Monday, December 8, 2008

Recycling Polystyrene

With the holidays approaching, no doubt you're buying and receiving numerous products packaged in expanded polystyrene (EPS) - that solid white foam that protects fragile products and makes them so difficult to get out of the box. As you're looking for an alternative to tossing all that white foam into your trash can, take a visit to the Alliance of Foam Packaging for alternatives. Or if you have a huge box full of foam peanuts call the Peanut Hotline (800-828-2214) or check out According to the website, the 5 Pak Mail locations around Charleston will take the peanuts as well as Postnet in Mt. Pleasant. Although only place in South Carolina that recycles EPS is Foam Fabricators, Inc. in Anderson, SC, they do suggest that you mail it to one of the regional recyclers, including the one in Anderson, rather than driving many miles and burning fuel.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Interesting New Business

I just read a story, linked from, about a new gas station in Dover, NH that sell only biofuels (blended) and has a "congreenience" store. The store pledged that 75% of its products will come from within 100 miles. The store is also powered by solar panels. What will be interesting to see, besides whether the business will succeed, is whether the greater availability of biofuels will impact local residents' vehicle purchase decisions. Will they be more likely to by a E85 car or a diesel so they can run on biodiesel? I know that if I could get biodiesel conveniently, I would seriously consider trading in for a diesel. So who wants to open a station like this downtown?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Impacts of LEED Certified Buildings Measured

Wondering what kind of impact LEED certification actually has? Well, has compiled a report of the benefits from LEED certified buildings. From the story at
Green buildings have saved the U.S. billions of gallons of water and enough energy to avoid the equivalent of burning of 1.3 million tons of coal for electricity since the development of the LEED standards.

In the process, these high-performance buildings have produced millions of dollars in employee productivity gains, avoided thousands of tons of soil erosion, and created a multibillion dollar market for the green building materials used in their construction.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shareholders Demanding Businesses Reduce Impact on Climate

The November/December issue of Sierra notes that there were 57 climate-related shareholder resolutions filed in 2008. They further note that this is double the number filed 5 years ago. What is interestingly positive is that many of them were withdrawn because the company decided to make changes. This suggests two things. First, shareholders are starting to push corporations to be more responsible for their impact on the climate. Second, that companies are listening and acting rather than fighting.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tour Sustainability Award Winning Blackbaud Stadium

The Charleston Battery won the private sector category Sustainable Community Award from the Sustainability Institute earlier this month primarily for the greening efforts they have made on their stadium. Now the two are working together to show what the award was all about. Join them on December 4th for a tour of the Daniel Island stadium.

Green Jobs List (which is short for green professionals, rather than green professors as I initially thought) has created a green job listing. It's a nationally listing, but that shouldn't prevent people from listing and looking for jobs around here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Creative Destruction of the Auto Industry via the Bailout?

Yesterday one of my students, Sam Cook, and I were talking before my Sustainable Business Venturing class began about the $25 billion that the auto industry wants. We both agreed that the money would be better spent supporting entrepreneurs. Some have suggested that the $25 billion come from money set aside for loan program for fuel-efficient cars. But with $25 billion, the government could foster a wave of innovative start ups in the auto industry that should do a much better job of developing and marketing more environmentally-friendly/fuel-efficient cars.

I don't think I'm the only one that doubts the automakers' ability and willingness to truly develop fuel-efficient cars. To do so would mean drastic changes and cannibalizing their existing product lines, which companies generally avoid doing, even when it means they could improve their company overall. On the other hand, there are several start ups making tremendous progress towards better cars. The most common example being Tesla Motors (most recently seen on a new Sci Fi channel game/reality show Cha$e). Besides Tesla there are many others around the world developing great new technology and if large sums of money were made available, many of the foreign-based companies would likely move to the US. The only way for the Big 3 to catch up would be to buy those companies. But why should these aging giants that clearly forgot basic business knowledge of market scanning to see trends take over these rising stars.

If you've studied economics it's likely you've been introduced to the term creative destruction, which is the basic idea of old industries being replaced by new innovative ones. One example that I remember from class, ironically, is that the auto industry 'creatively destroyed' the buggy industry. Once autos became commonplace, those making anything to do with the traditional horse and buggy went out of business. There was no bailout for them. The wise companies saw the trends and changed. The unwise? Well, they went on to become examples for future business students.

So here is a radical proposal: Set the $25 billion for a government-backed new venture capital (VC) firm to specifically invest in clean tech automakers willing to develop primary operations in the US. With that kind of money, companies like Tesla Motors can buy and modify production plants from the Big 3 and foreign-based companies would move to the US and hire US workers. That would keep jobs here, indirectly give the Big 3 some money to possibly stay in business, but also give them tremendous market pressure to improve the environmental performance of their vehicles (since I doubt that they will change much if the government tells them to change).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cutting Food Waste at Hotels

Everyone knows that Charleston is a major tourist destination. The numerous hotels produce a lot of jobs and revenue for the area. What they also produce is a lot of food, much of which goes to waste. There is an article at that reviews four machines that cut food waste that is sent to the landfill through rapid decomposition. In my opinion, only the first one, eCorect, is worthwhile. That one coverts the waste into a powder that can be used as compost. The others flush the waste into the sewer system. That doesn't seem like a very wise option. It's not very green and while it may be cheaper than having waste hauled off to the landfill, it is only cheaper because water and sewage are underpriced. Of course the best waste reduction happens on the front end, as one commenter posted.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Today's Green Business Networking event

For today's event we're going to continue to brainstorm ways to make local businesses more green. I've taken the list we came up with last time and divided it into 5 categories, which can be seen below. These will serve as a starting point for generating more ideas tonight. So come out to the Tate Center from 4:30 - 6:30 and bring your creative thinking cap.

Turn off lights when not needed
Print on recycled paper
Print less
Mandate 2-sided printing
Use freecycle or craigslist to acquire and dispose of materials
Offer reusable items in kitchens
Educate employees about wasteful practices
Compost foodscraps
Use green cleaning/janitorial services

Institute a 4-day work week
Offer telecommuting
Facilitate carpooling and bicycle commuting
Have a mid-day recess

Select sustainable worksites (e.g. LEED certified)
Install green roofs, rain barrels, programmable thermostats, solar panels
Seal building envelope
Use existing structures
Create an organic garden on site

Internal Organization
Name a sustainability officer and develop a plan
Use lifecycle analysis in formulating environmental plan
Use or create environmentally friendly products

Partner with DHEC for SCEEP
E-marketing instead of paper
Partner/work with other sustainable businesses

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Travelers Insurance Helps Businesses Be Green

According to, the insurance company Travelers is offering benefits for green replacements and upgrades for small businesses that have a covered loss, including extra time to rebuild to green standards, especially if those standards were previously attained. And what's more is that it doesn't cost anything extra. "As of October anybody with a renewal or seeking new small business Master Pac coverage automatically gets it (the green enhancements package) without having to ask for it and at no additional charge." The article also notes that they offer a 10% discount in car insurance to hybrid owners and their homepage has an spotlight on discounts for hybrid boats.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Greening Your Office

Just ran across this useful site from Energy Star. Most of the tips are things you already know: use power strips, turn stuff off when not in use, etc. The most useful suggestion is starting a Green Team. It's missing a lot of other useful tips like: encouraging employees to carpool/bike/walk/take public transportation, ensure maintenance use eco-friendly cleaning products, etc. But that's probably because it's Energy Star and all they're concerned with is energy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Theme for Next Networking Event: Bring Your Creativity

I've been asked a few times what the theme will be for the next event. After a bit of thinking I decided that while it's great to have themes about particular industries and gets people thinking of new ideas, it would be really great if we could puts all of those great ideas together and create some value to share with everyone. As my emails note the primary intention of the events is to bring together a wide range of minds. That wide range of experience and knowledge can lead to a wonderfully wide range of ideas. So we will try something new: brainstorming.

