Helping Businesses and Investors Achieve Sustainability Goals with John Mennel of Deloitte

September 19, 2023

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John Mennel is a Strategy Leader and Managing Director in Deloitte’s Sustainability, Climate & Equity practice. He leads a cross-business team, which is developing technology- and analytics-enabled tools to help companies and investors set and implement decarbonization plans, commercialize abatements, and understand climate-related risks.

John Shegerian: Have you been enjoying our Impact podcast and our great guests? Then please give us a thumbs up and leave a five-star review on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you consume your favorite podcast. This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed Loop’s platform spans the arc of capital, from venture capital to private equity, bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to

John Shegerian: Welcome to another edition of The Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian, and I’m so excited to have with us today John Mennel. He’s a strategy leader and managing director of sustainability, climate, and equity at Deloitte Consulting. Welcome to the Impact Podcast, John.

John Mennel: Thanks for having me, John.

John Shegerian: Before we get talking about all the great work that you and your colleagues are doing in sustainability, climate, and equity at Deloitte, can you first share a little bit about your upbringing, where you grew up, and how you even got on this fascinating journey?

John Mennel: Sure. I’ll try to keep it reasonably short. I grew up in Dallas. My father was a doctor, and my mother was a teacher, so no real business background at all. I went to university with a degree in history and linguistics, and I fully intended to become an academic and pursue a PhD. Really by chance, I met the head of Deloitte’s Russia practice right when I was out of undergrad, and I was in Russia. He introduced me to the idea of consulting, which I had never heard of, and Deloitte that I had never heard of. It’s kind of all history from there. So I joined Deloitte right out of college.

John Shegerian: Wow.

John Mennel: I got an MBA about five years after I decided I wanted to spend some time in the industry. So I spent time in high tech and in venture capital, and then came back to Deloitte about 13, 14 years ago.

John Shegerian: Great. Wonderful. And so I have to ask this question because are you also a long-suffering Cowboys fan, given that you grew up in that.

John Mennel: I am, I am a long-suffering Cowboys fan. I grew up in the Staubach era and still pretend that’s where we are.

John Shegerian: Great to meet you because, so am I. So, I’m 60 years old, John, and so Deloitte to me, even though we had your wonderful colleague, Evan Harvey, on talking about a lot of these issues a little while back, Deloitte to me, before I ever started talking to Deloitte about sustainability and having you on the Impact podcast, always meant accounting. But you have a very vibrant and large and growing sustainability practice. Can you share a little bit about the genesis of that practice and the journey and how big has it really grown?

John Mennel: It’s a great question. We’re a really large firm, we’re the largest professional services firm, with over 400,000 people worldwide. Our growth over the past decade has been amazing. So when I say that I kind of catch myself, but that’s how big we are now. We’ve actually been doing sustainability and ESG work for a long time. So we had to go back and check. The first sustainability practice we had that I found was actually back in the ’90s. So we’ve been at this work for a long time.

John Shegerian: Wow.

John Mennel: What’s changed, though, is about three, four years ago, we made a decision to create a unified practice. So before that, we had, I would say, a lot of little pockets, so people doing different kinds of sustainability and ESG work. And we did a strategy that basically said that there’s a big opportunity in sustainability and ESG, we have a lot of capabilities across our practice, but we were sub-optimizing them because they were all in little parts. So we pulled together a single global practice. We have over 10,000 practitioners in that practice. Now, you may have seen the announcement that we’re investing a billion dollars in building that practice and it combines all of our businesses. So our accounting business, our consulting business, our financial advisory business that does a lot of work on M&A and for example, in valuation of solar transactions and things like that. And very importantly, our tax business all into one single practice.

And if you think about the strength of that, it is not only can we do the strategy and the operations and the supply chain work that comes out of our consulting practice, we can help all the companies with all the accounting and reporting and disclosures. We can help companies actually do transactions to do large power purchase agreements. The reason I mentioned tax particularly is, especially since the IRA, we find that the tax benefits, other credits, incentives both in the US globally at the state and local level often make a real difference. And they pay for a lot of the decarbonization journey, or at least make it much more financially attractive. So we think we’re one of the few firms that could kind of bring all of that expertise together.

