Everybody wants to be green. It’s sexy, it’s cool, and it’s socially responsible being green. Unfortunately it can also be paradoxical and elusive. Is it green to lay down bamboo flooring that’s been shipped from China? Hmm…
Whether your project is a home remodel, redoing a city building or you are incorporating sustainable business practices into your 500-employee company there are some basic tenets for your sustainable green remodeling projects that apply.
Green can mean a multitude of things to different people. I’ve had clients define green as creating the healthiest environment possible. For them it meant no-VOC paint, no carpets, all organic cleaners, away from freeway pollution, etc. Green to a national financial company client meant they operated their entire firm with the least amount of energy and waste consumed.
There can be a multitude of ways to define ‘green’ such as: Using locally sourced materials -Reducing waste -Using recycled products -Using renewable energy -Creating a ultra-healthy environment with no toxins or harmful air pollutants -Using passive solar, grey water systems and solar heating. So the key is to define what ‘green’ means to you. Only then can you move on to the next step.
What are your green goals and how do they align with your definition of green? Your goals set the stage for your initial plan. Most clients we work with find that once we’ve uncovered their true definition of ‘green’ and their goals, the planning and implementation process becomes much easier.
I met with clients recently who wanted their construction company to be green. After we defined green to them we took a look at their goals. We found that by uncovering their true goals we discovered several additional revenue streams they hadn’t thought of. Originally their goal was to create an emergency shelter product that could be built onsite within a few days. After working together on their goals we found that their true goal was to create a product that was completely off the grid. Subsequently we discovered several different applications for their product and entire other markets for them to explore.
Some of the most powerful things you can do to green up your surroundings can also be the least expensive. For many clients doing a home remodel, we help them determine a budget prior to any work being done. Their budget coupled with their goals allows us to create a plan that works best for them. From a budget standpoint we look for solutions that focus on resource and materials conservation and reduction of energy usage.
We also help clients combine solutions. For example, we might recommend more deciduous trees strategically placed near south facing windows with a rainwater irrigation system. This provides summer shading, winter heating, reduced heating and cooling bills and reduced water bills. Combined solutions are great because there is only one expense for several solutions.
Once your goals have been defined be very thorough when you interview prospective contractors, architects, consultants, etc. who are going to do the work. You want to make sure that the person you’re hiring has incorporated green as an integral part of their business and not just some ‘one off’ solution for the random client. For example there is one paint company in San Diego I recommend because they are the only ones I know of who use no-VOC paint almost exclusively. They also offset their carbon emissions from their trucks through TerraPass. Being green and operating green isn’t a small part of their business, it’s one of the biggest elements of their company. So, in essence, being green whether in a home remodel or at work, can be easy as long as you incorporate a few simple steps into the process. We are happy to answer your questions or provide solutions for your specific case, just give us a call.
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* Peter C. Fusaro is a best selling author, keynote speaker and thought leader on emerging energy and environmental financial markets. He is Chairman of Global Change Associates an energy and environmental consultancy in New York since 1991 and is the best selling author of What Went Wrong at Enron as well as 15 other books on energy and the environmental financial markets. Peter’s latest book will be published in 2010 by Oxford University Press on Energy and Environmental Project Finance Law and Taxation: New Investment Techniques. Peter is has been on the forefront of energy and environmental change for over 36 years focusing emissions, energy efficiency, cleantech, carbon trading and renewable energy markets. Peter has worked over 20 years on climate change issues and is currently advising on carbon trading and finance as well as clean energy technology and renewable energy to companies worldwide. Peter was selected for Who’s Who in America for 2007-2012 and Who’s Who in the World for 2009-2012. He coined the term “Green Trading” and holds the annual Wall Street Green Summit XI each spring (www.wsgts.com). Peter is advisor to 8 cleantech software and hardware companies in the US and UK. In 2009, Peter launched the Global Change Foundation focused on environmental education and projects (www.global-changefoundation.com) and held its first Green Jobs Summit in March 2010. The foundation also runs the Green Salon where artists perform and environmental experts speak. Peter graduated with an MA in international relations from Tufts University and a BA from Carnegie-Mellon University. He is an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs where he teaches renewable energy project finance. He is on the Advisory Board of the ERB Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan as well as on the Board of Trustees of the UN’s Energy & Water Institute of New York.
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
The New Green Business Model for Sustainable Finance: Peter Fusaro at TEDxColumbiaEngineering