Published: Oct. 14, 2020 By

Capstone Project: Corporate Sustainability Consulting Capstone

Capstone Partner: Anthesis Group

Student Team: Alyssa Cobos, Maria McDonald, Taylor Clayton

Now more than ever, businesses are recognizing the power they have to contribute to positive global change. Consultants often play a vital role in the design and implementation of sustainability initiatives for corporations, some as influential and renowned as Danone, Gap, Johnson and Johnson, The North Face, and Coca-Cola. From shifting to renewable energy, to adopting sustainable packaging, to ensuring ethical factory production, consultants have the technical toolset to take corporate sustainability from imagination to implementation.Reflection of green trees on a corporate building

Anthesis Group is a major, exemplary sustainability consulting firm with offices around the world, including one right here in Boulder. They work with Fortune 500 clients, cities, and other organizations to drive sustainable performance through the assessment of environmental and social impacts using a variety of tools and standards. One of Anthesis’ reporting tools is CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) scoring. CDP is a global non-profit organization that actively encourages cities and companies to disclose information on their impact in areas such as Climate, Water, and Forests. CDP responses are scored so that clients can then seek guidance from consultants on how to improve their scores on an annual basis. If respondents choose to make their questionnaire responses and scores public, the information can be used by investors in analytical decision-making processes.

This year, MENV students Alyssa Cobos (URS), Maria McDonald (URS), and Taylor Clayton (SFS/URS) partnered with Anthesis Group for the Corporate Sustainability Consulting Capstone project. They were onboarded within the firm and thoroughly trained in sustainability consulting. Then, they had the opportunity to manage several client projects for the 2020 CDP reporting season. Their clients included leading businesses in the tech, food/beverage, food services, and consumer brand industries. They also helped the Anthesis CDP team to maximize efficiency during the CDP reporting season by developing a tool for process improvements. This tool, which cut down project management time and improved project organization, was one of their final deliverables. Another final deliverable was to research how existing CDP responders have previously tied social equity into their impact reporting. This portion of the deliverable is still in progress, but by late Fall 2020, the team will be prepared to recommend best practices for incorporating social sustainability into CDP reporting.

Reflecting on the experience, Clayton said, “My experience was incredible. I feel extremely fortunate to have been on this project. It also heavily steered the rest of my experience at MENV. I was looking more into working on small-scale solutions before the Capstone, and now I've fully pivoted towards looking to work in corporate sustainability.” Cobos and McDonald echoed his sentiment. The team also agreed that the real-world, hands-on, applications-based experience with Anthesis was highly enriching and informing. “We are coming out of this experience with a full set of tools for incorporating sustainability into the private sector,” said McDonald. “We can now say: ‘Here are the reporting tools we can use. Here are the metrics we can track. Here are the stakeholder engagement strategies we have. That is all really valuable for me.”

The team hopes that their work with Anthesis will have a lasting impact on the MENV curriculum too. “This past year, work in business sustainability has grown so much within the program. I hope our Capstone has been a piece of that,” said McDonald.

Check out the Anthesis Capstone team’s final presentation, along with the other Capstone teams, at the virtual MENV Capstone Symposium Event on November 13, from 9:00 am - 12:30 pm.