The capstone experience of the Sustainable Innovation MBA is the Practicum Project: a full-time, hands-on, three-month consulting engagement with an organization seeking to advance sustainable business ideas.

Students work in small teams within host organizations or, in some cases, on their own ventures. Host organizations have included leading B Corporations, sustainable development consultancies, early-stage social enterprises, and globally recognized companies seeking to advance ethical business practices.

The deliverable for the Practicum is a detailed and comprehensive business/action plan for the host organization. At the end of July, students pitch their plans to a panel of Executives, Chief Sustainability Officers, Entrepreneurs and Financiers, along with representatives of the host organizations. A successful Practicum pitch is required for graduation.


HOST • Beam Suntory

Project Title: Reducing Scope 3 Emissions with More Sustainable Glass Packaging

Beam Suntory launched a sustainability initiative called Proof Positive in 2020 which set forth ambitious 2030 goals including specific goals around packaging: 100% recyclable packaging, 40% recycled materials by weight, 100% recycled PET bottles and 30% value chain emissions reduction (Scope 1, 2 and 3).

The practicum will work on a project that supports Beam Suntory’s goal of achieving 30% reduction in value chain GHG emissions by 2030. The team will review the current Beam Suntory glass packaging portfolio across many different environmental factors, develop a scorecard to assess each bottle, analyze trends across our portfolio, identify top opportunity areas and make recommendations for improvements. The team will prepare business cases for the bottles with the biggest opportunity for improvement. This will include everything from cost and manufacturability to consumer and customer impact. The team will evaluate how Beam Suntory compares to key competitors by assessing competitive packaging using the same scorecard methodology. They will identify trends in the market and make recommendations that are relevant for Beam Suntory brands. Additionally, the team will conduct an assessment of global legislative activity related to glass bottle packaging, particularly around weight and recycled content and identify risks within the portfolio.

Host • NECEC/Clean Tech Open Northeast

Project Title: Cleantech Entrepreneur Journey and Ecosystem Analysis

Cleantech Open is the world’s oldest and largest cleantech accelerator and provides entrepreneurs and technologists with the resources needed to launch a successful cleantech company. Its mission is to find, fund, and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental, and economic challenges. Cleantech Open provides the infrastructure, expertise, and strategic relationships that turn clever ideas into successful global cleantech companies. In the Northeast, Cleantech Open is led by the Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC), which leads the just, equitable and rapid transition to a clean energy future and a diverse climate economy.

The practicum is focused around better understanding the cleantech startup journey and identifying critical barriers that might inhibit innovation along the way. The ultimate goal is to identify key ecosystem partners, optimize the accelerator experience and increase the rate of success for entrepreneurs. The practicum will include conducting research through conversations with partners, investors, corporates, and alumni of the accelerator program to gain insight into the entrepreneur’s journey. The final deliverables for this project are an internal playbook and an external publication summarizing key insights from the research conducted.

Host • FrameworkESG

Project Title: Re-Thinking Materiality

FrameworkESG is a specialty consulting firm that helps clients align their strategies and practices with new social, environmental, and economic realities. The firm creates trust and value for stakeholders including employees, investors, customers, and executives through data-driven analysis and insights. FrameworkESG’s guiding principle is that strong environmental, social, and governance performance and disclosure create value for all company stakeholders, including shareholders. Since its inception in 2003, the company has pioneered the use of stakeholder-driven materiality analyses, client assessments, integration, and communication of ESG risks and opportunities as tools for delivering solutions.

As part of this practicum, the team will research the evolving concept of double materiality as a tool to identify firms’ most important and relevant ESG impacts, risks, and opportunities. The project will explore prevailing ESG materiality practices and applications, the current and evolving legal and regulatory environment, shifting client and stakeholder priorities, and communication and disclosure strategies and frameworks.

As a final deliverable, the team will provide recommendations for adaptations to current processes and strategies, the use of more sophisticated data gathering and analysis tools, as well as for areas for future exploration, with the ultimate goal of continuing to provide FrameworkESG’s clients with the most useful and business-ready ESG analysis and insights.

Host • Glavel

Project Title: Designing a Stakeholder-Focused Brand Strategy

Glavel, Inc. is a manufacturer of foam glass gravel, a lightweight aggregate made from recycled glass. Foam glass gravel is used in both residential and commercial construction as sub slab insulation, in green roofs as lightweight fill, and in the civil sector as structural fill for roadways and bridges. The manufacturing facility in Essex, VT is the only foam glass plant in the world powered entirely by nearly carbon free electrons, which keeps Glavel’s embodied carbon footprint incredibly low, and positions Glavel as an emerging leader in decarbonizing the built environment.

