Directions 2010: Answers from the Leaders

This is the first of a series of posts that will note the key points from Directions 2010.

The keynote speaker was Mr. Stephen Moore, Senior economics writer for the Wall Street Journal.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Moore’s presentation because he did not hold back when offering his opinion. Whether I agree or not, I appreciate someone who is willing to speak their mind.

The first comment that I believe is noteworthy: “What happened in Greece may happen in the U.S.” This was disturbing to hear, but I think a bit of realism is necessary in these tough economic times. Mr. Moore also stated, “The stimulus was a profound waste of money.” It is his prediction that inflation will exceed 2-3% annually in the years ahead because of the money we dumped into it. We may see 2, 3, or 4% GDP growth in 2010, but we lost 10-11% during the recession. Even with this growth, it will be difficult to regain the jobs necessary to stabilize the economy.

He pointed out that President Obama claims to have been handed the worst economy in 100 years, but President Reagan actually took over during a worse financial time. Mr. Moore believes that it is important to analyze history in hopes of finding solutions to current problems that our country faces. I agree with him, but it is also necessary to remember that the circumstances are not identical.

Mr. Moore is also very worried about Cap and Trade, which he believes will not reduce global temperature by any more than 0.1%. He jokingly referred to it as the “China and India full employment act” because it will just move jobs overseas.

Mr. Moore highlighted President Obama’s lack of understanding about who is the spine of the U.S. economy. He noted that President Obama wants to raise taxes on the rich (those individuals in the highest tax bracket), but that 2/3 of those are small business owners. Mr. Moore stated, “President Obama is putting up a wall between Washington and small business owners.” It is Stephen’s prediction we will have a double dip recession if taxes are raised. He believes we need to put in place a flat tax, to avoid double taxation on business and investment. His recommendation is that we adopt Keynesian supply-side new deal practices to recover.

February 25, 2010 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Leading Architect weighs in on current issues in the green building industry

To further my understanding of what it is going to take to aid businesses in achieving greater social and environmental responsibility, I interviewed a well-known architect who is leading the way in the green building industry. He offered valuable insight about what needs to happen if our children are going to live in a world that is cleaner than ours. To respect his anonymity, I will refer to him as Mr. Green.

The bottom line is that we need a culture shift. Mr. Green reminded me of a nursery rhyme from childhood about three little pigs. The story relates to the building industry because the brick house required a larger up-front investment, but when faced with the wolf huffing and puffing to blow the house down; it stood strong! Inertia in the construction industry is huge, and it is difficult to challenge the status quo. Mr. Green stated, “Do you think bankers want to change? Realtors? Appraisers? Developers… No!”

It is important to remember that before we became dependent on cheap oil, buildings were built in a more sustainable way and efficiency was mandatory. Mr. Green believes that the minimum standards in the building code need to be set high because sadly, that is all most developers will live up to. We are at the beginning of a movement and we need to focus on reducing energy consumption.

The problem in the industry is that each discipline operates within their own silo. The architecture silo, the construction silo, the power silo, the maintenance silo, and the design silo. With each of these operating independently, there is no hope of achieving the big picture. Mr. Green feels that the answer to the problem is to integrate the silo’s. This will also allow for cross-discipline reality checks that maximize efficiencies in all aspects of the project.

What really needs to happen is that the concept needs to be understood on a higher level. Ego’s need to be checked at the door, and the status quo must be challenged! This is truly a grassroots movement that is initiated from the ground up.

February 24, 2010 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

Key Information for Permaculture and Organic Sustainable Living, A Must See!

The Problem!

Source: youtube username: belouettetube

The Solution!

Source: youtube username: permascience

http://www.permacultureplanet.com/

February 13, 2010 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

Is permaculture the answer to improve the world for future generations?

Following is an interview that I conducted with a landscape design architect who is leading the way for green business. The topic is permaculture, and her goal is to assist clients in achieving sustainable living.

How do you define permaculture?

The Ethical Basis of Permaculture is:

CARE OF THE EARTH – means care of all living and nonliving things by utilizing harmless and rehabilitative activities

CARE OF PEOPLE

SETTING LIMITS TO POPULATION AND CONSUMPTION

But there is more:  Masanobu Fukuoka, born in 1913 on the Japanese island of Shikoku states the philosophy of permaculture as a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of learning how to cultivate thoughtful observation of nature and animals together, instead of a single-product system; a letting go of ourselves as the superior being to all other life-forms.

How will your work improve the world for future generations?

