Tomás Alberto Ávila
The notion of a green economy economic activity by companies and customers in the form of products, services, and business models that promote economic growth, reduced environmental impacts, and improved social well- being — gathered steam in 2008. One key driver: the U.S. presidential campaign, the first ever where both major-party candidates discussed accelerating investments in alternative energy, electric vehicles, a “smart” electric grid, and, not insignificantly, the green jobs these things would create. The conversation accelerated during the fall, as the economy tanked and unemployment rose. Suddenly, the green economy was seen as a pathway out of economic gloom.
Green building is on the rise, spurring new technologies that save energy and money while creating more healthful workplaces. There is a green race taking place in the automobile industry, with every major manufacturer planning to introduce electric vehicles. The leading consumer product makers and retailers are starting to rigorously assess the environmental impact of their products using sophisticated metrics, sending signals up the supply chain that tomorrow’s products will need to hew to higher levels of environmental responsibility.
Of course, all this is taking place during a time of staggering turbulence in the economy, and at the dawn of a new political era in the United States, the combination of which is causing both uncertainty and excitement over the notion of a green economy as a means of national economic and environmental security. As this report is being published, we stand on the cusp of a potential explosion of new ideas, inventions, and initiatives, but face great questions about whether there will be sufficient resources to bring them to fruition.
At the end of the day, the questions remain: Are we moving far enough, fast enough? Does the ever-growing green activity in the business world represent a true transformation, one capable of adequately addressing pressing issues like climate change, air quality, the loss of species, and the looming water crisis? Or is it merely nibbling at the edges of the problems? Reasonable minds can justifiably argue both sides.
The biggest business opportunities of the 21st century are for green businesses solving environmental challenges such as climate change. The opportunities are as large as the challenges, and innovative entrepreneurs taking on the challenges are moving green from the fringes to Wall Street, Main Street and everywhere in between.
With the Green Economy estimated to be over 200 billion in the United States in 2005 and growing globally, going green is both good for the environment and smart business move.
Going green means different things to to different people, but it generally means reducing pollution, conserving resources and ecosystems; being energy efficient and reducing climate change. For many people, being green also means being aware of social issues such as fair trade and labor practices. Green businesses ensure that the natural system on which our lives and economies rely will be around for the long term, and provide an environmentally sustainable world with profitable and rewarding ventures.
The rapid growth of green business is seen in many fields such as the growth of the sale of organic food 15-21 percent a year for more than a decade. Businesses that develop new technology that spans a broad range of products, services, and processes that lower performance costs, reduce or eliminate negative ecological impact, and improve the productive and responsible use of natural resources.
To fight climate change, reduce pollution and lower our dependence on oil, businesses have increased the use of United States wind power capacity 45% in 2007.
Entrepreneurs are transforming the buildings where we live and work to be safer and more efficient as of the booming green building movement, which will be expanding with the recent passage of The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 that calls for a 30 percent reduction in Energy use relative to a comparable building constructed in compliance with baseline code. The bill also mandates that each state or local Administrator of a REEP program shall seek to ensure that sufficient qualified entities are available to support retrofit activities so that building owners have a competitive choice among qualified Auditors, Raters, Contractors and providers of services related to retrofit.
Never before has there been such a broad range of opportunities for entrepreneurs with almost any background to do well in business and help the environment at the same time. People around the globe are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work on solutions for habitat loss, air pollution, declining oil supplies, water pollution and climate change.
According to the Natural Marketing Institute, an estimated 30% of the United States adult population are consider LOHAS (Lifestyle Of Health And Sustainability)an are spending money in ways consistent with the belief in the need for a greener world.
LOHAS (overall) $209 billion
Personal health $118 billion
Eco-Tourism $24.2 billion
Alternative Energy $400 million
Alternative Vehicles $6.1 billion
Green Building $49.7 billion
Natural Lifestyles $10.6 billion
Every day more people are changing to more efficient light bulbs, buying more fuel efficient cars, and doing whatever else they can in their daily lives to make a difference. Going Green is not just a fad or a trend but a lasting change in how we live and do business.
Going Green also may be the best way to protect against the loss of business that may result from a globalized economy and other economic challenges as we have learned from the present economic crises we are experiencing, causing the demise of the automobile industry an iconic employer for over one hundred years.
Former bastions of industrial strength are giving way to new industrialized powers such as China and India and this shift has eliminated or transferred millions of jobs from the Unites States to other parts of the world.
Developing Green technologies and companies helps develop economies offset their diminishing roll in old industries, and going green makes companies more efficient and more competitive in a slow economy. According to Jonathan G. Dorn, Staff Researcher, Earth Policy Institute “Just as the 19th century was powered by coal and the 20th century by oil, the 21st century will be powered by the sun, the wind and the renewable energy from within the earth.”
Eco entrepreneurs have many advantages in the rapidly growing green economy, with small innovative firms they don’t have to worry about changing their mindset or about loosing investment in old technologies; instead new business owners start with a clean slate to build profitable and environmentally sound companies from the ground up. They are proving to be potent catalysts for greening the rest of the economy.
Being entrepreneurial is more than staring a business. It’s about taking charge and blazing a path forward, and this can happen anywhere, employees work inside businesses, non-profits and government as entrepreneurs taking risk and innovating to create change. Mark Kravatz is an example of such individual, who has carved his own path in the Green industry in Rhode Island through his passion for a sustainable world and his desire to spread the fledging green economy to segments of Rhode Island that would otherwise not been included.
The evolution of the modern economy keeps forcing us to be entrepreneurial in our daily work, in order to remain significant in a more competitive job market. Globalization, outsourcing, telecommuting, the internet and the flattening of corporate hierarchies have hastened the evolution of the the employee of the 1950s into the one man mobile work force of today. We can’t no longer rest in our laurels, while slowly rising up the career ladder based on our seniority of service.
Eco-entrepreneurial individuals in government, business and non profits are engineering sustainability from the inside out, but it doesn’t stop there as the evolution of work blurs the line and the green wave the individual starts in his or her company may carry him or her to start their own business.
Government stands smack in the middle of the green wave, creating laws such as the United States House of Representatives passage of bill H.R.2454 an act to creates clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming and transition a clean energy economy, and calls for a 30 percent reduction in Energy use relative to a comparable building constructed in compliance with baseline code.
Rhode Island's governor signed a law that requires the state's largest electric utility to buy power from renewable energy producers, a move intended to smooth the way for what could be the first offshore wind farm in the United States.
The legislation requires National Grid Plc (NG.L) (NGG.N) to make long-term contracts to buy 90 megawatts of renewable power, a step that Governor Donald Carcieri says should help Deepwater Wind to secure the $1.5 billion in funding it expects to need for two offshore projects.
The dynamic upswing in green business has also led to an upswing in the demand for innovative solutions that eco-entrepreneurs can use in their businesses. Opportunities for entrepreneurial individuals to do right and do well are unlimited in the green economy. A rapidly growing billion--dollar sector that includes renewable energy sources, organic produce and products, green buildings, alternative fuel vehicles, and more.