Tag Archives: green business

King County Executive Dow Constantine Invites You To GoGreen Seattle 2013!

Dow ConstantineEditor’s note: GoGreen is proud to partner with King County on our fourth annual sustainable business conference in the region. The following is a personal invitation from keynote speaker, King County Executive, Dow Constantine — we’ll see you April 24!

I’m pleased to invite you to the upcoming GoGreen Seattle Conference on Wednesday, April 24 at the Conference Center in downtown Seattle.

This is the premier sustainability conference for business and government in the region. It is a learning experience for both public and private sector decision makers and is intended to empower attendees with the strategies, tools and connections to green their organizations with prosperity and profitability in mind.

Meaningful progress toward environmental sustainability can only happen through partnerships between governments, businesses and residents.

Your participation in this conference will help us shape the policies and investments in our community that will guide the future of sustainable living and business practices.

Maintaining our region’s leadership in environmental and economic sustainability are top priorities for King County – they are essential to our high quality of life.

During GoGreen Seattle, you will be exposed to real-world examples and ideas that our region has put into place and have taken us to the cutting edge of technology.

Sustainability is a powerful and indispensable tool for navigating the tumultuous waters of today’s global economy – as well as solving critical challenges such as climate change. GoGreen Seattle works across industry silos to foster peer-to-peer learning and collaborative solutions.

My hope is that you will take what you learn at this conference and turn it into action. That is why King County is proudly sponsoring the conference in 2013.

Environmental sustainability and economic growth are foundational goals of the King County Strategic Plan. We are taking our own actions to become more sustainable in our day-to-day operations, and in our planning for the future. And we are seeing results. King County’s actions have reduced our environmental footprint, saved taxpayers money and encouraged business development and growth.

For example:

  • King County is implementing an Energy Plan that focuses on energy efficiency and renewable energy development … as well as award-winning green building and environmentally preferable purchasing programs.
  • We’re making it easier for nonprofits and businesses to gain access to low-interest financing for projects that conserve energy, water and promote environmental sustainability through the Green Community Initiative – the first of its kind in the state.
  • We’re capturing landfill gas, cleaning it and turning it into pipeline quality natural gas in volumes large enough to heat 10,000 homes – and we’re earning income while doing it.

Our sustainability and resource conservation work isn’t relegated solely to programs of a grand scale. By visiting with the King County staff at this year’s GoGreen Conference, you’ll see:

  • How we’re helping daily commuters shrink their carbon footprint through rideshare programs and our clean and efficient transit fleet;
  • How we’re bring recycling and resource conservation education to thousands of school kids in classrooms and assemblies; and 
  • How we’re offering everyday commonsense approaches to getting more value and creating less waste while shopping.

I hope you find your time at the GoGreen Conference informative and inspiring. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, April 24.

Dow Constantine,
King County Executive

King County Executive Dow Constantine will give the morning keynote address at GoGreen Seattle 2013. Register to join usApril 24, for a full day of insights, training and networking that will empower you to advance sustainability efforts at your workplace and contribute to the success of the region. View the entire 2013 program & speaker roster at our website. 

Green Line Series PHX | Courtney Klein Johnson On Building A Triple Bottom Line Enterprise

ImageOn her first day of college at Arizona State University, SEED Spot Co-Founder Courtney Klein Johnson would have told you she’d be well on her way to being the next Katie Couric by now. Instead, a life-changing experience working in rural Mexico significantly altered her life course and she is now thriving as a social entrepreneur working to catalyze and grow a business community that values impact as well as profit. Courtney will participate in our Make Money by Doing Good: Designing A Triple Bottom Line Enterprise Workshop, Thursday, December 6 in Phoenix — but first, we’ve got a primer on the Triple Bottom Line concept and how it plays out in the world of business.

GoGreen Conference: To get us started, can you give us a quick backgrounder on SEED Spot and what it is that you do there? 

Courtney Klein Johnson: Chris Petroff and I started SEED Spot in February of 2012. The name behind SEED spot comes from the idea that everyone has a seed inside of them — an idea that is yet to be born. We’re a place where you can go to get the resources and guidance to take that idea out into the real world. We’re working with social entrepreneurs in Phoenix with dreams of creating sustainable businesses that have impact via a product, service or technology that improves lives and communities. We have 16 full-time companies and 40 part-time companies that we’re supporting this year.

