Green Is The New Black… In Many Ways

April 15, 2008

Right now, there is a ton of buzz everywhere relative to Going Green. Whether it’s the commercial for the new Lexus Hybrids, the school down the street that is adding a new building to Green standards or the April email newsletter from AT&T that promotes “Go Green For Green, Saving The Earth Can Save You Money Too,”  Green is front and center and as a result awareness seems to be reaching new heights.

What we’re noticing is that a lot of people who are reaching out to Green Business Alliance have a large number of questions on what’s actually involved in Going Green. That’s a really good sign in our opinion, as the only way to make meaningful strides is to understand the playing field and ultimately have an effective roadmap to follow.

So it has become hip to be Green. That doesn’t ensure that positive steps will ensue, but it sure beats the ambivalence from the public that many early Green adopters have been frustrated by for so many years.


Earth Day Resolution #5 – Reducing Your Footprint

April 11, 2008

What size is your carbon footprint?  The national average is around 8 tons of Carbon Dioxide per year depending on which Carbon calculator you are using. Do you think your footprint is larger or smaller than the average? 

You can calculate your carbon footprint on one of the many web-based carbon calculators. The EPA has a more sophisticated calculator which asks questions pertaining to the type of dwelling you live in, the number of people in the household, transportation, waste and more. They also offer a calculator on the same page to reduce emissions. Yahoo’s Green site is the simplest calculator which only asks 7 general questions. MSN’s Green site has a carbon calculator which is somewhere between Yahoo’s and the EPA’s.

So gather recent natural gas, heating oil, propane, and electric bills, click on one of the calculator’s above and get ready to determine the size of your footprint. The good news is that no matter how big or small your carbon footprint is, there are many actions that one can take to reduce the size.

With Earth Day just around the corner make a promise to yourself and resolve to reduce your carbon footprint by at least one size. The earth will be a better place for it and you will be happier with your new footprint knowing that your smaller steps have helped our planet by leaps and bounds.


What is a REC and Why Does it Matter for Businesses?

April 8, 2008

Wikipedia defines a Renewable Energy Credit as: “Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), also known as Green tags, Renewable Energy Credits, or Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs), are tradable environmental commodities that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource.” 

The idea behind RECS is that businesses (and individuals) can offset their carbon footprint by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits. While the rationale is clear-cut for businesses that are big polluters, it is less obvious for companies work out of an office and are telephone / computer focused.

Wikipedia also notes that: “A popular incentive for buying RECs is to make the claim that your energy use is carbon neutral and hence does not contribute to global warming. Looking at the situation from a macroscopic level, buying RECs finances some portion of the increased costs of green energy producers, to reduce the producer's increase in cost as compared to sources which pollute more. However, it could be argued that the green energy production facilities which are already built today might still continue functioning and producing energy at the same rate even if no one were to buy another REC. On a microscopic level, buying a few RECs has very little direct effect on the amount of CO2 produced at this very moment. As larger and larger numbers of RECs come into demand, however, renewable energy will become more and more cost effective per kWh in comparison to nonrenewable energy. “

So should purchasing carbon offsets be a priority for businesses today? We believe that the answer is YES. As referenced above, in the big picture, the cumulative impact will be enormous, although the direct impact today is much harder to quantify. That logic, however applies to a number of the dimensions of the Go Green movement and every small step matter and is instrumental from a “setting the tone” perspective with employees and customers. Let your customers see first-hand that you go to the efforts to recycle within the office.

Successful business owners make investments everyday with a long term perspective in mind. Going Green is another example of a path to be taken that may not yield tangible benefits in the short run, but has untold, long term upside potential. Lastly, purchasing RECS is not very expensive for most companies, so cost should not be a deterrent.


Earth Day Resolution #4 – Plant Trees

April 4, 2008

April showers bring May flowers. April showers could also bring May trees! The 30 days that take place between March 31st and May 1st, commonly known as April, could just as easily be referred to as Go Green month. April starts by fooling us and quickly moves to celebrations for Earth Hour, Earth Day and Arbor Day to name a few. We have talked about Earth Hour and Earth Day in the Green Business Alliance Blog. We have not yet discussed Arbor Day which will take place on April 25th this year.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation’s home page, Arbor Day is a nationally-celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care. It was founded by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska in 1872. National Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday in April.

This year, in honor of Arbor Day and Earth Day make a plan with your family members to Go Green and plant trees periodically throughout the year. Trees not only beautify an area, but they also add oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, provide a natural cooling mechanism, and, in many cases, increase property values.

Resolve to be a tree planter. It is a wholesome, outdoor family project which has lasting benefits for the environment and your health.


The Tentacles of Going Green

April 1, 2008

As Green Business Alliance continues to evolve, we're learning a great deal along the way, particularly with respect to how our mission is being viewed by those who are hearing about us. The response thus far has been exceptionally favorable, and there have been some interesting revelations along the way.

One thing we've learned is that curiosity abounds within businesses as to what it actually means to Go Green. With the exception of businesses which are somehow already involved with the movement (i.e. selling green products or services), very few of the people we speak with have a handle on even the basics. Although some folks might see that as disappointing, we believe it further validates the importance of Green Business Alliance today. These passionate folks have been sharing our story with their peers and that has led to people reaching out to us who are far removed from the original source.