Here's what I have in mind. While the regular interactive networking is going on, I will have poster boards or something for capturing ideas. We'll set a new topic each month to address and ask everyone to contribute some ideas. So for the first month we'll do something easy, "tips on how to make businesses more green." With two to three dozen diverse people we can easily come up with a list of 100 or more ideas.

This of course won't take away from the regular networking since the brainstorming will be mostly silent (like a silent auction). And since one of my areas of research expertise is creativity, especially in groups, I can take some time in a separate room to facilitate a more interactive brainstorming session if needed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Apple Improving

Since I've knocked Apple a bit in the past, it's only fair to report on positive moves they make. The latest Nano appears to be an improvement. The story over at says that they've eliminated PVC, mercury and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and are using arsenic-free glass. What it doesn't say is that you probably still can't replace batteries yourself or do any kind of low cost repair, essentially making them disposable products. At least they are more recyclable: "Jobs said the new Nano is also highly recyclable due to its aluminum and glass content."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Got a Great Green Idea?

There is a new contest being sponsored by the folks that run the X Prize. Submit a video to YouTube of your best/most creative/craziest green idea and maybe win $25,000.
Here are the basic rules:
1. Submit a 2 minute video to this group by October 31, 2008 explaining what you think should be the next Energy and Environment X PRIZE:
2. We'll post the three most viable ideas to on November 15.
3. The public will be given two weeks to vote for the winner on
The most creative, revolutionary idea and video will receive $25,000 and could become the next great X PRIZE!

Be sure that your video answers the following questions:

1. What is the Grand Challenge or world-wide problem that you are trying to solve?
2. What is the specific prize idea (goal, rules, judging criteria)?
3. How will this prize lead to benefits for humanity?
More information is available at YouTube.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Better Know a Lowcountry Green Business - Southeast BioDiesel

Southeast BioDiesel,, is a relatively new company to the area, launching in 2006 by Jim Thompson and Dean Schmelter. They are up in the Noisette area in North Charleston. You won't find their product widely available however, local retailers haven't bought into the idea...yet. There is one gas station in North Charleston, but I don't recall which one. Local shrimpers have been using their product and I understand that they really like how clean it burns compared to the noxious exhaust from petro-diesel.

Besides being a "clean tech" industry, what makes them green? Unlike many other biodiesel producers that use soybeans, SEBD uses rendered poultry fat - a waste product. On top of that their plant was built with plenty of environmental benefits - for example: a lot of reused/repurposed materials including the buidling itself and wise use/reuse of water and rain leading to having no sewege. In fact, the plant is really cool to check out. They seem to like giving tours (I've taken the tour twice), so get in touch with them if you want to see it. I should mention that I know so much about SEBD because Jim and Dean have been kind enough to speak to and work with my students on several occasions - they are true friends of the College.

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Feature - Real Charleston Green Businesses

Over the past year I've come to know many green businesses in the area, and new ones keep popping up on my radar daily. In the past I've mentioned them here and there in posts, but now in the tradition of Stephen Colbert's "Better Know a District/Lobbyist" I will begin a new feature in which I will devote a weekly post entirely to one company. I'll begin with the companies that I know best or are "hot" right now for one reason or another. If you have a company and you would like me to feature it just let me know about it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

We're Back

Summer conference season is over, classes are back in session and the Green Business Networking events are coming soon. This year the events will be held on Fridays, the second Friday of each month to be exact. They will run from 4:30 to 6:30. So once a month get your weekend started by networking with others interested in helping businesses being more environmentally friendly, starting new green businesses, finding employees/employment, and generating networking contacts here in Charleston and the Lowcountry.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Alternative "How to Get Here" Directions

Most businesses have a page on their website with basic directions on how to get to their location. This is obviously beneficial for any business that wants to ensure customers can find their business easily. Of course people can just use Google maps or Mapquest or the like to find the location, but often times they are not detailed enough. So the extra bit of local knowledge on the businesses' website can help ensure customers don't get lost, give up, get frustrated and/or go somewhere else.

Of course one problem with these maps is that they are geared towards driving. So what is a customer or an employee that wants to walk, bike or take the bus supposed to do? An article I read this morning talked about some map websites working to add these options. The difficulty is that it takes local knowledge to develop them - road maps don't usually detail sidewalks, bike trails, bus routes, etc. This means that it's going to take time to develop. With Charleston being a smaller city it will likely be low on the list of cities to be bike/bus mapped. So it would be worthwhile for local businesses to provide this information on their websites. Even if they don't know the best bike or walking routes themselves, there are plenty of resources to help figure it out. CARTA provides good details on their website for figuring out bus routes. Figuring out walking routes might involve taking a walk and/or being observant of the sidewalks, paths and trails nearby. And there are cycling clubs that would probably help with figuring out bike routes. And of course if there are customers or employees already walking, biking or taking the bus it is rather simple to just ask them how they get there.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Traditional Green Roofs in Norway

While visiting the Norsk Folkemuseum, where there are collections of traditional buildings dating back hundreds of years, we saw many instances of the traditional green roof. And of course we have pictures, like the house to the below. You can take a look at several of the roofs here. You'll see some close ups (as close as I could get) to see that they use birch bark as a lining material.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Green Ideas from Norway

So we're back now from a conference in Stockholm and visiting family and touring in Norway. I have to say I was a bit surprised at the lack of ease of recycling in both countries. I expected to see recycling bins everywhere, but just like here, there were more trash than recycling bins. Of course there were for more recycling bins than you find on the streets here in Charleston (has anyone found a single one?) One thing that I did find pretty cool was parking spaces in Bergen (behind a public administration building) specifically for plug-in vehicles. Upon close inspection it appears that plugging in is also free. While this might be more likely to be done as a public service, I wouldn't hold out hope for that here. However, local businesses could probably set up something like this pretty easily. Particularly useful for shops with their own parking - it would encourage longer browsing (and thus hopefully more purchases). And it would be even more cool if that electricity came for the store's own renewable energy. On the other hand, if and when plug-ins come to Charleston it might be possible to make a business out of this if it were possible to lease a parking space or two.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Conference season

In case any one is wondering why I haven't posted in a while, it's conference season. As soon as classes end, the academic conferences begin. This means research, preparation and travel. I just returned from one conference and I'm now heading off to Scandinavia for another. I look forward to seeing their advances in alternative energy, especially what Norway is doing. I'll try to make a report about it either from the road or when I get back.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Local Green Business

One of the most recent attendees of the Green Business Networking event has just launched a new business. Here is his announcement:

Hello Friends, I am writing to inform you of a few exciting announcements

This week, Jude Kitchens and I launched 'Green Man Lawn Care - Organic Turf & Plant Health Care'. We offer ecological landscape maintenance services to our Charleston community.

This service is 100% Organic! It is based on an all natural, non-toxic, chemical free, child and pet safe, good for people and the environment, sustainable, biological approach to land and plant stewardship called the 'Soil Food Web'.

