What Are You Most Excited About for 2011?
As 2010 draws to a close, GreenBiz asked executives from a range of companies -- all of whom have been featured in the news this year -- to tell us about their most exciting green prospects, the challenges and the changes they anticipate for 2011, and what they think 2011 will look like from the perspective of 2012. Here's what they told us.
What are you most excited about for 2011?
David Wilkerson, Corporate Director of Sustainability and Product Stewardship, Residential Division, Shaw Industries
We are eager to see the commercial market recovery trend that we experienced in the last half of 2010 continue. We are continuing to invest in innovative solutions for attacking the 3.5 billion pounds of post-consumer carpet waste that goes to landfills each year. In addition to our flagship Evergreen Recycling Facility, we recently launched Re2E, a reclaim to energy facility that will convert post-consumer carpet waste to steam energy and electricity to run a carpet manufacturing facility. We are expanding our purified carpet pellet production, which allows us to convert post-consumer carpet to other products, such as automobile parts. And lastly, we will continue to expand our carpet to carpet initiatives.
Joseph Danko, Director of Sustainable Solutions, CH2M HILL
With our current executive leadership and the tenacity and focus of our Collaborative Working Group we have been able to create new business opportunity areas, develop new technologies and form new business constructs that we couldn't even see before. This has been made possible by leveraging our resources through the company, integrating expertise between our business groups and enabling innovation by creating diverse and focused teams. The platform and focus we have developed in 2010 has positioned us for significant additional growth in sustainable solutions throughout the firm in 2011.
Tim Carey, Director of Sustainability and Technology, PepsiCo Americas Beverages
Continuing to watch a growing number of consumers make buying decisions based on a product's and company's environmental commitments and performance. Consumers have the power to make incredible change in the world and we're excited for them to help us make a positive impact.
Terry Yosie, President and CEO, World Environment Center
There are so many opportunities to generate progress through unique partnerships across the public, private and NGO sectors in all regions of the world. The ability to expand learning and creativity to solve practical problems in specific locations is very rewarding on a personal and professional level. A related source of excitement is to experience how intelligent and motivated people/organizations “get it” and can achieve impacts disproportionate to their size. I’m a great believer in non-linear thinking that is applied outside the context of existing decision making methods and hierarchies. Sustainable “coalitions of the willing” that emerge more-or-less spontaneously through self-generated networks possess an authenticity and skill sets that can frequently solve on-the-ground problems more effectively than larger and more established organizations.
Arlin Wasserman, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, Sodexo
I'm most excited about the merging of information technology and our food supply chain. The opportunity to create value through information and decouple it from our natural resource base, at least in the food sector, is one of the bigger innovations since … maybe dried pasta or sliced bread.
Michael Meehan, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder, ENXSuite
I am most excited about the growth of global cleantech markets in general and California's bold moves in carbon and energy in particular. With the advent of new markets, new startups, and new opportunities, 2011 will be the banner year for cleantech and companies are continuing to prepare for this. We are seeing a significant upward trend in cleantech and market signals are suggesting this will only continue to gain momentum in 2011.
Don McGrath, Senior Vice President of Communications, Eaton
The new year marks an exciting time for Eaton. We will celebrate our 100th anniversary, drawing real inspiration from the heritage of innovation and expertise that has positioned Eaton to answer the world’s toughest power management challenges. We look forward to building further momentum for a number of our most impactful technologies. These include Eaton’s industry-leading hybrid power systems, which have accumulated more than 100 million miles in worldwide use; our rapidly expanding deployment of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and advancement of vital infrastructure to support electric vehicles; and our pioneering power systems (Uninterruptible Power Supply units) that ensure safe, reliable operation of the world’s most critical data centers.
Leisha John, Americas Director of Environmental Sustainability, Ernst & Young
I am most excited about upcoming developments in our green employee engagement and operational initiatives. On the employee engagement side, we’re preparing to expand our skills-based volunteering program with the EarthWatch institute to an emerging market, in addition to the work our future leaders from our Climate Change and Sustainability Professionals and EcoCare volunteers will continue to do around forests and farming practices in Costa Rica. On the operational side, we will conduct a significant lighting retrofit in our New York headquarters (15,000 fixtures) and we’re working to engage our people in the sustainability decision-making process. We’re conducting a survey to ask for their input on which lighting scheme they prefer.
Robert Houghton, President and Founder, Redemtech
2011 will be the year that reuse becomes a core technology strategy. IT culture was built on an ethos of newness, but Windows Vista misgivings and the recession have led to many companies extending hardware lifecycles -- without disaster! In the past, Redemtech has refurbished and redeployed less than 10 percent of the equipment we receive from customers. Now customers are choosing to reuse nearly 30 percent of their recovered IT inventory. For IT, 2011 will be the year that thrift and sustainability become mainstream.
Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist, Microsoft
Right now, energy awareness and efficiency are still niche to both C-level executives and consumers. Looking ahead to the new year, I see efficiency becoming more and more important to both of these groups; getting them more aware and engaged is what’s needed to drive change at scale. I’m excited for energy efficiency to become more mainstream.
Joseph Taylor, Chairman and CEO, Panasonic Corp. of North America
In 2011 Panasonic will fully integrate Sanyo's photovoltaic, solar, storage battery, Electric Vehicle battery and charging station and other green technologies into innovative products and systems.
