McKinsey has a unique ability to frame a conversation. During the last decade when a price on greenhouse gases seemed imminent, every Fortune 500, government or startup’s GHG strategic plan featured McKinsey’s GHG Cost Curve. While the argument for carbon abatement may have fallen out of favor, leading companies discovered that sustainability initiatives create value beyond GHG reductions and positive PR. By capturing these trends in their latest report, The Business of Sustainability, McKinsey has once again created a framework that facilitates value driven discussions about sustainability and the triple bottom line.
As the country struggles to find solutions to high unemployment and rising energy use, energy efficiency continues to emerge as an attractive antidote. Two recent papers explore the barriers and solutions to creating a rapidly expanding building efficiency market. Environmental Defense Fund published an excellent overview of the market players and the financing barriers and opportunities, while the Institute for Market Transformation produced the most comprehensive look yet at how communities are embracing energy ratings and disclosure policy to transform markets. Here’s a summary:
“I am the luckiest guy in the world.” This is one of my favorite sayings, and I believe it… most of the time. But every once in a while (ok just this week) I catch a glimpse online of a friend sipping Coronas on the beach in the Bahamas, or a photo of a buddy shaking hands with Prince William, or I see that a friend took a job that I know pays about 3 times what I make. And I get a little jealous. I’ll admit it.
In past generations, people tried to keep up with the “Joneses,” their neighbors with a nicer yard, cuter kids, or a better car. But now thanks to LinkedIn and Facebook we have to keep up with the Joneses and the Shahs, Lees, Carters, Smiths, Levys and our hundreds of other acquaintances online.
“Engaging Stakeholders” is a funny term. Presumably it means meeting with and soliciting input from others, but often times it seems it is more like engaging in combat. As a man who has recently started shopping for rings, I cannot help but think engaging stakeholders should look more like a step towards marriage.
Over the past few years while working for the US Department of Energy I had a front row seat to stakeholder engagement within the residential energy efficiency community. In just a few years I witnessed groups like the Apollo Alliance, Clinton Climate Initiative, Green for All, Clean Economy Network, BlueGreen Alliance and others bring together individuals resembling Romeo and Juliet including big business, labor, NGO’s, local governments, financial institutions and environmentalists. Then the patriarch of the country, President Obama came out in support of these nuptials with Recovery through Retrofit, support of PACE, and calling for Congress to fund Homestar.
“Billions of dollars in stimulus, there must be tons of jobs in DC. How do I get a job with the Obama Administration?”
As K Street becomes the new Wall Street, socially conscious business folks are flocking to DC to find jobs with the new administration. There are a lot of green jobs supporting the federal government’s green goals, you just need to know where to look. Here are some tips from inside Washington for those who would like to get in on the ground floor in President Obama’s administration.
1) There are actually three types of workers at a place like the Department of Energy. At the top are Political Appointees, most of which still have not been appointed and confirmed by the Obama administration. They set the agenda and the direction of the department based on the current administration’s goals and objectives. In the middle are career Federal Employees, or “Feds”, who stay from administration to administration. Many are career bureaucrats, with varying degrees of expertise and passion for the mission of the department. At the bottom are contractors, who actually do much of the day to day work. In fact, many contractors sit in the DOE, have DOE e-mail accounts, computers, and even blackberries.
2) Contractors are the fastest way to get involved. I heard that as much as 90% of the DOE workforce are contractors, though I do not know the actual number. Current Secretary Steven Chu was actually a contractor when running Lawrence Berkley National Labs. Contracting firms can hire you quickly and pay you a competitive salary. They are given tasks by the Feds to fulfill, for example helping to run a rebate program or analyze aspects of the stimulus package. If the task is complete, the contracting company can assign you to something else in the department. There are down sides to being a contractor, but if your goal is to get involved quickly this seems to be the best approach.
My home town of Detroit received great news today when A123 announced plans for a new manufacturing facility to produce energy storage devices in Michigan. This is an excellent example of the green jobs and energy independence that President-elect Barack Obama is pushing for in his economic stimulus package.
Al Gore told us The Inconvenient Truth about global warming. But many of us asked, “What can I do about it?” The documentary film FUEL, winner of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, provides more than doom and gloom; it provides sustainable business solutions. This film has the potential to do more to promote clean technology and renewable energy than all of the venture capital money in Silicon Valley combined.
What is beyond Green Building? I set out to AEC-ST EcoBuild America in Washington DC to find out. Although the U.S. Green Building Council and the LEED greenbuilding program seem to be getting the publicity, the federal government has been studying building science and developing best practices for decades. They have compiled these findings into the Whole Building Design Guide, a guide that is downloaded 1.7 million times a month! I had a chance to hear first hand from building scientists and leaders about the tools available right now to develop high performance buildings for your company or business.
What is Cleantech? This is the question Lightspeed Ventures Partners’ Andrew Chung set out to explain to government officials in a recent presentation. Every aspiring clean tech venture capitalist and green entrepreneur ought to take 10 minutes to review this clean technology presentation. By highlighting eight sectors of green and clean technology, Andrew creates a viable framework and provides in depth data to understand the rapidly evolving clean tech industry. These sectors are Solar, Wind, Fuels, Other Generation, Storage, Energy Efficiency, Water/Air, and other. Have a look at the presentation right here, be sure to click “full screen” to read it:
The Wharton Energy Conference has become one of the top energy events for MBA’s, bringing together energy industry leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, government officials, journalists, academics and students for a day of learning and networking. This year’s conference incorporated a number of innovative events that broke the monotony of traditional conferences, delivering beyond expectations.
Green Building Retrofitting: How do you promote green building when building, green or not, has ground to a halt? You take green to the existing building stock. Existing green builders and young green retrofit companies are emerging at a time when national, state and local governments are embracing programs to promote energy efficiency and green retrofitting.
GreenBuild in Boston – What Will Green Building Materials Manufacturers and Green Builders Have to Say?
Next week I am off to Boston for GreenBuild, the US Green Building Council’s premier event. Greenbuild International Conference and Expo was launched in 2002 as the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. This year attendees will learn about new green building products, innovative projects, the latest building research and more. The conference boasts over 100 eco friendly educational sessions, 800 exhibitors, international master speakers, practical green building workshops and green building tours in Boston November 19-21 for Greenbuild 2008.
Reviewing the speakers, it looks like the line up will focus heavily on innovation and environmental impact within green. But I expect many of the green building materials manufacturers and green builders to focus on the money. While the good news is that green is up, the bad news is that building is indisputably down. Without building, there is no green building. Manufacturers will be looking to increase sales with green building products, and building owners will ask if green building provides a better ROI. These are the questions I am eager to explore, and look forward to reporting back on Triple Pundit.
In his inauguration speech, President-Elect Obama said we need an economy that addresses the “new energy to harness and new jobs to be created.” But what are some of the opportunities to watch for? Check out his plan below, and then let’s discuss some of the areas that should see increased opportunity.
Residential green building has arrived. Once the niche of innovative companies like Living Homes and Michelle Kauffman Designs, green building has begun to be embraced by traditional residential builders. In the recent McGraw Hill Report: The Green Home Builder, Navigating for Success in a Down Market, they report that 6-10% of the market this year will be green vs. 2% in 2005.
What motivates traditional builders to go greener? A larger profit for builders and increased green building regulations from government encourages builders to follow the path to green building.