John Shegerian: So an integrated services firm with regards to sustainability.

John Mennel: Yes, absolutely.

John Shegerian: Just for our listeners and viewers that want to find John and his colleagues and all the great work they’re doing in sustainability, climate, and equity, please go to Once you’re on that site, you can hit the services button right up in the upper toolbar on the left-hand side. I’m on it now. And then when you hit services, you just drop down and you hit, and you see sustainability, climate, and equity, and there’s a lot of information there. We’re going to put that in the show notes, so no need to worry about finding it, it will be in the show notes. John, now let’s talk about you’ve been doing this quite a long time now.

For lack of better terms, a sustainability OG. Things have happened though in recent years to really sort of indicate that the fits and starts that we saw back in ’05, ’06, and ’07 with regards to the excitement that was around Inconvenient Truth and what came out of that. But then we went into the 2008 sort of financial crisis, and that sort of put a little bit of a cloud over the sustainability revolution here in North America. It seems as though ESG and the shift from linear to circular economy and the sustainability revolution is now an undeniable and unstoppable trend, not only here in North America, but around the world. So how does that inform your Fortune 100, 200, 500, 1000 clients, which you consult to obviously historically as to getting with the program and starting to leverage your practice in climate change and also their racing goals to net zero?

John Mennel: Yes, so it’s a great point, and I think you’re absolutely right that the net-zero journey and decarbonization have really taken off in the business community. And for a couple of reasons, and maybe say two or three reasons. The first is that the reality of climate change has become much more evident to people. And we can talk about the science; the scientific evidence is really important. We’re also all seeing it in the weather, right? And Deloitte does an annual CXO survey, and one of the questions that we asked last year was what percentage of respondents had personally experienced the effects of climate change? And 82% of the respondents in that survey said they had personally experienced the effects of climate change. That really resonates with what I’m hearing from my clients and also people in my personal life. I think it’s just much more of a reality. People feel it much more viscerally, and that makes them want to take action.

The other part of it is that the economics have changed. In most cases, decarbonization is good for businesses; it makes or saves money. I say a lot that carbon is cost; carbon is wastage cost, so when you’re taking carbon out, you’re usually taking cost out of the system. Just to give you some data points, the cost of renewable energy has been coming down 20% a year for over a decade. So it’s now the cheapest power source. We’re seeing similar cost curves with electric vehicles. So a lot of times, the choices that companies have to make when they decarbonize is just good for their business. When I started doing this work over a decade ago, we would do the economic analysis for a company, and none of it really made money directly. There were reasons to do it for your investors, for brand, for product differentiation, but there was not a clear dollar-and-cents business case. Now, when we put together all those projects that a large company will have to do to reach net-zero, about 70% of that footprint actually saves them money. So you can go to a skeptical CFO, and there’s usually someone in the C-suite who’s skeptical, and just walk through the numbers. It pencils out very well. It’s usually a pretty clear business decision.

John Shegerian: Just give me a rough overview. I’m not expecting any forensic perfect numbers or so, but how many offices or continents does Deloitte cover around the world?

John Mennel: So we’re in 150 countries, so pretty much everywhere.

John Shegerian: Everywhere.

John Mennel: Yes.

John Shegerian: How many employees, or so, do you have? Roughly speaking.

John Mennel: Over 400,000.

John Shegerian: Over 400,000, And clients, some massive number of clients.

John Mennel: Yes. 90% of the Fortune 500.

John Shegerian: Right. So I’m coming to you, as I just like I’m spoken[?] this. So I’m the CEO of either a Fortune 100 company or Fortune 1000, or by the way, a company that’s not even either. I’m just a privately held company that’s growing fast, and I want to get on the right side of sustainability, climate, and equity issues. So I come to you to be my one-stop-shop of integrated services in terms of the trusted advisor to help me on that journey.

