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2009 State of Green Business Forum: Progress, Caution, Hope

| Thursday February 5th, 2009 | 2 Comments

sogbfive.jpgThis Monday GreenBiz.com, led by one of the leading (and most entertaining) lights of green business, Joel Makower, held their first State of Green Business Forum. Built around the 2nd annual publication of their report of the same name, it served as a marker of progress, or in some cases lack of it, towards a more sustainable world, business and otherwise.
It was my first experience using Twitter as a reporting tool, sending out highlights of the day as I heard them, with those messages being “retweeted” (forwarded) by people on my network to people on theirs. Through the use of hash tags, people who wanted to follow the event were able to in a central place. Read our collective reporting here.


Greenbiz itself did a great job thoroughly reporting the day, including their panels Innovation as a Green Strategy, Is Water The New Carbon? , Energy Efficiency Rises Again, The Green Jobs Opportunity and the surprise panel of the day, President Obama and the Green Economy.
Hundreds of insights and new paths of exploration could have been gleaned from that day, but the point that was made repeatedly by various people is this: Doing business in an environmentally responsible way is no longer the easily shucked “extra” it’s been considered in the past. It’s becoming part of how business is, can, and will be done. If you’re not, you will lose, in the end. Even in, and perhaps especially because of the current state of the economy.
And at the same time, it’s not about legislating or “shoulding” businesses into doing it. Making the case for it being profitable, cost saving, while being beneficial to the planet and the positive view your customers have of you, is the way to go. As Peter Williams, CTO of IBM’s Big Green Innovations division said, “Follow the money.” They found that rather than holding tight to ways they learned to green their company, showing others how to do it, and getting paid again for knowledge that would otherwise have stopped at IBM walls, has proven to be tremendously profitable.
How can you likewise profit multiple times for your efforts?
Video of each of the panels, and Makower’s introduction to the State of Green Business report, and a link to the report itself can be found here.
I would definitely recommend attending next year. Both for the insightful panels and for the energetic networking (or as Makower joked, “not working.”) 500 people from across the business, government, and non-profit/NGO spectrum came to attend.
Readers: Were you there? What did you learn from the forum? What’s your view of green business in 2009 and beyond? Please share, below.
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. His overarching talent is “bottom lining” complex ideas, in a way that is understandable and accessible to a variety of audiences, internal and external to a company.


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  • http://www.terrainfirma.co.uk Gareth Kane

    My opinion on the state of green business can be summed up in two words: cognitive dissonance.
    Everybody seems to know that they should be doing something, and that it will help them in the current economic climate, but most people are too terrified to follow the logical route. They’d rather keep their heads down and hope for the best. Only an enlightened few are doing the right thing!

  • greenman

    My post to the comment above. You can start doing something. It is up to YOU. One place to start is to learn just what it means to be green. There are so many subjects and categories on Green that starting with a Green Forum such as http://www.greenforum.com may be the best choice. After that the sky is the limit on being green. :)