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stok Part 3: Leading by Example for a Socially Equitable World

While it may sometimes feel like the challenges our world faces are overwhelmingly large and complex, taking a step back and assessing what specific impact you can have empowers you to put our planet, step by step, on the path to a more just and sustainable reality. This is how stok approaches its work. We have previously shared with you how stok is driving positive environmental impact; now let’s discuss their social impact.

stok works with partners to create engaging work environments, prioritizing the experience of the occupant and a building’s place in its greater community. Creating a healthy, engaging, and productive work culture is becoming a priority for many organizations and is an exciting and powerful advancement in the field of impact design.

Did you know there is now a way to formally measure a building’s impact on the health and well-being of its occupants? The WELL Building Standard measures the ability of a workplace to create a healthy and productive indoor environment for building occupants, reflecting a seismic shift in the real estate industry toward health and wellness.

So how does stok create spaces that promote occupant health and well-being? While there are myriad ways to achieve workplace wellness, here are three of stok’s top strategies.

1.    Incorporate flexible workspaces and conditions to create environments where people are productive and engaged.

stok creates buildings that are not only sustainable, but healthy, comfortable, and safe for the people inside. One example is Salesforce Tower, the tallest building allowed in San Francisco by zoning. stok provided LEED consulting, energy modeling, and life cycle cost analysis services for the project, resulting in stringent materials specifications, floor-by-floor air intake for natural ventilation, and metal sunshades to maximize daylight and views while reducing solar heat gain. These design features work together to create a healthier and more enjoyable indoor work environment.

2.    Utilize biomimicry to design spaces with the creativity and efficiency of nature. 

Biomimicry seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating patterns and strategies found in natural systems. For example, living walls, like those found in stok’s own office, illustrate biophilic design principles, bringing nature into the workplace to purify air and provide a beautiful aesthetic.

3.    Lead by example.

stok’s social impact goes farther than creating spaces that improve the physical and emotional well-being of their occupants. Early in 2016, the stok team finalized a thorough soul-searching process that allowed them to define their core values and purpose as an organization, leading to the complete restructuring and rebranding of the company. Realizing that social justice and equity are inherent to the organization’s mission, stok decided to undergo the rigorous certification process to become a B Corp. While most companies have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits, B Corp certification allows stok to use business to maximize positive impact on social and environmental challenges. stok attributes part of its immense impact on social progress to its B Corp certification and encourages partners to join by pursuing the label as well.

stok also works to give back to its local community. As a company, it offers employees four days of paid time off for volunteering each year, and participates in group events centered on the restoration of its community and local ecosystems several times a year. stok also encourages all of these strategies during the work culture consulting offered to its clients.

stok continues to pursue an environmentally restorative and socially equitable world through its work and team members that are passionate about driving positive impact.

In the final part of our 4-part blog series, we will tell you about the people behind the organization. They have managed to achieve environmental and social impact through their work on new and existing buildings, but next, hear how they have created a unique and engaging working environment within their own building via an infectious work culture.

Don't miss part 4 of our blog series to learn about stok’s unique work culture

Part 3 of our 4-part blog series featuring stok, a company with a unique plan for innovation
Part 3 of our 4-part blog series featuring stok, a company with a unique plan for innovation

Meet Dejah – A Net Impact Fellow with a Vision for a Healthier and Greener Chicago

The Net Impact Fellowship is a year-long leadership development program where students implement action projects on their campus or in their community. 

This year’s cohorts of fellows are passionate and innovative emerging leaders activating around healthy food, racial equity, criminal justice, and impact design.

Dejah is a Healthy Food Fellow studying Environmental Science and Sustainability at Cornell University. Her passion for the environment and food solutions has inspired her to launch a sustainably ran organic school garden through her old elementary school this upcoming spring and summer.

Why did you first decide to take action around healthy food?

My personal enlightenment to break away from fast food chains and my interest in healthy food came from a sophomore year biology class in high school. A unit of our curriculum was spent reading Omnivore’s Dilemma and watching movies like King Corn and Food Inc. I was appalled by the treatment of chickens and cattle. I was disgusted at what really went into the chicken nuggets I causally dipped in barbecue sauce and ate at McDonalds. I was even so motivated by these movies that I went into my elementary school to give discussion on The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of our nation’s food system. I soon realized that my education and desperate need to increase the public’s awareness could not stop with elementary school students. 