GG: On your website you talk about the intersection of purpose, passion and work. What happens when you align these three elements? What lies at that intersection?

CKJ: Magic. Incredible stuff. I think that authenticity lies at that intersection. People who find a cross-pollination of all those things often arrive at the most authentic place for themselves and for the businesses they create. And with that comes a loyal customer following; a base of people that believe in the “why” even more than the “what.” And I believe that brings more value to whatever project or service you’re providing.

GG: A lot of times when we talk about sustainability, the conversation can stagnate on environmental performance metrics — efficiency, consumption, technology — but SEED Spot seems to have a broader perspective on what it means to be sustainable. Fill us in on your philosophy. 

CKJ: We would argue that a sustainable business is one that is not only created in a way that is fruitful for the entrepreneur, but fruitful for the people that intertwine or interface with the company as well. That goes for your employment practices to the product or service itself — how is it made, the lineage of its components and the impact they have. Sustainability also means sustainable revenue. SEED Spot itself is set up as a non-profit organization, but we’re still charged with setting up sustainable revenue channels for ourselves. It’s important to look at setting up your organization properly in the market and assessing your costs appropriately. The tension comes in when you look at the higher costs that come with supply chains to be sustainable or eco-friendly. It matters where and how things are made, but so does the price point — and the most sustainable companies are the ones that have found the right balance between that sacrifice and sustainability.

GG: Have you seen a big shift in the Millennial and Gen Y generations in terms of better integrating the concept of “doing well and doing good” into their business models? Is the traditional belief that profit is king be on its way out?

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Green Line Series PDX | Cylvia Hayes On Transforming The Economy Via A Triple Bottom Line

Cylvia Hayes might happen to be Governor John Kitzhaber’s better half and consequently Oregon’s First Lady, but she’s a visionary in her own right. For the last installment of the Green Line Series for Portland, we sat down with Cylvia to get her unique perspective on how government and business can work together to get it right for Oregon’s economy, communities and its environment.

GoGreen Conference: Give us a sense of your role in Governor Kitzhaber’s Administration and how your own professional expertise plays into that.

Cylvia Hayes: I wear two hats around here. I have a more than 20 year career in sustainable economic development and clean energy. So I have that professional perspective. And as First Lady of the state, I’m very involved as a volunteer policy advisor for the administration on those two issues. To give you some specifics, I was the co-chair on Governor Kulongoski’s (the previous Governor of Oregon) renewable energy working group, which was the body that was put together and worked to pass several of Oregon’s big energy policies — including our renewable portfolio standard and renewable fuels standard. But towards the end of that term, my fellow co-chair and I became a little frustrated, because although we realized that we had passed a number of lofty and important measures, we had no comprehensive plan on how to actually get there.

So, now one of the big clean energy policy efforts we have underway in the Kitzhaber administration is a 10-year energy plan. The intent being that in 10 years time our trajectory is to meet and exceed our renewable portfolio standard, our fuel standard and emission reduction goal, but that we have credibly bent the curve so that we are moving towards a low carbon energy and transportation system.

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Green Line Series | W+K Tomorrow’s Nick Barham Flips ‘Green’ Marketing On Its Head

We sat down with Wieden + Kennedy Tomorrow’s Global Director, Nick Barham, ahead of GoGreen to get the scoop on his presentation and his opinions on current trends in green marketing. Check out this Green Line Series Interview for a primer on this Thursday’s talk — “We Hate Sustainability”: Moving Beyond The ‘S’ Word.

GoGreen Conference: Before we get too far, can you give us a primer on what you do at Wieden + Kennedy Tomorrow?

NB: W+K  Tomorrow is an initiative of Wieden + Kennedy, and most simply, my job is to think about how we do things that we’re not currently doing. So what aren’t we doing today that we could be, and perhaps should be? I work on our sustainability initiatives because it’s something that is a changing landscape for brands. I also work with our incubator space called the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE), which works in emerging technology and I help run a publishing venture. So W+K Tomorrow is looking at how communication in the brand landscape is changing and what we should, as a communications agency, be doing to respond to that.

GG: We’ve been in the business for the past five years of teaching businesses how to improve sustainability, and we’ve noticed a definite shift in language in the market. We’ve gone from “natural” to “green” to “sustainable” now. It seems like the green marketing world tends converge on certain language and visual representations — and if you don’t use the right language, you’re not seen as credible. But your presentation flies in the face of that by saying, ‘Ditch it’. If that’s the case, what do we do instead?

