Week 4: Green Chemistry Discussions

How Close are we to a Green Economy?

I loved all the discussion topics this week and it was difficult for me to choose….but I picked “How Close Are we to a Green Economy?”  I think we have a long way to go and I yet I feel that we have positive momentum in this direction.  I also feel optimistic that Obama will help our country grow in this direction and that other parts of the world will follow suit.  I also feel that there are some major obstacles in the way:  lack of education, focus on profits and the bottom line, competing priorities, and the lack of resources and infrastructure to make big, impact changes.  I think a major obstacle is the economics of “green” products and practices.  They are more expensive and at this point, a privilege that not every country, company or individual has.

 

On the brighter side of things, I think industry is getting pressure to be more accountable and to have practices that maintain the environment.  “Being Green” is becoming fashionable and good for PR and public perception, which is important in this uncertain economy.  Everyone wants to “look good.” I think companies are also invested in doing the right thing for the environment and that there’s a lot of focus and attention being directed on the importance of taking care of the environment.

 

I work at Cisco Systems, and there is a major emphasis on the environmental impact of our products and environmental concerns are highly visible. I’ve been struck by the number of headline posts on our Internal Intranet each month about our commitment to being environmentally responsible.  I wanted to include the major headlines from the year because I think this is evident that some of Corporate America is actually actively invested in building a Green Economy.

2009-Jan

2009-Jan-26

The EcoBoard Thinks Green, Acts Green
The EcoBoard’s new governance model is accelerating Cisco’s green priority—both internally and with customers.

2009-Jan-15

The Connected Carbon Management Program
Cisco Europe is leading efforts to reduce the company’s carbon footprint with the Connected Carbon Management program, an emissions measurement and management system.

2009-Jan-07

Cisco EnergyWise Software Turns Switches into Energy Thermostats
New IP-enabled Cisco software allows switching and routing customers to reduce energy costs across their entire corporate infrastructure, making the network the platform for energy management.

2008-Dec

2008-Dec-22

Getting the Lead Out
Cisco’s Lead-Free program is developing a long-term supply chain strategy to remove lead from solder within Cisco, Linksys, and Scientific Atlanta products.

2008-Dec-15

One Million Acts and Counting
Cisco Canada partners with CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster, to inspire a massive, nationwide environmental movement.

2008-Dec-08

Cisco Receives Environmental Accolades for 2008 Accomplishments
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Carbon Disclosure Project, the State of California, Frost & Sullivan, and Miercom recognize Cisco for its green efforts in 2008.

2008-Dec-01

State of Missouri Reduces Environmental Impact, Energy Costs with Cisco CRE
Cisco’s Connected Real Estate solution monitors and manages building energy use—and is a natural fit for the State of Missouri’s 3,800 buildings.

2008-Nov

2008-Nov-23

2008 Corporate Social Responsibility Report: Cisco and the Environment
Cisco and the human network help customers achieve their environmental goals.

2008-Nov-06

Cisco Makes It Easy to Recycle
Cisco sites in Beirut, Boxborough, RTP, and Amsterdam take small steps to achieve big results in recycling.

2008-Oct

2008-Oct-20

Chesterfield Field Sales Office Earns LEED Certification
Missouri FSO is the first Cisco site to earn the esteemed sustainable building certification; other sites have applied for certification.

2008-Oct-10

October Is Energy Awareness Month
Employees are encouraged to contribute to Cisco’s conservation efforts.

2008-Sep

2008-Sep-29

Launch of Smart Work Centre in Amsterdam over TelePresence
Chris Dedicoat Presents at Second Global Connected Urban Development Conference in Amsterdam

2008-Sep-23

Cisco Eco Consulting Offers Carbon Footprint Profiling
New consulting service helps enterprise customers build a business case for optimizing IT and telecommunications to support their environmental goals.

2008-Aug

2008-Aug-25

GSM Does Its Part for Environmental Sustainability
GSM FY09 highlights a number of environmental best practices and showcases Cisco’s evolution to sustainable meeting formats.

2008-Aug-18

Efficiency Assurance Program Helps Customers Measure the Environmental Impact of IT Operations
EAP is an interactive Web 2.0 portal that enables customers to develop a business case for adopting sustainability.

2008-Aug-15

Sustainability by the Numbers
For Darrel Stickler, who works passionately to forge Cisco’s environmental efforts and CSR programs, the numbers don’t just add up—they tell the story.

2008-Jul

2008-Jul-31

Cisco and Local SJ Utility Partner to Conserve Energy
Cisco joins PG&E Demand Response program for San Jose campus to help regional utility avoid power outages.

2008-Jul-25

Environmental Defense Fund Recognizes Cisco TelePresence as Green Business Innovation
TelePresence noted for its environmental and business benefits, replicability, and creativity.

2008-Jul-21

Smart Buildings Offering Clever Ways to Reduce Energy Consumption
Internet technologies are helping integrate environmental building controls for greater efficiencies, but real estate industry slow to invest in these new systems

Source: News@Cisco

2008-Jul-10

Employees Respond to Water Bottle Reduction Pilot
U.S. pilot program introduces eco-friendly water-filtration systems as an alternative to bottled

2008-Jul-02

What does energy efficiency look like?
Energy efficiency is about more than changing energy provider, it’s about changing how we each use energy.

2008-Jun

2008-Jun-27

Cisco Pledges 25 Percent Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2012
Innovative use of IT and IP-enabled solutions is central to success.