Can you tell us more about your action project?

My action project is a smaller component of a larger vision that I have of urban agriculture and community and school gardens in Chicago. I am partnering with my elementary school to launch a sustainably ran organic school garden this upcoming spring and summer. The main event through the Net Impact Fellowship that I’m planning is a Community Food Day and Celebration to celebrate the beginning and building of the school garden. 

How did you know this was the right project for you to work on?

I have always been interested in urban agriculture, specifically community farms and gardens.  Due to the creation of my organization, Get Them to the Green, and existing grant money that I had applied for, the project through Net Impact was a great transition into starting work with healthy food and urban gardening at my former elementary school.

What is something you learned from your fellowship experience that you weren’t expecting?

I was not expecting to connect with other people also interested in doing work within healthy food! It’s very inspiring to see the many ways that people are addressing the problem within their respective communities. 

How has the experience shaped your future plans?

I definitely am considering working full on after college on helping spring up gardens and community farms across the city. I’d love to be an organizer, connecting people with the resources to make themselves food sufficient. With support from an organization such as Net Impact, I now find it possible to search for other fellowships and organizations that will support me in carrying out my vision of healthy food accessibility in Chicago. 

How did you first hear about Net Impact?

I’m in the Cornell Sustainable Enterprise Association Club on campus and before attending the conference, saw the opportunity to be a Healthy Food Fellow. 

What do you think is the most critical issue facing the world today?

Climate change is the most critical issue facing the world today. It intensifies and exacerbates many of the other pressing issues, including poverty, wars, and crime. 

Thank you to Newman's Own Foundation for sponsoring Net Impact's Healthy Food Fellowship. To learn more about Net Impact's Fellowships please see here

Net Impact Healthy Food Fellow, Dejah Powell is driving positive change in Chicago.
Net Impact Healthy Food Fellow, Dejah Powell is driving positive change in Chicago.

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Raising the Bar for Social Enterprises with Adelante Shoes

Adelante Shoe Co. is a socially responsible business that works with craftsmen in Central America to bring quality mens and womens shoes into America. Their mission is to “make it absolutely effortless to choose a socially responsible pair of shoes without compromising on quality, style, or price.” But for Adelante Shoe Co., it’s about so much more than just shoes. In fact, founder and CEO, Peter Sacco, has said that Adelante isn’t even really about shoes or fashion. 

It’s about social impact.

They stand out because they have a unique business model - Adelante Shoe Co. pays their artisans enough to live well with their families, through a salary amount that their artisans define themselves. They also back their values with full transparency, financial and otherwise. Past models fail to integrate community input into social impact objectives, and often entire countries are given only one framework rather than accounting for regional and local differences in living standards. 

This new standard, known as The Living Well Line, is a social impact model that balances development best practices with community input to define the cost of living well in any community worldwide. Peter Sacco is working to provide a non-profit certification for companies that pay their workers enough to consume the goods and services that they have identified as necessary to live well. His startup, called Living Well Inc., is targeted for companies that are in search of a simple, powerful way to pursue social responsibility. 

Peter considers this the best way to promote economic development. One of his 2017 strategic goals is for Adelante Shoe Co. to become the first Living Well Certified company. And did we mention, Adelante Shoe Co. is the highest earning Guatemala-focused Kickstarter ever.

Of course, we cannot forget about the shoes.

Adelante shoes are handmade by craftsmen throughout Latin America, many who are second or even third generation shoe makers. They use quality leather and custom shoe lasts that ensure quality, comfort, and style.

Adelante Shoe Co. introduces a new business paradigm — one that prioritizes respect and responsibility over profit maximization. The company gives you the opportunity to take the first step toward impact and to own a pair of shoes that you can wear with pride. 

