Are We Moving the Needle? Joel Makower’s Take on the Overall Green Business Picture

If the greening of mainstream business is alive and well, despite the bad economy, what is the overall big picture?  Joel Makower of opened the State of Green Business Forum with the question:  are we moving the needle?

If someone were to tell you that one of the major food manufacturers had redesigned its packaging to reduce overall waste by 20 percent, and if a major green IT center had opened at Disney World, and if a major utility had announced major cutback goals for greenhouse gases, wouldn’t you say that things are still looking up despite the recession of ’09?  And if that person were to tell you that all of those things happened in January 2010, not in all of 2009, as you might have assumed, you’d guess that things were pretty swell in terms of the world of green business. uses a summary ranking system to gauge the state of green business:  is a particular indicator improving, staying about the same, or getting worse?  In 20 indicators, including green office space, clean fleets, IT, carbon intensity, carbon transparency, clean tech investments, clean energy patents, corporate reporting, e-waste, energy efficiency, and more, GreenBiz, summarizes the current “State of Green Business.” It found that six of the indicators are “swimming,” eleven are “treading” and three are “sinking.”

The six indicators that showed improvement over the last year were clean energy patents, energy efficiency, green IT (which Makower, in particular, was very excited about, and which also represented several of the major sponsors of the State of Green Business Conference in San Francisco), green office space, paper use and recycling, and water intensity.  The ‘sinkers’ were e-waste, employee telecommuting, and carbon intensity. The bottom line, then, is that green business, despite some challenges from the down economy, is alive and kicking, and in the more tangible ROI areas, such as green building, waste reduction, and energy efficiency, actually thriving in the down economy.

The full report is available for download here.

Scott Cooney is reporting live from the State of Green Business Conference in beautiful San Francisco.  Keep your eye on Triple Pundit for more articles on the conference, and send any questions you have to Scott [at] and he’ll try to get them answered.

Scott Cooney, Principal of and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.