The word “permaculture” is a contraction of “permanent” and “agriculture” but it also includes “permanent culture.” Permaculture is about plants, animals, building, and infrastructures (water, energy, communications), but even more important, it is about the relationships we build between all these elements in order to produce a life-supporting system for city and country. It can begin anywhere; in every individual’s personal space, whether that is a front yard, back yard or patio, to an organic farmer, or by organizing a farmer-purchasing co-op store in order to sell responsible grown vegetables.

COOPERATION, NOT COMPETITION, IS THE KEY

Can your work be applied to commercial as well as residential landscaping?

Commercial buildings are an extremely important aspect of permaculture since the majority of our population lives within major cities. Green buildings, food not lawns and edible food production within the urban environment are all positive multi-faceted, multi-dimensional aspects of urban permaculture that can, should, and must be invested in for a viable and harmonious integration of landscape and people.

February 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm Leave a comment

LEED accredited supplier weighs in

In an attempt to fully understand LEED, I am gathering as many different perspectives as I can on the program. This post is an interview I conducted with a manager for a large lumber supply company. The professional is LEED accredited, and has supplied many LEED certified projects.

In your experience with LEED, what do you like about it?

I like that they are trying to push the building industry to think more sustainably.

What do you dislike about it?

1.       I don’t like that it isn’t science based.  A lot of the points are given for more “feel good” reasons and not scientific reasons.  For example they give less points for using lumber and more for concrete, even though concrete isn’t a renewable resource and it takes more energy to produce and it can’t be recycled.

2.       I don’t like that they are only trying to change the top 5% of commercial and residential projects.  In my opinion they should be pushing to improve the top 60% a little bit and not the top 5% a lot.

3.       I don’t like how expensive they have made it, because what has happened especially in residential projects is only the rich can do it.  So what has happened is that all these leed certified houses are 6000-8000 sq. ft. and there is nothing green about a single family dwelling being that large.

4.       I don’t like that they have created monopolies inside their point system, for example they only allow FSC certified lumber.  There are a couple other certifications out there that are just as sustainable and are lower cost.

5.       I don’t like how they have refused to work with manufactures to find solutions to make the industry more sustainable without increasing the price of building so high.

6.       Lastly, I don’t like how they are not taking the entire life cycle of products used into account.  They should be thinking from cradle to grave and currently they are not doing that.

What could be done to improve it?

They need to start talking to manufactures and find a way to make their certification more economical.

February 9, 2010 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

LEED is Setting the Standard

I had the privilege yesterday to work with the owner of GBL Geothermal, Matt Miller, to set up an online presence for his business. Mr. Miller is LEED AP accredited for new construction, and moving forward with a phenomenal business model that I believe will improve the world for future generations.

My last post discussed the opinion of Auden Schendler presented in his book, Getting Green Done, on the LEED certification program. Auden voiced concerns about the LEED certification system because there is the possibility that a building may achieve the certification without actually reducing consumption and emissions.

Mr. Miller feels that the current LEED certification system compensates for the shortfalls that existed in LEED 1.0. LEED is a program that is constantly changing and adapting to the business environment. As with any system there are problems, but LEED will continue to set the standard for minimum energy efficiency requirements in new and existing structures.

February 1, 2010 at 10:49 am Leave a comment

The Shortfalls of LEED

If you have not already read the book Getting Green Done by Auden Schendler, I strongly recommend it. The first topic I will discuss from the book is his experience with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Auden admits that LEED certification is the only and best option available in the building industry, but he stresses the need for something different. The problem with LEED is that it is simply a checklist where builders can pick and choose what they want to do, in order to meet the minimum requirement to get certified.

While LEED certification is a great starting point for overall sustainability measures, we need something more. Auden suggests that a certification focused on emissions and consumption in conjunction with local, state, and national policy changes might be the answer. My suggestions are to elect the right people into office, and then pressure them to make policy decisions that are environmentally and socially responsible. In addition, the certification system should focus on reducing the practices that make the largest negative impact on the Earth, and help those businesses and countries that are putting us all at risk. The system should also have a method in place to continuously monitor those that are certified.

I believe any business that is facing a tax for polluting our air will be more likely to spend the money to invest in clean energy. Cost vs. benefit analysis is the predominant practice for businesses, so the benefit of going green must outweigh the alternative. This coupled with a shift in corporate mentality that “Green is Green” will help improve the world for future generations.

January 31, 2010 at 12:38 pm Leave a comment

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Michael Lemons

I will secure sustainability for your business with strategic CSR (corporate social responsibility) by making social impact integral to the unique value proposition of the company.

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