Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Where to Start?

Happy May Day.

Since I am embarking upon a mission that others have embarked upon before, I should take advantage of their experience. I have a habit of trying to figure everything out on my own. This drives me to investigate, analyze, and form my own opinions. It also results in an occasional stubborn commitment to those opinions as well as a refusal to seek counsel to help in my analysis of my opinions. Asking for respected and experienced colleagues' assistance is a step in the right direction, a necessity.

I called David Gustashaw, Interface's VP of R&D. The logo above is from InterfaceRAISE, Interface's sustainable business consulting group. David is a hardcore engineer, in fact, check out the article on his project using landfill gas to provide power for Interface. He's been in the design trenches practicing sustainable design before I knew what sustainability was. He understands mass and energy flows and knows that the laws of thermodynamics rule in all of our high-minded discussions of sustainability. He's a great believer in sustainable business and a great supporter of people working to integrate it into their businesses. Heck, he's a pretty nice guy too. Our conversation crossed many topics including, waste handling (post industrial, post consumer, & post customer), selling services not products, changing customers' perceptions of a product from linear to circular (return to producer/supplier), the EPA as the "Environmental Compliance Agency" (good point), industry hoarding profits and not sharing with society, etc., etc. There were more topics, but these two stood out relative to starting a sustainability movement:

1) Practice where you are
2) Start locally and build expertise

To use an old cliche, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Of course, I'd prefer to skip to the end and have it all done and set up. I guess it's not that easy.

I am taking local action to investigate a potential project with EnerNOC to help the company reduce energy costs at peak times and contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This then leads to the potential corporate involvement in RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative covering 10 northeast states (Maryland joined only 10 days ago). Why be a laggard when we can be a leader and reap the benefits of stakeholder perception of innovation?

I joined some of the regulars at the Greendrinks event in Central Sq. this evening. With the better weather, people are coming out for the evening and I am meeting new people and feel hopeful that there are those out there yearning to integrate stewardship of the planet for themselves and those around them. I had a good conversation with Melissa Tritter of NetImpact fame about the change in the workforce from long-term employees to "free agents" that need to maintain brand you first referred to by Fast Company back in 1997. In fact, I added Melissa Tritter's blog to the link list, Capitalism4Good to help maintain the "brand". I met a sustainable engineer (there is an entire division of sustainability that should address educating engineers, but I'll leave that for later), Kelly Collins of Haley & Aldrich working on Office Kaizen to maximize client value, and the newest member of the Green Depot, soon to open in Stoneham, MA.

I hope to see more people come to meet and discuss how we can collectively save the planet. I also hope they'll read my blog, subscribe and make comments...I need all the help I can get.

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