If your company thought sustainability was all hype that would soon disappear, think again. Panelists from four prominent global corporations that achieved success by embracing sustainability spoke at a well-attended event on sustainability, organized by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce-Philadelphia on February 13. Sustainability—from Buzzword to Real Business Value, was launched to show why sustainability, a top-ranked business value in Sweden, is today a must to stay in the game.
The panel discussion took place in SCA Americas’ LEED-CI gold certified offices in Cira Centre Philadelphia, and featured Amy Bellcourt, vice president of communications at SCA Americas, Poul Jeppesen, CEO and president of SKF USA, Lisa Davis, social and environmental affairs manager from IKEA USA and Brian Berson, vice president of leasing and development from Liberty Property Trust. All but the last company are Swedish based with their U.S. head offices located in the Philadelphia region.
Minna Mars-Logemann from the Finnish-based company EarthRate led the discussion. The speakers from the three Swedish companies revealed that their work in this field had a lot to do with their Scandinavian heritage. Poul Jeppesen, born in Denmark, said when he came to the U.S. some 20 years ago, he was the only one in his building who turned the lights off when leaving: “From the outside you could only see one dark office space—mine. In Scandinavian countries that is how we grew up, I remember my mother always telling me to turn off the lights when leaving a room,” Jeppesen said.
Lisa Davis quickly agreed: “When working for IKEA you are closely tied with the Scandinavian values of cost consciousness, hard work and and making more from less.” She continued by describing how IKEA has given bicycles to its employees, put solar panels on more than 90 percent of their U.S. stores, and has eliminated incandescent light bulbs. In addition, IKEA is working toward having stores and buildings be 100 percent supported by as much renewable energy as is consumed.
SCA, a company describing itself as “born in the Swedish forest,” seeks to plant three new trees for each one they take down. Amy Bellcourt also said that sustainability work is a way for SCA to attract the best employees: “Young people today want to work for a company with a good agenda. They go to our website to see what sort of company we are. So for us, it is clearly also about attracting the best talent out there.”
David Engstrom, president of the SACC was very pleased with the event: "The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce-Philadelphia is proud to promote sustainability, which is generally viewed as a strength associated with the Swedish brand. A major takeaway from this program is that sustainability is a hot commodity which gives companies an edge in today's global marketplace by differentiating their products and services from the competition."

About SACC-Philadelphia
SACC-Philadelphia is a non-profit chamber of commerce organization that encourages and promotes an exchange of trade and culture between Sweden and the greater Philadelphia area. SACC-Philadelphia is one of 18 different regional chapters of the umbrella organization, Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce-USA, based in the United States. The goal of SACC-Philadelphia is to offer a comprehensive package of business related services to members (and non-members) and to provide attractive network opportunities. Currently, SACC-Philadelphia is working on developing work and skills within sustainability, in part because it is a very important business value in Scandinavia and Sweden.