Watch their story come to life:

Do you want to know more about Peter Sacco, the founder of Adelante Shoe Co? Read more about his inspiration and thoughts on business as a force for good on this featured blog

Adelante Shoe Co. founder and CEO, Peter Sacco, working with Latin American craftsman to help them "live well."
Adelante Shoe Co. founder and CEO, Peter Sacco, working with Latin American craftsman to help them "live well."

stok Part 2: Environmental Impact from Los Angeles to Tokyo

The phrase “think global, act local,” is often referenced in the sustainability world. As countries around the world continue to combat global climate change, cities provide important opportunities for local action to further positive environmental impact. While national governments can regulate entire industries and invest in green technology development, cities can focus on more localized sources of greenhouse emissions, including transportation, buildings and developments. Companies like stok are leading the charge in realizing the full potential for environmental impact within the single defining characteristic of any city: the built environment.

stok is a vertically integrated real estate services firm passionate about driving environmental and social change. Part 1 of our blog series introduced you to this innovative company from their unique name to their comprehensive suite of services, but what about their impact? 

stok by the numbers

stok has reached 107 million square feet of impact, completed projects in nine countries, and has six clients who are among Forbes’ Top 15 Most Valuable Brands. Let’s dive deeper into their work, seen in city skylines around the world.  

stok is able to generate the most impact when they are involved in a project from the very beginning, allowing  time and space for its team of experts to integrate smart, sustainable strategies throughout the entire design, construction, and operation process. For example, through early collaboration with ownership and the design team, stok helped develop and guide the execution of the Electrical Training Institute (ETI) in Los Angeles. The ETI is the nation’s largest Net Zero Energy commercial building retrofit and went one step further to achieve Net Zero Plus, generating more energy than the building consumes annually. The building reduced its annual energy consumption from the electric grid from approximately 1 MW to zero, now utilizing an advanced renewable energy and a battery storage system.

While we won’t delve too far into the complicated number-crunching of engineering and building science, here are a few numbers about the project’s impact that everyone can understand:

  • Reduced annual energy usage by 250,000 kWh
  • Reduced lighting usage by 46%
  • Reduced heating and cooling by approximately 60%
  • Reduced annual CO2 emissions by 28.9 tons

Still just sound like a bunch of numbers? Well 28.9 tons of CO2 emissions is the equivalent to that of a cross-country road trip from San Francisco to New York—19 times! Clearly the ETI is creating solutions to climate change that are having an impact in real time, illustrating the future of smart energy efficiency—a move in the right, sustainable direction for cities.

How about an example further from home?

stok worked on the Obayashi Technical Research Institute (TRI) building in Tokyo, Japan, enhancing building performance to achieve these astounding impacts:

  • 93% ENERGY STAR rating (more efficient than 93% of buildings worldwide!)
  • 70% reduction in indoor water use through rainwater and well water treatment systems 
  • 55% below CO2 emissions baseline for similar buildings
  • 3rd highest LEED EBOM score in the world (at time of certification)

Don’t know what an EBOM score is? You might not be familiar with all nine different LEED rating systems, but LEED EBOM should be at the top of your list.

LEED EBOM stands for LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance. As stok says, this rating system is crucial for cities to develop sustainably—we can only build so many new properties, so we need to focus our efforts on redesigning current buildings to be more sustainable, something stok continues to do. 

stok is engaging with stakeholders in cities around the world to encourage sustainable impact and to create a better built environment, but a better built environment goes beyond sustainability alone...

In part 3 of our 4-part blog series we will share with you how stok works to create social impact with partners and within their own organization.

Part 2 of our 4-part blog series featuring stok, a company with a unique plan for innovation
Part 2 of our 4-part blog series featuring stok, a company with a unique plan for innovation

5 Ways Being Kind Can Help Your Career

Most job seekers know the important personal characteristics to highlight on a resume: hardworking self-starter, proven leader, the ability to take on multiple projects, etc. There are certain skills and qualities, however, that you may not find on a resume that can actually have a significant impact on your job and professional success. 

While most people don’t include kindness, selflessness, or compassion on their resume, these characteristics play an integral role in your success, no matter your profession. So whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or you want to climb the corporate ladder, here are five ways kindness can help your career. 

1. It Can Help You Get the Job

With so many applicants for any open position, what sets you apart from other qualified candidates? The skills you list on your resume only go so far. Besides your experience and work ethic, hiring managers look for kind, compassionate people who can work well with others.

“In a digital era where so much information is available at your fingertips, technical skills are easy to self-teach, therefore making the competition for jobs very high. In order to narrow the candidate pool, companies are looking for people's soft skills and identifying who will be a culture fit. Kindness is an essential characteristic to provide a cohesive, fluid team and is fundamental to a team's success,” says Gina Ortega, Talent & Culture Manager at TakeLessons.

So while you’re working on personal development and brushing up on Excel or other job-related skills, don’t forget to practice kindness. Science shows that humans are inherently wired to be kind, but just like any other skill, with consistent practice we can develop and increase our capacity for kindness and compassion.