John Mennel: That’s right. When we’re usually working with companies, we’re first helping them decide what are the issues that matter to them? And so the science is clear, and climate change is an important priority for virtually every company. When I talk to a CEO, they’re either a C-suite executive, they’re already hearing, if they’re not far down the journey, they’re hearing about the importance from their customers and their investors. But there are also other issues to think about. Equity is the name of our practice. Equity is an important part of this because solving climate is not an engineering problem. There are humans involved, and if it’s not fair, it just won’t work. So we’re also asking companies to really think about their employees, the communities they work in, all of their stakeholders, and how they should be implementing these kinds of goals.

So that’s the first part. Then the second is really helping companies put together a plan for decarbonization and their other ESG goals, and then really working the economics of that plan so that it’s accretive for their business. And most of these plans are really about making the company better over the long term. So making it better, more valuable, more resilient business. And then the third part we work on is the implementation. So how do you get there? Right? And so which involves efficiency in buildings, it involves electrification, it involves electrifying the fleet, all of the things that you know about and work on. And there’s just a lot of blocking and tackling to get all of that done.

John Shegerian: So instead of me hiring 30 or 20 or 15 executives to manage all these different services, we need to get to our goals and to create actually a footprint, a blueprint, and a roadmap ahead of us. I bring you on; you already have subject matter experts in all these areas and disciplines, and you’re able to set out a path forward and then create goals that are scalable and reachable over the next years ahead. And then report on that to me. So I can then package that report, put it into my ESG or impact report for my C-suite, my board of directors, analysts, my constituents, and clients. Is that sort of the value proposition?

John Mennel: I think that’s right. I think we always advise companies to build sustainability experience internally, both in their exec team and on their board. Where we can help is we have experts in all the disciplines you need. We’re seeing the same issues across many different companies. So I think we can just bring a perspective that’s helpful and additive, and as companies get on the journey.

John Shegerian: Well, I want to ask my next questions about technology and the other huge trends beside the shift from the linear to circular economy, and ESG, and the need to not only talk the talk but walk the walk. There’s also the rise of AI and self-learning technologies that are out there with regards to automation, robotics, and others. How does technology factor into your practice?

John Mennel: Yes, that’s a great question. And it’s interesting. I talked about the fact that I led the strategy team that set up our sustainability practice about four years ago. We finished that strategy. Our CEO asked me what role I wanted to have, and I said I wanted to focus on technology and alliances with technology companies. The reason was that I had been doing this for over a decade, and a lot of really sophisticated companies, sustainability is amazingly low-tech, right? It’s still in small groups, it’s in Excel, it’s in fairly simple tools. And it was just really clear to me that that was going to change. So, over 70% of Fortune 500 companies have a net-zero goal. When you talk to those executives, and it’s in my conversations and in surveys, almost all of them cite data availability and quality as a real obstacle in getting to those goals.

So it’s a real challenge. So what we’ve done is we work with our major alliance partners, and those are the largest technology companies in the world Amazon, Alphabet, SAP, Salesforce, that we have deep practices with, and we’re working on them specifically on what’s the strategy for sustainability, how can their technologies really move the needle? And then we’re also working on our own accelerators and managed services. Just to give you a couple of examples, we’ve released a product called GreenLight, that’s a decarbonization strategy project. So it helps companies understand their footprint, put the strategy together, reduce the footprint. What’s really important is then it helps them optimize that over time. So a large company may have a thousand abatement projects, there’s a capital expense figure attached to that.

Technologies are changing so fast, they need to be relooking at that with the help of AI all the time to reduce the amount that they’re spending to increase the returns, to resequence things. That’s what GreenLight helps them do. We’ve also rereleased another product called GreenSpace that is a climate hard tech navigator. So it helps companies understand what are the hard technologies that are coming down the path, how mature are they, and where should they be investing or doing pilots now? For example, if they need to do electrification or hydrogen fuel cells for long-haul trucking, what’s the maturity of that technology and when will that be ready? And who are the leading startups in that space now? That’s what that product helps companies look at.

