This week’s question comes to us from Pete, who writes
“Okay – I’ll admit it, I’m lazy. I work in a second floor basement, and we make a couple trips a day to the street level to bring in furniture and supplies. There is an elevator that we can use. There are also stairs. I used to be really good about taking the stairs every time. But now, about 9 months after I started here, I find I’m choosing to use the elevator every time. Both going up and coming back down. I know, I know… See, I know that’s the wrong choice. But I was wondering if there was some way to quantify exactly how wrong of a choice it is. So to convince me to get back to taking the stairs, I think I just need a numerical push, and you might be able to help.”
Well, since Pete already knows that he is making the wrong choice I won’t need to try and convince him of that. All I have to do is spit out some numbers that confirm his feelings, and that shouldn’t be too hard…
This is an editorial about communication. It’s tangential to business but could be considered applicable to many aspects of the environmental movement. On the last Friday of every month, in cities around the world, but especially in San Francisco, there is a huge bike ride called “critical mass” which sometimes attracts thousands. The main point, aside from having fun, is to raise awareness of the forlorn state of bicycle infrastructure, particularly in American cities. The rides are typically lively affairs which ignore traffic lights and cause automobile drivers to have to wait till the “mass” passes. Generally speaking, it’s a great, positive event with little turmoil that has done much over the years to improve cycling conditions and promote bikes as everyday transportation. Unfortunately, it also attracts a fair share of anarchists and troublemakers…
If corporations are threatened to be taxed or regulated by the government in ways that may reduce their profits, they use their riches to invest on K Street, (otherwise known as “Lobbyist Boulevard”) in Washington. Currently, there are over 34,000 lobbyists in the U.S. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the Citizens for Tax Justice, and Public Campaign, “forty-one companies (including GE, Microsoft, and Disney) ‘contributed’ $150 million to political parties and campaigns for U.S. Federal candidates between 1999 and 2001, and enjoyed $55billion in tax breaks in three tax years alone”. The Pharmaceutical industry employs the highest number of 3,000 lobbyists and has spent $759 million to influence 1,4000 congressional bills between 1998 and 2004.
Is it better to let your car warm up for a bit or tear off down the road right after ignition? Having lived in Maine I know that automatic car starters are a hot commodity when it is -30F outside. It is understandable that people don’t want to get in their car if their hands are going to freeze to the steering wheel but some people take it a bit too far. Some have been know to use the running car to get rid of the ice on the windshield. This is what the ice scraper was invented for, suck it up! Here in sunny California people may run their car for other reasons; to get the AC going or because they think it is better for the car (or the environment).
If you’re a small business owner in the SF Bay Area who is looking for help “going green”, the Inspiring Green Leadership group has an event on Tuesday April 3rd that can help you out, for free. Details follow: Be Coached by a Volunteer EnviroMentor who Wants You to be a Green Business If your business is an office, a retail operation, a hotel or a restaurant and it is located in San Francisco, you are eligible for the program. Come to the Engagement Event on April 3 and you’ll learn how the Saving Green by Going Green Accelerator will support you to become recognized as a green business by the City of San Francisco. We will explain in detail how the program works as well as pair you with a volunteer EnviroMentor. In a nutshell, if you choose to participate, you will be coached by a volunteer until July 1 to support you in greening your business. When you pass the city’s inspections, you’ll become a recognized green business. And best of all, it’s free! Click to continue reading »
With all the dizzying array of decisions couples must make in regards to planning their wedding, I’m heartened by the fact there are more sustainable choices and resources available. This is particularly on my radar right now because I’m getting married in June. I’m also finding that more and more couples are becoming conscious of how their choices affect the environment and strive to make their big day as sustainable as possible. The media is picking up on it, too, with a whole section of the NY Times recently devoted to green weddings. As someone about to get married, I can now hire organic caterers, work with a florist who primarily uses locally grown flowers, send our invitations on recycled paper — and work with a green wedding planner. One that I know personally is Presidio School of Management grad Corina Beczner who recently launched Vibrant Events, a green wedding and special event company in the San Francisco Bay Area. The idea formed while she was a student in the two-year Presidio MBA in Sustainable Management program, and in her final semester she created a venture plan in the Capstone course to bring her vision into reality.
Are you concerned about your contribution to the climate change crisis? Are you still unsure about carbon offset programs? Well, you are not alone. While I am a strong believer in the value and importance of offset providers such as DriveNeutral and Native Energy I also realize that there are some organizations out there, whose carbon offsets might not be as verifiable or that take too much profit for themselves. If I can’t convince you to offset your emissions with a legitimate offset provider I would certainly like to help you to neutralize your climate impact in another way.
Lesley Nagy of BayArea TV 20′s “Your Green Report” interviewed me and Arcadia Maximo about the Carnival of the Green last week! I thought it was pretty fun. Be sure to check out this week’s carnival on Arcadia’s Site The Goode Life. If you have a blog and are interested in hosting the carnival or submitting posts, pop over to treehugger and read how!