Please consider visiting our new website at: to learn more about the Soil Food Web and the new exciting organic turf and plant health care services Green Man Lawn Care now offers.

These services include:
  • organic weed control
  • organic grub control
  • biological soil fertilization
  • liquid soil aeration
  • over seeding
  • top dressing
  • organic palm and live oak tree care
  • and, don't forget... Skeeter Beater organic and effective mosquito and gnat control!
A downloadable PDF highlighting our services is available at the website for printing and sharing with others.

Green Man has been invited and will be present at the Charleston Battery Soccer Green Game this Friday, May 9 to meet with you and discuss organic lawn care. Check out: for more details. Bring your friends and get there early to participate in the fun!

Remember to tune your radio to station WSC 94.3 FM at 8 AM on Sundays for 'Charleston Green' with John Tarkany, principle of Charleston's premier ecological landscape architecture firm DesignWorks, LLC. Hear the discussion about organic turf and plant health care using a biological approach with the Soil Food Web on Sunday, May 18, 8 AM.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please feel free to circulate this news widely and contact us anytime. Get Healthy; get green and go organic! ~ Kevin

Kevin John Richardson
Local Solutions
Sustainable Systems & Community Development
(240) 286-7624

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Go Green Night This Friday!

If you're looking for something to do and to meet like-minded people (business and otherwise) and you enjoy outdoors and/or soccer, then check out this month's Green Drinks event.

Green Drinks is proud to be a supporter of Go Green Night at Blackbaud Stadium! Please join us along with dozens of lowcountry green businesses at 6PM in the beer garden. We still have a limited quantity of $5 tickets for our patrons, so please shoot us an email if you are interested! The match is versus Miami FC and we expect very strong attendance. Here are directions to the stadium...

Will We See These Around Charleston Soon?

Cool 8-seat solar powered bike/car. This Flinstone-like car would be perfect for tours around town.

More on Apple

I previously posted about Apple being listed as a non-environmentally friendly company, in part for being one of the only computer companies to still use toxic materials. CNET now reports on a study by Climate Counts that puts Apple dead last in a list of electronics companies in terms of carbon footprints. They gave Apple a score of 11 out of 100 (which interestingly enough is up 9 from last year). It's amazing that a company that is so forward looking with designs is so backward in regards to the environment.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Greening Your Office

If you need to go out and get some new supplies for the office, look for the TerraCycle products coming to OfficeMax. According to, the office supply store will begin stocking some of TerraCycle's products, such as the pencil holders made from Capri Sun pouches. The neat thing about TerraCycle is that they are repurposing (reusing) products rather than recycling them in the more common sense of melting them down and turning them into something else, which uses plenty of energy. Of course looking at their products makes it easy for the crafty to make some of the stuff themselves, but I don't think the company would be too upset about that.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Supply Chain Footprint

Patagonia has a new, refreshingly honest feature on their site. It details the supply chain for several of their products. It maps the progression of the products from raw material to finished good. What makes me say "refreshingly honest" is that it's not just a highlight of what they do well. The do point out for example that the Synchilla vest, though it's made from recycled materials, travels a great distance throughout North America and much of that by truck. They even offer a total amount of carbon emitted to get the product from origin to distribution. Seeing how much traveling a product does should emphasize to everyone to buy locally produced products*, especially if reducing your own carbon footprint is a major emphasis.

* Note that I try to purchase as locally as possible for the Green Business Networking events. I'll take recommendations for good regional wine, since what I've been getting comes from California (even though it's essentially the store brand from Earth Fare.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More on Greening Supply Chain

We're back from another trip to Chicago where we saw a few Prius taxis, which is an idea that just simply makes financial sense given how much taxis stop and go. What also seems to be making sense for large companies like Clorox is introducing green products, like Green Works. I don't know how truly green it is given that it's a product made by Clorox, but people are buying it. In reading an article this morning about Clorox and their supply chain issues, this quote shows a good reason for the increase in green products: "From internal surveys, the company knows its customers will pay 10 to 15 percent more for greener products." Clearly it makes financial sense to sell a product that is more green. However, the article makes a point that getting the supplies to make the green products is a challenge. Clorox bought Burt's Bees not too long ago, and it has been having problems scaling up the business, which traditionally used many small suppliers. What this tells me is that there is plenty of opportunity for start ups to produce the raw and component materials for this boom in green products. Large consumer product companies like Clorox, GE, etc. need to get materials in large quantities in order to get their products to market. This means that either companies producing the raw materials now need to scale up (hopefully in a sustainable manner) or other start ups can enter the market and help fulfill the large companies' demand.

Friday, April 18, 2008

526 Extension Alternative

We were at the Charleston Green Drinks event last week where we saw a presentation by the Coastal Conservation League on an alternative to the 526 extension. I thought what they presented was a great example of the need to provide an alternative to the undesirable action. They clearly understood that 526 was intended to solve a problem, but that it was an inefficient solution - not just undesirable environmentally. If we're going to convince businesses and governments not to do thing that destroy the environment we have to have better alternatives for them to consider.

Do check out the website and see the designs they have. They are very aesthetically pleasing. But more importantly and more relevant to this blog, is that I think the redesign, particularly the one for Savannah Highway, would be good for business. The redesign would create back roads off of Savannah Highway to allow local residents to get to and from local businesses without ever having to enter Savannah Highway. That should improve traffic flow to these business and thus would hopefully improve patronage of them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sustainable Business Venturing Class

This may be a little late, but if you're a student at the College of Charleston (or know one) and you're still looking for classes for fall, consider the new class I'm teaching. Here is a course description and list of learning objectives:

MGMT 360-002: Sustainable Business (Venturing)

Fall-12358 – Hansen, T/H 1:40

Course Description

This course approaches environmental problems as entrepreneurial opportunities and sees entrepreneurs as influential in creating social and economic change. This course will help students recognize opportunities to create new businesses that move us towards a more sustainable economy. Industry sectors with strong representation the Lowcountry with a high need and/or possibility for improvement in environmental sustainability will be a particular focus. Students will learn about these sectors through speakers, case studies and industry research. Students will also learn about the business case for sustainability and about creating value for all of an organization’s stakeholders. Students will work in teams to develop a well-defined sustainable new business concept.

Outcomes & learning objectives:

  • Understanding of the importance of sustainability/ impact of business on the environment
  • Understanding of consideration of value creation for all stakeholders
  • Knowledge of locally-represented sectors of sustainable business
  • Ability to recognize sustainable business opportunities
  • Development of a well-defined sustainable new business concept
  • Four written reports, with accompanying presentations: sector report, market research, existing sustainable business, team final business concepts (will include updates of first two)
  • Graduate students will conduct a review of the sustainable entrepreneurship literature

Monday, April 14, 2008

Investment in Green Tech

I've been reading a few articles lately about the increasing volumes of venture capital money flowing into green tech ventures. John Doerr has been the central character in just about everyone one of them. This morning I read about a speech he gave this weekend at MIT. One quote I found interesting is "There's too much money chasing too few good ventures, despite the size of this problem." In that speech and other articles, like this one in Fast Company, Doerr describes the green tech sector as bigger than the Internet. The problem is that while the problems being addressed by green tech are considerably large and have enormous market potential, they will take considerably longer to materialize compared to Internet companies. Hopefully investors will have the stomachs to hold on long enough to see the returns and we won't experience a collapse similar to the dot-com bubble.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Upcoming Events

Just a reminder that the next event will be this coming Monday. Same time, same place (4:30-7:00 at the Tate Center). The focus will be on green building, but you are all free to discuss whatever you want of course.

