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2017-08-25 / News

The B Corps Movement

Architecture and engineering firm AE Works finds a better way to do business
Regional Business Analyst

Andrew Kassoy, former Wall Street private equity investor, is an alternate universe Gordon Gekko. He and his longtime friends Jay Coen Gilbert and Bart Houlahan, co-founders of AND1, an American sports footwear and clothing company, have re-defined what is “good” for business. On July 5, 2006, they declared “Interdependence Day” and formed the Certified B Corporation (also known as B Corporation, or B Corp), a nonprofit that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good by aligning the interests of their company with those of society.

B-Labs in Pennsylvania, New York, California and Colorado certify companies as “B Corps” by “measuring what matters.” The first step is taking the free B Impact Assessment, which evaluates the overall impact of the company on its stakeholders. Once the assessment is completed, the company will receive a B Impact Report that contains an overall score based on the four areas evaluated: accountability, transparency, performance and availability. To be “B Corps” certified, companies must achieve a verified minimum score of 80 out of 200 points.

Certification fees run from $500 to $50,000/year, based on annual revenues. Recertification is required every two years. B Corps states that the companies it certifies can command higher valuations because they are trusted by their customers, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders.

In October 2013, AE Works, an architecture and engineering firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, officially adopted a triple bottom line (TBL) business model, which focused on developing social and environmental capital concurrently with technical capital.

“Architecture is inherently connected with people and the environment, so it’s very natural for us to incorporate those standards of social and environmental accountability into our operations since that’s at the heart of what we do as architects and engineers,” said Patrick Rakszawski, AIA, AE Works design architect.

To strengthen the firm’s TBL, AE Works became a certified B Corporation in November 2014 and was re-certified in 2016.

“B Corp provides a metric-based framework to help in the continued evolution of AE Works and our aspiration to create the world that we envision,” said JoAnn Rizzo, AE Works ECO Chair.

“Prior to taking the assessment, we did a lot of great things both internally and externally, but we weren’t capturing any data and didn’t fully understand the impact of those activities and commitments.

“The assessment gave us better awareness of where we could improve and how we could track our efforts and best practices.”

AE Works offers what it calls “ECO projects” where the focus ranges from individual or team knowledge and development to executing projects to alter company operations or reduce its environmental demands and resources.

The firm also offers social projects to build a community of wellness and generosity within the company.

“Partnering with our clients and communities, AE Works continually seeks to be an active participant in efforts to improve our world,” said Michael Cherock, PE, AE Works president and CEO.

“Our mission is to transform the lives of people and organizations by creating stunningly beautiful, highly functional, and safer spaces.

“Great architecture is technical, human, and ecologically conscious.”

Has the current political climate of nationalism impacted the globalist B Corps movement?

“Our world isn’t perfect and we know business isn’t perfect, but it’s in the imperfection where opportunity exists,” said Cherock.

“Business needs to do what it does best and seize opportunity to close the divides that plague our world. ” .

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