John Shegerian: If you’ve just joined us, we’ve got John Mennel with us. He’s a strategy leader and managing director of sustainability, climate, and equity at Deloitte. To find John and his colleagues and all their work they’re doing in sustainability, climate, and equity, please go to, hit the services button and drop down. And they have a whole practice right below that; sustainability, climate, and equity. You could click on there, and it will be in the show notes as well. Let’s go back to Technology GreenLight solution. So GreenLight solution, it becomes, I would assume, a dashboard that becomes unbelievably powerful because of the density of you covering tens of thousands of clients in 150 countries around the world.

That’s your real, how do I say this, the right way strategic advantage over, if I have a company and I want to learn how to get on the sustainability journey, net-zero journey, and I go down to a regional consulting firm, Jones Consulting, and they’re going to put together a program for me, they really can’t compete with your kind of density of information. Which then, I assume, GreenLight Solution cross-checks and cross-pollinates all the information among all the countries and all the clients you have. So you truly have what’s working and where and why, and you’re able to plug that into my unique solutions and skill sets, and also where I am in the journey to give me the most efficient solution that’s possible. Is that sort of [crosstalk].

John Mennel: No, you have exactly right. So GreenSpace Solution has an abatement projects library, which our teams from all over the world contribute to. There are over 600 projects there. So there are teams in Europe and Asia Pac and Africa, the Middle East, and North America, who as they do work and they produce economic models on anything from renewable energy to manufacturing processes, to building efficiency, to fleet electrification, they’re contributing those models. And then that goes into the plans that are developed for each new client. And that scale is really something important to get a real global view of what’s possible.

John Shegerian: It’s a real-time ongoing data base that’s constantly growing that I can leverage if I’m a client of your practice.

John Mennel: Exactly, right.

John Shegerian: So I’m the CEO for fun’s sake, Hilton. And I tell my chief sustainability officer, ‘Hey, come on in my office and show me what we’re really doing’. And so she comes in and she pulls up on my big screen, GreenLight Solutions that she’s brought on from Deloitte. So we can look at all of our portfolios of real estate and properties and managed properties across the planet, and we can sort of get a great snapshot of where things are real-time.

John Mennel: That’s right. A single view of your entire plan. And the economics associated with that plan is exactly what it does.

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John Shegerian: The rise in the convergence of both of these major trends of sustainability, of shift to a linear, to a circular economy, the need to on an ESG basis, talk a good talk, but walk a good walk for leaders around the world integrated, or at least converging and crossing with this rise and need for technology, AI automation, and self-learning technologies. Talk about where we are, which one is ahead of the other, which one has to catch up a little bit more, and how do you foresee them evolving together and even becoming more integrated and necessary to support one another in the months and years ahead?

John Mennel: When you say maturing together, you mean AI and the other technologies in space?

John Shegerian: Yes. AI, that becomes then, you know, we don’t know where it’s going to truly end up and how amazing and incredible it could do. But you have a lot greater visibility to the latest and greatest gadgets and tools and software that exists out there. Where do you think we are? I know there’s no perfect crystal ball on any of this, but where do you think we are? Is the need for this stuff faster than they could produce it and keep up with the different forensic and specific needs? Or is it pretty much going down a concurrent path of where you’re going on transactional, reportable and facts and data?

John Mennel: Good question. We’re just starting. I’m personally really excited about where things are, are going to go with AI. There’s definitely a need now, but the state of technology’s improving really rapidly. So let me give you two examples.

John Shegerian: Sure.

John Mennel: How AI is affecting sustainability. There’s one side of examples in the physical world that AI is just going to improve the effectiveness of physical technologies. And I’ll give you an example. We’re talking to a company that’s an AI and Quantum computing company. They’re working on hydrogen electrolysis, on hydrogen hub technology. They believe that the use of AI is just going to improve the efficiency of those electrolyzers 30 to 80% over the next couple of years. Which, as you imagine, means cutting the cost of that hydrogen down by that amount, which starts making it very competitive for applications like green steel, right? And that’s, and that’s purely through using AI to redesign the process of redesign the technologies that are creating the hydrogen.

