All Posts Tagged With: "green business"

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #14

WaterShed, University of Maryland 2011 Solar Decathlon entry

Week 14

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. ~ Albert Einstein

How can we avoid adding to the confusion that is our modern world? On one hand, we think we have to work within the system in order to change it. On the other, we see examples of people who have gone outside the system and started over. What if both are the answer? As long as we approach it with equal measures of acceptance and challenge, we have a chance to effect change.

More: Solar Decathlon is a good example of this. Boundless creativity within the bounds of a tightly-defined competition. http://www.solardecathlon.gov/

Read the Weekly Green from Week 13 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #13

photo by: Julie

Week 13

I am here to be seen. We see you. ~ traditional African greeting

What a tremendous act of trust to step up and be seen – really seen. And what a beautiful act of love to acknowledge someone so elegantly. I love the exchange between the individual and the group here, too. The vulnerability of being one, the gift and power of being part of a larger whole. What can you do to acknowledge others in this way?

More: Watch Wangaari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya and winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, telling a story to answer, “what can we do?”
Watch a 3-minute PBS video about her work.

Read the Weekly Green from Week 12 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

How low can you go?

Businesses that set ambitious goals to reduce their carbon footprint also increase their profitability. How is that possible?

It’s simple. Reduced carbon emissions result from using less energy, the production of which in the U.S. puts tons of CO2 and other so-called greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year. Greenhouse gases have been shown to accumulate in the atmosphere, causing climate change, also called global warming. By paying attention to more efficient use of energy, a business squeezes out waste while reducing its contribution to the release of CO2 gas. Whenever a company reduces waste, it saves money and enhances profits.

Here are two compelling examples provided by Hunter Lovins, of Natural Capitalism Solutions.

Dupont set a goal to reduce its carbon emissions 65% below its 1990 levels by 2010. They made this announcement in the name of increasing shareholder value. The company met their goal early, and are now over 80% below their 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Between 2000 and 2005, the waste-cutting saved them $3 billion. Andrew Winston, the author of “Green to Gold,” points out that between 2005 and 2007, Dupont’s annual savings from squeezing out waste was $2.2 billion a year. That was the same, those years, as their profitability. Here’s a company that’s profitable because it’s cutting emissions.

In another example, Swiss microchip maker ST Micro-electronics, set a goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 while increasing production 40-fold. At the time they made this announcement, they had no idea how to meet this goal. During the 1990s, its energy efficiency projects averaged a two-year payback (a nearly 71% after-tax rate of return). Making and delivering on this promise drove innovation and increased their market share. In 2004, the company moved from the number 12 micro-chip maker to number six. By the time ST meets its commitment of net-zero emissions, it estimates that it will have saved almost a billion dollars.

Sure, these examples from large corporations are impressive, but what about small business? A June 2006 article in Business Week by Byron Kennard, “Global Warming on Main Street,” is rather dire, noting that small businesses are especially vulnerable to climate disasters, including flooding and droughts. And yet, “There’s been virtually no research on what global warming means to small business, even though 23 million U.S. small businesses constitute one-half of the economy.”

It’s in the best interest of a small business owner, then, to lower its carbon emissions. Simple energy efficiency measures, such as installing programmable thermostats, upgrading lighting, turning off computers when not in use, and using water-saving faucets, can easily allow small businesses to save at least 30% on their energy bills.

Taking it up a notch, setting a really audacious goal of being carbon neutral by, say, 2015 is a great challenge that could inspire great innovation and engagement. A goal like that invites everyone in the company to contribute creative ideas. People who know they are helping a greater cause are naturally more involved and committed to success. Who knows? Maybe some businesses would even tie profit-sharing to reduced carbon emissions, to acknowledge the profitability of eliminating waste.

Even if you are skeptical about the causes or consequences of climate change, what’s not to like? Saving money from reduced waste and an engaged workforce innovating to solve problems goes directly to the bottom line.

If you need help mapping out a plan to save energy in your business, call on us! We have tips and training on how to reduce energy use around the office. Two articles to get you started:

Shift Your Mindset from Hell to Heaven Three steps to lowering carbon emissions.

Blueprint for a Green Business Start by benchmarking your carbon footprint and/or ecological footprint.

[Note: Information in paragraphs 5 and 6 of this article are from the paper, “The Business Case for Climate Protection,” by Hunter Lovins, available on the Natural Capitalism Solutions website. Paragraph 4 is from an interview of Hunter Lovins by David Riordan on Integral Life.]


Earth Overshoot Day came and went

From the Global Footprint Network website:

August 21st marks an unfortunate milestone: the day in which we exhaust our ecological budget for the year. Once we pass this day, humanity will have demanded all the ecological services – from filtering CO2 to producing the raw materials for food – that nature can provide this year. From that point until the end of the year, we meet our ecological demand by liquidating resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

In other words, from now till December 31st, we are living on credit. Sound familiar? Talk about a “debt crisis!”

Regular readers of this site know that we don’t often report the gloom-n-doom stuff, but this one is always an important wake-up call. In 2009, we noted the date on September 25th, a full month later than this year!

