Everything's Turning Green; It's Just Business as Usual
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Everything's turning green; it's just business as usual
Indianapolis Star, 9-7-09
There is no such thing as a "green'' job. Or at least there shouldn't be.
It has become fashionable to say "green jobs'' will lead us out of the recession. Green jobs put people to work, achieve long-term cost savings and ease demand on limited resources. They provide a "paycheck with a purpose.''
Tom Friedman, New York Times columnist and author of the book "Hot, Flat, and Crowded,'' has often said we'll know the green revolution has succeeded when we no longer need the word "green'' as a descriptor. Terms like "green buildings'' and "green energy'' will be redundant as high performance and sustainability become our new "business as usual."
Friedman is right. Reducing waste, improving productivity and boosting efficiency are all traits of the green movement, but they are also hallmarks of good business. Companies of all sizes that embrace these sustainable behaviors are finding that they can enhance their profitability in any economic climate.
Performing every job in a more sustainable manner, however, must begin with a mandate from leaders and involve buy-in from employees.
Take DuPont, for example. Its production volumes have risen 41 percent since 1990, while energy usage has dropped 7 percent. These results are indicative of decision-making and widespread commitment throughout the company to achieve cost savings wherever possible. Company-wide decision-making and commitment helped achieve cost savings wherever possible.
The same goes for Wal-Mart, a company with a legendary reputation for wringing efficiencies from every link in its supply chain. As Wal-Mart President and CEO Mike Duke puts it: "Using more renewable energy, reducing waste and selling sustainable products help us take costs out of the system." Lower costs result in lower prices for customers.
Since 2000, Ford has cut energy use at its global facilities by 34 percent. Its U.S. employees have increased the automaker's energy efficiency by 4.5 percent, resulting in savings of roughly $18 million.
In the beleaguered auto industry, every penny saved is another critical step toward survival and, we hope, prosperity.
"Green jobs" may be a trendy phrase, but its underlying principles are as old as the Constitution itself.
Keeping the lights on in the safest, most cost-effective way possible -- that's Duke Energy's green philosophy. It's one reason we're investing so heavily in smart-grid technologies that will improve the reliability of electric service, conserve power and help customers lower their bills and environmental footprint. It's also why every Duke Energy employee is encouraged to look for new ways to increase efficiency and reduce waste. Our goal is to make the communities we serve the most energy efficient in the world.
Today, on Labor Day, let's begin to broaden our understanding of what constitutes a green job. It's the first step in passing the "grandchildren's test,'' which asks us to reflect upon how future generations will judge our actions today. We can always work harder, but it takes a conscious decision to work smarter. Let's use our American determination and ingenuity to shed the "green" in "green jobs.''
Chairman, President and CEO