Green America at Green Cities

Posted by Trish Riley, May 20, 2009

Report from Green Cities Florida

Orlando

Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director of Green America, an organization that supports green businesses with information, resources, networking and certification and also provides a wealth of information about green topics, spoke this morning on “What Makes a Business Green?”

“The green segment of every sector of our economy is growing – the tipping point is starting to happen,” she said. “Now it’s about getting to scale. As Amory Lovins says, ‘energy efficiency is like picking money off the floor’.”

Gravitz detailed the characteristics of green businesses and the steps to take to become green. She pointed out that reducing energy use saves money, and reducing a company’s environmental impact can help to avoid regulation and litigation problems.

She and other speakers at the conference have cited examples of green innovation and successes from some of the biggest names in the corporate world: WalMart, Shell Oil, DuPont, Dow. Although we know these companies don’t have perfect environmental legacies, they are making changes today and the power of these large businesses will have a great impact on the planet’s environmental health. While it’s important for consumers and our government leaders to keep an eye out for greenwashing, it’s okay to support the green changes that businesses are making as we move into the future together.

“No one is totally sustainable today,” said Gravitz. “But we’re evolving. In five years we’ll have come a long way.”

Gravitz cited studies that say we need to increase our solar energy to 700 times today’s capacity to meet our energy needs without emissions. “The efficiency savings alone would cover the cost of doing this in Florida,” she said. “Prices are coming down – the turning point already happened – solar is cheaper than coal.

“If utility companies don’t go solar, the customers will do it without them and power companies will lose them.”

Gravitz advised business owners to use climate change to organize your approach to greening your business – it will touch every aspect of your business. She outlined her “Going to Zero” steps: Calculate your footprint; reduce your energy use, offset what you do use. Speak out as a business. “In a community, business voices are the voices that government listens to the most. Congress needs business voices to let them know you want climate regulation. It’s not perfect, but we must pass something to negotiate Kyoto II in Copenhagen this fall.”

Contact Green America to get involved.

p.s. The coolest part of Alisa’s talk was the power point slide at the end, where she recommended her favorite resources for further information. Top of the list – and she had no idea I was there – was my new book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Greening Your Business! Cheers! –trish*