2. It Helps You Work With Others

No matter where you are in your career, you’re going to work with different personalities; co-workers, managers, supervisors, vendors, etc. The truth is, you may not get along with all of these people, but in a professional setting, you need to find a way to be cordial and work as a team.

“You need a team around you, at work, at home, and in your personal and professional development,” says Dustin McKissen Inc.Columnist and Linkedin Top Voice. “And the fastest way to get someone on your team is to do something kind for them. And not only is kindness a good way to get people on your team, it’s also a show of strength and leadership that inspires others.” 

3. It Can Make Your Work More Enjoyable

Full-time employees spend 40 hours a week at their jobs, and some managers and business owners spend even more time working each week. When we log so many hours, even the most dedicated employees can get burnt out. Work stress is inevitable, but you can make an effort to make office life more comfortable and enjoyable. 

“These traits are important in any type of job, but especially in the startup community,” says Amy Johnson, Director of Employee Affairs at TaskUs. “When the company is small and close-knit and the hours are long, humor and positivity are almost equally as important as other job competencies.” 

4. Who You Know Still Outweighs What You Know

You’ve probably heard this from parents, professors or mentors, but when it comes to career success, it’s all about who you know. When you’re trying to work your way up in your field or take on a greater role, a positive referral from a well-respected professional can make a big difference. “Diverse relationships open up possibilities and opportunities. People help people they know and trust,” writes Dr. Nate Regier from the balance.

Of course, this doesn't mean be overly nice or fake; people can see right through that. You need to be genuine and put in the effort to get along with others. People don’t just care about your ability to do the job, they’re also interested in your integrity. 

5. People Will Want to Work With You

Whether you’re an employee or a manager, the way you treat others can directly affect their performance. When you’re kind and show that you care about your co-workers or your team, it will motivate them to want to work hard for you. 

According to career coach Charlotte-Ashley Roberts, “Being kind to others helps build rapport, in turn, building strong relationships which greatly increases your chances of creating a successful career for yourself.” You don’t have to be best friends with everyone you work with, but you can still develop real, solid connections with coworkers and teammates; praise co-workers for a job well done, encourage teammates when they feel discouraged, and share a laugh or a smile to brighten someone’s day.

So remember, don’t forget to develop your personal skills along with your professional ones. No matter where you want to go in your career or what you hope to achieve in life, kindness is an essential component that can help you get there, and make the journey more fun and memorable.

How has kindness helped in your career? Let us know in the comments below. 

Maile Proctor is a content editor and blogger. She writes on health and fitness, lifestyle and family, how- to and money-saving tips, and more. She earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking and finding new fitness activities.

Do you have an opinion piece or story you’d like to share on the Net Impact blog? Let us know

Here's five ways that being kind can benefit and advance your career from guest blogger, Maile Proctor.
Here's five ways that being kind can benefit and advance your career from guest blogger, Maile Proctor.

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What Drives CEOs Working With Purpose?

Purpose drivers represent how you find purpose and meaning in your work. We all have purpose drivers and Aaron Hurst, CEO and Co-Founder of Imperative is on a mission to help you discover your purpose drivers and uncover the drivers of CEOs from some of the world’s leading organizations.  

Imperative recently partnered with Fast Company to interview impact-driven CEOs to uncover their purpose drivers and profile how their drivers have inspired and transformed their careers. Here is our favorite quotes from each interview: 

Jerry Strizke - CEO, REI

Purpose Driver: Knowledge

"I've become convinced that it is an attribute that I really admire in leaders. One, because it implies that you don't know everything, which I think is really helpful. Two, I think it also extends dignity and respect to everyone else, the idea that you can learn from anyone and everyone."

"Anytime I get a controversial issue, it's not uncommon for me to go find two or three people that I know will see it differently than me before I respond or react. I end up with a more balanced perspective that I learn from. And I find over time it probably influences my view of the world."

"The power—along with peace and the fulfillment—of being outdoors is what enabled me to be successful."

Tara Russell - President, FATHOM

Purpose Driver: Human

"We spent a lot of time understanding the stories of people. Trying to gather the themes and points of tension. Really hunt for the right insight and opportunities and turn those into development concepts."

“The world was hungering for meaningful opportunities to improve themselves, and improve the world around them by being part of a like-minded community."

"Work is more of living our own kind of gifts, talents, abilities, and purpose."

