Many corporations have climate commitments, but commitments don’t always stack up to action. To bridge the two, the Environmental Defense Fund and its corporate-focused group, EDF+Business, have worked for decades to find common ground between a business’s bottom line and climate action.
Since 1967, EDF has championed climate, conservation, water, and air protections. Starting in 1990, EDF has tapped into the potential of the business sector, now spearheaded by its EDF+Business group. And throughout the organization’s three decades of creating corporate climate solutions, EDF has compiled or created hundreds of data points, research documents, tools, and roadmaps that could help bring businesses to net zero.
With a wealth of resources and a planet at stake, EDF wanted to aggregate their tools and deliver them to corporate decision makers as part of their continued efforts to transform the business sector’s role in addressing climate change. To make that possible, EDF+Business partnered with us to transform their library of resources into the Net Zero Action Accelerator, a website that gives business leaders customizable, actionable climate plans.
We were beyond excited to get started with EDF+Business, and so were they—the team had a plan to launch by Climate Week NYC in September. The only challenge? We’d need to build this complex, information rich website, which would normally take about 14 months, on an eight month timeline. It would mean moving up deadlines, gathering all hands on deck, and getting creative in our solutions and in our processes.
Aligned Around Our Shared Goal
We’re both passionate about environmental sustainability, about addressing the climate crisis, and about building a habitable planet for generations to come. Right now, we’re living through the consequences of climate change, but we’re also living through a renaissance of climate action. Every day we see new nonprofits, businesses, and citizens take on climate action—in and outside of our work at Constructive.
In our personal and professional lives, we’re interested in our climate impact. In the context of the Net Zero Action Accelerator, one statistic made starkly clear the potential impact of our work: Industry and agriculture account for 33% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., we see tremendous potential to improve businesses’ carbon footprint. With this knowledge in mind, we began to fully appreciate the potential impact of the Net Zero Action Accelerator for reducing industry and agricultural emissions to bring us closer to a habitable planet.
I (Ceci) am a project manager first. I also happen to have my B.S. in Environmental and Agricultural Studies. And no matter the project, I try to keep the bigger goal in mind. For this project, our bigger goal is getting businesses to net zero. As a Senior Project Manager, i know that the surest way for partners to achieve that goal is to ensure that our project setting sets every person involved in the process up for success.
And as a UX Designer, I (Kevin) know that in order to help EDF+Business reach their goal, we needed to not only make sure that the site’s actionable and accessible, but we also need to ensure that we give users the information they need so that they can unlock their potential. My fascination with the process, with the paths you create for users, helps them find information they want, and beyond that, it also helps them uncover information that they didn’t know they needed until EDF+Business helped them chart their path to unlocking their climate potential.
EDF is an organization with decades of experience in the business of climate action and the climate actions of businesses. They have an unparalleled library of custom, science-backed resources to share, and their readiness to turn their supply chain solutions into a tool to accelerate businesses toward net zero made them the perfect partner for the challenge.
With just months to go until our Climate Week NYC launch target, we dove in together to build the knowledge mobilization resource that would put these essential resources at business leaders’ fingertips.
Digging Into the Net Zero Action Accelerator
Given the expedited timeline, we quickly immersed ourselves into interviews, workshops, and research to learn more about the soon-to-be accelerator’s audience, goals, and content. We learned that the audience was quite specific. We were reaching sustainability implementation specialists and business leaders, so our website would have to reflect the digital spaces that they visit every day.
Also as part of our research and discovery, our strategists deeply immersed themselves in the world in which the accelerator would need to exist. That meant learning about environmental industry issues ranging from the three scopes of emissions to best practices of fleet electrification. Plus, we needed to get a deep understanding of the dozens of documents and resources that EDF already had.
In this strategic phase, we discovered two priorities for the Net Zero Action Accelerator:
- The accelerator needed to make information accessible
- The accelerator needed to be customizable
In terms of information, we sought to make sure business leaders could benefit from EDF’s expertise in the space. Research that doesn’t reach anyone can’t make a difference for our climate. If we made the information highly accessible and comprehensible—with a diversity of downloads, videos, articles, and more—we knew that we could serve people the content with the highest leverage to reach their climate potential.
Of course, people using the website will hail from different industries and roles. The tool also needed to help users create their own unique pathways. The user-friendly nature of the tool is best represented in its 25 pathways. The pathways for the accelerator represent a critical element of its customizable nature. The pathways section of the website greets users by asking them to identify their goals, and from there, it helps guide users through the action steps and resources.
Action steps aren’t one-size-fits-all either. A variety of filters embedded into the pathways helps guide users based on their role, their goals, and their sectors. Together, the pathways, action steps, and filtered resources can be saved to users’ dashboards in order to give decision makers clear steps they can take on their custom paved road to net zero.
From a UX design perspective, these dashboards were fascinating to build. When you think about some of the steps that go into building a dashboard—saving something, downloading another—it seems like those are steps we all take everyday online. But when you drill down into it, there’s a lot of variety and a strict set of best practices that we implemented to make sure that users had the best experience and access to resources.
In this case, a better user experience means a better chance for meaningful climate action.
Throughout every step of the process, our close collaboration with EDF+Business strengthened the quality of our work. Not a day went by that we weren’t communicating or workshopping to bring this tool to life.
User testing and iterative development played a pivotal role in building this site not to meet but to exceed expectations. With such profound potential at stake, we wanted to leave it all on the court. So, we were beyond proud to see the site launch in time for Climate Week NYC.
Now, we’re excited to see the Net Zero Action Accelerator give businesses the roadmap they need to reach net zero and realize their potential in our work to address the climate crisis.
A huge thank you for your trust and partnership to the EDF+Business team!
Learn more about the creation of the Net Zero Action Accelerator in our case study.