Author Archive

Introducing EcoHive!

October 13, 2010

Paydirt is thrilled to announce the launch of EcoHive – an internal, sustainability-focused web portal that inspires education, collaboration, action and, most of all, real business results.



The portal was developed in response to several sustainability trends that we’ve been tracking with our clients and in the broader marketplace. We’ve seen many organizations struggle with how to educate and engage employees in sustainability, outside of the members of the core “Green Team.”  We also know that more and more companies are interested in moving past one-way corporate communications to leverage the creativity and ideas of their employees as part of the sustainability planning process. However, many lack the technology or communications platforms to facilitate a meaningful and authentic dialogue.

 The Portal

EcoHive is our educational, collaborative solution to those real-world challenges. Based on an organization’s sustainability goals, EcoHive’s enterprise-facing Web portal not only informs employees, it engages them in that organization’s sustainability vision and strategies, inspiring them to learn, act and innovate.

The Content

The portal’s eco-educational content guides employees on a journey to discover how environmental sustainability can save money, improve efficiency, drive innovation and identify new opportunities at their company. Each awareness-building and action-inspiring module includes quiz questions and exercises to test the employee’s proficiency in the concepts presented.

The Network

EcoHive is designed to inspire conversation and collaboration among co-workers. From an idea board, to an internal blog, to an eco-friends page, EcoHive is socially sound with fun ways for employees to connect, share and commit to new habits.  

The Partnership

Paydirt has partnered with frank, a talented team of interactive marketing, authentic branding and organizational effectiveness experts, to bring organizations this powerful social media platform. For more on frank, visit

Want to learn more? Visit Be sure to check out our video!


Planning for a Sustainable Competitive Advantage in 2010

January 4, 2010

While most people understand the connection between environmental sustainability and resource conservation, many fail to see that sustainability can also open up new markets and business opportunities.

As your company develops its strategic plan for 2010, consider reaching out to environmentally minded customers by either changing the way you do business, or developing new “green” products or services. Specific questions to ask include:

  1. Are there ways to reduce the environmental impact of our products and services? Can you reduce natural resource consumption by improving the efficiency of your manufacturing or distribution processes? Can you purchase materials from local sources to reduce your overall carbon footprint? Or, if you are a professional services firm, can you change the way you deliver your services by limiting paper use, or conducting meetings using videoconferencing or Skype?
  2. Are there environmental problems that our company can help to solve? Can you retool or reframe your existing offerings to help people solve environmental challenges? For example, if your company is a law firm, can you help expand the availability and use of renewable energy by counseling energy developers about government regulations, intellectual property or land use?
  3. Are we adequately communicating the environmental benefits of our existing business? If you have already taken steps to make your products or services more “green,” have you also taken the time to quantify and market those benefits in a compelling way?
  4. Can our company develop green products or services to reach out to new customer prospects? As you brainstorm new offerings, don’t forget to consider environmentally friendly opportunities, too! As an added bonus, green programs are also a great way to engage and inspire your employees.

Take the Stairs!

April 15, 2009

Most of us realize that taking the stairs is better for us than taking the elevator, since it provides some additional exercise, but how many of us stop to think about how it’s better for the environment? According to Hennepin County’s Healthy Lifestyle Center, walking up 10 flights of stairs will burn about 50 extra calories, while walking down those same 10 flights will burn about 20. This may not seem like much, but keep in mind the average office worker makes three round trips per day. Add it up, and you’d have to walk for nearly an hour on level ground to get the same benefit. Enough about the health benefits – what about the environmental impact? In a 20-story building served by 6 elevators, total elevator power consumption can approach 8,000 kilowatt-hours per month, enough to meet the needs of nearly 10 average households. Absorbing the greenhouse gases emitted when generating this much electricity requires about 150 tree seedlings growing for 10 years.

Change your habits, and prove the stats wrong! A study published in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis found that posting information for building tenants on health benefits and energy use had no effect on elevator energy consumption. It wasn’t until the elevators were slowed down, making them less convenient, that energy use dropped by 33%!

A Little Maintenance Goes a Long Way!

March 15, 2009

The price of a gallon of gasoline may have dropped for now, but it will certainly rise again in the future. Even if prices are low, you can still save money by modifying your driving habits and making sure your car is properly maintained. Much was said in past months about proper tire pressure, but that has very little effect on gas mileage – other factors are far more important. Obeying posted speed limits can have a large effect: fuel efficiency drops quickly at speeds above 60 MPH, and sticking to 55 mph can save you as much as 23% according to the EPA. Cleaning out your trunk and removing unused bike or cargo racks can save another 2% for every 100 lbs. of weight you remove. Give your car a tune-up, making sure the air filter, radiator coolant, and spark plugs don’t need to be replaced. If one or more of these components is performing poorly, your gas mileage can easily drop 10-15%. Finally, experiment with different grades of gasoline: while Regular may save you $0.20 per gallon versus Premium, your car may run differently, in reality consuming more of the lower-grade fuel per mile. There are many sources on the web for information on fuel economy and auto maintenance. Check out the EPA‘s automotive site ( or advice from CarTalk‘s Tom & Ray Magliozzi ( for more tips.

Drink from the Tap!