What we've also discovered is that businesses who decide to participate in our program and who share their Green vision with their teams are stimulating interest with employees in actually Greenifying their homes. When we launched the Green Home Alliance, we didn't have the foresight to predict that many of those looking to Greenify their homes would emanate from our business clients. Given the reach of the internet, this isn't surprising, but given the grass roots nature of our efforts, it is very rewarding nonetheless.


Earth Hour - will you be in the dark?

March 29, 2008

On your mark, get set, go get ready to turn off your lights for a one hour period of time dedicated to being in the dark. Saturday March 29th at 8:00 pm, your local time, marks the second anniversary of Earth Hour.  You need to act quickly and get out the candles for a quiet and dark hour that evening.

We invite you to join millions of people from around the world in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights. Earth Hour is an event that originated in Australia and was created by the World Wildlife Fund.

 For more information about this event refer to Earth Hour's website.


Earth Day Free Music Festivals

March 27, 2008

Earth Day Network and Green Apple Festival just announced an incredible line-up for the 8 simultaneous concerts they will be staging on April 20th. They are billing the event as "America's Largest Earth Day Celebration" at venues including: The Mall in Washington DC, Golden Gate Park, the Santa Monica Pier and Central Park.

The concerts are expected to attract approximately a half million people who will not only hear incredible music from acts like The Neville Brothers, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Gov't Mule, Ziggy Marley and Arrested Development, but learn from speakers like Treehugger's founder Graham Hill.

The music industry has been at the forefront of the Green movement since its earliest days and concerts for environmental causes are not new.  Yet, the convergence of music and corporate America continues to accelerate along with the magnified focus on sustainability throughout the country. We support the integration of these forces which benefits a lot of people, and most importantly the environment through increased awareness.

For more detailed information on the Earth Day Music Festivals please refer here: http://www.jambase.com/Articles/Story.aspx?StoryID=13376


Earth Day Resolution # 3 - Thirst for Eco-friendly Water Bottles

March 24, 2008

Whether you are a business owner or an employee or a chief executive mom, we can each make a positive environmental impact by choosing our drinking water thoughtfully. The recommended water intake per person per day is about 60 ounces (between six and seven glasses). Water is definitely a healthy and necessary daily drink to keep our bodies hydrated. However, the type of water we drink and the item from which we sip our water makes a huge difference.

Did you know that in the United States alone, we consume more than 2.5 million bottles of water every hour, and only approximately 10% are actually recycled? The other 90 percent of water bottles end up in landfills where it takes thousands of years for the plastic to decompose.

Consider tapping into a less costly means of staying hydrated. Drink tap water from a glass or a stainless steel reusable bottle. For those who prefer filtered water, invest in a filtration system for the home and/or office and drink it from a glass. You might be surprised to know that bottled water is not always cleaner and healthier than tap water. If you find that hard to believe, check the EPA's website.

With just one month until Earth Day, think about making a resolution to eliminate those plastic 'recyclable' water bottles and opt for an eco-friendly glass of tap water instead, well actually, 6 eco-friendly glasses of tap water a day!


Is Going Green An Investment Or An Expense?

March 20, 2008

Turn the dial back a couple of years and the notion that a mainstream company (as opposed to an obvious polluter) would make modifications to the way they operate their business, in an effort to become increasingly sensitive to the environment would have seemed like a far-fetched idea.

With similar hindsight, the concept that purchasers (be they consumers or businesses) would factor the "greenness" of a company into their decision-making process would have been equally outlandish.

In just a few short years, the recognition of the importance of Going Green has been significant, yet it's still in its infancy. Trying to make heads or tails of what it means to become Green remains fuzzy for many people, including grasping the proper perspective to embrace the costs involved. Are they actually costs or are they part of a branding process to help define a company (i.e. marketing)? Please refer back to our blog post from last Monday regarding Whole Foods.

At the end of the day, Going Green is all good. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do from an "eco" perspective, but it may also be beneficial to the business in a number of other ways. So although Going Green may result in some incremental costs, those funds could plausibly be viewed as an investment rather than an expense.


Happy Green Holiday

March 17, 2008

It’s hard to believe that the calendar is already indicating that the Ides of March have come and gone. The clocks have sprung forward and, if you are like me, you are still trying to get used to waking up in the dark. While many parts of the country are anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring, they are still seeing lots of white (ie snow).

However, this Monday, many parts of the country / world will be seeing Green. I am not referring to Green as in dollars and cents (although that would be nice). I am not referring to Green as in the environment (although that would be even nicer). I am not even referring to Green as in seeing grass rather than snow. I mean Green as in Saint Patrick’s Day Green. The luck of the Irish Green. The little Irish mythological fairy known as a Leprechaun - Green. As in shamrocks, four-leaf clovers, Green beer, Green clothes, Green hair. Green! Green! Green!

Not only is Ireland known for its Green landscape but it is actually known for being forty shades of Green. Do you think they knew centuries ago when people started celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day how cool and positively impactful being Green could be? We at Green Business Alliance wish you a Happy Saint Paddy’s Day and encourage you to join in the green festivities and Greenify Today for a Better Tomorrow.


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