Operation Kindness: Dolphin Blue Reaches Out to Tornado Survivors

On the afternoon of May 20, 2013, a category EF5 tornado devastated the city of Moore, Oklahoma, taking the lives of more than two-dozen residents and injuring hundreds more. With winds estimated at 210 mph, the twister ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb leaving a path of destruction 1.3 miles wide and 17 miles long. Unfortunately, block after block of flattened homes and businesses is not new to Moore. In 1999, another deadly EF5 tornado destroyed the area, following an eerily similar storm path. Once again, the residents of Moore were left to pick up the pieces.

Home destroyed by the powerful tornado that ripped through Moore, OK.

Homes destroyed by the powerful tornado that ripped through Moore, OK on May 20, 2013.

Dolphin Blue’s Accounting Manager, Robin Lynn, was quick to put out the call for local donations and organize a goodwill trip to Moore in an effort to relieve the burden and show support for survivors.  She collected clothes, canned goods, bottled water and everyday supplies from friends, family and coworkers.  Robin also worked with Dolphin Blue CEO, Tom Kemper, to handpick items to donate from the Dolphin Blue store such as Preserve kitchenware, personal care items from Nourish, cleaning products from Mrs. Meyers and Better Life, and Green Toys.

Dolphin Blue Accounting Manager, Robin Lynn, greets Moore, OK tornado survivors with kindness and donations.

Dolphin Blue’s Robin Lynn greets tornado survivors with kindness and donations.

After loading up her truck and making the three hour trip to Moore, Oklahoma, Robin surveyed the heartbreaking wreckage of homes in the area. She met with local residents who were volunteering with humanitarian organizations heading up the relief efforts in the area and donated the items she had collected.

After returning home Robin reflected, “The effects of the tornado were devastating, but the kindness and appreciation from so many people coming together to help their fellow neighbors was truly inspiring. There is a powerful energy in Moore, OK, that I think will allow them to overcome this adversity.”

Dolphin Blue is proud of Robin and her heart-lead efforts to support the survivors of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado.  If you wish donate or volunteer to the ongoing relief efforts, please click here to find out ways you can help.

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Infographic Friday: How Paper Recycling Works

Have you ever wondered how paper recycling actually works? Check out the infographic below and see how your daily recycling efforts are making a real difference.

We RecycleDolphin Blue has been a big fan of recycled paper since the 90’s.   (Remember the 90’s? Good times.) We pride ourselves in the fact that our papers contain a minimum of 20% post-consumer recycled content, with many of our paper options repping a 100% post-consumer content stamp. In other words, Dolphin Blue offers “tree free” paper. Yes, we love the environment.

And not to brag on our paper products, but they also offer even more great qualities like being processed chlorine free, being made with Green-e Renewable Energy, being carbon neutral plus, and being Green Seal and FSC certified. We love supporting environmentally minded paper industry leaders like Boise, Wausau, Mohawk, Neenah, and Beckett Concept.

Dolphin Blue would love to provide you with environmentally friendly paper. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on our new website, give us a call.  We’re here to help.

How Paper Recycling Works

Infographic courtesy of Brave Media LLC.

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Governmental Buying Practices and Sustainability

Recently, the staff at Dolphin Blue began questioning the buying practices of our government, and evaluating their overall impact on sustainability.  As more corporations continue to manufacture their goods in foreign countries, many tax-supported agencies have jumped on the “low-cost” bandwagon, creating a governmental bidding system with little regard to sustainability.  To answer some of our questions, we consulted with our in-house expert, Dolphin Blue  Founder & President, Thomas Kemper.

  

How does corporate outsourcing hinder the environmental health and welfare of our economy?

When we support the manufacturing of low-cost goods originating from distant places (i.e. China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India), the costs we ultimately incur are numerous, and detrimental to our natural world, local economies, and to the long-term health of our economy.  Every time a tax-supported entity procures an item provided by giant conglomerates, we continue to chip away at the sustainability of our planet (incurring a heavy carbon footprint), our communities (by eroding the local, regional and federal tax base), and our economies (local, state, and national).  Have you ever wondered why our roads, bridges, highways, school systems, county and state hospitals and park systems are in such disrepair, while the tax-supported jurisdictions responsible for their upkeep and maintenance are screaming that they are broke? How much longer can we continue to provide Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and favorable treatment to our largest corporations, so they can continue providing inexpensive foreign goods to the very tax-supported agencies that are responsible for maintaining the infrastructure and systems that are paid for, by us, the tax payers? As we, the payer of the taxes, continue to see unemployment rise, factories close due to unfavorable treatment, and the degradation of our natural resources’ health (clean air, fresh water, soil quality, forest and food stocks), while our very own taxpayer dollars continue buying cheap, resource-depleting foreign goods, creating a huge burden on the sustainability of our planet.