Also this Sunday will be the Eat, Drink and Be Green event. It will take place from 4:00 to 8:00 at Patriot's Point. Proceeds benefit green initiatives at the College of Charleston. While there are plenty of green events going on this month, this one's unique in the fact that it's been organized as a class project. I hope you all will come out and give a little support to the College (and of course stop by Margaret's Ecolibrio jewelry booth).

My apologies to Jason and Green Drinks for not promoting the event this week. It was an interesting one with a presentation by CCL regarding the 526 extension. I'll have more to say about it in a future blog (once I'm caught up with grading), particularly what I think it means for local businesses.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Plastic Bottle Recycling

A student provided a link with information about plastic recycling today and I found it quite interesting so I thought I'd share. You can see plastic bottle recycling rates. Rates have been going down. However they're going down only in percent of sales. That is, the actual amount of plastic bottle recycling is going up, but the sales of plastic bottles is going up even faster, as this image shows. What I find surprising is that rates were at about 1/3 just a decade ago (but are now down below 1/4). A comparison with Sweden's rates is also interesting. Clearly something happened in Sweden in 1995. Something happened here too. Per capita waste started shooting up in 1995 - about the time bottled water started catching on. There is plenty more information about other container recycling, have fun with it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Party for a Purpose

Update: The event is postponed until Wednesday, April 16th. Same time and place, though there will be a backup plan to hold it in the Stern Center ballroom in case it's raining again.

If you're around the College of Charleston campus tomorrow (Thursday) check out an event going on: Party for a Purpose. It will run from 12 - 5 in the Stern Center garden. There will be entertainment and vendors (including my wife's EcoLibrio jewelry) and perhaps a few speeches, including one potentially from yours truly. The event is being organized by Green Team Entertainment, which is run by Adam Chase, a Green Business Networking regular.

Here are the details:
On Thursday, April 3, 2008, from 12pm to 5pm Green Team Entertainment will host Party for a Purpose at the College of Charleston. With the help of students and staff we have determined some of the key issues faced by the school and will be using this first event to raise awareness about those issues while offering practical solutions. Local artists and musicians will be joining the cause providing entertainment and interactive art projects to engage students and attendees. Go Green coffee shop, Kronic Coffee, of James Island, will be providing food and drink which will be served on biodegradable plastic-ware, which will be composted by our Green Team Entertainment clean up crew. For more information or to get involved, you can email us:

Monday, March 31, 2008

Greening Your Office

There's a good article today over on about creating The Zero Waste Office. Waste has been one of my primary concerns going way back to grade school in the 70's where I was taught to "waste not, want not" and "reduce, reuse, recycle". The latter of which is hierarchical. That is, try to reduce first, if that's not possible, reuse, then recycle. It seems too often people jump right into recycling without trying the others first. Being one that pretty much abhors waste, I'd like to see people begin bragging about how much they've reduced and reused before they talk about their recycling efforts. Which gets me back to the article. It's one of the few I've read recently that actually brings up the old reduce, reuse, recycle concept. The thing is, it makes perfect business sense. Reducing and reusing saves money, recycling usually doesn't, and in fact may even cost money. Any organization, whether it's a for-profit business, a non-profit charity or even a family, can benefit from saving money by reducing and reusing.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Greener Wine: Shipping by Sail

As a recurring theme here, one way businesses need to work to make their products more green is to improve the shipping process. Here's a story about French wine makers going back to the way they used to ship wine - by sail. I've said this on numerous occasions in discussions - we used to do things without the use of oil or major machinery and it would be wise of us to go back a reexamine those old ways. Shipping wine by sail, a product that does not need to rush to market, is a great example. Of course if the journey takes too long there might be a few cases missing by the time the boat reaches its destination.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Green Builder Directory

For those that haven't already seen the press release or heard about the directory that was discussed by Niall Cytryn at the most recent Green Business Networking event I'm posting it below. On a similar note, due to the popularity of green building we will focus the next event on the topic. More to come soon.

The Sustainability Institute Introduces Green Building Directory

A one of a kind innovation for South Carolina, a new service that illustrates the growing green building industry throughout the state, is here. On March 7, the non-profit, North Charleston-based Sustainability Institute began accepting entries for the South Carolina Green Building Directory. This is the first online resource of its type in the state allowing instant access to information on sustainable products and services. The directory will be fully operational in April, and is available free of charge to businesses and non-profit organizations who register with the site.

Three South Carolina state government agencies – the Department of Health and Environmental Control, Department of Commerce, and Department of Energy – are supporting the Sustainability Institute project through grant funding. The Institute has designed the online service to help create markets for green building materials and services within the state. The web site has space for hundreds of companies to exhibit information on their products and services, creating a virtual free market for the regional building industry.

“The Sustainability Institute and its state agency partners are proud to offer the Green Building Directory as a cutting-edge tool to the building industry,” says Bryan Cordell, Executive Director of The Sustainability Institute. “We believe that it will become a valuable tool to building industry professionals across South Carolina and the southeast region. The Directory will connect customers with companies offering sustainable products and services in a unique way that stimulates green commerce.”

“We owe a great deal to our Project Manager, Niall Cytryn, and our Web Developer Laura Addis, who have contributed to making the Directory a reality,” adds Cordell. Sustainability Institute staff and consultants maintain the site.

The Institute is emailing electronic postcards to prospective participants. A news release will be sent to the media during the week of March 17 targeting homebuilders associations, chapters of the US Green Building Council and the American Institute of Architects, professional industry associations, and individual businesses.

Cordell believes the Directory is a boon to companies seeking to showcase their products and services to prospective clients and contractors. Information on companies can be viewed for free, with links and summaries on each company and non-profit listed on the site. According to Niall Cytryn, The Institute’s Project Manager for the SCGBD, “For building professionals, the Directory will offer the highly-sought after ability to search for products by type, applicability to LEED credit, CSI Division, and proximity to site location.”

Cordell concludes, “We envision that the use of this directory will result in much greater utilization of sustainable products and services throughout South Carolina and the southeast.”

For more information on the South Carolina Green Building Directory (SCGBD), contact the Sustainability Institute by phone at 843-529-3416, email:, or online at

Friday, March 28, 2008

Government Money to Help Small Businesses Develop Green Technology

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is something that is always included in lectures about alternative ways for start ups to get money besides the more traditional funding from FFF (family, friends and fools), angels and venture capitalists. However for my students it's often just an interesting note since it is focused on high tech, like nano- and biotechnology, which undergraduate business students are not likely to be involved with. But now, as GreenBiz News reports, SBIR seems to be working with the EPA to offer a set of grants specifically focused on green technology, which includes "pollution prevention, biodiesel and ethanol, solid and hazardous waste, air pollution control and homeland security" in addition to nanotech. Grants are $70,000 and will be given to 25 companies. Proof of concepts are due by May 21.

