What does the notion of redefining leadership for sustainability mean to you?
In large part, leadership to me entails responsibility and setting an example. As leaders in sustainability, our scope of responsibility broadens to go beyond thinking about our own immediate benefit and extending the benefits to others—in this generation and those to come. It’s about rejecting assumptions and old ways of thinking and working hard to find and implement methods to conserve the resources that sustain us.
In your opinion, what are the most significant sustainable business trends of the last decade?
Coinciding with my career and interests, the greening of the data center has been a very significant trend. The business driver for this has been to keep data center costs down. Being green not only helps minimize negative impacts to the environment, but improves the—money—bottom line. In addition to starting in.gredients, we’ve helped electric utility clients throughout our careers with smart grid projects and technology, which are critical to lessening our environmental impacts. There are many efforts in many industries focused on minimizing waste and minimizing impacts to the environment—the integration of these models is key.
When it comes to promising opportunities for sustainable business now and in the next five years, where are you placing your bets?
Collaborative consumption and the notion that consumers can pay for what they use based on a utility model—examples range from car2go to websites that help people share their un-utilized land so they can be farmed to websites that help people borrow and barter their consumer goods.
Through Glean Organics, another one of our sustainability efforts, we’ve run through a few trials and pilots with a variety of composting models to help divert commercial and residential food waste from landfills. If you look at the food waste stats, we’re feeding landfills as well as (if not better than) we’re feeding people. We need to reduce food waste and divert it from landfills. Food waste in landfills produces methane and other harmful bi-products. The United States throws away 30 to 50 percent of the food it produces.
In addition, the improvement of our electric networks with the implementation of smart grids is necessary. This has positive benefits from an economic development perspective as well as an environmental perspective.