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Green Line Series PDX | The Responsible Human

Carol Sanford Have you ever wondered if it’s really possible for just one person to make noticeable impact towards greening a business? Renowned author and speaker, Carol Sanford, argues a resounding ‘YES!’ Before Carol takes the stage at GoGreen Portland on October 11, learn the definition of a truly responsible business and how you, as an individual, can drive change from within — even if the word “sustainability” isn’t in your title.

GoGreen Conference: Before we dive into the concept of a responsible human — the topic of your solutions lab at GoGreen Portland — let’s back up a bit. Help us understand the definition of a responsible business. 

Carol Sanford: A lot of us have intentions to try and improve how it is that businesses engage with the world — so they not only do not do harm, but actually create a better world. Most of the time, we try to do this using either advocacy or influence and sometimes all the way up to pressure of some kind. But we’re missing a key ingredient there, which is what I call capability.

We notice that often when we’re seeking change in a person, we have a conversation with them that ends up more like a debate. And even after we’ve given them evidence of something, nothing changes. My premise, and the premise of the responsible business, is that if we don’t build certain kinds of capability, people cannot see why they’re believing what they’re believing and they can’t develop a belief in a change process.

If you really want to help people change and help them change in a way that is much more responsible (which is a word I like a lot), you have to build a both inner and outer capabilities that are much more systemic.

One of these capabilities is the ability to see the world in terms of related, dynamic systems, not as seeings things as “doings.” When we see the world as things, what we do is break it up into pieces, and we end up working on it in pieces. Every time we work on a piece, we usually  cause a bad side effect for something else. For example, we decide we’re going restore a watershed, but what we do is restore that watershed in a way that doesn’t end up creating health and vitality for all the living species, like elk or wolves, that are connected to the water.  We create a solution based on what we know is best for water, but we don’t look at the whole system. I differentiate that from what MIT calls systems thinking, which is built off the study of machines — it’s a fibernetic view of systems that doesn’t necessarily factor in the living factor of natural systems.

The responsible business is based on is learning to see all of those aspects as related and necessary to the success of the whole. I call out five stakeholders as a making up a system. I’d say it starts in business with a consumer. After that, you connect what I call the co-creators to that  node. Co-creators are what we used to call suppliers and employees, but empowering them with a creative and important role in the process. Then you can ask the question: How does Earth become healthier, and how do communities become healthier through our actions? We often forget the Earth and our communities as stakeholders, even though most of our products depend on drawing material resources from the planet and our communities are impacted in almost every decision we make. As a result of integrating all the above aspects appropriately, we insure that the investors get a return.

So that’s a system of thinking and what underlies the responsible business. I’m now taking that into an arena where individuals can look at it how they can live out those same kind of aspects and make impact in their role, whatever it might be.

GG: We like to talk about the spirit of individualism and self-determination in this country. As a co-creator, how do we as individuals fit into that bigger picture — that whole system?

CS: One of the uniquenesses of the United States of America and the nature of its founding is that we are very much rugged individuals. The upside is that it allows us to take on a strong sense of personal agency. The shadow side of that is that it can have us become self-serving and even go so far as greed. The reason I’m working on this idea of the responsible human is to take that cultural characteristic, which I greatly value and believe is something the US can offer to the rest of the world, and build a process for driving it to fruition.

Do we, as human beings, have a unique role in the world? I believe we do. I believe that when we understand and see ourselves as an integral part of a living system — rather than above it or separate from its effects and consequences — we have the chance to discover solutions that support all facets of life and enterprise. I have been committed to that idea for almost four decades of my life, building capability into companies and individuals as they work together in teams, groups towards individual and commons goals.

What I’m going to bring in to this conversation at GoGreen Portland are what I’m calling the six core aspects of building the responsible human so that organizations, businesses, societies, and people have the ability to live out this rugged individualism, this drive, this sense of  personal agency; self-actualizing, in a context that serves the whole.

GG: What are these six core aspect to the approach you’re advocating? 