 

Corporate outsourcing clearly damages our nation’s infrastructure, but how do low-cost supplies produced in foreign countries harm our environment?

Products being procured with no understanding of our environment, affect our human health and global ecosystem in ways we are only beginning to understand.  The use of chemicals, such as chlorine and chlorine-containing compounds, affect the human endocrine system, and compromises the immune system’s ability to do what it was biologically designed to do.  The havoc being wreaked upon the health of our children is a cost seemingly hidden in our out-of-control healthcare system, which continues to grow as the fastest sector of our economy.  I saw this issue arising back in 1994, and made a personal and business decision to provide papers that are processed chlorine free, as well as being derived from 100% post-consumer recycled fiber and made in the USA with Green-e certified renewable wind energy.  Thus, it is incumbent upon all of us, as citizens of our local communities first and foremost, to get involved in the decisions being made by our tax-supported government representatives, and demand that they purchase only socially and environmentally responsible products.

 

Many governmental agencies purchase their supplies at a low-cost from large corporate conglomerates.  How does this practice create an unfair advantage for small businesses of all types?

Many of the corporate giants (whose supplies produce an annual revenue of $15 BILLION and upward ), have the financial ability to provide a catalog with as many as 45,000-50,000 items, of which only 5-10% of those products are actually certified as “green”.   Although Dolphin Blue  has the capability to provide a catalog containing approximately 4,000 items, ALL made in the USA, and ALL made with post-consumer recycled materials, other small businesses are unable to offer such a catalog when a tax-supported entity (municipality, county, state, or federal government) requests pricing from the vendor community.  Consequently, if a small business responds without providing a full catalog, that small supplier is deemed non-responsive to the government agencies’ Request for Quote (RFQ), giving the large giants a tremendous advantage in the marketplace. 

When governmental agencies purchase products and services from corporate giants moving goods globally, with little regard to anything but profitability, the tax-supported entity is doomed and destined for failure.  In my experience, very few government agencies leave the door fully open for those who qualify through the GSA contracting system, where buyers can select goods and services through a “best value” contracting criteria.  While it is regrettable that some agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have granted monopolistic exclusive contracts to some suppliers, a true environmentally conscious buyer will go shopping elsewhere, seeking the products and services truly aligned with the EPA’s stated, charted mission. 

 Is there a “Watch Dog” system in place to monitor and measure the environmental degradation, loss to society, or economic erosion of such “full service” catalog purchasing relationships? 

Unfortunately, there is no program in place to monitor these relationships, and if governmental agencies continue to support the taxpayers who fund its existence, the tax-supported agencies will continue to thrive in the marketplace, while we continue seeing our planet’s health degrade.

 Yes, but don’t some of the larger corporations offer “green” products?

Many “green” items being offered by the giants are not certified for the environmental attributes being claimed, and many of the so-called “green” products are not green at all.  They are usually being shipped many thousands of miles to gain business at a very low invoice expense, which further degrades our planet’s sustainability by imparting a very heavy carbon footprint on the health of our planet.  What might that cost be, to our society, our planet, and, to future generations? We’ve already keenly aware of those costs. We see them around us every day. The longer we bury our heads in the sand, the more devastating the costs.

Additionally, many of the purchasing contracts do not require the products to be made in the USA, thus sacrificing American jobs for a few nickels.  While these large “full service” catalog transactions are rampant among many levels of our government, there are many buyers within these agencies that truly understand the meaning of sustainability (meeting the needs of our generation, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs), and practice responsible procurement methods.  For these buyers, I applaud and acknowledge your pioneering spirit.  Thank you.  You understand that we are all in this together, and without us working together to achieve a sustainable planet, we will only be continuing to paint ourselves into a very precarious corner.  As citizens of our neighborhoods, local communities, country, and planet, we must be good stewards, and be responsible with all items, goods, and services we purchase.  We owe it to our children.

