Table of Contents

Review of Books on Green Buildings

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The thesis of this chapter hinges on the profitability of being green. As it said, those business approaches and methods which radically utilize the natural resources will gain more.

Harvard Business Review on Green Business Strategy: Review

Chapter 1: A Road Map for Natural Capitalism

(by Amory B. Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins, and Paul Hawken)

Outline:

  1. The economic values of the natural resources are often omitted in the computation of business profits.
  2. Natural capitalism and its value:
  3. It dramatically increases the productivity of natural resources. This is done through adoptions of fresh approach to design that considers the whole and not each parts. It can also be done by altering the traditional industrial technologies with those that are based on natural resources.
  4. It inspires biologically inspired production models. Companies can utilize “closed-loop manufacturing” that can make products and services without too much waste or by products. More efficient production processes can also reduce their long term material requirements by almost 90%.
  5. It encourages solutions-based business model. Instead of overhauling the system and incurring greater costs, natural capitalism encourages business solutions that are cost efficient and advantageous for both the client and the provider.
  6. Reinvestment in natural capital.

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Summary:

The thesis of this chapter hinges on the profitability of being green. As it said, those business approaches and methods which radically utilize the natural resources will gain more. Thus, it provides hundreds of corporate illustrations of how companies of various categories and sizes made profitable ventures when they shifted their business strategy and approaches to natural capitalism. This term refers to the approach of providing the environment while making more profits. It entails using simple and easy business strategies and techniques to run business more efficient and productive and with less strain of the environment. The natural capital is refers to is our own ecosystem. This is regarded by the authors as the commonly forgotten business ingredient which is often taken for granted. The chapter stresses that if the ecosystem is properly utilized, it will lead to better savings and advanced profits for all companies.

Chapter 2: Bringing the Environment Down to Earth

(by Forest L. Reinhardt)

Outline:

  1. Environmental ills are inherently a problem of social responsibility.
  2. Pessimism in addressing the environmental concerns in the corporate agenda.
  3. Environmental management is considered a win-lose game.
  4. Corporations are confronted with the regulations of government and environmental agencies/organizations.
  5. Options for respecting the environment while making profits:
  6. Product or service differentiation.
  7. Maneuvering of competition.
  8. Cost reduction.
  9. Environmental risk management.
  10. Redefining one’s markets.

Summary:

The crucial questions answered by this chapter are: “Is it really advantageous to be green?” and “When does environmental investments make financial sense to the company?” In summary, this chapter advises that the right environmental policy depends on each company. This is in the context of their business and their strategic approaches to environmentalism.

Five strategies were outlined for companies to link their environmental investments with their profitable ventures. It consists of differentiating their products and increasing their prices. It also consists of overcoming their competitors through policy lobbying and regulatory means. Another is through cost cutting which is advantageous to the environment as well. Lastly, companies can systemically adjust to the changes imposed by the environmental policies and regulations to their businesses. All of these five approaches can help businesses “bring the environment down to earth.” It can make environmental problems more manageable to business leaders and managers.

However, it needs to be stressed that environmental investments need to be conceived as a long term investment. Managers should also be scientific in dealing with environmental issues and concerns. They need to be foresighted and they can use the present practices as standard. However, they need to foresee some changes that will affect them in the nearest future. Because of varied views, managers must keep an open eye on each environmental concern their company has.

Chapter 3: Growth Through Global Sustainability: An Interview with Monsanto's CEO Robert B. Shapiro

(by Joan Magretta)

Outline:

  1. Introduction of Robert B. Shapiro, Monsanto’s CEO
  2. Sustainability as becoming an important part of strategic thinking
  3. Monsanto’s Smart Products
  4. The concept of discontinuity
  5. Product substitution
  6. Technology and Sustainability
  7. Mosanto’s Seven Sustainability Teams (tools and methods, processes to evaluate, measure and guide internal management)
  8. The eco-efficiency team.
  9. The full cost accounting team.
  10. The index team.
  11. The new business/new products team.
  12. The water team.
  13. The global hunger team.
  14. The communications and education team.
  15. Organizational implications

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Summary:

This chapter infuses the environmental issue among companies with the idea of sustainability. Sustainability is then interlinked with technological advancement. The company of Robert Shapiro, the interviewee in this article, illustrates the finer point of the said three concepts by exemplifying how they work towards giving companies the good bottom line and their good green image.