CS: The subtitle is “Change the world without changing jobs”, right? So we are going to focus on a framework that gets people started on a path to making a difference by developing their own capability. No matter where you are, you can bring about the kind of improvements and evolution in your workplace and society that will benefit us all. To that end, I’m introducing six aspects, three of which are sort of an outer nature and three of which are an inner nature. Before you can focus them on your place of work, you have to think about how to build them in yourself. How do you ensure you yourself are growing in a way that you can be the change agent you want to be. And as you work on yourself, how do you bring those kind of capabilities into the organization via influence? So let me list what those six core aspects are and note that we’ll dive deeper into how each of these applies to the idea of a responsible human during the lab.

  1. Ability to see the world and your environment (work or otherwise) from a dynamic systems perspective and to understand nodal thinking.
  2. Engage in external considering. This is the premise that it’s not all about you and that your actions have impact on other aspects of the systems you exist in.
  3. Transfer your worldview from a fixed performance perspective to a dynamic, developmental perspective.
  4. See each person as unique and as possessing distinct capabilities and talents to contribute to the vitality of a system.
  5. Ability to engage the “internal locus of control.” Take accountability for your actions and help hold others accountable as well.
  6. Move beyond self-actualization into systems actualization. How do you fit into the whole dynamic?

GG: How do we effect the success of our organizations with these tools? If you’re in a business with 10 people, you can really see the effects of your work. But how much difference can one person really take in a huge corporation like Google that has tens of thousands of employees?

CS: All of us know a handful of people that , because of how they are, are influencing everyone’s thinking. I ask this question of people all the time: Think of five people that — because of how they behave and how they interact — command attention and respect, have a sense of integrity and are valued for what they’re bringing to the table. A lot of the characteristics I just talked about here have to do with how we engage even when it’s a one-on-one or small group situation. We have to remember that our behavior changes the dynamics of the group. We forget how much that if we behave differently, other people do too. People are attracted to others who exhibit these characteristics of leadership. We admire, respect and get inspired by people who think about others. People who can see the right place to intervene, the right node to affect. The people who see you as changeable, growable and not stuck in life — and give you that respect. Who see you as unique and distinctive. Who see you as holding yourself accountable — no lying, no excuses, no victimhood — and who see you as trying to help improve the life of not only yourself but also for everyone else.

If you’re practicing and building your capability in all of these areas, it has a huge influence on the rest of the system — I don’t care what office you sit in. And the more you’re able to do this over time, the more effect you have. It has nothing to do with the size of an organization. Let me tell you about one guy who ran a detergent tower in Colgate-Palmolive in South Africa, who’d had only the equivalent of a fourth-grade education. Isaac was his name. Everyone would have said that Isaac, sitting on that detergent tower with no education could have done very little, but Isaac decided because his own children were going to be able to come into this new republic of South Africa, he had to figure out a way to bring some changes. He started talking about it to other people. What he wanted was to improve the health of the children in Selletto, the township that he lived in. He started asking why it was that they made toothpaste and mouthwash, but couldn’t create a way to improve health in the community?

Well Issac kept working on himself and building this dialogue with others out of this vision of what he thought was possible and he eventually was able to get the corporation (it took him about 6 months) and a group of dentists to help educate the children. He started with a set of women who had small businesses and got them set up to sell bolt-and-lock cases of these products to help improve children’s health. He even built the program with dentists in order to measure and track the health benefits, and then he brought in the economic development commission. That was one guy in a factory! So, it’s not about large or small. It’s about the ability to understand that you have to change how you approach change. These six things give you a way to think about the challenge of: How do I move me so that I can move the world?

GG: How do these ideas apply to sustainability efforts?

CS: Sustainability efforts are often very short-sided and limited in terms of their systemic effects. We end up with lists of best practices to work on, things to count, that don’t necessarily improve the health and the wholeness of the planet. No one is ever encouraged to ask about that and expand their view. That’s something we need to work on.

Let me back up to even what people’s current job is. For the most part, when people are working in a sustainability role, what they are empowered to do is bring the kind of conversations that are normally not brought forward, to the front of the agenda. When we did Seventh Generation’s second sustainability report, we said we were no longer going to count just the numbers that reduced carbon or reduced the company’s footprint. Instead we were going to bring forward the story of how it was that those actions set to make a difference to a larger system. So they looked at the air basin which surrounded Burlington, Vermont, and they started to have the conversation about the quality of the air and the quality of life of people who lived there. When you think about thing like the asthmatics of the children who lived in a community it brings a massive idea like global climate change into better focus.