Yes, it’s depressing. But, remember — we are an amazingly creative species. If we can land people on the moon, we can figure this one out! One way to make a significant difference is to green our businesses. What can you do, today, to help push Earth Overshoot Day back next year? Let’s aim for October, shall we?

The Weekly Green: Juice for the Journey #9

photo by: Julie
Week 9

Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction. ~ Albert Einstein

Simplicity is a radical idea. Sometimes I think the complexity of human systems is just a smokescreen for a lack of clarity or confidence that we know what we’re doing. I often find myself longing for a world where nobody tolerates the confusion of our man-made complexity. When we use models, analogies, stories and metaphor, we can simplify and understand systems. This week: where can you move towards simplicity and away from complexity?

More: Explore the Santa Fe Institute, which researches complexity theory.

Corollary: Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler. ~ Albert Einstein

Read the Weekly Green from Week 8 here.

We always love to hear from you! How juicy is this quote for you?

Celebrate green at the office

photo by: Balance Weddings

Guest post by Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson, mother and daughter co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at their website, Celebrate Green.

As summer winds down, you might be thinking of an end-of-summer celebration with your office. Here are a few tips for eco-friendly company parties. (Many of these ideas are inexpensive too!) If you are looking for more in depth information, just contact Lynn and Corey at their website.

  • Avoid choosing paper anything unless it’s treefree or 100% recycled and printed with vegetable inks.
  • If you are giving gifts, make them earth-friendly. Potted plants make great centerpieces and can be given away.
  • Instead of centering the party around food and drink, come up with some fun activities that may include poking gentle fun at management.
  • Provide drinks in pitchers, punch bowls or glass bottles. Avoid disposable cups and plates.
  • If you’re having the party catered, seek out one who emphasizes sustainable, local and organic food.
  • Giving out awards? Choose from recycled glass awards, fair trade picture frames, organic chocolate bars etc. You can find these and others at Recycled Products and Green With Envy Gifts.
  • Have your party early enough in the day so that lights are not necessary. If you use decorative lighting, ensure that it is LED or solar.
  • Serve fair trade, organic coffee (shade grown if possible) and/or tea.
  • Plan carefully. Avoid overpurchasing food. If you have leftovers, compost, send home with guests or donate if you can. Unopened bags, boxes and cans can be taken to a local food bank.
  • Consider having your party or celebration benefit a local cause. Invite guests to bring books for local book drives, coats for a coat drive, school supplies or whatever else your local community needs.
  • Clean up with eco-friendly products and be sure to place recycling bins where guests will use them.

If you like these suggestions and want to read more about greening events, check out our guest series from eco-event planner extraordinaire Lori Hill.

As always, we love to hear from you! What creative ideas have you tried for your company celebrations?

5 Green Job Opportunities for Recent Grads

photo: Business Wire

Guest post by Louise Baker of Zen College Life.

With so much time and effort being dedicated to creating sustainable energy sources, reducing carbon emissions, and replenishing endangered species, there are a wealth of jobs now available for socially conscious, career-minded college graduates.

1. Carbon Portfolio Management

Reducing carbon emissions has become an increasingly important task throughout the world. Many nations are attempting to reduce their carbon footprint by creating carbon reduction programs, such as the research and development of low emission motor vehicles. Carbon Portfolio Management is important to not only help nations and corporations maintain an environmentally friendly industrial complex, but also to guide them economically throughout their green revolution. Graduates with a degree in Economics or Environmental Science may want to investigate this increasingly popular occupation.

2. Solar Installation Supervisor

One source of sustainable energy is solar power. Solar power requires the efforts of countless engineers and technicians to bring this sustainable form of energy to places that now rely on conventional forms of energy production, such as coal burning plants and nuclear power plants. In order for these technicians and engineers to perform their task quickly and efficiently, supervisors are required. This is a great position for anyone with a degree in Engineering, a willingness to learn new techniques and procedures, and a desire to travel.

3. Green Reporter

Every revolution needs a voice, and the green revolution is no different. Environmental reporters have rapidly become valuable commodities for most media corporations. The flow of green information is constant and overwhelming, so reporters are needed to help manage that flow. Every major newspaper outlet in the world now has their own green reporters on staff. Magazines, television news programs, internet websites, they all employ green reporters. This is the perfect job for someone with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication or a degree in Environmental Science.

4. Green Mentor

With so many corporations, government agencies, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable existence, there is a growing market for green mentors, men and women with advanced knowledge of green practices and procedures and a willingness to share that knowledge. Through seminars and demonstrations, these experts teach people how to maintain a green lifestyle. This position would be a great fit for someone with a degree in Education or Environmental Science.

5. Resource Preservationist

Because of overdevelopment and lax environmental laws, much of our natural resources have been lost and continue to disappear at an alarming rate. Resource Preservationists are dedicated to reducing the consumption of natural resources and creating a greater balance between human beings and their environment. These individuals usually work closely with energy providers and national parks to preserve our dwindling resources. Anyone with a degree in Environmental Science or Engineering would be a perfect candidate for this position. (Editor’s note: there is a growing industry in environmental restoration as well. These firms restore damaged ecosystems, such as wetlands, stream banks, and forests.)

Louise Baker is a freelance writer. She currently writes about online schools for Zen College Life. She most recently wrote about the best online colleges.