However, GreenBiz doesn't provide a link to the news source and I can't find the solicitation on the SBIR website. I'll keep looking into it, but if anyone knows more about the program please leave a comment or contact me.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Skysail Results

Last month in one of my blogs about ports I mentioned a project to add sails to a shipping freighter. Well, the first trip has been completed and the results are in. On a trip from Germany to Venezuela the ship cut fuel by 20%. That's, according to CNET, 2.5 tons of fuel, or in economic terms, $1000 per day. There's been plenty of talk that being more green makes business sense. When you get numbers like this, it's hard to refute that notion.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Predicting the Future for Business

In one of the many various electronic newsletter that I receive ( - focused on innovation) there was a link to a recent NPR piece on predicting the future for business. The main gist of story was about companies' attempts to come up with the next iPod or similar "next big thing." Although not discussed in the NPR piece, the e-mail led into the story with
"While every company is looking for “the next big thing,” few successfully find it. How can you avoid failure when looking toward the future? Keep it simple, and solve people’s most fundamental problems."
This is something I teach my entrepreneurship students - focus on solving problems. This works for the case of green business very well - work on solving environmental problems, but from a consumer perspective. That is, look at consumer problems that are also environmental. A good example is in energy. It costs quite a lot for people fill up their cars or heat/cool their homes. Many of the solutions we can think of also have environmental benefits, primarily that being getting us away from or reducing the use of fossil fuels: solar power, led lighting, bio-diesel, etc.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Next Green Business Networking Event

Join us for the next Green Business Networking event Monday, March 24th. It will run from 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm on the second floor of the Tate Center (enter through the Beatty Center, 5 Liberty Street). This event will feature a slightly different format. In one room we will have the Executive Directors of: The Navy Yard at Noisette, The Sustainability Institute and The Michaux Conservancy in attendance. Each will speak for 10-15 minutes about their organizations, which we'll follow with an interactive discussion on the implications for green business in the Lowcountry. In the main gallery we will have our usual informal networking along with the food and beverages.

Our hope is to bring together a variety of knowledge, skills, motivation, and expertise to share ideas about helping businesses be more environmentally-friendly, starting new sustainable businesses, finding employees/employment and generating general networking contacts here in Charleston and the Lowcountry. So come out and meet like-minded representatives from local businesses and organizations plus CofC students, alumni, staff and faculty. If you know anyone that might be interested, please feel free bring them with you.

Volunteers: we’re looking for volunteers to help set up and tear down at these monthly events - only about 10-15 minutes worth of work. If you’re interested, please contact me at hansend [at]

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Green Event Looking for Business and Organizations to Participate

You may have heard about this already. Andrea Canberg, one of my colleagues over in the Hospitality and Tourism Management department, has been working with students to put on a green event. Andrea and her students are looking for businesses and organizations to set up to vend and/or distribute information at the event.
Here's a copy of the flyer:

The College of Charleston &

Other Brother Entertainment Present

Eat, Drink, & Be Green!

All proceeds will go toward Green Initiatives at the College.

Together We Can Make a Difference!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina at Patriots Point

Hank Futch & Greg Walker of the Blue Dogs will be playing!

4:00pm to 8:00pm

Tickets are $10 in advance, and $12 at the door.

Children 12 and under are free!

Tickets will be available on March 21stth at:

Half-Moon Outfitters and the College of Charleston Bookstore.

For more information contact:

Andrea at canberga [at] or visit

Planned by Event Management HTM 362 Class!

Proceeds will be used to improve the recycling program, implement energy efficient practices, create environmental awareness programs, and to make our campus a more environmentally sustainable campus!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Green Collar Jobs

"Green collar jobs" has been a frequent buzzword lately. I was even interviewed about it a couple months ago (the day of the first green business networking event). In the interview I defined green collar as any job at a company that itself could be considered green. So both traditional blue and white collar can be called green if the job is with the right company. A reason for the increase in the buzz about green collar is that it's a way to put a more positive spin on support of environmental improvements, in particular led by the government. People might resist the government spending money to improve our environment directly or imposing restrictions on existing businesses, but they tend to be in favor of helping to create new jobs. The green collar movement (if you want to call it that) is a combination of both. By investing in businesses and industries that can be considered green, the large number of nascent firms, start ups and small businesses can grow. And that means hiring more workers. For example, expanding the renewable energy industry would lead to plenty of job growth as plants and wind turbines and such need to be built, workers will be needed to maintain them, managers will be needed to manage the firms and resources, etc.

Today I ran across a comprehensive study (pdf) on green jobs. They look at three industries: energy efficiency, wind power and biofuels. I wont pretend to have read through all 50 pages, but in skimming it one thing I got was that the greatest opportunity is in energy efficiency. That is, there is a lot more potential to create new jobs in improving home energy use. What I like about it is that it's also much more open to entrepreneurial activity. In my entrepreneurship classes my students frequently work on ideas related to starting businesses geared towards improving home resource efficiency. In fact I've encouraged my current students to come out to the next event to talk to all of you about their concepts, so please be encouraged to share your thoughts with them.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Green Contracting Guide

Yes, I've been negligent this week in posting on the blog. So as a quick attempt at reconciliation I'd like to offer this guide on Green Performance Contracting (pdf). From the Greener Buildings website:
This guide from the Leonardo Academy addresses how all interested parties can bring sustainability into performance contracting. It looks at how building owners can bring green issues into contracts for upgrades and also how contracting services can include sustainable measures in their offerings.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Green Business Connections

Looking for investment or an investment opportunity? Looking for some other green business connection? I just ran across this page this morning. Build Business Relationships, Find Vendors, Distributors, Partners, Sell Excess Inventory!

Here are a couple examples:
We are looking for development partners for our business promoting and facilitating travel, trade and sustainable investment in Africa.
Futura Solar seeks licensing partners, manufacturers, installers, green developers.
Ecuador organic shrimp farm seeks development partners and distributors.
Upscale vegan women's shoe line hand-made in Italy seeks strategic partner knowledgeable about the shoe industry.

One thing I notice is lots of bio-diesel businesses. The other notable is that these businesses are all over the world.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Upcoming events

There's not much upcoming that I'm aware of in the immediate future (of course my awareness may be the problem). I imagine that a lot of organizations are just saving up for Earth Day/Month, so expect plenty of event announcements soon. In the meantime, Wednesday, March 12th, will be the next installment of Green Drinks Charleston. It's held at the Trusted Palate at 563 King Street beginning at 7 pm. Of course the next Green Business Networking event will be Monday March 24th, from 4:30 - 6:30.

St. Patrick's Day is this Saturday. [You may have heard that Irish bishops set it for March 15th this year (instead of the 17th) due to conflict with Holy Week.] Besides being noted for drinking and parades, it's also highly associated with the color green. I'm not aware of any past attempts to link it with the environmental shade, but that might be a good idea. So here's a suggestion, if you're already planning on wearing something green that day, why not make it environmentally "green"?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Green Product Design Conference

This might be of interest to a few people. In June is hosting a large product development conference focused on green design. It's two days (Th/F 6-12/13, 2008) of speakers, workshops and interactive sessions just up the road in Alexandria, VA. It's a bit pricey ($1799 before April 1), but you can get 15% off by using a code "greenbuzz".

