, and then may end up in a landfill. On the other hand, the biodegradable and compostable cups, utensils, straws, paper products and trash can liners we use at the bank that are supplied by O-Town Compost can be remade indefinitely. It’s several times less expensive to compost materials than to recycle them. Compostable materials are produced from natural sources like corn starch, sugar cane, and canola oil in a carbon neutral process.  Conversely, the production of traditional plastic materials releases a variety of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. And, the best thing about composting is you don’t need a industrial plant, just your own backyard, to do it.


Production materials are a critical area to consider as you reduce waste and your carbon footprint.  Every business and office can embrace the digital world and go paperless. There’s almost no need to use paper any longer.

Restaurants should look at alternatives to Styrofoam packaging for to-go orders and find alternatives for plastic eating utensils and straws like the compostable materials mentioned above. Organizations like Foodprint Group can help you use better inventory management and donation practices to reduce food waste to zero and cut costs by nearly $2,000 a year. This means less food is needed, none of it goes to the landfill, and hunger is reduced.

Retailers can stop selling items that aren’t packaged using recycled and recyclable materials. They can stop offering their customers plastic bags at checkout. They can provide recycling services to their customers for the products they sell them and the batteries they use.

One of the most effective things construction industry businesses can do is reduce mistakes. It may sound overly simple, but if you find your crews are frequently cutting incorrectly or using the wrong pipe or piece of lumber, you need to get to put a stop to it – it’s hurting the environment and costing you money. Make sure plans are precise and material orders follow suit. Use only responsibly sourced materials. Store them well – evenly stacked and protected from the elements. Make sure they are secure as well, as theft is increasingly common.

Landscaping companies have great opportunities to reduce carbon emissions and water usage. First, you can encourage customers to engage in xeriscaping, which in Florida means beautiful designs with native plants that require little (if any) water or fertilizer. It also takes into account the delicate balance of aquatic ecology for buildings and structures close to water. You can also make sure to compost lawn clippings and bush and tree trimmings.  Finally, amazing advances in battery technology now make it possible to meet your need for all-day performance on a single charge.  Avoid gas-powered equipment and find ways to use electric powered lawn equipment whenever possible.

Supply Chain

Don’t stop your efforts with what happens on-site with your own company. Expand your efforts to your supply chain as well including suppliers, vendors, partners, etc. Find companies and business partners that share your values. Ask to review their operations. Confirm they have earned key certifications. Keep a list of these companies and prioritize using their services and raw materials.

Chemical Management

An often-overlooked area is chemical management. What chemicals are being used to clean and maintain your facility? If you are a small business and you and your employees do this work yourselves, then strive to use green cleaning products as well as non-chemical products for pest control and weed management. If you hire a cleaning service, make sure you review their chemicals and practices and demand that they conform to your values. If they aren’t willing to adapt to your requirements, then find a service that will – there are more and more services that share our values, you just need to look.


Look for ways to reduce vehicle miles such as carpooling, telecommuting and teleconferencing. Use electric vehicles as company vehicles and incentivize employees and clients to use them, too. At Climate First Bank, our offices feature electric vehicle charging stations that employees and customers can use for free. Businesses can also reward employees who bike to work or take public transportation.

Corporate Policy

Make sure your business leaders and line employees know all of these practices aren’t the latest fad, but the de facto way your company conducts business. Incorporate these approaches into official company policy. Make it part of regular employee training. Hold leaders and employees accountable for living these policies in performance reviews.

B Corp

Certifications and Industry Groups

You are not alone in your quest to convert your business to an environmentally sustainable one. There are some incredible organizations that can help you set the right goals, create a plan and execute it. Here are a few organizations that Climate First Bank is affiliated with and whose leaders I have known for years:

Engaging with these groups will also help you find other like-minded business owners and leaders who can share insights and tips with you and help you find the drive to keep going, especially when facing difficult challenges. There’s so much more I could share, but I’ve given you a great head start on your research and information gathering, the rest is up to you. Good luck! Can’t wait for you to email me your stories of transformation so I can use them in future blog posts to inspire others.

Climate First expands digital services with fintech startup

By Business

Climate First Bank’s flagship location at 5301 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. Photos provided.

Just one year into operation, St. Petersburg-based Climate First Bank is capitalizing on its early success and launching a fintech startup that will provide banking as a service (BaaS) solutions.

June marks the first anniversary of Climate First Bank – a full-service community bank focused on environmental sustainability. In addition to the St. Petersburg flagship, the bank expanded into Central Florida with a Winter Park location, and a Lake County branch in Eustis is pending regulatory approval.

Despite opening during the pandemic, the bank has reached $211 million in assets, $142 million in loans and $171 million in deposits. In light of that success, CEO and founder Ken LaRoe is now raising capital for OneEthos, Climate First’s fintech spinoff.

“When we started, we knew we had to be very tech-centric,” said LaRoe. “But I’m a baby boomer, so it’s got to be super user-friendly tech-centric.”

Community banks are at a disadvantage in the technological space, said LaRoe, as they are “beholden” to a core processing system. He added that only around five exist in the U.S., and most “are just bad” because they utilize old tech.

He explained that operators know the shrinking pool of smaller institutions rely on their products, so they are reluctant to invest money into updating the systems.

Despite those limitations, LaRoe said the bank’s leadership knew Climate First needed robust mobile banking applications, including the ability for customers to open an account within three minutes through their phone. He said account holders also need full depositing capabilities from their homes or businesses – without ever setting foot in the bank.

“But the problem is how do you get there?” said LaRoe. “We were looking for the right person, and our CTO (chief technological officer) just kind of fell in our lap.”