Tom is founder and CEO of Dolphin Blue, an online retailer of environmentally sustainable green office supplies and green printing products.

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We Won the LWV of Texas 2010 Environmental Business Award!

Tom Kemper is the President and Founder of Dolphin Blue

It was indeed a pleasure to have been awarded the League of Women Voters of Texas 2010 Environmental Awareness Corporate Business Award.

From the introduction by Mary Vogelson, long-time LOWV member and past-President, who interspersed pseudo-Madonna lyrics “not like a virgin”, into her introductory words, referring to Dolphin Blue providing ONLY office supplies made of post consumer recycled materials (not virgin), to getting to see and hear from the other categories’ recipients, I was honored to receive such a coveted award from  such a distinguished group of politically-active women.

I was particularly impressed by my fellow recipients of The League’s Annual Environmental Awards, notably, one long-time activist from Houston, Terry Hershey, who has been advocating for the environment at least 50 years. Ms. Hershey has wrestled with the Army Corps of Engineers, enlisting support from the likes of George H.W. Bush (daddy Bush) when he was a congressman, and Houston oilman George Mitchell (Mitchell Energy). After hearing Terry speak upon receiving her award, I’d be hesitant to take her on, even at her tender age, which appeared to be well into her 80’s. her credentials in environmental volunteerism and activism are impressive.

Congratulations to my fellow recipients, in the following categories:

  • The Catherine Perrine Award — Dr. Melanie Barnes, LWV Lubbock
  • Individual Award — Terese “Terry” Hershey, Houston
  • Corporate/Business Award — Dolphin Blue, Dallas
  • Media Award — EnviroMedia, Austin
  • Nonprofit Award — Texas Master Naturalist Program
  • Public Policy Awards (Individual) — Karen Hadden, Austin
  • Public Policy Awards (Organization) — Downwinders at Risk Education Fund, Midlothian

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation in government

and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

2010 ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS AWARDEES

Catherine Perrine Award: Dr. Melanie Barnes is a Senior Research Associate and member of the Graduate Faculty in the Department of Geology at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.  Dr. Barnes has been involved in environmental issues on a national, state, and local level for 25 years.  Through her positions as Natural Resources Director and Hazardous Waste Chair of the LWV-TX, she lobbied legislative bodies as a public citizen and a scientist.  Melanie brought the issue of a proposed high level nuclear waste site in Deaf Smith County before the citizens of West Texas by arranging a panel discussion with the U.S. Department of Energy, giving presentations at civic organization meetings, and taking field trips to the site.  Melanie was also a leader in addressing the issues associated with a low level radioactive waste site in Andrews County, Texas.  And, she was LWV-TX’s point person on nuclear energy.  Melanie’s scientific credentials give more weight to her educational and lobbying efforts, thus making her a more effective League spokesperson.

Individual: Terese “Terry” Hershey of the Houston area has devoted the past 50 years to community service, particularly centered on environmental issues. Much of her focus has been on the greater Houston area, and she was a founding board member of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and former member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.  On a national level she was a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality, National Recreation and Park Association (1979-1980 Vice-President), board member of the National Audubon Society (1977-86), and board member of the Trust for Public Land (1979-1992).

Business: Dolphin Blue is a Dallas-based, online retailer of ONLY environmentally responsible office supplies and printed paper products. Thomas Kemper started this business because he realized that recycling would not be successful unless a market was created for the recycled material. All papers provided by Dolphin Blue are post-consumer recycled, and most papers offered are 100% post-consumer recycled, being made of only waste paper fibers using NO tree fiber. Most papers offered are FSC-certified, processed chlorine free and made carbon neutral with Green-E certified renewable wind energy.

