Building Green Value--Top Strategies For Green During The Downturn

On Wednesday, I was fortunate to attend the forum "Sustainable Energy: From Global Evolution to Local Execution" hosted by the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia.  I expected to come away with greater knowledge about local renewable energy initiatives in the Delaware Valley, which I did.  There were great presentations by Pennsylvania and New Jersey officials on the state's energy plans, which I will go into more detail about in a later post.  But what was far more interesting to me was the clever strategies that companies are using to promote green during the economic downturn.

John Gattuso, Senior Vice President of Liberty Property Trust, spoke about what Liberty (one of the leaders in green development on both the office and industrial side) was doing during the downturn:

Right now, we are looking at what the next set of buildings are going to look like.  People have the time to think and plan now.

Smart developers are using this time to plan their next projects.  It takes 12-18 months at least to get projects into the ground through land acquisition, approvals, design, etc.  Now is the time to be engaging urban designers and sustainable architects (not to mention land use attorneys) to create the next great places to live and work. If you wait until the downturn is over, you will be at the back of the pack, not the front.

David Stangis, the Vice President of Corporate and Social Responsibility for Campbell's Soup (headquartered in scenic Camden, NJ) spoke about the importance of honing the green business case. 

Where the business case makes sense in where change will happen.  Businesses are looking for the sweet spot in having sustainability initiatives make business sense.

Smart green companies, regulators and advocates need to use the downturn to hone the business case for sustainability.  Projects which were on the bubble in the boom times will not fly. in what I like to call the "money constrained economy." Energy efficiency, reducing travel, using fewer resources and collaboratively creating new value will. 


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