Jim Keane - CEO, Steelcase 

Purpose Driver: Karma

“Clients like the challenge. If they are going to spend a lot of money on building or renovation, they don’t want us to just be polite. We push them see what is possible."

"There are all these companies out there trying to promote diversity of thought, but once they hire those people they want the employees to be exactly the same. They have squashed human spirit, instead of inspiring it."

"How can you be better today than you were yesterday?"

Bill McDermott - CEO, SAP

Purpose Driver: Organization

"If we could just finally put all this collective passion together for the common good, not just the team but everybody on the team, we would be the best. It turns out, it worked every time."

“You can’t look just at the surface of an individual but give yourself a chance to really get to the heart of who the person is."

"We don't leave anybody behind on this team."

Dara Richardson-Heron - CEO, YWCA

Purpose Driver: Society

"When I go into a community and hear directly from the people who benefit from our services and see our leaders who are extremely passionate about our work, it reminds me that this is not a job, it's a responsibility."

"What would the world be like if there weren't organizations like the YWCA who have been there on the front lines. I think we would be in a far worse place."

"Take it one day at a time, don't get discouraged, and keep moving forward until you achieve the intended outcome. Only incremental change leads to larger sustainable change."

To read more about these purpose driven CEOs check out Imperative’s CEO Purpose Series

Hear from 5 leading CEOs on how purpose drives their careers.
Hear from 5 leading CEOs on how purpose drives their careers.

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We Asked, You Answered… “How Do You Feel about Our New President?"

As we enter a new year, with a new president, we want to hear from our Net Impact community on how you feel about our new administration and how you plan to turn your passions into world-changing action this year. 

Read on to see what five of our members from around the world had to say and tell us in the comments your thoughts as we head into 2017. 

1) Graduate student, Peter Sacco, says that while we saw unconventional candidates achieve real success on both sides of the isle, “we must view the election of our new president through the lens of opportunity.” 

He is creating opportunities for himself and for Latin American craftsmen and women through his social enterprise, Adelante Shoe Co. a socially responsible business. He is also focused on a second startup, Living Well Inc., a non-profit certification for companies in search of a simple, powerful way to pursue social responsibility. His plans to turn his passion into a life-time of world-changing action in 2017 are to have Adelante Shoe Co. become the first Living Well Certified company and to continue to better the lives of men and women in Latin America. 

2) Andrea Durango is the president of the first Net Impact Undergraduate Chapter in Ecuador at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. “I am a Latina and when thinking about opportunities the first thing that comes to my mind is the US,” says Andrea. “If I could say something to Donald Trump and the new administration I would say that they have in their hands a powerful and amazing country and that they should get the best out of it.”

“I am really aware of what is going to happen this year with all of these changes but also excited of what other things I can do not only as a student but as a citizen in order to respond to the changes that my country and the world will be facing.”

3) Samantha Kirsch, a junior at Cornell University, is president of Sustainable Enterprise Association (SEA), the undergraduate chapter of Net Impact at Cornell. In light of the new administration she has seen her classmates come together and show solidarity with one another, as well as for causes such as the environment, LGBTQ+ rights, and racial equity. She believes that “if any generation can make a change, it's the millennials.”

Samantha loves being a part of her university’s Net Impact chapter and is actively pursuing having her chapter host a signature Net Impact Local event in 2017. 

4) Blake Mendez is a professional with a career in clean energy and Regional Ambassador for Net Impact. He says he has most enjoyed his personal transformation from an engaged professional chapter member to becoming the President of Net Impact Austin, and ultimately, a Regional Ambassador for Net Impact. He believes our Net Impact community must continue to identify and address social issues, not just environmental ones, through our daily work and lives. 

“Tolerance, transparency, human rights, and environmental protection are my deep passion points. I look forward to launching Net Impact Amarillo in 2017 and connecting the rural world together with the urban world.” - Blake Mendez. 

5) Lindsey Walaski is a mechanical engineer and graduate student who is “working to be a participant of progress.” Since becoming a member in 2015, she says that she really values the pragmatic and creative Net Impact community. “Always a detective for a silver lining,” Lindsey is discovering a new level of importance for a sustainable future in light of the new political climate. 

“Looking towards Net Impact and other impact focused organizations, these will continue to be a vital resource for progress by providing the vehicles to connect with larger networks, stay informed on relevant policies, and organize events." - Lindsey Walaski

Do you have an opinion piece or story you’d like to share on the Net Impact blog? Let us know.