Two particularly interesting sessions are:
  • Panel discussion on: "The New Tools: Biomimicry, Cradle-to-Cradle, Green Chemistry" featuring Jason Pearson, Executive Director, GreenBlue; Biomimicry Guild; Dr. Cenan Ozmeral, GVP Functional Polymers, RBU, BASF
  • Invited Panel from IDEO, Ziba, Frog and Tricycle
ps. I could have sworn that it was run or co-sponsored by the Product Development & Management Association (PDMA), but there is no mention of it on the conference website or the PDMA's website. And the "Green Gurus @ Play" is just like the PDMA's Gurus @ Play. But it should be a good event none-the-less.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Local Living

I'm back in Charleston now, and it's time to get back to local stories. I ran across an interesting organization this morning, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, which has a chapter here in Charleston, Lowcountry Local First. It should be of interest to most of you that read this blog, whether you're a business and would consider joining or you're just looking to support local businesses. Here is the LLF description:
Lowcountry Local First advocates the benefits of a local living economy by strengthening community support for independent locally owned businesses and farmers.
We are an alliance that educates the public on the importance of supporting the local economy, and encourages businesses and consumers to be environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. We are one of 52 chapters of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)
We envision a sustainable global economy as a network of Local Living Economies, building long-term economic empowerment and prosperity in communities through local business ownership, economic justice, cultural diversity and a healthy natural environment. Independent businesses create wealth by engaging local people in the production, marketing, and consumption of goods, they pay taxes, and reinvest in our communities.
We educate the public to:
• Reduce material and energy costs
• Recycle and reuse waste
• Buy and sell locally.
• Support local agriculture
The list of member companies is a good resource (found under membership page). While you probably already know local businesses from national chains, it's good to know which businesses are getting involved in things like this. Buying local is of course one of the simplest changes we can make towards being more environmentally-friendly from the simple fact that transportation is reduced. Which means less fuel burned and all the benefits that accompany that. And that goes for not just consumers, but businesses as well - remember that your supply chain can have a huge environmental impact.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

News From the Road

I'm in Chicago for a few days and rather than keep you waiting until I get back for a new post, I'm going to be lazy (and get back to the assorted celebrations I'm here for: wedding, birthday and engagement). A sort of follow up to the french fry story: read here about a new service to help companies analyze the carbon footprint of their entire supply chain.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Your French Fries and iPods Are Contributing to Environmental Degradation

A new list of bad companies is out. Condé Nast Portfolio has compiled a list of companies it feels "could be doing better, given their resources and position in their industries." While the list includes your standard evil oil and power companies, it includes some surprises. Simplot, maker of french fries for McDonald's and others is listed for their misuse and poor storage of chemical fertilizers. While this may not be a surprise to some, others may find themselves in a dilemma if they've been justifying eating McDonald's fries because the used cooking oil can be used to power their vehicle. The bigger surprise may be the inclusion of Apple. While Jobs & co may be consistently ahead of the curve in design, they are behind the curve in eliminating harmful toxins and developing recycling programs. While not mentioned in the article, Apple has been accused of being bad for the environment due to their insistence on designing products that only they can fix, for which they charge an arm and a leg. That tends to make iPods and iPhones disposable products, and the fact that they contain toxins only makes matters worse.

So what's the morale of the story for green businesses? First the Simplot example reminds businesses that they need the full partnership of all supply chain members in order to truly be green. One supplier, logistics firm, reseller or wholesaler can "offset" many of the positive environmental impacts a company makes. Second, design of a product should include a reduction of environmental impact throughout all stages of the product's life cycle. One source of ideas on this topic is McDonough and Braungart's book "Cradle to Cradle" (which I haven't had a chance to read yet). It follows a basic idea that at the end of a product's life, what remains should provide the raw ingredients for creating something else, similar to the way the death of one animal or plant can be the food that gives life to another. (This of course is not a unique idea. Others have written about Bio-Mimicry or sustainable design, but the Cradle to Cradle book has received a lot of rave reviews.)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Charleston Battery (Soccer) Going Green

I think this is pretty cool. The Battery have installed solar panels at one end of their stadium. Not only will they power some of the electronic functions (like the scoreboard) but they are also quite visible to all fans "to get the word out to a wider audience about global warming", both in attendance and on TV (for the few games they're on Fox Soccer Channel.) I can't wait to get out to a game and check it out. I just hope they've set up some kind of net to prevent widely errant clearance passes from knocking out the panels.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Survey Asks How “Green” is the American Workplace?

I received this in a email from a colleague.

Companies say it’s not easy being green, but the benefits are great

Alexandria, Va., January 16, 2008 – “Going green” is a hot topic, but has the workplace caught on yet? According to the 2008 SHRM Green Workplace Survey released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 50 percent of surveyed organizations have a formal or informal environmental responsibility policy, but 43 percent have no such policy and no plans to implement one within the next 12 months.

“The findings revealed a surprising paradox,” said Susan R. Meisinger, president and CEO of SHRM. “The study shows that companies really do benefit from environmentally-friendly practices, and yet a large portion of firms have no plans to ‘go green’,” she added.

Companies that implement environmental responsibility programs report considerable benefits. Human resource (HR) professionals cite improved employee morale (44 percent) and a stronger public image for the company (42 percent) as top benefits. They also report increased consumer/customer confidence/choice (20 percent) and a positive financial bottom line (19 percent) as a result of the organization’s environmental responsible program. Survey respondents also cite increased employee loyalty (16 percent).

These findings indicate that “green” initiatives can be a selling point to attract potential employees, particularly among younger workers. “These employees check the background of organizations and talk with employees to find out for themselves if the ‘green’ CSR messaging delivers on its promise,” said Gerlinde Herrmann, SHRP, president of the Herrmann Group and a member of SHRM’s Corporate Social Responsibility Expertise Panel.

Despite the benefits, HR professionals admit that it’s not easy for their companies to become and remain environmentally friendly. The most common barrier to creating an environmental program is implementation cost (85 percent) followed by maintenance cost (74 percent). Other barriers include lack of management support (43 percent), lack of employee support (25 percent), and concern for workplace inefficiency (20 percent).

Still, nearly three out of four employees from companies without environmental programs say they want their employers to “go green.” Seventy-three (73) percent of surveyed employees in companies without an environmental responsibility policy thought it was very or somewhat important that their organization develop an environmental responsibility policy.

“It is possible for every organization to provide some level of environmentally responsible practices,” said Victoria Johnson, M.S., PHR, the human resources director of Fellowship House and a member of SHRM’s Corporate Social Responsibility Expertise Panel.

Other notable findings in the SHRM Green Workplace Survey are below.

• While C-suite support for company initiatives is key, relatively few at the CEO/President (15 percent) level are responsible for creating the environmentally responsible program and fewer (four percent) are responsible for program implementation. The majority of such programs are created by a senior management team (32 percent) and roughly the same number (31 percent) are also responsible for implementation.

• HR professionals rank the top five environmentally-responsible practices to be: 1) encouraging employees to work more environmentally friendly (83 percent); 2) offering a recycling program for office products (83 percent); 3) donating and discounting used office furniture and supplies to employees or local charity (73 percent); 4) using energy efficient lighting systems and equipment such as ENERGY STAR® equipment and occupancy sensors (66 percent); and 5) installing automatic shutoff for equipment (63 percent).

• Employees offer a slightly different view and rank the five most important environmentally-responsible practices as follows: 1) donating and discounting used office furniture and supplies to employees or local charity (53 percent); 2) promoting walking, biking, taking public transit (49 percent); 3) using energy efficient lighting systems and equipment (43 percent); 4) offering a recycling programs for office products (39 percent); and 5) encouraging employees to work more environmentally friendly (36 percent).

• Both human resource professionals and employees state that their primary, or number one, motivation for participating in environmentally responsible programs is to make a contribution to society. HR professionals placed more weight on environmental (53 percent) and economic (46 percent) considerations as second and third most prevalent company motivators. Employees report public relations strategy (26 percent) and health and safety considerations (24 percent), respectively, as the second and third driving factors.

