David Poritz was in seventh grade the first time he saw the immediate effects of oil and gas development on a foreign country, at the time in the Amazon region of Ecuador.
From jarring environmental impacts to children walking barefoot through oil slicks, the impacts of unfettered development were clear.
"I remember smelling the oil. I remember just being really disturbed by what I saw and inspired to come up with a solution," Poritz recalled during a talk at GreenBiz Forum 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. "It highlighted a global issue, which was the lack of clear standards regarding environmental and social responsibility in the oil and gas industry."
Years later, Poritz set out to act on that realization as the co-founder and president of Equitable Origin, a company focused on creating for the oil and gas industry a commodity standard akin to those in place for forests, palm oil and a range of other natural resources (with varying degrees of success).
That effort began with the 2012 release of comprehensive social and environmental standards developed over the course of three years of stakeholder engagement. As Poritz explained, the plan is to branch out into certifications, the revenue from which is to be reinvested in the communities where energy development occurs.
Equitable Origin since has expanded to renewable energy, with a similar goal of creating standards for wind and solar development, but Poritz made it clear that glossing over fossil fuels amid the shift to clean energy would be unwise.
"Even as we use less oil and gas… we still need to address the aspect that our primary energy source is coming from this product," Poritz said.
Learn more about the future of industry-wide sustainability efforts at GreenBiz 16 Feb. 23-25 in Phoenix, Arizona.