2008-Jun-12

Low-Carbon Diet Prompts Changes to Menus in U.S. Cafés
Cisco HealthConnections partners with on-site caterer Bon Appétit Management Company to introduce food options that help reduce carbon emissions.

2008-Jun-10

Designing an Energy-Efficient Equipment Lab
New Cisco development and testing lab in Israel yields flexibility and cost savings while reducing environmental impact.

2008-May

2008-May-21

John McCool to Bring Energy-Saving Goals to EcoBoard as Newly Named Co-Chair
McCool has environmental objectives for campus operations and data center customers.

2008-May-12

ISO 14001 Certification Is Arduous but Worth the Effort for 20 Cisco Sites
Cisco uses internationally accepted standards to drive its compliance with environmental regulations and to continually improve its environmental performance.

2008-May-05

Cisco’s Earth Day 2008 in Review: Celebrating the Environment Around the World
Second annual celebration reaches every theater, bringing thousands together to work toward common goal of helping to protect the planet.

2008-Apr

2008-Apr-21

Austin Site Promotes “Human Network Organically Grown”
Earth Day celebration highlights organic food and sustainable gardening.

2008-Apr-15

Scientific Atlanta Mexico’s Earth Day Events to Inspire Future Generations
Site hosts daylong celebration and adopts schools and parks to raise environmental awareness among employees and area’s youth.

2008-Apr-07

Paris’ Green Week
Cisco Paris gears up for Earth Day with a week of environmental awareness activities for employees and their families.

2008-Mar

2008-Mar-31

Fight Climate Change—Ride Your Bike to Work
Bike-to-Work Day 2008 on April 23 helps Cisco celebrate the environment.

2008-Mar-27

Lights Out Australia
Cisco ANZ branches will “unplug” on March 29 to raise environmental awareness about power consumption.

2008-Mar-25

Returned Cisco Products Find New Homes Within Cisco
Value Recovery helped breathe new life into nearly 120,000 pieces of Cisco equipment in the first two quarters of FY’08.

2008-Mar-18

Mark Your Calendar: “Cisco Celebrates the Environment—Earth Day 2008”
Employees from around the world to participate in green events to celebrate the environment and learn new ways to help achieve sustainability.

2008-Mar-14

A Conversation with Al Gore: Mitigating Climate Change Through Innovation
Employees are invited to attend live virtual discussion across the globe March 19 as Al Gore, joins John Chambers and Cisco EVP and Chief Marketing Officer Sue Bostrom.

2008-Mar-10

Holistic Approach to Environmental Responsibility Makes Cisco the One to Watch
Aberdeen Group recognizes Global Supply Chain Management for its “green” best practices.

2008-Mar-03

Latest Sales Playbook Sparks Green Talk with Customers
CxO Relevancy and European Markets empower global sales team to engage customers in green conversations

2008-Feb

2008-Feb-25

Joining City Leaders to Address Global Environmental Challenges
Mayors and dignitaries from more than 90 international cities gathered in San Francisco to discuss impact of ICT as an environmental solution.

2008-Feb-18

Inherently Green: Online Collaboration with WebEx
WebEx helps reduce business travel and carbon emissions by moving events such as customer and company meetings, training sessions, and employee reviews online.

2008-Feb-04

Product Trade-In Program Good for Business, Good for the Environment
Capital Remarketing collaborates across Cisco to remanufacture some 410,000 units as ‘Certified Refurbished Equipment.’

2008-Jan

2008-Jan-28

Israel Joins WWRL in Recycling Efforts
E-Scrap Event extends its global reach as Israel joins the effort to keep electronics out of landfills

2008-Jan-22

Technical Documentation Community Goes Green
Cisco Development Organization (CDO) migrates customer documentation to compact discs (CDs)and strives to reduce internal paper usage related to documentation editing and review

2008-Jan-14

Cisco & BT Create New Mindset for Corporate Sustainability
Leading global academics create new corporate sustainability model to build innovation and global collaboration

Source: Cisco European Markets News

When reading the Green Innovations presentation, I started to wonder whether Economic growth would need to be reconceptualized to truly have a green economy.  Today, economic growth is a measure of economic output.  But what if this definition changed, what if economic growth had more of a macro perspective?  The presentation did not make this point, but got me thinking ….

 

I agree with the presentation that we need to completely de-couple economic growth with environmental impact and waste which is an important preventative step.  I also think we do have a dire need for “New Methods and Mindsets:” double practicality, no major trade-offs, whole system design, innovation driven, and backcasting from principles of success.  We need to ensure that environmental impacts from economic development are sustainable.  And there needs to be a focus on restoration.

 

(I have to digress here for a moment because I had never heard of the term “backcasting” and I LOVE it.  It is a method where the future desired conditions are envisioned then steps are then defined to achieve those conditions.  This is so different than forecasting, which uses present methods and extrapolating them out into the future.  This is a very potent tool for designing social or individual change.)

We need restoration and prevention and this *is* happening, but we need more of it, more consistently and pervasively.

 

I also really appreciated the presentation’s outline of sustainability and what we should sustain:

  • The community of life – from Earth Charter
  • Human life – survival
  • Societies/communities/cultures
  • The quality of human life
  • The realizable potential of each human life
  • Nature / other species / biodiversity
  • Life support infrastructure
  • Resource supply infrastructure
  • The social/economic value of non-renewable resources

 

I think this is a visionary view of sustainability and what is needed in a Green Economy.  I see evidence of this.  It is not the norm, but there are many organizations, businesses and individuals actively committed to making these changes and I believe Obama will be instrumental in furthering this vision.

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