Read what 5 Net Impact members had to say when asked about our new president and how they plan to drive impact this year.
Read what 5 Net Impact members had to say when asked about our new president and how they plan to drive impact this year.

Member Profile: Socially Responsible Shoe Company Founder, Peter Sacco

Our Net Impact community continues to drive impact for a more just and sustainable world and we like to highlight members on our blog who are leading the change. Peter Sacco is one of those members.

Peter is a second-year graduate student studying social entrepreneurship at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is also the founder of Adelante Shoe Co., a new social enterprise making it effortless to choose a socially responsible pair of shoes without compromising on quality, style, or price.

Peter says that Adelante Shoe Co. is built on the idea that people have values, and will act on those values if given the chance. 

What inspired you to create Adelante Shoe Co?

Two principle realizations spurred me to start Adelante. The first was that I only ever want to work on my own vision, and the second was that we can do economic development in developing countries much more effectively than we are.

I spent two years living in Central America between undergrad and grad school, and had about five jobs over the course of that time. It was frustrating because I knew I had passion and ambition, but I was never moved to commit fully to anything professional until I started Adelante. 

Over the past few years I have gained a lot of exposure to different NGOs, government programs, and for-profit businesses attempting economic development in one form or another. My experience with NGOs exposed an unsustainable funding model and an inability to address the root of social problems perpetuated by bigger players — often for-profit businesses or government policies. Government development programs are often beholden to broader foreign policy objectives, which can result in less-than-pure intentions. The private sector is best positioned to do development effectively, but profit maximization is the name of the game. With Adelante, I want to prove that for-profit business can promote economic development in a powerful way without compromising profitability.

How do you think we can redefine business as a force for good?

We can redefine business as a force for good by: (1) proving that business can have powerful impact when conducted responsibly, and (2) proving that customer demand exists for socially responsible products that don’t compromise on quality, style or price.

What advice would you give to an aspiring social entrepreneur?

Begin with the end in mind — establish the goals you want to achieve and then map out the steps that will get you there. I would also encourage you to pursue your passion with tenacity. If you haven’t discovered it yet, seek it relentlessly. Working on your passion will galvanize you to work harder than ever before, which will give you the best possible chance to be great at what you do.

What advice would you give to someone who is passionate about making an impact, but is not sure where to start?

Becoming a more informed and conscious consumer is a great place to start.  Nearly all of us make a ton of daily purchases without considering the ripple effects of the decisions we make. It’s important to research your favorite brands and demand more transparency and responsibility from their business models. At the end of the day, consumer social responsibility supersedes corporate social responsibility. The ability to shape market demand —i.e. decide where your money goes — is the ultimate lever to influence how businesses operate, for better or worse.


Are you a Net Impact member with a story to share? Let us know.

Adelante Shoe Co., a socially responsible shoe company
Adelante Shoe Co., a socially responsible shoe company

stok Part 1: Reimagining City Skylines for Social and Environmental Impact

What do you see when you look out at a city skyline? The perfect Instagram picture, your neighborhood, your workplace or your next vacation? 

stok sees opportunity. 

stok is a vertically integrated real estate firm. Pick any building in your skyline and stok can reimagine and redefine the space, balancing the financial and performance goals with social and environmental impact. For stok, a city skyline becomes a birthplace for high-performance spaces; better for the environment; better for the people. 

After hearing stok speak at a recent Net Impact event we wanted to learn more about this inspiring company so we met with them at their office in San Francisco and learned their unique approach to innovation. From their humble beginnings to their influential projects, measurable impact and non-traditional work culture, stok stands out from the rest. 

We have turned their story into a four-part blog series; let us introduce you to stok. 

What’s in a name?

Previously known as Environmental Building Strategies and focusing mostly on LEED consulting, commissioning and energy modelling, stok went through what they call “an organizational soul-searching,” one year ago. They realized the value of “zooming out” to approach impact design differently and to create a better built environment. They found a need to define and align sustainability goals every step of the way from real estate acquisition to decommissioning. They found their niche- the place they could make great change and their purpose; “to boldly catalyze an environmentally restorative and socially equitable world.” 