The Green Workplace Survey’s 429 HR professional respondents represent publicly- and privately-owned companies, nonprofits, and the government sector. The 504 employee sample was randomly selected from U.S. telephone population. All employee respondents were either employed full time or part time.

A complete copy of the survey is available at (But it's for members only).

Friday, February 22, 2008

More About Ports

I posted a report a couple weeks ago about the state of pollution in ports, with Charleston being one of the worst. I've recently been reading more about what some businesses are doing about it. I'm sure many of you have heard about the Skysail: a large sail added to a freighter to reduce fuel usage (and thus emissions), used by DHL. Today I read about the Coalition for Responsible Transportation, which was founded by Target, among others, and recently joined by Wal-Mart. A quick description from their website:
C.R.T. is comprised of private sector companies who strive to be responsible stewards of the environment by not only complying with all environmental regulations but by implementing business practices that minimize diesel emissions and encourage sustainable practices. C.R.T. founding members, NYK Group Companies, Target, Total Transportation Services, Inc., are actively seeking to partner with other like-minded companies who share in their commitment to the environment and the communities in which they operate.

So are any local companies involved or thinking of getting involved?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Greening Your Business

Continuing on this topic from a couple of weeks ago... I ran across this (pdf) today. Five technology companies provide advice on making the office more green. Most of what's in there might be old hat to many of you, but this is geared more towards the mainstream. What do you think? Is there anything in there that's new to you or perhaps presented in a different way that might make the argument to go green more appealing to the average corporate executive or middle manager? Does the message sound any different given that's it's European (other than talking about Pounds and Euros)?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Another Good Event Tonight

Just a quick note to say that I hope everyone had a good time this evening and did some good networking. Turnout was a little less than I expected, but a combination of: holiday, weather and short span in time since the last one kept some people away. But I will still say this was a success. Several people indicated that they met someone in their industry of interest or made some other worthwhile connection. And it's especially satisfying to know that several of those connections were between CofC students and members of the community, because that's one of the main reasons we hold this event. As I've mentioned in an early blog, I'd like to hear some of the success stories. So if you've got one from this event (or the previous one) and are willing to share, please post a comment.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Green Business Incubator

I'd love to see something like this here. Of course, I think Noisette fills that role to some extent. Interesting to note that the idea was announced at Green Drinks NYC. Which reminds me, if you haven't been out to a Green Drinks event here in Charleston, you really should. The event is growing every month, it's a great complement to the Green Business Networking event (or vice versa since Green Drinks came first.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green

Tuesday night I took part in a focus group run by CofC communications students working with the Charleston Green Committee. The discussion was quite lively and informative. In fact I barely got to say a word throughout the session, but my mind was racing (as best it could after a long day). The thing I came up with that seemed to unite all the concerns and suggestions brought up was that what is needed is to make being green, easy. Or to put it another way, the easy decisions we make every day should be green. One example that came up was recycling. The City of, and College of, Charleston do not do a very good job of recycling, especially compared to cities and colleges around the world. Right now it's difficult to recycle. In my building, I have to walk down to the end of hall, cross a bridge, down the stairs, to the end of another hall in order to deposit my recyclables in the proper place. Now I don't mind this at all, this is actually some of the little exercise I get in my day. But there are many others that are not willing to go out of their way to recycle - it's much easier to throw things away in the trash. There are trash bins everywhere - I've got one under my desk (which rarely gets used). So I have a simple decision to make - take the easy route and toss my recyclables in the trash can in my office or take a 2 minute walk to properly throw them away. But what if the easy route was to recycle? What if there were recycling bins everywhere and people had to go out of their way to find a regular trash bin? We'd see much more recycling because that would be the easy decision. We can apply the same logic to other decisions. For example, if I were looking to buy a new refrigerator and the more energy-efficient version was also the cheaper one, my decision would be easy. So if the "green" decision was the one that was quicker, simpler, cheaper, etc. it would be much easier being green. So to try to take environmental-friendliness to the mainstream, we need to take a look at each individual issue and find ways to make the green option, the easy option.

In case you're stuck with the old Kermit the Frog song in your head (or maybe you are NOW), here's the video: It's not easy being green. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Next Green Business Networking Event

After the success of the first networking event, my hopes are high that the next event will be just as good or better. As a slight change from the first one I'm proposing a topic of discussion - what local governments do to help or hinder green business and what they can do to improve. I think that through some discussion we should be able to identify several key things that can help green businesses (of which they might not be aware) and several key things that we should focus on getting our governments to do.

In case you haven't already received the announcement (and if not, please contact me so that I can add you to my mailing list) the next Green Business Networking Event will be Monday, February 18th, from 4:30 - 6:30 at the Tate Center gallery (second floor). Enter through the Beatty Center (5 Liberty Street), go up the stairs and across the bridge. Please bring anyone you know that might be interested.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Greening Your Business

One of the goals of this blog and the monthly networking event is to help existing businesses be more environmentally-friendly. This morning I ran across a useful guide (pdf) for organizations looking to improve their environmental awareness and reduce their carbon footprint. The first part of it basically outlines how one should organize the effort. Rather than just make piecemeal changes, organizations (including businesses) should take a more holistic approach. The guide does offer some useful suggestions regarding resource usage (energy, recycling, etc.) . It goes on to suggest looking beyond just your organization - consider your community and your business partners.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Valentine's Day

I know it's only a couple days away, but if you're like most people you still haven't gotten that special someone a Valentine's Day gift. But if you're not like most people (unfortunately) you're looking to make that gift as eco-friendly as possible. So what are your options. Well, if you're going the traditional chocolate route, aim for organic chocolates. If you're thinking flowers, get ones that will live more than a week (i.e. potted). You could also go in a completely different direction and make a charitable donation in your sweetheart's name. If you're shopping for actual product gifts I'd suggest that you visit any of the local green businesses. So if you are one of those businesses, please submit your suggestions (and store information) here in the comments section. I'm sure many of you have other suggestions, so feel free to post those, especially if they support local green businesses. For more suggestions you can check out the Green Guide, which lists several options for: flowers, chocolates, sleepwear and jewelry (and of course you know there's a local jewelry artist that is eco-friendly).

Friday, February 8, 2008

Ports are big pollutors. Big surprise?

A recent study of US ports, including Charleston, concluded that "Most U.S. ports are now among the largest sources of air pollution in their cities and progress toward reducing that pollution has been slow." And more interestingly "Charleston is the only port among the top ten U.S. container ports not to grant Energy Futures an interview during the researching of this report. It is also the only port that does not list a director of environmental protection among its port personnel." The report mentions that Charleston got an "F" from the NRDC in 2004, but has since made some efforts to improve, including formal partnership with SC DHEC. And of course, "There are no known applications of alternative fuels or advanced transportation technologies at the port of Charleston," which is a shame given the proximity to Southeast BioDiesel.

NY and IN learning from us?

Not really. But both states have recently launched networks in support of sustainable businesses. The INdiana Sustainability Alliance (INSA)"will bring together members of the sustainable development, green building, energy, water management, and clean technology industries by initially offering educational and networking events." The Sustainable Business Network of NYC will work "to connect, support and promote NYC owned and operated businesses." Of course these types of networks aren't new. A quick Google search leads to plenty of hits for sustainable business networks. Clearly this is a growing movement.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Upcoming events

EcoLibrio jewelry home show - Saturday, February 9th, 4-8 pm, Parkwood Estates, West Ashley. This is the wonderful work my wife does. She makes amazing artistic pieces of jewelry from recycled cables, wires and re-purposed beads. Check out her web page to see some of her great designs. For specific directions contact either margaret [at] or me at hansend [at] There will be snacks, wine, a raffle and a prize for the person that brings the most guests. This is a great chance to pick up a nice, eco-friendly Valentine's day gift.