Media: EnviroMedia is a social marketing firm headquartered in San Marcos, committed to delivering authentic, ethical campaigns for clients who want to tell true environmental stories, including the Don’t Mess with Texas litter prevention campaign which achieved a 33 percent reduction in litter from 2001 to 2005.  They also directed advertising campaigns for Green Mountain Energy Company, leading to a 70 percent sales jump in 2006, and the Water IQ campaign for the North Texas Municipal Water District, which helped curb projected peak-day water consumption by an estimated 200 million gallons of water per day in 2006.  They oversaw the Dell Inc. electronics recycling strategy and in 2004, which transformed Dell from being publicly called a “laggard” to being named a “leader.” Related recycling events set records, keeping nearly 1,000 tons of unwanted computers out of landfills.

Nonprofit Education: Texas Master Naturalist Program is a network of 37 chapters with 5,300 volunteer members who work to improve public understanding of natural resource ecology and management. Originally started in 1997, it was adopted as a state program by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.  In the 10 years between 1998 and 2008, Texas Master Naturalists have volunteered over 1 million hours to natural resource and environmental projects in the state. They have impacted 90,000 acres and developed/maintained 996.5 miles of interpretive trails.  Michelle Haggerty, Naturalist Program Coordinator, Texas Parks and Wildlife, is accepting the award.

Public Policy Individual: Karen Hadden, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, has worked tirelessly to educate the media, citizens, and local and state officials about the need for coal plant cleanup and the health impacts of toxic mercury. She built a coalition among mothers, doctors, and fishermen regarding mercury emissions. She led the grassroots advocacy effort throughout Texas against 19 proposed coal-fired electric generation plants in Texas. As a result, SEED got party status in many of the cases and got reductions in mercury emissions from coal burning power plants.  Karen envisioned and created the Solar Austin Campaign that led to Austin developing the most ambitious solar goal of any municipal utility in the country.  This program served as a model for programs in the DFW area and San Antonio.

Public Policy Non-Profit: Downwinders At-Risk Education Fund is a diverse grassroots citizen organization dedicated to reducing toxic industrial air pollution in North Texas.  Although their main focus remains on reducing the toxic emissions of the cement kilns in the Midlothian industrial complex near Dallas-Ft. Worth, they have also served over the past 12 years as a resource for citizens’ groups nationally and internationally, including Puerto Rico, Great Britain, Mexico, Montana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, New York, and Michigan. Their 2007 Campaign for Green Cement persuaded the cities and schools in the Dallas Ft. Worth area to buy cement from newer cleaner kilns. This regional boycott was a factor in TXI shutting down its four wet kilns and Ash Grove pledging to reduce pollution from its wet kilns by 300 tons a year.

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Round UP, Impact DOWN

RoundUpLogo_260x113pixI’m excited to announce that we signed a memorandum of understanding today with Renewable Choice Energy to participate in their “Round UP, Impact DOWN” carbon offset project.
 
What this means is that anytime a customer of Dolphin Blue purchases an item, they have an opportunity to offset the carbon emissions associated with their purchase by “rounding up” their purchase price to the nearest dollar amount.
 
Through Dolphin Blue’s participation in the Round Up program our customers have an opportunity to offset a portion of the carbon emissions associated with shipping their order.
 
The extra charge collected by Dolphin Blue when a customer chooses to “round up” is invested in a carbon reduction project administered by Renewable Choice Energy.
 
And here’s what we promise to do for you – all Round Up contributions received will be matched 1-for-1 by Dolphin Blue.
 
Together, we can and will make our world sustainable for future generations.

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Academic Green Planners!

Nothing keeps kids (and adults!) more organized than a good planner. In honor of back-to-school season, check out those from Dolphin Blue — all of which are made from at least 30 percent recovered waste papers, using minimal virgin forest resources. Whether you need a planner in a wall, desk, or book format, you can find plenty of styles to suit your needs.

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Q & A: What drives Dolphin Blue?

Recently, one of our customers from Manning Architectearth-lighture asked why we do what we do at Dolphin Blue. Our CEO, Thomas Kemper, answered that we do it to make sure our carbon footprint is small and our mission is to create a sustainable planet for future generations.

“I founded Dolphin Blue to provide only environmentally responsible office supplies and printed stationery.

Dolphin Blue has never provided any item to a customer which was not comprised of at least 30% post consumer recycled material. All the business cards, labels, letterhead and envelopes we’ve printed for Manning Architects have been produced on 100% post consumer recycled, certified processed chlorine free, FSC-certified paper, made carbon neutral with Green-E certified renewable wind energy.