This is what the dynamic developmental view is all about. People had come to see the pollution in their area as something that they couldn’t handle. So instead of Seventh Generation just issuing a report, they engaged the community in a narrative. Gregor Barnam (their Director of Corporate Consciousness at the time) decided that if he was really going to bring about change in how people talk about sustainability, he had to make it personal. So he created an idea of showing people and businesses how they can effect their community by their choices and by how they operate — and that they can really can influence their own health and that of the community.

It was really just three people who created this initiative. They had no titles — they had jobs, I think one of them was a customer service-related person. Gregor ended up working with the title of Director of Corporate Consciousness, but he was one person, he didn’t have a staff or anything. Still, this became a movement across the entire state of Vermont. Now Vermont’s a little unique, but they carried that out and took it into Arkansas. I was with their founder, Jeffrey Hollender, when he went to Wal-Mart and introduced this idea to them about how it is you really ought to be engaging communities around the idea of sustainability, not just doing reports. It was something that really took hold.

GG: For the people attending, what do you hope to accomplish in this session and what do you hope people leave the session armed with?

CS: There are two things I hope they come away with. One is a belief that there are things they can change about how they’re engaging even in small, day-to-day operations — And that these things can have a ripple effect beyond their own thinking and their own wishes and dreams. Many time it feels like you attend a conferences to get inspired from other people, but then you have to go back and work where nobody else cares about what you believe is important — or cares less about it at the very least. I want attendees of this session to go home with the belief that they can be influential in the areas they are passionate about and empowered to take steps to get there.

The second thing is that we’re going to spend time developing a plan on how they can first take action on  building capability in themselves (because all of this has to do with working on ourselves first) and then how they could influence change on something they care about by acting differently in their own right. We’re going to work in small groups, so that they’re not only getting ideas from me from their peers. We’re going to share and reflect on them. I feel like if they walk away with a sense of being a person that can have an effect by changing a few things and if they have one place where they’re gonna take action, that’d will be well worth the time.

Carol Sanford is a renowned author, speaker and business consultant. She will be leading the Responsible Human: Change the World Without Changing Your Job Solutions Lab at GoGreen Portland, Thursday, October 11. You can join Carol for this empowering session and a full day of trainings and solutions-based learning by registering at portland.gogreenconference.net/registration

Green Line Series PHX | Mayor Stanton On The Sweet Spot Between Business, Government & Sustainability

Phoenix has a new Mayor who is not afraid to take on big challenges. Greg Stanton took the reigns in 2012, winning with a platform that unabashedly advocated for the growth of a greener economy and implementation of sustainable practices in the public and private sectors. After eight months in office, Mayor Stanton is hitting his stride and gives the Green Line Series the scoop on how business and government can work together to drive an environmentally and economically sound Phoenix region.

GoGreen Conference: What is your vision for the intersection of thriving business enterprise and sustainable development in Phoenix? They are obviously not mutually exclusive — what does the sweet spot of the Venn Diagram look like?

Mayor Stanton: I believe that the role of the City should be to create conditions under which all businesses have the ability to grow and thrive. I am championing and will push to have Phoenix be known as the leader within business and sustainability. The City is open and ready to partner, and find creative pathways for organizations that want to pursue sustainability as part of their core strategy.

GG: What is the role of the business owner/leader in driving this vision? How can the private sector put their muscle behind building a more sustainable community and economy in Phoenix?

MS: Private businesses and leaders are not only important, but crucial to the shared vision of success we all want. It is the entrepreneurial and ingenious spirit of these leaders that will help us move forward. In particular, I think that there is significant opportunity for businesses — focused on benefiting others — to simultaneously do well and do good.

GG: From the corporate perspective, how does working in sustainable systems drive healthy economies and communities? And how does that benefit business?
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Brooklyn Navy Yard | Ushering In A New Manufacturing Renaissance in NYC

Since the days of the Industrial Revolution, we’ve tied manufacturing to smoke stacks and polluting factories. But today’s generation of manufacturers — with a keen eye on environmental impact — are cleaning up the sector’s reputation through use of cutting-edge technology, highly efficient processes and a broad array of natural materials that are both high quality and eco-friendly. More than a few of these companies are housed in the revitalized Brooklyn Navy Yard (a community partner we are proud to have on board with GoGreen NYC!). Check out three inspiring businesses based in the complex that epitomize the Manufacturing Renaissance sweeping the nation.

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