So in the physical world, there are a lot of those kinds of applications. In the digital world, there are similar applications. So what GreenSpace tech is doing, which I mentioned the Climate Hard Tech navigator, is using AI to be able to gather knowledge from over R&D centers, venture firms, incubators that we have and match the right innovators with the right technology needs for the large companies we have. So that’s both what happens in the physical world and in the digital world with matching technology, and AI is already starting to have a huge effect on what’s possible for us to do in sustainability.

John Shegerian: That’s also part of your great value proposition because of your size and where you sit and where your platform sits. You have access to technology that we haven’t even heard about yet on Bloomberg and CNBC. You have access to technology that’s just up and coming.

John Mennel: I really say that we have the scale and relationships so that what’s going on in the biggest technology companies in the world, universities, venture firms, startup communities. We’re in all of those dialogues.

John Shegerian: We’ve talked about GreenLight Solution, GreenSpace tech, your Green Space Tech Initiative. Talk a little bit about ClearCarbon. What is that solution for, and how is that being applied by Deloitte and your clients?

John Mennel: Yes, so it’s interesting. I talked a lot about how sustainability is good for business. I talked about the cost side.

John Shegerian: Sure.

John Mennel: The other important part of it is there are whole huge opportunities to create new businesses based on carbon as an asset. And that’s exactly what ClearCarbon does. It helps companies create new businesses. Specifically, what it’s doing is helping create carbon insets and carbon offsets, which is a producer reduces the carbon intensity of their products and quantifies and tracks that carbon intensity and is able to sell that onto another customer. So give you an example.

John Shegerian: Sure.

John Mennel: We’re working with a client that is producing low carbon, low CO2 proteins, chicken and beef. And the way that they do that is they have to push out incentives to all of the ranchers and farmers in their supply chain to change their practices in ways that reduce the amount of methane that are coming from their operations. They need to create those programs, pass the information back, collect information from their supply chain, pass the incentives back so that they can pay those farmers and ranchers to change those practices, collect all of that information, and then create highly verifiable insets amount of carbon that’s reduced in that supply chain that they can then go on and sell to another company. And that’s going to be a multi-billion dollar business for them.

And if you think across industries, any company that has the ability to reduce the carbon intensity of their products has the ability to make that stand up that kind of business. So we’re also seeing that with chemical companies, with cement manufacturers, with steel manufacturers all have the ability to think about carbon reduction as an asset that they can use to create new businesses. And that’s, and ClearCarbon helps them manage all of the complex information gathering gathering through their supply chain that’s needed to do that.

John Shegerian: Changing topics a little bit. Along those same lines though, where are we in the carbon trading world and offset world? It seems like when I go out to that marketplace and we have meetings with various firms that are selling carbon credits and we’re looking to get some of our credits certified. It seems as though it’s still the wild west. Is it the wild west on top of the first inning still, and that’s going to be rationalized in the months and years ahead?

John Mennel: Yes, As you know, the offset market is necessary. The reason it’s necessary is that most organizations, most companies can’t a hundred percent decarbonize from within their company.

John Shegerian: Right.

John Mennel: To give you one example, I’m working with a large hospital system. They have anesthetic gases that are about about 5% of their footprint. There’s no way right now to decarbonize those. Those are just highly warming and do some gases. So they’ll need to buy offsets for about 5% of their footprint. That’s within the standard set by the science-based target initiatives that offsets should be part of you know part of emissions that can’t be reduced within the operations of the companies. So there will be the need for that kind of market. The market is still early though, and a good offset should have permanence, so it should permanently remove carbon, it should have additionality, so it’s carbon that would not have otherwise been removed except for the purchase of that offset. And the definitions around those factors right now are still, frankly, a little loose. So there’s variable quality in that offset market, and you’re seeing that in the fact that, the price of an offset for a ton of carbon is anywhere from under $10 to over $200 right now.