If you’re interested in knowing more about why we provide these products, please visit our site.

 We only print on uncoated stock made of 100% post consumer recycled, certified-processed chlorine free, FSC-certified paper, made carbon neutral with Green-E certified renewable wind energy.

The reason we do not offer a glossy coated stationary is the following: Most coated papers for brochure stock and other coated, glossy collateral are being produced in China. I honestly don’t know if a coated stock, made in the USA, is any longer available. When measuring ecological footprint, any gain in recovered or recycled fiber is lost many times over in fuel being used to transport, adding to that the resulting emissions, in paper being shipped here from China and other far-off shores. Offering products requiring an increase in carbon footprint is counterproductive to our mission of creating a sustainable planet for future generations.

I trust this will give you some comfort about what drives us at Dolphin Blue.

Thank you for caring enough about our planet’s sustainability to ask the question.”

We’re very passionate about our products and about helping the Earth. If you have any questions for us, about anything, please do not hesitate to ask!

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Tom Kemper: The CEO Speaks

TomKemperTom Kemper has spent the last 16 years running Dolphin Blue, Inc. and DolphinBlue.com, a business built on principles of environmental and social sustainability.

In the 1970′s, the valley in which Kemper was raised was discovered to have been covered with dioxin-contaminated waste-oil. The roads were being sprayed by county contractors to reduce dust in the summer months. A beautiful, spring-fed, trout stream — where Kemper fished as a young boy –became suddenly void of life. Rare illnesses and disease began showing up among his former classmates, creating concern among the neighbors in the formerly ecologically vibrant valley. The town is Fenton, Missouri, near infamous Times Beach. This played an important role in development of Kemper’s environmental awareness and activism.

Conducting the first public recycling event at the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas in 1992, he collected, sorted, and bagged three hundred fifty, 50-gallon bags of recyclable commodities in the three weeks of the festival. Kemper had little success in finding anyone to accept the materials for reprocessing. It was through this exercise he began to realize the true economics of recycling: the only way it works, is when we choose products made from materials we attempt to recycle.

Assembling a business and marketing plan for Dolphin Blue in 1993, the Company began providing post-consumer recycled products to its first customers in ’94. Fiscal 2003 produced the company’s highest-ever revenues, totaling almost $1 million in only recycled-content office supplies.

Not only does Kemper work to protect peoples’ health and the environment, he also has worked to create a fair and sustainable model in global trade.

Kemper says, “Under globalization, we see our natural world deteriorating and societies losing their culture. Human dignity, natural resources, peoples’ health, education, diversity and individuals’ economic needs take a back seat to profitability. Consumers expect low-cost, throw-away goods, while global corporations and CEOs and corporate managers increase their wealth exponentially. We often observe formerly good-paying jobs being exported to Bangladesh, China, India, Mexico, Malaysia, and now, Africa. For how long can we continue on this path? To be socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable, we must meet the needs of ALL constituents.”

Kemper believes we must begin in our own communities, valuing those amenities, “human and natural capital” — like clean air, clean water, healthy and nutritious foods, our children’s health, the health and strength of our community’s economy, safety of our neighborhoods – things we seem to no longer value, and those things we seem to have forgotten the past twenty years that our parents and grandparents seemed to inherently know. We’ve all been so indoctrinated to consumerism, we’ve lost touch with what really matters in life.

Small, locally owned business is one way to return accountability and sustainability to local communities. Small business is a realistic way to once again create strong, vibrant economies in our communities. Kemper asks, “Can we create the world we want that works for all of us? What does that sustainable world look like? Only we, the inhabitants in control of consumption, can create a sustainable world.”

To address these questions, Kemper and his co-chairs — Margie Haley and Gary Olp — embarked on a mission in 1998 to answer these questions each year through their leadership of Sustainable Dallas’ annual Conference on Sustainability.

As the President and founder of Dolphin Blue, Kemper strives to create the sustainable world and local community he envisions.