Glavel offers unique value propositions to various stakeholders including architects, engineers, contractors, and homeowners. The practicum project will begin with an initial research and analysis phase focusing on items such as Glavel’s current ESG & sustainability initiatives, construction industry trends, as well as current and potential stakeholders.
The initial market analysis will lay the foundation for a final deliverable; a marketing and communication strategy that aligns the value propositions of Glavel with the needs of the stakeholders they seek to serve. This brand strategy could include a list of potential target consumers, general sales pitch strategy, marketing assets including website update recommendations and an implementation timeline.

Host • Jaipur Rugs

Project Title: Conceptualizing and Communicating the Social Impact of an Artisan-Centric Value Chain 

The inception of Jaipur Rugs began in 1978 when the founder, Nand Kishore Chaudhary, sought out to preserve the ancient traditional artform of weaving and tap into a growing demand within the global market for hand-woven carpets. However, N.K. Chaudhary’s vision for the company extended far beyond the quest of a merely profitable bottom line. He saw the opportunity to drive significant social change across the Bottom of the Pyramid by tapping into the skill and artistry of those within this marginalized group (Dalit) by eliminating the need for intermediary contractors. A company that originally started out with just nine weavers and two looms has now evolved into the company that is today, providing livelihoods to over 40,000 independent artisans across 600 different Indian villages, with eighty-five percent of them being women, and 7,000 Tribals.

Through immersive field research in Rajasthan, India, our team will be working to measure the intangible benefits that Jaipur Rugs creates for their stakeholders. This research will be conducted by interviewing the weavers about the impact Jaipur Rugs has had on them, their families, their communities, and beyond. We will explore the practicality of developing certifications or joining existing certifications that will quantify the social and environmental impact of Jaipur Rugs and determine if it would be worthwhile to move forward with these proposed certifications.

Host • Mamava

Project Title: Breastfeeding Through the Lens of Sustainability: Making the Case for Infrastructure and Support for Breastfeeding in America

The category creator of freestanding lactation pods, Mamava provides breastfeeding parents with private, dignified, and comfortable spaces to pump or nurse—at work and on the go. The free Mamava locator app helps breastfeeding parents find thousands of (Mamava-vetted) lactation places on the go and unlock Mamava pods (available for iOS and Android). Women founded and a proud B corp, Mamava designs, engineers, and assembles lactation pods in the USA, mostly in their facility in Springfield, VT.

Mamava is engaging SIMBA students to research the environmental impact of breastfeeding in comparison with formula feeding.  Students are challenged to assess the complete cycle of production, distribution, and use of baby formula versus breastfeeding (breastfeeding and/ or pumping breast milk for bottle feeding) and conduct a financial and economic analysis of each.

The goal in this endeavor is to compare and quantify the environmental impact of formula manufacture versus breast feeding. This would include an end-to-end supply chain analysis of formula creation compared against the production of breast milk, including all externalities and associated accessories.

This research will then be vetted and verified, condensed into a digestible research paper, and presented for review. The impact of this research would be to influence policy decisions and increase awareness of issues surrounding breastfeeding as well as proffer more investments and positive policy.


Project Title: Accelerating Engagement 

NASCAR is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series, four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series.  NASCAR is based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices across North America, including Charlotte, Chicago, and NYC. NASCAR is celebrating its 75th season this year.

This practicum project will support NASCAR’s sustainability and social responsibility team in their efforts to educate key stakeholders and reduce scope 3 emissions across the business. The SI-MBA practicum team will research, ideate, and develop a strategy focused on reducing emissions in one identified scope 3 category, with the goal to execute the plan during the 2024 race season.


Host • Vermont Creamery

Project Title: Designing a Strategy to Carbon Neutral

Founded in 1984, Vermont Creamery (VC) is a nationally recognized and award-winning producer of cow and goat cheeses and butter. As a Certified B-Corp, they are devoted to promoting environmental sustainability and social responsibility. After steady growth for over three decades, VC was acquired by farmer-owned cooperative Land O’ Lakes in 2017. With the additional resources and support of Land O’ Lakes, they continue to diversify their product lines and grow market share. VC has over 100 employees and bases their operations in central Vermont.

VC is committed to achieving carbon neutrality within the next decade. In order to meet this goal, the SI-MBA practicum team will map out a Carbon Neutrality Plan. Actions involved in creating the plan include: identify metrics to measure VC’s greenhouse gas emissions, create systems to measure metrics that do not currently have a tracking mechanism (e.g. goat dairy emissions metrics that are adapted from cow dairy emissions), identify opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in product and process lifecycle, investigate offset options where applicable, and build a timeline with clear benchmarks. Students will also support VC’s preparation for their B-Corp 2024 recertification and investigate the viability of additional certifications (such as Climate Neutral). Successful project deliverables are a comprehensive carbon neutrality action plan with a defined timeline, cost, and resource analysis, analysis and recommendations for possible additional certifications, and input on B-Corp recertification processes as needed.