And so that just shows that there’s a huge difference in quality. I think what will happen is buyers are becoming more discriminating about how they think about the quality, the right kind of offset for them, what technology they’re using what markets it is, do they want it in the same locality where they’re operating the co-benefits associated. So kind of what does that project do? And I think that that’s already starting to happen in the market, and I think there probably is the need over time for either more voluntary or more regulatory standards to get more quality in that market. But I do hear from some people now that you know, as you said, it’s the wild west offsets are poor quality, so we should just avoid them. And I don’t think that’s possible. I think they’re an important part of how we decarbonize and we just need, we just need to get to better quality.

John Shegerian: Understood. Understood. Let’s go back to ClearCarbon. So, is ClearCarbon part of that brand among OEMs to create at OEMs in OEM’s corporate structure designed for sustainability office? And that would fit into the design for sustainability officers for a lot of the OEMs across different industries?

John Mennel: You mean as part of what the sustainability office does?

John Shegerian: No, so, yes. So now I’m at a company. So for instance, I recently interviewed the sustainability leader for Allbirds, and they just created, and they’re going to put out next year their first net zero shoe. Now, they’ve, designed and they’ve sourced that net zero shoe. So since that shoe is going to have a lot less footprint than than previous shoes and both that they’ve produced, but also their competitors, does ClearCarbon come into that analysis for their new shoe that they’re going to put out into the marketplace?

John Mennel: It could potentially. So when companies are looking at sustainability and the business benefits they’re largely looking at quality, brand differentiation, differentiation with investors, they’re looking at cost takeout and they’re looking at new revenue opportunities. ClearCarbon is on the revenue side, so how do you generate new revenue from new business? And the Allbirds example, is a great example where the way you generate additional revenues is you put out new products that are highly sustainable products that delight your consumers. A lot of times those products are just better products. So the food tastes better, the clothes wear better and more durable. There are a lot of those kinds of examples. Or they find ways to monetize the carbon in a B2B setting. And so that’s like ClearCarbon plays on that, that new revenue side.

John Shegerian: Understood. Let’s talk a little bit about you are going in to pitch a new potential client and you’re bringing your team in and their C-suites there and their leadership team is there. What is typically when you’re in a meeting and you’re laying out all these tremendous, like you said, savings, capital savings, obviously Goodwill building obviously just the need to keep up with the times and the necessity of ESG and sustainability, climate and equity not only talking, but walking and then also reporting on what are the major challenges or objectives you have. And because it seems like a layup of a meeting, but no meeting is ever a layup, what pushback or objections or challenges you usually find when you’re in those initial meetings with some of the greatest leaders of some of the best brands around the world?

John Mennel: I think the big shift you’re right, it’s not a layup but the big shift has been that I think we’re past why with most C-suites, they get it. And part of it is, what I said, that it’s personal. Most people get the importance. But then most people also get that it’s important for their business, right? And they’re hearing about sustainability from their customers, their investors, and their people, so that they know intuitively it’s important we can help put together the business case. And then I think what’s hard, like as you said, what do you need to get over in that meeting? It’s the how, so how do we actually do this? And if a company has investments in buildings and manufacturing plants, how do you make those trade-offs? If they have a fleet of vehicles, what’s the right schedule to convert those on? When do they do that? What part of their life? And a lot of those real nuts and bolts decisions influence the feasibility and the economics and the timeframe to decarbonization. And a lot of the, kind of the difficult conversations are about how do you make those trade-offs? How do you do that planning? What actions do you take when and how do you finance it?

John Shegerian: And setting a path forward where it’s not just next month or next year, it’s a long-term plan forward, I assume.

John Mennel: Yes. It’s often over 30 years.

John Shegerian: Wow.

John Mennel: It’s often over 30 years, and for a big company, it’s often billions dollars in capital expense. So that’s capital expense by the way, that has positive IRR. So usually has savings, has returns for the company. But it’s still a big investment. And so a lot of what we can do is help do the detailed planning, do the sequencing, do the implementation operationalization, and then, as I said, with GreenLight use technology to continually revisit and optimize those economics as the technologies change.