Green Drinks Charleston Wednesday, February 13th, 7 pm - ?? at the Trusted Palate, 563 King Street. Meet up with a dynamic group of individuals and organizations from around the Lowcountry who meet up once a month to enjoy cocktails, lively discussions, new friends, and good times."

Also from the Green Drinks blog site, there will be an Energy Film Fest in Florence from 12:00 noon to 4:45.

Alternative Energy Meet-up Wednesday February 20th at Huger (restaurant),587 King St

And of course the next Green Business Networking event - Monday February 18th at the Tate Center, 5 Liberty Street, 2nd floor, 4:30 - 7:00. I'm working on getting something a little extra this time.

I know I've missed some events, so please either add them in the comments or send them to me via e-mail and I'll update the post.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Bringing sustainability to CofC

I got an email recently from one of the people that attended the first Green Business Networking event. Charlie Sneed of the South Carolina Green Foundation forwarded an article from Grist listing the top 15 Green universities, with the College of Charleston NOT being one of them. My response was that we've made some progress but have a ways to go. One major success was the founding of the Sustainability Committee, which was wonderfully championed by Burton Callicott. In fact, if you've received the latest issue of The Portico, you'll see that the cover page article is all about the Sustainability Committee featuring Burton's smiling face. (The Photoshopped CFL looks kind of funny, but I guess it's better than one really hanging over his head from a wire like a bad 1950's sci fi flying saucer.)

That's one great step forward, but we need to do even more. That's going to take effort from everyone. There are two potentially good opportunities to infuse sustainability into the College. One is the Strategic Planning Focus Groups that are beginning tomorrow. As per the official message:
"The College of Charleston is embarking on a strategic planning process that will define our core values and purpose; identify our academic, co-curricular, and community priorities; and guide us on our path to become a world-class institution. As a part of this process, we are seeking input from members of the College's faculty."
Although this appears to be open only to faculty, it's an opportunity for those of us that have a desire to see sustainability as one of the College's core values. So those of you like me that would like to see the status of sustainability improved at the College, volunteer to be part of the focus groups. As I've learned at the School of Business and Economics meeting today, response so far has been "tepid". So there shouldn't be much of a problem of getting into one of the focus groups.

And speaking of the SBE meeting, as some of you have probably heard, the Dean will be ending his term this summer. This means that at some point the search for a new dean will begin. My hope is that we can find someone that believes in the importance of sustainability. As a junior faculty I neither have experience with the dean search process, nor the influence to have much impact on the process, but I will certainly try to make sustainability a point of interest in searching for a new dean.

Of course if you're not a faculty member you're probably wondering what you can do (if you've even read this far). On that I'm not too certain and I hope that we'll have some commentary with suggestions. I would imagine that businesses and organizations in the area, as potential employers of CofC graduates, you should have some input into both processes. Likewise students should have some input since we're all pretty much here to provide you with an education and help you find a job (or at least prepare you for one). So I would think that if a great number of non-faculty started inquiring about how they can have a say in the processes of strategic planning and finding a new Business School dean that you might actually get one.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Green Consumers?

One of the several books on my shelf that I have yet to read, but have skimmed several times is The Sustainability Advantage, by Bob Willard (printed on 100% post consumer recycled paper by New Society Publishers). I don't know if it's a book I'd recommend (I'll eventually be making book recommendations when I get around to reading more), but there are some interesting bits in the book I've picked out via skimming. The first one has to do with a classic 2x2 (business academics love these) dividing up the green consumer behavior market. Of course it's not his original idea, it came from the Sustainable Enterprise Academy at York University, but it's interesting none-the-less. Basically it divides green consumers along their willingness to pay and their activism and breaks down as follows:
  • Green Consumers - high activism and high willingness to pay
  • Green Activists - high activism and low willingness to pay
  • Latent Greens - low activism, high willingness to pay
  • Inactive - low activism and low willingness to pay
The numbers assigned to each group would be out of date by now (from Fall 2000) so no point in reporting, but it's interesting to note that nearly 2/3 were in the High Willingness to Pay categories. This goes along with many other reports showing consumers' willingness and interest in "buying green."

So my questions to you are: Is this a reasonable way to look at the market? How do you and your business look at the market? Do you target any of these groups and what success have you had?

By the way, this is the first of what will be specific business strategy-oriented posts meant to help green businesses in Charleston grow (one of my dream list items below). I'll try to do these about once a week. If any of these topics end up being really "hot", I'll try to set up something at a future networking event to delve deeper into the discussion.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Got a good green business idea?

It's time again for the New Ideas for a New Carolina Business Idea Competition. The competition, in its third year now, seems geared towards green business. Environmental Sustainability is one of four categories for industry (bio-tech, engineering, software/IT, plus "other" are the remaining categories.) Indeed, last year's winner was Plugin Hybrid Coalition of the Carolinas, who will be in Charleston on Tuesday, Feb 5th as part of the "Get Plugged in Tour".

The grand prize is $5000, with $2500 for first and $1000 for runners up. Find out more at

Saturday, February 2, 2008

State of Green Business

Joel Makower and the folks at (no affiliation) have just released their report on the state of green business. You can download it here: (note that you'll have to fill out a short survey to download the report). According to them it "is the first report to take stock of green business activities in the United States, and features the debut of the GreenBiz Index, a set of 20 indicators of green business progress that we will update annually."

The report shows that the US has done well in areas like clean tech, energy efficiency and paper. But we are failing in terms of e-waste and carbon intensity. Given these two major weaknesses in green business in the US, what can we do here in Charleston? What do you do with your e-waste? What have you and/or your business/organization done to reduce carbon emissions?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Green Business Networking dream list

A few people asked what I hope to accomplish with the networking event. My initial answer was to help connect local businesses with the College and help them grow as well as help new businesses get started. In thinking about it more I'm working on a "dream list". So for starters here are a few of my dreams (in no particular order):
  • A great expansion of sustainable start ups across the Lowcountry, especially by CofC students and alumni
  • Existing green businesses growing to be among the most successful in the area
  • Green businesses hiring more graduates than any other businesses
  • Following that: a green business-centered job fair
  • A program fully integrating Environmental Studies and the School of Business and Economics (Maybe SoBE could stand for Business and the Environment, no offense to my colleagues in Economics of course)
  • Sustainability becoming a core principle of the School of Business and Economics, permeating through all that we do
  • Scholarship funds to support students interested in sustainable business
  • Investment funds for students starting sustainable businesses
  • An advisory board/mentor program to help guide students starting sustainable businesses
  • An advisory board made up of students to advise local businesses on improving their sustainability
  • A sustainable business incubator
  • Full and diverse enrollment in the sustainable business venturing class I'll teach in the fall
  • An endowed professorship for sustainable entrepreneurship
  • An intern program devoted to getting students into sustainable businesses
  • Finally - for Charleston to be among the list of cities that people immediately think of when discussing sustainable business
That's just off the top of my head. I'd like to hear what you think. Do any of these sound feasible or do they belong in the realm of fantasy? What are your green business dreams?