ShoreBank Pacific, Ilwaco, Washington, USA

A Natural Step Network Case Study Overview ShoreBank Pacific is a chartered commercial bank based in Ilwaco, Washington with its largest loan office in Portland, Oregon. It employs seventeen people and has assets of $80 million. It is the first commercial bank in the United States with a commitment to environmentally sustainable community development: “ShoreBank Pacific profitably assists businesses, and through them, their communities, to be sustainable in economic, social and environmental practices.” The bank used the Natural Step framework as a basis for a scoring system that determines how closely potential loans align with the bank’s mission. Aggregate mission scores, which are published in the bank’s quarterly reports, allow the bank to determine whether it is helping its customers improve their sustainability practices. ShoreBank Pacific’s work has attracted national attention and been a magnet for socially conscious depositors throughout the United States. Background The idea for ShoreBank Pacific began with Spencer Beebe. A fourth generation Oregonian and founder of EcoTrust, Beebe wanted to bring the triple-bottom-line concept of sustainability to rural communities in the Northwest. He felt that loggers, fishermen, landowners, and other locals are the only people who have a vested self-interest in both the environmental integrity and economic development of their local community. To support this effort, Beebe felt it was important to have access to capital from people who shared that same perspective. He envisioned a regional commercial bank that could provide rural communities and their businesses financial capital with a triple-bottom-line perspective. In searching for capital and partners who shared his view, Spencer was introduced to Shorebank, Chicago, the nation’s first and leading community...

Portfolio 21 Investments, Portland, Oregon, USA

A Natural Step Network Case Study Overview Portfolio 21 Investments (formerly Progressive Investment Management) is an investment management firm specializing in socially and environmentally responsible investing. Formed in Eugene, Oregon, in 1982, it offers investment management services for individuals and institutions, helping people invest in companies that align with their personal values. In 1999 Progressive created the Portfolio 21 mutual fund of companies focusing on sustainability. With three offices in Portland, Seattle, and Eugene, the company currently has 12 employees and $165 million under management. Background Founder Carsten Henningsen became fascinated with investing at the age of 10 when his father gave him two shares of Mattel stock. Later, in college, his extensive travels made him aware of the social and environmental impacts of multinational corporations. When he graduated from college, he set out to offer socially responsible investments. At the time he opened his office in Eugene in 1982, not many clients knew about socially responsible investing. That changed with the disinvestment movement over South African apartheid. Henningsen testified for an Oregon law that directs the state treasurer to disinvest in companies operating in South Africa. In 1986 Henningsen opened the headquarters office in Portland; in 1991 he opened a third office in Seattle. As a result of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Earth Day 1990, the environment had become a significant public issue, increasing the interest in environmentally responsible investing. Portfolio 21 has always been known as a company that lives its values. It is an active participant in shareholder resolutions to improve the social and environmental practices of its clients’ companies. For example, the bulk...

College Housing Northwest, Portland, Oregon, USA

An Oregon Natural Step Network Overview College Housing Northwest is a non-profit organization providing housing for students at Portland State University (Portland State) and Central Oregon Community College. It has 120 employees and approximately $9.8 million in annual revenues. Background College Housing Northwest (CHNW) was founded in 1969 by a group of students and faculty members at Portland State. At that time, Portland State was not allowed to have housing on its campus and planned to demolish several apartment buildings and convert them into parking lots as part of a redevelopment effort. Students recognized the need for the preservation of those housing resources and convinced both the University and the State Board of Higher Education to allow them to form a non-profit organization to operate student housing called Portland Student Services. This organization later became College Housing Northwest. Portland Student Services was truly a product of the ‘60s’ culture, which included taking care of the earth. For example, the founding group also formed Portland Recycling Team, which operated a drop site on campus. CHNW currently operates 1,407 apartments at Portland State and a 108-bed residence hall at Central Oregon Community College. Together they house approximately 1,920 students. CHNW owns 384 of the apartments it operates and partners with the Housing Authority of Portland for operation of 96 units at Portland State. The rest are owned by the two client schools. Since 1988, Gary Meddaugh has been the CEO of CHNW. Meddaugh came to the job with an extensive background in both business management and earth stewardship. Through the ‘70s and early ‘80s Meddaugh managed a United Methodist Camp and...

Axis Performance Advisors, Portland, Oregon, USA

A Natural Step Network Case Study Background Axis Performance Advisors was started in 1990 by Marsha Willard and Darcy Hitchcock as an organizational management consulting firm, specializing ins self-directed work teams. As of today, November 2003, about 53 percent of Axis’ work is directly related to sustainability. Inspiration In addition to its consulting work, Axis would, on occasion, host one-day think-tank meetings. In 1996, having heard about the concept of sustainability, it hosted a meeting on the subject. At that meeting Hitchcock had an “aha” experience when she realized that Axis was showing companies how to be more efficient and effective in depleting the planet’s resources. She decided that she and Willard had to do “something.” Shortly thereafter Hitchcock was introduced to The Natural Step (TNS) at a Business for Social Responsibility meeting. She says she felt a great relief, because TNS offered the “something” that Axis should do. In 1998 she went to the TNS conference in Chicago and began doing volunteer work for the Oregon Natural Step Network as a speaker and as a contributing writer for the Tool kit. Action Upon learning about TNS, Axis first examined the impacts of its own business on the environment. Hitchcock and Willard quickly realized that as a service business, their greatest impact was through their consulting services and the influence they had on their clients. Since they had experience in organizational change, they could help companies become more sustainable. Axis also examined its internal practices against the four systems conditions. It determined that its greatest impact was greenhouse emissions from energy use, especially transportation, but it was able to...

Ashforth Pacific, Inc., Portland, Oregon, USA

A Natural Step Network Case Study Overview Ashforth Pacific, Inc. (API), is an investor, owner, and operator providing third-party property management, construction, and parking management services in West-Coast markets. An affiliate of The Ashforth Company, a Connecticut-based firm, API was established in Portland, Oregon, in 1995 and currently has 55 employees. The Ashforth Company presently owns and manages upwards of 15 million square feet of office space, of which 1.5 million square feet is in Portland. In May 1999, API launched an environmental initiative based on its newly created environmental statement and the four system conditions of The Natural Step. Background The Ashforth Company was founded as a family owned real estate company in New York in 1896. Throughout the next century, it expanded its services and coverage areas. The creation of the API office extended The Ashforth Company’s services beyond the Northeast to include the rapidly growing Northwest real estate market. The company strives to bring social and economic benefits to the communities in which it operates. The opening page of its centennial celebration book states, “We owe it to our ancestors to preserve entire the rights they have delivered to us; we owe it to our posterity not to suffer their dearest inheritance to be destroyed.” Ashforth is dedicated to serving its customers by adhering to its four operating principles: Commitment—to create enduring business relationships that will enhance the value of the company, Quality— to be dedicated to providing the highest level of service with speed and professionalism, People—to foster teamwork, personal growth, creativity and leadership and to encourage respect for the individual, communication, optimism, and a...