Archive for January, 2012

January 23, 2012

Three Strategies to Achieve Corporate Sustainability

Dave Newman, Senior Strategist, Brightworks Enterprise Solutions GroupBy Dave Newman, Senior Strategist, Enterprise Solutions Group

After spotting the trends that corporate sustainability practitioners see in their daily work (Read: Four Trends in Corporate Sustainability), I looked deeper to figure out which strategies were getting leaders ahead. My conversations with some 20 leaders in Fortune 500 companies revealed three key strategies:

  1. Changing how the business views sustainability benefits – from cost reduction to revenue growth
  2. Moving sustainability out of departmental silos into shared business goals
  3. Reporting and sharing the things that matter with the people who care

In this follow-on post, I’ll highlight some of the common obstacles to implementing sustainability within companies, how leaders are overcoming them to achieve true sustainability leadership, and what laggards can start doing now to catch up.

 Efficiency is not innovation

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January 10, 2012

“It’s More Difficult to Change a Building Than to Change a Person.”

By Brandon G. Sprague, Brightworks Communications Team

Eric Corey Freed, organicARCHITECTPart One of our interview with architect, innovator, and thought leader Eric Corey Freed of organicARCHITECT explored his thoughts on the green building innovations and critical issues we’ll see in 2012. Here in Part Two, he shares practical steps building owners can take right now at no cost, and where he finds hope and the greatest potential for change.

 

Brandon G. Sprague: Many readers of this blog are members of the real estate community. When you travel around the country speaking and teaching, you often state, “My vision of why I’m doing this is the basic idea that everything that exists in this world should exist because it makes the world a better place.” In what ways is the design and building community making the world a better place with its current practices? In what ways is it not?

Eric Corey Freed: On a very high level, you can argue that the built environment – any built environment – improves the world by providing human beings with shelter, habitat, places to work, places to live…

But at the same time, practically all of the buildings that exist in the industrialized world – all but a very small percentage – ignore how they use energy, water, and resources. In creating such a built environment over the last 150 to 200 years, we have created a system that that is too expensive for us to maintain, a system that is actually threatening our existence. When we planned and designed this system, energy was cheap and abundant. But in the last 50 years, we’ve realized that energy is neither cheap nor abundant. And we’ve realized that our consumption of energy is actually threatening, if not killing, our way of life.

Now that cheap energy no longer exists and our consumption patterns are forcing us to change our way of life, what do we do? This is where the opportunity comes in for the design and construction industry to transform buildings and thereby transform civilization. We have the technology to do it, we have the ability to do it, we just need the will to do it. In doing so, we will have to look for innovative ways to work in, live in, and operate our buildings.

This Could Be Your Shopping Center

This could be your shopping center. Image via organicARCHITECT

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January 3, 2012

Rejuvenation

by Scott Lewis | Brightworks CEO

The turning of the annual calendar always brings with it a range of associations, not the least of which is the idea of new beginnings.  We mark the occasion with a ritual of making resolutions that often vanish as quickly as our holiday leftovers, and yet, we still carry this intangible sense that after all, a new year is a chance for a fresh beginning.  It is the eternal human impulse to want a fresh start, to have another chance.

And somehow, deep inside, this desire for another chance has roots in an eternal optimism that says no matter how bad things have been in the past, there is still a possibility of a better tomorrow.

This resonates strongly for those of us in the sustainability business.  How can one look with open eyes at a world with so much trouble – from war and famine to financial scandal to the degradation of the vital ecosystems that sustain our prosperity and survival, and not simply despair.  The answer has to lie in some sort of deeper wisdom, which reminds us there have been challenges in the past, whose answers were not always visible at the time, yet human perseverance and ingenuity somehow provided solutions that could not have been imagined before they were invented.

And that is precisely where we stand today in the endeavor to create a post-carbon, socially equitable sustainable economy.  As Paul Hawken said in his brilliant 2009 commencement address to the University of Portland graduating seniors:

If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.

That captures it pretty well:  ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.

Ordinary people doing the extraordinary.  That’s what it’s all about.  As 2012 dawns and sparks in us that sense of new beginnings, won’t you join us in doing something extraordinary?

Happy New Year.

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