The interview, done by Joan Magretta, Harvard Business Review Editor, shows promise in showing the revolution of a company in becoming the pollution prevention company and cleaning up of the environmental. Simultaneously, this interview proves that even when the company initially finds it hard and difficult to alter its business strategy and orientation, it can pave the way to better products and services and less aggravation to the environment.

The author juxtaposed business profits with the concepts of economic development and environmental welfare (the two latter concepts being modified as the meaning of sustainability). Hence, a company is sustainable if it meets its corporate and environmental responsibilities and objectives.

Chapter 4: It's Not Easy Being Green

(by Noah Walley and Bradley Whitehead)

Outline:

  1. Making Environmental Investment is the Best Way to Increase Company Efficiency
  2. Evolving Eras of Environmental Management
  3. Why Win-Win Won’t Work
  4. The Search for Solutions
  5. The Path to Pragmatism

Summary:

For several years, the business and environmental goals have been seen as contrasting objectives. After ten years of green mind set, companies are now turning to green alternatives and initiatives. The paths of business efficiency and profits have been reconciled with environmental concerns and sustainability. Being green is not costly, it is now considered as a catalyst for continuous innovation, new market opportunity, and the creation of wealth. However, being green is not a win-win situation. Environmental values are not cheap; hence, the management must have a value system and a framework to evaluate how the will reconcile environmental values with their margins.

There has to be a trade-off and this chapter proposes the most valuable trade-offs between profits and sustainability. It suggests a value based approach that allows informed trade-offs. Costs and benefits between corporate margins and environmental security are balanced.

There are three major environmental issues at stake. The first one is the operational, followed by the strategic and the technical/organizational. Operational issues are those whose impact on values ranges from medium to high. However, its discretionary response from the management is generally low. Strategic issues have high discretionary response from management. Technical issues are relatively low level and the discretionary response often ranges from high to low.

Chapter 5: Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World

(by Stuart L. Hart)

Outline:

  1. Worlds in Collision
  2. Major Challenges to Sustainability
  3. Emerging Economies Cannot Afford to Make the Mistakes of Western Development
  4. Vision of Sustainability
  5. The Sustainability Portfolio
  6. Building Sustainable Business Strategies

Summary:

In the last thirty years, companies have recognized the value of protecting the environment alongside making profits. They have recognized and acknowledged their responsibilities towards the environment. They have recognized how environmental problems often lead to more commercial problems and loss of financial outcomes and profits. Companies are now willing to undertake changes.

Building sustainable business strategies involve the following: lowering energy and material consumption; reducing the burdens of pollution; ensuring sustainable use of nature’s economy; replenishing depleted resources; building the skills of the poor and the dispossessed; and developing clean products and technology. These are exemplified by various products or services discussed by the authors.

A company must have comprehensive greening strategies which are compatible with its customers, suppliers and other business relations. This seems to be a leap of faith for the managers but not for long. First, it must have a framework for seeing green. It must have a vision to environmental sustainability and how it will commit itself to it. This vision should focus on pollution management, product stewardship, and clean technology utilization. Achieving sustainability also means that the environmental burdens are reduced or minimized. This can be accomplished by a diminished human population, changing technological consumptions and technological adoptions for wealth creation.

Chapter 6: Green and Competitive: Ending the Stalemate

(by Michael E. Porter and Class van der Linde)

Outline:

  1. Ending the Stalemate
  2. Pollution = Inefficiency
  3. Innovation-friendly Regulations
  4. Innovation and Resource Productivity
  5. The Need for Regulation
  6. The Cost of the Static Mindset
  7. Good versus Bad Regulation
  8. The World Economy in Transition

Summary:

There is a clear logic that links the environment with the resources, productivity, innovation and competitiveness. This is the main gist of the authors for this chapter. Hence, the traditional view of the management about the constant trade-off: economy versus the environment when we talk about environmental protection has been changed. They now recognize both social and economic benefits of environmental protection and sustaining the environment.