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Smart Business Magazine interviews Dolphin Blue CEO Tom Kemper

  1. V3CA7GLLPLCAUP10D7CACSI1Q1CAHM4FCJCA7AISXPCAQ6IXA0CANIRNI1CAUHUD84CA721ZGYCA413THGCACNF8AWCALBP6EJCA8CJUNVCAW14VZWCA2XBBPKCA5OPPRVCAPO2U9BCAKMGYJ7CA0QJHNRHow can investing in sustainability help businesses’ bottom line?
    Can we begin by defining sustainability as meaning: meeting the social, ecological and economic needs of our generation, while allowing future generations the ability to meet their own social, ecological and economic needs. As author and Sr. VP Marketing with IBM Canada, Bob Willard points out in his book, The Sustainability Advantage, there are several factors that contribute to a financially stronger bottom line in companies that operate in a sustainable manner.
    Some of these factors contributing to a financially stronger bottom line are:
    ·         Competitive advantage in the market served by a company.
    ·         Higher retention of employees.
    ·         Goodwill in the communities served by a company.
    ·         Higher employee morale, which equates to higher productivity.
    ·         Savings gained from conservation of energy and improved systems’ efficiencies.
    ·         Easier to recruit as well as to retain good employees.
     
    2. How can not investing in sustainability hurt a business?
    Not investing in sustainability will eventually define a company as being out of touch, not caring about how they are perceived in the marketplace. With the planet’s population at almost 7 billion, and, projected to grow to almost 10 billion in the next 50 years, eventually there will be no choice, except to operate sustainably. Because of ever-declining resources, we will have no choice but to conserve, reduce, re-use and recycle. Failure to take steps toward sustainability hurts everybody and everybody’s descendents.  We all need to do our part to make the world a better place for living.
     
    3. How can businesses educate themselves on sustainability?
    Subscribe to Sustainable Industries Journal, Green@Work Magazine, GreenBiz.com, read this article, hire MBAs from schools with sustainability degrees (Stanford, The Presidio, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, The Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia), join local NET Impact chapters and USGBC chapters, read Bob Willard’s The Sustainability Advantage, Ray Anderson’s A Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise, Paul Hawken’s Ecology of Commerce, John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and countless other books on the issue, many mentioned on the home page of my company, www.dolphinblue.com, where you can download a free copy of The Green Office Guide. A company wanting to educate itself on sustainability can hire Tom Kemper as a sustainability consultant.
     
    Very focused information can be conveniently and automatically delivered to one’s email inbox by using Google Alerts. For example, use search terms like “office supplies sustainable” and “office supplies sustainability” if you are a supplier of office supplies.  New info that is published on the Internet that pertains to sustainable office supplies will be delivered either daily or weekly — your choice, on any topic for that matter.
     
    4. What time frame ROI is average for businesses who invest in alternate energy sources?
    Sustainability is not only about energy usage and energy-efficiency. Sustainability is also about using less stuff, and using products made of recycled materials. I decided to start a company in 1993 because I saw where we were heading as occupants of a planet with finite resources. At Dolphin Blue, we provide office supplies that contain recycled materials and printed paper products made of 100% post consumer recycled fibers that are also processed chlorine free. For these items used by all companies, our offering lessens the resource burden on our planet, reduces a company’s carbon footprint, reduces the amount of energy needed in manufacturing a product, and eventually decreases toxins and chemicals that are otherwise allowed to continue building in our air, water and soil, affecting human health adversely. This build-up of toxins in the human body wreaks havoc on our endocrine system and interferes with the immune system, causing numerous diseases and ailments that put constant pressure on companies to fund ever-increasing healthcare premiums and claims.
    I’ve seen numbers stating ROI in as little as two years, and, as much as 5-6 years. A company would be best served to survey its peers and look at what others are doing, or, have done, to understand what may be a reasonable return for them.
     
    Typically it is claimed that an investor in alternative energy will recover an initial expense within 2 to 8 years.  Those figures are highly individual to an investor’s situation and will vary depending on which usual energy source is used for comparison and what assumptions are made about future costs.  An investor needs to look at both present costs and costs projected into the future — thus making ROI predictions very hazy.  I understand that Congress just passed a generous tax incentive on renewable energy investments that will run for seven years.  That can be a very important part of the calculation for ROI.
     