Natural Capitalism co-author Hunter Lovins lists Green to Gold as a must read. Not only did I read and enjoy it, but through Triple Pundit I was given the opportunity to interview Dan Esty, one of the passionate authors of Green to Gold – How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage (Yale Press, 2006). The book provides an easy-to-read analysis of the challenges and opportunities that businesses face when incorporating environmental strategy. It also offers practical steps businesses can take to become more competitive in this new business climate. Mr. Esty introduces his book this way: What sets this book apart in the marketplace is that it is written with a business perspective for business people in business language with business examples and all of that adds up to something different than what has been put out there before. Specifically, it is not an environmentalist telling businesses how to behave, but is a business perspective on bringing the environment into corporate strategy. The following is from my interview with Dan Esty on March 6, 2007:
(This is a new version of an article originally published on Mariri) In Central America, particularly Costa Rica, we are seeing a record-breaking increase in the amount of foreign conservation groups and green investors arriving ready to buy as much land as they can afford in order to “protect the rainforest” and calling on their friends, relatives and business partners to join in – often times at the expense of farming, ranching and indigenous communities that are seen as ‘destructive’ and contributing to the environmental problems of the region. Foreign-owned private protected areas, organic farms, native tree plantations, eco-communities, summer camps, retreat centers, and other eco-friendly land uses are replacing the clear-cut ranch and pesticide laden farms once owned by the local people. And although there is no denying that the local people are often times mismanaging precious resources and that most of these types of land buyers are hundreds of times better than large scale land development companies or mono-crop plantations that are also coming in by the thousands and openly destroying endangered ecosystems and local communities, eco-minded land buyers are also having an impact, and not always a positive one. And if the goal of ‘green’ investors and conservationists is to help solve problems such as environmental degradation, cultural extinction, and social injustice, then it is increasingly important for them to see the larger potential impacts of their interventions so they can help advance genuine solutions to these issues, instead of inadvertently contributing to them.
According to Supercomputing Online ” in 2005, total data center electricity consumption in the U.S., including servers, cooling and auxiliary equipment, was approximately 45 billion kWh, resulting in total utility bills amounting to $2.7 billion.” The average emissions per MWh in the US are 0.61 metric tons (mT), so US data center electricity use amounts to 27.45 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. With 200,000,000 internet users in the US (2005), that is 137 mT for each one of us. But this is a whole other topic…
Next week Hoff Stauffer will be answering questions about global climate change and what we, as a global community, can do about it. Please submit your burning questions to pablo.paster(at)gmail.com or in the AskPablo comment section. Hoff, who has done research and consulting on energy and environmental issues for many years and was the first Director of Economic Analysis at the US EPA, is focusing on Global Warming. Since the science is clear, he believes: “The debate in the United States on global climate change is shifting from whether to do something about the problem to what to do.” But he is concerned that inflexible conventional wisdom and misperceptions are inhibiting progress. “Given the irreconcilable problems with cap and trade, we need to transcend the conventional wisdom and shift the debate to a more viable strategy….[that] relies on performance standards for new sources of GHG emissions.” “The notion that ‘draconian measures’ would be required [to mitigate global warming] is an unfortunate misperception that has inhibited meaningful action.” See some of his recent articles in Foreign Policy in Focus: A New Standard, Climate Change: Is It Prudent to Wait?, and Climate Change Roundtable.
In The Sustainability Revolution, Edwards has given us a neat presentation of both the evolution and main principles of the sustainability movement up to the time of printing (2005). This is an important book because — without actually defining what sustainability is— Edwards gives us a pretty clear idea of what’s involved in “being sustainable”. At a time when “sustainability” is quickly becoming a buzz word, this book would be a very useful resource to a wide range of people, especially those looking for a starting point to learn how sustainability applies to business. Edwards covers all the critical standards and benchmarks, reflecting how broadly relevant the basic principles and themes are: from Natural Step to Natural Capitalism; the ICC Charter to The Earth Charter. Though at times Edwards’ writing is dry or dull, he is deftly able to organize dense information. For quick reference, look to the timeline and chart on page 124-126. +++ reviewer bio follows +++ Kate lives in San Francisco, and is currently earning her MBA at Presidio School of Management. Her motivation to engage sustainability in the arena of business started six years ago with books like “If Women Counted”, by Marilyn Waring and “Natural Capitalism”, by Paul Hawken, Amory & Hunter Lovins. She is particularly interested in working with the small business sector to promote sustainability and localism.
Natural Capitalism was published at a poignant moment in human history. As we edged toward the new millennium, it appeared that the unintended consequences of industrialization were finally getting the spot light: the U.S., along with several other countries, was on the verge of joining the Kyoto Protocol; electric and hybrid cars had hit the market and gained popularity, and Ray Anderson of Interface Carpet became the poster child of the business case for sustainability. There is no doubt that this monster of a book contributed significantly to the sustainability movement that was gaining huge momentum (and continues to do so today). At the time it was written, when others felt the need to be revolutionary, Natural Capitalism was evolutionary. Without leaving the capitalist system, it gives us a framework to re-organize our market-driven economy around valuing all forms of capital: natural, human, manufactured, and financial. Hawken and the Lovinses propose Natural capitalism as the means to have both a prosperous economy and thriving natural environment, while meeting all human needs.
San Diego: Apr 24 – Apr 27 Social Venture Network Spring Conference SVN conferences convene and connect influential, innovative business leaders, impact investors and cultural entrepreneurs to create an experience where attendees can share the ideas and resources they need to succeed and grow. Register here.
New York: May 13 – May 14 Shared Value Leadership Summit For business leaders and problem solvers who see exciting market opportunities at the intersection of business goals and societal challenges, the Shared Value Initiative is the leading community shaping research, partnerships, and practices. Register here.
Southern California: May 19 – May 21 Fortune Brainstorm Green As the premier conference on business, sustainability, and green investing, Brainstorm GREEN delivers fresh thinking, actionable solutions, and unparalleled opportunities to build top-level relationships. Register here.
London: May 20 – May 22 2014 Global Sustainability Standards Conference Listen to progressive companies and governments and leaders from Fairtrade, Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council, Rainforest Alliance, and other influential certifications discuss what brings the whole standards movement together: Trust. Register here.
San Diego: Jun 2 – Jun 5 Sustainable Brands 2014 Discover what happens when brand strategists & designers connect with sustainability teams to drive innovation. 20% discount with code NW3pSB14sd. Register here.
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