John Shegerian: As the trusted advisor and an integrated solution provider in services with regards to sustainability, climate, and equity, I assume, and because of the density of your client base around the world, that when you come into a situation and you’re trying to meet a company or organization of where they are at that given point, sometimes they’re dealing with legacy issues that they’ve inherited and things of that such. And it seemingly looks like to the management team, there’s no way out. But as part of your specialty, becoming creating public-private partnerships that cross lines and create cross opportunities that they wouldn’t have seen naturally themselves. But because you have relationships with both local, state and national and international government structures, you’re able to come and give them more solutions than they would’ve ever imagined.

John Mennel: Yes, that’s true. An example in public-private, I mentioned IRA, but IRA is one of only 15,000 sustainability-related tax or incentives programs across the world. And so we have a product that we integrate into GreenLight and GreenSpace called Incentives Hub, that tracks all of those incentives programs and can pull those into the economics and really help companies think about, well, when I’m doing this factory upgrade where should I do it first? What locality, what are the benefits that the incentives that can pay for it? And so that’s really important. The other part of it is that a lot of these big problems cannot be solved within a single company. Even the biggest companies in the world. They need to work with their suppliers and their customers. And so, for example, we worked at the cement manufacturer to help them put into the market a very reduced carbon cement. Carbon cement, if I’m correct, it’s about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. So it’s a big emitter.

John Shegerian: Wow.

John Mennel: The issue with it is a lot of the benefit of producing that cement is more expensive, but it’s more durable. It fixes carbon during the construction process, but those benefits are not felt by the cement manufacturer, they’re felt by the construction company. So we had to help them put together a program to do partnerships with their customers, the large construction companies, so that they could share those benefits, and that made the economics of the product work out. And you see those kinds of situations in many examples across all kinds of different industries. And part of the advantage of our scale is we’re a lot of times able to bring those kinds of relationships together.

John Shegerian: And if I’m a real estate developer, going back to your example, if I’m a real estate developer and building the next great skyscraper in Miami, Chicago, or New York, and I’m able to use this green cement, and you’re able to track all the benefits that I have.

John Mennel: You get higher rental rates, right? And there’s just a study I read that in the London market, green buildings are renting for 20%, more, right? And so it’s how do you capture that value and share it so that we can get unlock some of these opportunities.

John Shegerian: And the road to higher rates is you also also helped me get a huge leg up, five steps ahead in terms of earning my platinum LEED certified status of that new building I’m building.

John Mennel: Right. Absolutely.

John Shegerian: You’ve seen a lot of stuff, and we’ve both been subject to the fits and starts of sustainability and these trends, but they do seem now unstoppable and undeniable in sustainability, climate, and equity, at least, what are you most excited about John, in the months and years ahead with regards to sustainability, climate equity, and your practice, and the fact that we really do need to make the world get decarbonized fast? As you know, we’re living in 2023 in the hottest year ever in the world’s history. So it is, forget the science for a second. The facts are the facts. And the facts are, this is real. What gets you most excited right now, given that you have a lot of visibility to a lot of what’s going on?

John Mennel: I’m an optimist overall. What you said is absolutely true. The sciences that we’re not moving fast enough. What makes me optimistic, though, is the massive changes in the economics of sustainability and the technology around sustainability that we talked about. The fact that most of the changes large companies make are economically sensible. They pencil out just on the economics. And if you would ask me five years ago, I never would’ve believed that that would be true. And so it’s just so much change has happened so quickly. And that makes me optimistic that we’re going to get this right. And I’m excited about the next decade to be doing what I’m doing right now, a really decisive time for my firm, my career, and the world. So it’s generally an optimist.

John Shegerian: Well, that’s awesome. And I want to thank you again, John, for joining us today on the Impact Podcast. To find John and all of his colleagues in the important and great work they’re doing at Deloitte in sustainability, climate, and equity. Please go to Like I said earlier, you go to services bar, you drop down to the sustainability climate and equity section, and there you have it. It’s all right there. John, thank you for making the world get on this path and journey to decarbonization and making it more equitable and a better place to live. I thank you and everybody at Deloitte, and you’re always welcome back on the Impact podcast.

John Mennel: Thanks very much, John. I appreciate it.

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