Social benefits accrue from rigid environmental laws and regulations. In contrast, companies now recognize that they also have to pay for the private costs of prevention and clean-up. They also realized that these costs result to increased prices and decreased competitiveness.

The development of environmental excellence has become a tug of war. Companies have to wrestle on the one hand for the tougher standards and the other for some leeway. The political factor is at play whenever management chooses between the ensuing battle for economic and environmental integrity.

New designs for products and services with compliance to environmental standards can bring the impetus to innovate and lower the total production costs or make enhanced values or improvements. These innovations enable companies to utilize a range of inputs more creatively, starting from the first step of production to raw materials and energy consumption and labour management. Hence, these processes or innovations offset the costs of improving environmental impact and this ends in a stalemate. Ultimately, this enhanced resource productivity makes companies more competitive and the environment more viable and sustained.

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Chapter 7: Recycling for Profit: The New Green Business Frontier

by David Biddle

Outline:

  1. Recycling programs around the United States are not working.
  2. Recycling is not just a matter of recovering recyclable material; it is a total economic system.
  3. Companies can turn building demand for recycled products into a competitive advantage.
  4. Large corporations and small entrepreneurs alike are in the best position to take the lead in recycling.
  5. Building Demand: The Recycling Markets Problem.
  6. The High Cost of Processing What’s Put Out at the Curb.

Summary:

This chapter suggests ways by which companies can make demand out of recycled products and create competitive advantage as another end product. The recycling programs in the United States is far from being effective even with the numerous campaigns and advertisements. Modern urban recycling is not very successful. There is no significant demand for recycled products from consumers and businesses. As critics put it, recycling is a victim of its own success.

Recycling should not be just “a matter of recovering recyclable material.” It needs to be a economic system. Currently, this entails costs which far outweigh the benefits. For instance, the collection and processing of recyclable products is more costly than value this new commodity has as it can now be resold to the market.

However, the author inferred that precisely because of this low demand or marketability that companies must use the competitive opportunity for recycling. It illustrated how Rubbermaid, Moore Business Forms, and others have put value into recycling products by making value proposition and extra benefits. Also, the top management of the likes of Bell Atlantic and Coca-Cola have carved a value added market for recycled products when they made recycling their fashionable business strategies. They also put in a lot of investments in green R&D as a similar strategy for business growth. Their efforts paved the way to erase the recycling myths and put more value to it.

Chapter 8: The Case of the Environmental Impasse

(by Alissa J. Stern)

Outline:

  1. Why Environmentalist Dislike the Vermilion Paper Company.
  2. Vermilion management had begun to see the green writing on the wall.
  3. In five years’ time, several international environmental groups had expressed their sentiments over Vermilion actions.
  4. Vermilion's choices seemed stark.
  5. Four experts on business and the environment examine Vermilion's options.
  6. Debates on Vermilion Paper Company’s next move.

Summary:

Vermilion Paper Company had been notorious for its river polluting and wood cutting activities. In the middle of the 80s, it saw its environmental trespasses. Its director for offshore production, Mr. Ostenson, initiated the change of attitude in the paper company. He sold to the CEO the idea of combining profitability and environmental protection. Most Vermilion executives only thought about their profitability and image. They did not care about their company’s environmental impact. Most of them wanted to commit to both goals of income and environmentalism but they saw little opportunity to realize it. Yet, they wanted to clean up their operations to appease their stockholders and maintain their good image to the public so as to maintain their profits as well. He launched a marketing campaign to renew the image of their paper company through the slogan “Green Vermilion.” He also launched advertisements showing their tissue and paper towel products with environmentally stamp.

Ostenson also set on the plantation of eucalyptus in Equitania. His assistant, Wendell Buyck, took charge of the offshore project. After two years of hard work, Vermillion was able to secure the support of the Equitania national and local government officials and environmentalists. The dilemma came when an offshoot environmental group and a militant U.S. group publicly condemn their project. Four experts on environmental strategy discussed Vermillion's option.

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