February 15, 2009

If you haven’t heard it yet, you’ve been living under a rock: bottled water is not sustainable! According to the International Bottled Water Association, U.S. consumption of bottled water hit 8.8 billion gallons in 2007, the majority of which was sold in single-serving bottles, only 23% of which were recycled. In addition to the waste created, bottling this water consumed 18.2 million barrels of oil and produced 2.7 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Did I forget to mention that bottled water is over 1,000 times more expensive than tap water? Save the environment and your cash: buy a reusable bottle and fill it from the tap. Plastic bottles are inexpensive, but be sure to look for a recycling code of “2” (HDPE), “4” (LDPE), or “5” (polypropylene) on the bottom – these plastics won’t leech harmful chemicals into your water. Metal bottles cost more but are nearly indestructible. Stainless steel or lacquer-coated aluminum bottles are available from Klean Kanteen ( and SIGG USA ( in a variety of sizes and styles. If you don’t like the taste, buy a filtration system from BRITA ( in conjunction with Preserve’s Gimme 5 Program, BRITA has recently begun offering recycling for used filters.

Meet Paydirt

February 11, 2009

Welcome to the Paydirt blog! We’re delighted you’re here. Please feel free to check back regularly and comment… that is, if you have something interesting to say.

For our first entry, we thought you might like to get a flavor of who you’ll be hearing from in future months — Paydirt’s exceptional staff!

So, without further ado… (Or perhaps for those of you who know us, “Much Ado about Nothing.”)

Introducing Jill Elizabeth Kolling
Jill Kolling, our founder and fearless leader, is an experienced entrepreneur and astute business strategist. As managing partner of Paydirt, Jill’s specialties include operational efficiency, regulatory compliance, strategy execution, mentoring and training, and program planning and management.

With a background in lean manufacturing and management consulting, Jill has always recognized the opportunity for greater performance through increased efficiency and resourcefulness. She joined the sustainability consulting world after noticing that business leaders were beginning to recognize the value of environmental stewardship and corporate social responsibility. Jill is energized by the fact that multiple stakeholders — NGOs, corporations, and governments — are now coming together at the same table to explore solutions to our global environmental challenges.

On a personal level, Jill has an insatiable appetite for international travel and enjoys fine wine, collecting vintage cocktail shakers, the TV show House and working on her 80+ year-old Minneapolis residence. People are often surprised to learn that Jill loves to sew and has made all of the window treatments in her home.

Fun Fact: When Jill traveled to Easter Island, she met a native islander who had visited Southdale shopping mall and described it as “the most amazing place I’ve ever seen.”

Introducing Thomas Patrick Tierney
Thomas Tierney, a.ka. “Tom,” “Tommy” or “TT,” joined Paydirt due to a desire to use his skills and background to do something worthwhile and have a positive impact beyond the realm of business. As a principal and strategic advisor to clients, Tom’s specialty areas include technology, risk and performance management, and business process reengineering. Tom is excited about the opportunity to continually learn new things and apply them to meet clients’ challenges.

With a background in regulatory compliance and environmental health and safety, Tom’s interest in sustainability stemmed from two things: (1) having kids and (2) moving to Minnesota from Ohio (by way of Boston and Houston). Tom has spent a lot more time outdoors in Minnesota, so the notion of preserving the environment for his children quickly took hold.

Tom enjoys bicycling, desserts of all kinds, and “very” amateur photography. Thanks to his grandmother, he has been drinking tea since he was three years old. An avid music fan, Tom enjoys Beck, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Robert Earl Keen, Bim Skala Bim and anything by Elvis Costello. However, please note that this is not a comprehensive list of his favorites — there are simply too many to list.

Fun Fact: Tom can wiggle his nose like a rabbit (don’t think Samantha in Bewitched — his nose wiggling is truly one-of-a-kind.) For all of you “Google addicts,” our Tom is NOT the Tom Tierney that designs paper dolls.

Introducing Eliza Christine Shardlow Clark
Principal Eliza or Ellie (“it’s really your preference”) Clark is Paydirt’s resident marketing and communications expert. A recent addition to Paydirt, Eliza is excited about the opportunity to expand her technical skills and offer clients an integrated, holistic approach to sustainability strategy and assessment. Eliza’s professional specialties include strategic planning, public relations, public affairs, green events, online marketing, strategic planning and coalition building.

Eliza’s background includes a law degree from the University of Minnesota as well as traditional and sustainability-focused communications agency experience. When asked where her interest in sustainability stems from, Eliza answered, “To me, it just makes sense – business sense and common sense — to avoid unnecessary waste and pollution and to protect our natural resources. I do love the planet like (most) everybody else. However, I also appreciate the fact that it presents an opportunity to explore an uncharted business frontier.”

Eliza’s personal interests, although admittedly random, include relaxing with family and friends, dance, singing, yoga, running, reading, downhill and water skiing, traveling and keeping up-to-date with all of the new Twin Cities “hot spots.” Favorite TV shows include The Office, Arrested Development, and 30 Rock, and her favorite foods include McDonald’s twist cones (elusive but still in existence) and raspberries.

Fun Fact: Eliza’s family still makes fun of her for voraciously reading books while playing in t-ball and softball games while growing up. (She would like to note that she has since found success in other athletic endeavors…)