One message that resonated loudly for me during VERGE Boston was the suggestion by retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Mark "Puck" Mykleby that green business might be well-served by a subtle rebranding.
By talking up "full-spectrum" sustainability, businesses can fulfill both an economic and environmental agenda, Mykleby asserted.
"The economics are so frickin' sound," he said during his keynote remarks. "Are they water-tight? Hell no, nothing is. But if you start creating a default setting, and start talking about opportunity space, all of sudden, when real jobs start developing, and real progress (is made) -- whether it's infrastructure or whether its public health – all the benefits we know from thinking in a sustainability-based mindset. That is what is going to win the day."
That common sense approach to sustainability is something The Provider Enterprises, a midsize bus company in Brentwood, N.H., that transports special needs students to and from schools across the state, embraced many years ago.
When it started installing wireless navigation technology in all its buses in 2005, the strategy certainly wasn't motivated by an environmental or green business agenda.
But that has been a welcome side benefit of an overarching strategy to control excessive idling and reduce fuel consumption, said owner Garrett Scholes, who was behind the project. "I can't imagine operating our fleet without it," he said. "It has become a very important way of managing our costs."
The Provider, founded by Scholes' mother, operates a fleet of about 255 buses, which transport approximately 2,000 students per week across 125,000 miles. Along the way, it burns roughly 44,000 gallons of fuel per month, he estimated.
From a cost standpoint, it probably won't surprise you to hear that fuel accounts for between 14 percent and 16 percent of The Provider's annual expenses, compared with 8 percent to 10 percent back when it first started using fleet management technology.
Next page: Tracking system keeps tabs on consumption