Hannah Jones, Vice President of Sustainable Business and Innovation, Nike
We look forward to the opportunity for greater industry collaboration to advance sustainability efforts, spur sustainable innovation and build scale. We will continue to build on tools and innovations such as the GreenXchange and the Environmental Apparel Design Tool that we released in 2010. In 2011, as part of our effort for greater transparency, we will be releasing our Footwear Tool, Material Assessment Tool and Water Tool. These are market-based solutions that address sustainability challenges, and we are very excited to share these tools with the industry to inspire others to build on shared knowledge, bring them to scale and move towards the creation of industry standards. Our hope is that by releasing our tools, we will spur collaboration and create global standards to level the playing field and fast track sustainable innovation.
Bill Morrissey, Vice President of Environmental Sustainability, The Clorox Company
In 2010, Clorox made an explicit commitment to make environmental sustainability core to how we do business by adding this strategic focus to our corporate strategy. We are excited about accelerating our progress by implementing this mandate throughout our operations and product portfolio in 2011.
Jim Hanna, Director of Environmental Impact, Starbucks
We’re looking forward to making significant progress on our green building and recycling initiatives in 2011. Our goal is that, beginning this month (and moving forward), all of our new, company-owned stores around the world will be built to achieve LEED certification. We’ve been working for some time with the U.S. Green Building Council and fellow retailers to develop a new LEED retail standard and volume build certification methodology. We’re now moving beyond the pilot phase and into implementation. On the waste reduction side our goal is that 100 percent of our cups will be reusable or recyclable by 2015. In 2011 we’ll execute comprehensive recycling initiatives in a number of large communities. We plan to supply paper mills with post-consumer cups in order to further test their recyclability. We want to explore how used cups can be transformed into new cups, napkins and other consumer paper products.
Chuck Bennett, Vice President of Earth and Community Care, Aveda
We’re excited by opportunities to increase our level of engagement with the Aveda network of salons, spas, institutes and retail stores. Aveda’s annual Earth Month program is our signature campaign for the earth and a key way in which we connect the network to both local and global environmental issues. The campaign is entering its fifth year of focusing on protecting clean water and we’re hoping to grow participation and inspire even more salons to get involved with the program this year. In addition, we’re looking at ways to strengthen the Aveda network’s connection to our mission. As part of this, we’re planning to develop tools that can help independent salon and spa businesses integrate sustainability practices into their operations. Specifically, we’d like to create a more strategic plan that can provide a roadmap for salons to implement footprint reduction projects, become more involved in their communities, and be local leaders for environmental and social responsibility, reflective of Aveda’s mission.
Adam Lowry, Co-founder and Chief Greenskeeper, Method
I'm most excited about Method’s position in the marketplace. The year 2010 was marked by cleaning product brands doing extraordinary levels of discounting and unprecedented spending on promotion in an attempt to keep consumers, a result of there being little differentiation between most "green" cleaning brands. Method kept promotional levels to a tiny fraction of what others spent, and instead we invested in true innovation, such as our 8x laundry detergent. Where we sit today is with a highly differentiated product line that people appreciate for being truly better, and greener. That means we’re poised for more healthy growth in 2011, bringing more advocates into the world of people against dirty, without having to play the price/promotion game that everyone else will have to.
Michel Gelobter, Chief Green Officer, Hara
The emergence of a globally networked data system for energy management. For the first time in history, companies and governments are getting comprehensive visibility on where their energy is coming from and going to. The existing network of energy suppliers and consumers is starting to be able to share information, partner for innovation, and re-distribute activities and responsibilities to optimize resource use. This is not virtual stuff ... rather it's the physical world's equivalent to Facebook and has enormous implications for increased efficiency, decreased expenditures for energy and resources, and increased revenue as companies engage more with their customers' energy profile. This global network of data will drive major change in the map of the world's energy producers and consumers, and 2011 will be the year that starts happening.
Kevin Surace, Chairman and CEO, Serious Materials
Continued growth in building energy efficiency retrofit markets.
Suzanne Shelton, Founder, President and CEO, Shelton Group
I think a lot of companies are settling and getting real about sustainability, after an initial race to tout anything green and ride the wagon. We're seeing a greater and more earnest commitment to sustainable manufacturing practices, ingredients and packaging in companies both large and small, and that's a good thing. I believe much real work will be accomplished in 2011.
Eric A. Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens Corporation
One thing I’m excited about is this new tax program that got approved by the Senate and Congress that’s going to be a big boost for the wind business in 2011. There’s a lot of wind projects that have been sitting on the sidelines, and I think you'll see a lot of those come forward. In fact, we have probably a dozen or more of them we’re in conversations with. I think you'll see a lot of big wind projects here announced in the next few months to take advantage of that. I think even more exciting is a lot of power companies are going to have to build new base load generation. I think it’s pretty clear now that they’re not going to be building new coal plants, they’re going to be probably building new gas plants. We’re pretty excited about that, because it’s not only a good thing for our business, it’s going to be good for the U.S. economy.
Stephen Wenc, President, UL Environment
Transparency and independent testing of "green" claims are taking on increased prominence through updates to Energy Star, which opens up an exciting time for UL to continue to do what we do best -- utilize science and a century of expertise to test and validate product claims. We also have several initiatives scheduled for 2011 that will help guide the definition of sustainability in the marketplace, such as the release of our corporate sustainability standard in partnership with the GreenBiz Group, and the development of sustainability standards in the building and high tech industries. We also look forward to expanding the role UL Environment plays in educating the market on what sustainability is and how to achieve it.
Photo CC-licensed by Cieleke.