Set the Hook with a Sexy Project

At least on the pure emissions reduction front, the best way to start projects at a new corporation is to follow the ways of the drug dealer. Provide a little bit of your product free of charge; then once they're hooked, you have a long-term customer. In fact, the best approach to bringing such projects to a business is to make the projects happen first, under the radar, and then bring the incredibly successful results to management. For example, even though the Nell garage retrofit was monstrously difficult to pull off, the end result got people excited. We reached a point where the CFO started accepting any efficiency or renewables project with an ROI of 12 percent or better, about twenty percentage points lower than most corporate hurdle rates for such projects. He would accept this rate, however, because he understood that the savings were real and the end product was high-quality. (In addition, he found himself receiving public credit for supporting progressive environmental work. He might even have been asked to accept an award. These are not situations that bean counters often find themselves in, and the glory is intoxicating.)

This approach—hammer out a sexy, cost-saving project immediately before you have a comprehensive program— flies in the face of the conventional wisdom about corporate change. It's generally understood that you'll meet the very barriers we encountered at the Nell if you haven't prepped the company culture first. But I disagree. If you start by setting up a long cultural change program, you rapidly reach a point where people are asking what the en-viro guy in the executive division is doing . . . what's he actually getting paid for? When you say, "We're laying the foundation for cultural change," to Donnie, he'll take an other long drag on his Camel while looking at you through heavily lidded eyes.

As an aside, remember that what you think is sexy as a climate and energy geek may not be perceived as sexy by the people you interact with. Case in point: my friend, on the sly, and in a fit of green ambition, replaced all the down-lights in his kitchen with early-generation compact fluorescent lamps. The second his wife walked into the kitchen she made him take them out. In this case, not only was there a gap in sexiness perception, but perhaps my friend should have laid the groundwork a little better, maybe in the form of some flowers or a candlelight conversation.

Still, at some point you do have to make a pitch to the wife or senior management to implement either broad-based sustainable business strategies or more focused energy and climate work, above and beyond the first sexy project.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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