The name stok is a hybrid derived from the word stoc, an old English word meaning house, place or dwelling, and the word stoke which is often used to describe happiness and joy or to spark, ignite, or catalyze. From their origins in striving to influence and enhance places, to what they are achieving today, “stok” represents both - and no we are not forgetting to capitalize the “s.”

What they have to offer:

Their interdisciplinary team of specialists provide partners with a comprehensive approach to real estate services. These include helping clients find a space, design consulting, sourcing architects or construction companies, workplace culture consulting and monitoring a project after completion. stok works to incorporate flexible working spaces and conditions to create spaces where people feel engaged. They also say we must think about the people outside the building and in the community. 

The future of design?

stok sees the future of design as focusing on the experience of the space. stok also says that it is taking less time to convince companies that funding green upgrades is needed; now the focus is on how to get the most impact while making financial sense, a sign that the economy is moving toward sustainable design. 

With a unique blend of authenticity and grit, stok is redefining impact design and high-performance spaces in the San Francisco skyline and around the world. 

Stay tuned for parts 2, 3 and 4 of our blog series on stok.

Part 1 of our 4-part blog series featuring stok, a company with a unique plan for innovation
Part 1 of our 4-part blog series featuring stok, a company with a unique plan for innovation

Net Impact's Top 16 of 2016

As another impactful year at Net Impact comes to a close, we thought it would be nice to look back over our collective milestones and success stories from 2016 with Net Impact’s Top 16 of 2016:

1. Chelsea from Boston University became Net Impact’s 100,000th member.

2. Aliza Garza, co-founder of BlackLivesMatter, moved the audience with her keynote at the 2016 Net Impact Conference. Watch it now:

3. Doug McMillon announced Walmart’s 2025 Sustainability Goals publicly for the first time on the 2016 Net Impact Conference mainstage. 

4. Over 2,400 current and future impact leaders convened in Philadelphia for the 2016 Net Impact Conference which provided three days of inspiration, networking, and impact.

5. Esther Kim, John Mathai, Ayush Singhal, and Niklaus Sugiri won our national Toyota Next Generation Mobility Challenge, and conceived of an innovative product to provide mobility for the blind. Watch their pitch:

6. Following the success of the Toyota Next Generation Mobility Challenge, Net Impact launched a second challenge series focused on promoting equity and opportunity through the innovation of products, services and technologies related to mobility.

7. Beating out over 140 responses, Foodfully won our Forward Food Competition which gave participants the chance to launch a new sustainable product or service within the food and beverage category. Their app is designed to both reduce global food waste and improve how people are consuming food, potentially saving individual consumers about $600 a year on their grocery bill. Learn more:

8. Nearly 100 students on 25 teams across 21 campuses took part in the Newman’s Own Foundation Challenge to improve nutrition on their campuses and in their communities.

9. Net Impact launched the Impact Race programming to increase racial equity awareness with over 90% of participants engaging more than 5 people in racial equity awareness activities or conversations.

10. Sruveera Sathi led her team from the College of William and Mary to win the 2016 Up to Us Campus Competition in partnership with the Clinton Foundation and the Peterson Foundation. Up to Us students on 50 campuses around the country raised awareness on why young people should care about our debt, and what they can do to act.

11. Net Impact launched the Net Impact Fellowship, a year-long leadership development program where Fellows implement action projects on their campus or in their community. Fellowships include the Healthy Food Fellowship, Racial Equity Fellowship, Criminal Justice Fellowship, and Impact Design Fellowship. 

12. Chapters around the world convened their communities around social and environmental issues through regional conferences as a part of our new event series, Net Impact Local.

13. University of Minnesota (undergraduate), Kellogg School of Management (graduate), Chicago (professional) and IIT Kharagpur (international) were our 2016 Chapters of the Year.

14. Annie’s, Inc. and Baxter International won our Impact at Work Challenge which required teams of co-workers to identify a need for sustainable change within their company, initiate a project, and collaboratively work towards a solution.

15. We completed the 2016 edition of our annual Guide to Business Schools for Social and Environmental Impact, the only publication for students, by students that ranks and highlights graduate schools at the forefront of social and environmental innovation.

16. Our cohort of summer fellows were an outstanding group of smart students and future impact leaders. 

Thank you for helping us ensure 2016 was another impactful year. We look forward to helping you turn your passions into a lifetime of world-changing action in 2017 and beyond!

From our Net Impact family to yours, Happy New Year
From our Net Impact family to yours, Happy New Year