    5. Why do you think more businesses don’t invest in sustainable energy sources?
    Lack of time and resources to understand the advantages of investing in alternative forms of energy. The early adapters are finding out that they have the most to gain, both in revenue and competitive advantage. As an example, when Whole Foods Market announced last year that they were buying only energy to power their stores that is sourced 100% from renewable sources, they gained massive amounts of free press. PR experts have valued that free press at approximately $ 1.4 million. How much value is my mention of Whole Foods worth?As to why others haven’t invested in sustainable energy sources, I believe it is mainly because, as humans, we resist change. We know what we’ve been taught, and in that context, we haven’t yet seen the value in making the transition..  I have been a long-time member of an international CEO organization, where I was mentored for five years. I am one of the smallest members (in terms of revenue) in the Dallas Texas TEC Group. It is abundantly clear to me that , among the member companies, where there are several that are Fortune 500-size, they are not operating in an unsustainable manner because they don’t care, but, rather because they are practicing only what they know, and have been taught. If any one of them were to really stop and consider the mess we’re leaving their children and grandchildren, I believe they would abruptly and ardently begin their personal pursuit of sustainability.Change always happens slowly because of psychological inertia that slows the adoption of even obvious benefits.  Government is important for facilitating the speed necessary and desirable changes — using its own buying power, setting an example, setting regulations, and providing tax incentives or subsidies.  Government can, should, and will be a growing change agent for sustainable practices.

    6. What will it take for businesses to be more sustainable (gov. mandate, more incentives)?
    Education. In the 90’s, I was your typical consumer, not caring nor even interested in caring about the state of our planet. I shifted as a result of opening my eyes and looking around me, observing what was happening to my planet. Ray Anderson, Founder and Chairman of Interface Corporation, Atlanta, GA, says it best in his book, A Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise. Ray, after reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce, says, “As an industrial CEO, running a $ 1 billion enterprise, I was a plunderer… it took 39 tons of natural resources for our company to yield 9 tons of sellable goods. That is wasteful, and, costly. We could do better.”
     
    Interface is the model large corporation practicing sustainability in our time.
     
    HP just this week announced a $ 1 billion per year savings in their IT infrastructure by having invested in energy-efficient data center technologies. That’s a huge chunk of change.

    In the Healthcare sector, Sequoia Hospital, a 319 bed facility in Redwood City, Calif., has a 44% recycling rate; Affinity Health System in Appleton, Wis., saves approximately $100,000 each year on X-ray film after switching to digital; and Providence Health & Services reduced their energy usage by 7% saving nearly $4 million and received US EPA’s Energy Star Partner of the Year award.

    7. Sustainability is a new way of thinking about energy – we typically ‘rent’ our energy as opposed to creating it ourselves. Do you suggest businesses invest in producing their own energy?
    Eventually, if feasible. First, though, I suggest a company look at what energy they are using and where and how they are using it. There are many opportunities in almost all companies, that have immediate payback or savings. For instance, how many companies are using simple lighting technology that senses motion, and turns lights on when someone is present, or, turns off automatically when no one is there. How many opportunities are there to look at motors and pumps, which are huge energy “suckers” and replace them with state-of-the-art devices that are highly energy-efficient? Before making the leap to internal energy production, look for the low hanging fruit and reap those benefits first, then move on to more complex and time-consuming endeavors.
     
    The green energy revolution will occur during the next several decades.  Nobody has a single good answer, so we need any and all good minds to figure out ways for us to stop using fossil fuels.  Good minds for any business can dream up better ways to make energy use more efficient or to implement green energy technologies (e.g., mounting a wind turbine or some solar cells) that are suitable to a particular situation.
     
    8. Do most businesses care where their energy comes from?
    Honestly, I don’t think so. What most businesses do care about, or, should care about is the cost, ecologically and socially, of the emissions and footprint of the energy they’re using. If our utility energy is being produced cheaply from coal, and, the result of that manner of production is mercury in our water and climate change, we may not be aware of those costs, until it hits us, or a family member, personally. What we don’t realize is that, as the globe is warming, it is affecting crop production, increases in insect population, species migration, a rise in sea level, destruction by increased ferocity of hurricanes (Katrina, Ike) and resultant increases in insurance premiums and federal debt, as well as flooding from increased intensity of weather patterns. If our transportation energy is being produced solely from oil, and, being done so in an inefficient manner, as it is, we are stealing from future generations by failing to protect a dwindling, and some say, quickly declining, limited resource.

