Friday, November 28, 2008

Impacts of LEED Certified Buildings Measured

Wondering what kind of impact LEED certification actually has? Well, GreenerBuildings.com has compiled a report of the benefits from LEED certified buildings. From the story at greenbiz.com:
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 What is interestingly positive is that many of them were withdrawn because the company decided to make changes.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

Greenprofs.com (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 greenerbuildings.com 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.

Office/Materials/Supplies
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

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

Building
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
E-organizing

External
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 GreenerBuildings.com, 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.