Ken LaRoe, founder and CEO of Climate First, is celebrating the environmentally-conscious bank’s one-year anniversary.

That CTO is Marcio DeOliveira, also an executive vice president and chief digital banking officer. LaRoe said he reached out to Climate First after reading about the values-based and environmentally conscientious community bank. According to LaRoe, DeOliveira relayed that he needed to add some meaning to his life, “and you guys are it.”

After joining Climate First nearly a year ago, LaRoe said that DeOliveira has already written several proprietary codes and is hiring coders and engineers to “flesh out” the bank’s tech aspects.

“But in that process, we decided to spin off the division into a wholly-owned subsidiary of a holding company,” said LaRoe. “And that’s OneEthos.

“And what we’re doing there is we’re going to provide banking as a service through proprietary software as a service (SaaS) technology.”

According to a release, OneEthos will initially offer solutions to Climate First and eventually to other financial firms seeking a transition to sustainable finance. LaRoe said the fintech startup will launch “very, very soon.”

“We’re basically ready to go,” he added. “We just got to fund it at the holding company.”

LaRoe said funding OneEthos through the holding company is a little complicated. He explained that when raising capital for Climate First, he just had the bank charter, as establishing a holding company would have taken more time.

According to the release, LaRoe raised $44 million in capital before opening the bank, but he said regulations prevent him from moving that money into the holding company. Therefore, he must now raise new funding for the holding company, a mission he is undertaking through warrant exercises of current shareholders.

“I think I’ve got about $1.1 million at the holding company,” said LaRoe. “I’d like to get to $1.5 (million) before we actually spin it off.”

LaRoe said OneEthos differs from other fintech companies that refer to themselves as banks. He noted that people sometimes refer to them as “neobanks.”

Only businesses with access to the Federal Reserve are considered banks, said LaRoe. He explained that when companies offer checking accounts, they are just sending customers’ money to federally-recognized financial institutions. He said OneEthos would provide that service – along with anyone else needing white label banking solutions.

White label banking and BaaS allow third parties to build their own financial products by utilizing existing infrastructure.

“We want to be able to provide stuff like our solar lending platform as a white label to other banks,” said LaRoe. “Especially values-aligned banks, like members of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values.”

Climate First, also a member of mission-aligned networks like the Net-Zero Banking Alliance and 1% For The Planet, launched a Digital Solar Lending Platform in May to dramatically streamline the process of borrowing money to install solar panels.

LaRoe said DeOliveira developed proprietary code to simplify the loan process, and consumers can now fill out the application “in three minutes” through a mobile device.

“In three seconds, you’ll have an answer, and in a day, you’ll have your closing documents ready to sign,” he said.

Through the first 11 months of operation, LaRoe said Climate First booked about $500,000 in residential solar loans, “which is nothing.” In the new platform’s first month, the bank saw $1.5 million approved.

“So, it’s just got tremendous action,” said LaRoe. “We’re confident it’s going to be a change agent.”

As part of its business plan, LaRoe said officials approved Climate First for four locations through its first three years in operation. After St. Pete, the Orlando area and Lake County, he said next on the list is Tampa.

As much as he looks forward to opening a branch across the bay, LaRoe said he is hesitant until he finds the right person. He also noted that Climate First is not “place-based,” and out of 43 employees, only five work in brick and mortar buildings.

“We opened during Covid and had those realities right from the start,” he said. “It just proved to be perfect … fortuitous timing.”

To learn more about Climate First Bank, visit the website here.

Dawn Shirreffs, Jason Mathis: In Florida’s climate crisis are you a sustainability leader?

By Business
On sustainability, it’s clear; Florida voters are ready for a change.

A recent poll by Fabrizio and Associates shows that climate change has climbed to a #4 issue amongst Florida voters.

Tens of thousands of properties are at risk in Florida from climate change and sea level rise. Others face the stark repercussions of energy insecurity. Chronic flooding, severe weather, and increased energy prices will impact everyone who lives in the Sunshine State.

Our changing climate doesn’t just threaten the environment, it also threatens our economy. Forward-thinking sustainable projects, from the public and private sectors, must integrate into Florida’s infrastructure to protect our state. We already see a spike in solar installations, increased EV adoption, and a desire from Florida voters for energy-independent policies.

Florida business leaders understand the need to make sustainability and climate resilience an integral part of their future practices to protect their bottom line. From energy efficiency and renewable energy to structural preservation and water quality, businesses recognize that tomorrow’s success depends on our environmental responsibility today. Local developers report increased consumer demand for new business ventures that minimizes carbon risk, improves energy efficiency, and reduces long-term costs for clients. These sustainable investment opportunities set our state up for long-term business success and will have lasting impacts on our quality of life and economy.

The Environmental Defense Fund and the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership are partnering together to highlight these efforts made in Pinellas County through the Inaugural 2022 Sustainable Leadership Awards. These awards will recognize development projects and local business leaders who are prioritizing sustainability as part of their business plans, paving the way for a more sustainable and resilient Florida. By highlighting best practices from Florida business leaders, we can help to move the entire state forward to a more successful and sustainable future.

On sustainability, it’s clear; Florida voters are ready for a change and Florida businesses are leading the way. Now, it’s up to policymakers to act.

Dawn Shirreffs is the Florida director of the Environmental Defense Fund. Dawn works to bring nature-based solutions to the toughest climate challenges that Florida faces.

Jason Mathis serves as the CEO of the Downtown Partnership in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Partnership is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to thoughtful growth and urban redevelopment. Its mission is to champion community prosperity through purposeful, transformative projects.