    James Howard Kunstler best describes our eventual demise in The End of Suburbia (online video), when he illustrates the massive shift we will all have to make when oil becomes so expensive that we cannot any longer function economically as we do today. Our economy has been designed around and built on cheap oil. We recently got a taste of what is to come when oil hit its recent high, and gasoline cost us $ 4.00+ per gallon.

    9. Would businesses be willing to pay for energy from wind/solar energy even if the initial rates were level with current energy fees?
    In many instances, businesses are now sourcing 100% wind-powered energy. Whole Foods Market, Mohawk Fine Papers, PepsiCo, The World Bank, 3M, Caterpillar, Inc., and the US EPA have all been recognized for purchasing 100% renewable wind energy. In our small office, we have installed all compact fluorescent lighting, reducing our consumption over the past five years. Our DELL network is a state-of-the-art Energy Star compliant, meaning the network uses as minimal energy as is possible. For more information and a listing of other companies that are leading the way, see http://www.epa.gov/stateply/partners/index.html, which now lists more than 230 partners.

    As Mohawk’s executives state, “We’re acutely aware that, as a paper manufacturer, we are part of an industry that depends heavily on energy, water, and other natural resources in the production of ephemeral, non-durable goods. Because of this, over two decades ago we embraced the concept of extended stewardship, meaning that we continually examine every aspect of our business with the objective of making our environmental footprint as small as possible. This means doing more with less and taking decisive actions to reduce or eliminate negative impacts. Working to reduce our net greenhouse gas emissions is simply part of our day-to-day business operations and wind power is clean, abundant, and reliable. By investing in wind energy we are aiding the growth of this emission-free energy alternative.”

    11. Considering many Americans are concerned about the environment and are drawn to environmentally friendly companies, about what percent of businesses care about their company’s impact on the environment?
    I don’t have numbers that indicate an honest answer to your question. My suspicion is that there are many companies, a greater percentage of those that do care about their impact on the environment, than those who don’t care. Again, education is key in this endeavor to become sustainable. It’s really not just about our (United States’) consumption, where we should be concerned. The US has roughly 5% of the planet’s population. We consume roughly 25% of the globe’s energy. China has about 25% of Earth’s population, and India another 25%. China and India are the two fastest-growing, in terms of consumption, major economies. Both India and China are at roughly 15-20% of our (United States) consumption capacity. Only a very small percentage of their population is consuming at anywhere close to our model of consumption, whether individually or industrially. What will our world be like, what will the demand be for oil (and other metals and minerals), when they are consuming at 30-40-50, or even 80-100% of their capacity to consume? To begin to understand this issue, and, all areas of sustainability, will allow us the education and motivation to take steps to make our companies better stewards of our planet and its occupants.
     
    12. What is necessary to convince business owners to start using sustainable energy today – given our poor economy?
    A great incentive to begin saving, through energy conservation, is right under our nose. The first step to sustainability is taken by looking at all your energy uses, and where can we easily implement energy-savings. As companies tighten their belts, they will begin looking at every area of their enterprise, finding ways to save. Energy is one of those areas where there are almost always immediate savings available by simply looking at how, where, and why it is used. Little changes in habits will go a long way.
     
    The power of the consumer can be a key factor in fostering a climate that supports businesses that operate sustainably.  Responsible businesses should be rewarded for their stewardship with the consumer’s dollar being their vote.  We should also inform non-compliant businesses when we do not patronize them with our dollars, as to why we did not support their activity with our dollar.
     
     13. Has the recent decrease in gas ruined businesses’ ambition to use alternative energy sources?
    Temporarily, maybe. I think most CEOs and industrial leaders are wise enough, knowledgeable enough, to know that high fuel costs are going to return. Most understand that fossil fuels are on the decline, and that we will see Peak Oil in the time prior to most of our time ending on this planet. For a better understanding of Peak Oil, read the recently-published The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of Twenty-First Century by James Howard Kunstler, or, Winning the Oil End Game: Innovation for Profits, Jobs and Security, by Amory B. Lovins and E. Kyle Datta.

    We need to work diligently to kick our fossil fuel habit, with the intent of fending off increased global warming. The crisis in climate change will continue to manifest itself, so our motivation will not be sapped regardless of cheap gasoline prices.

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