Sustainability Gap – Which One?

Summaries of Various Surveys and Articles:
the Gaps in “Sustainability” and “Green”

The words “green” and “sustainability” are being used interchangeably, although most professionals prefer using sustainability.

Americans Misunderstand Environmental Marketing Messages
Green Gap Survey, Cone LLC and The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, 2008.

The 2008 Green Gap Survey presents the findings of an online survey conducted Feb. 21-22, 2008 by Opinion Research Corporation among 1,080 adults.

A green gap appears between consumers and manufacturers. When 39 percent of Americans buy products they perceive to be “environmentally friendly,” 48 percent of Americans erroneously think that buying a product marked “green” has a positive impact on the environment.

Despite the false understanding of labeling, marketing and a false trust in manufacturers, 59 percent of Americans want the government to produce “green” guidelines.

Closing the Green Storage Gap (IT Data Centers)
By Greg Schultz, August 28, 2008

The “green” gap for the data hosting industry is a cost. Reaching maximum energy efficiency requires a continual rebuilding and re-equipping facilities to keep up with the latest power saving technology. The recapitalization cycle for data centers is years behind technology advancement cycle.

“Green Gap Redux: Green Words Gone Wrong”
EcoPinion Survey, by EcoAlign October 14, 2009 as reported by Business Wire

Over the past two years (2007 – 2009) consumer’s understanding of the terms used by the energy industry decreased. For one example, less than one third of consumers could differentiate between energy conservation and energy efficiency.

Another “gap” appeared when one third of Americans believe the environment will benefit from smart grid investments while they think government, residents and utilities would benefit the least.
The survey company suggests the energy industry not use technical terms with the public such as “demand response” and “peak pricing.”

The 2009 IBM Corporate Social Responsibility Study

IBM’s definition of sustainability: “…businesses are now… optimizing their operations to improve environmental and social outcomes… to improve overall performance.”

IBM’s survey of 224 business leaders summarized:
– “… results indicate that operational information needs to be more timely, supply chain information…too insular and more customer information is needed.”
– Many businesses are “missing the information necessary to operate as a sustainable enterprise. Outperforming organizations, though, have proven to be far better at collecting the right data.”

IBM marks a path forward: Organizations need to
1) identify their information gaps, ensuring data is relevant, timely
2) understand customers’ CSR concerns
3) assess leading practices and participate in industry coalitions.”

How Companies Manage Sustainability: McKinsey Global Survey Results
“McKinsey & Company, February 2010

More than 50 percent of executives place the importance of sustainability in the areas of new product development, reputation building, and overall corporate strategy. However, only 6 percent of CEOs place sustainability it in their top three priorities. Less than 30 percent of companies actively pursue sustainability.

One reason given for the lack of focus is due to no clear understanding of sustainability. Without “best practice” guidelines little measuring, testing, and reporting is being done.

Of those 6 percent of CEOs that place sustainability in their top three priorities, sustainability is embedded in the management all areas of activities and tracking sustainability indicators, such as energy, waste, water, materials, and labor standards for suppliers and customers.

Great Allegheny Passage Sustainability Business Network (GAP-SBN): Building the Green Economy in Southwestern Pennsylvania
By Stephanie Campbell, Oct. 14, 2010, Published by Inside Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania

In this article the author reviews the work of the GAP-SBN in its effort to build a “green” business corridor in the nine towns located on the Allegheny Trail from Pennsylvania to Maryland.

The Trail Town Outreach Corps (TTOC), manages the network, performs a sustainability assessment for each business member to assess its “green” business status. The audits include the physical structures as well as behavior of owners and staff, (and tenants).

Recommendations are provided by TTOC in the form of a “Sustainability Statement.” Businesses then complete an “Implementation Plan” and make a formal agreement to follow the plan.

How Going Green Affects Consumer Buying
By Micheal Erickson, August 20, 2010

This article highlights survey results of consumer buying related to the “green” evolution and report consumers should be wary of a the avalanche of “green” products.

A report by a BBMG (Branding and Integrated Marketing) reveals another gap when 50 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products, but 66 percent report cost is their primary factor in their buying.

In the Hansa study, 61 percent report that businesses have social responsibility beyond providing just goods and services. The BBMG study reports that 71 percent avoid buying from companies “whose practices they disagree with.”

The reports agree the gap between consumer understanding of “green” products and services and the truth behind the “green” claims result in “green-washing.” Companies should work toward providing truthful, verifiable information and encourage customers to share the information.

MAP CHANGE 2010 – A Sustainability Brand May Study

The first MapChange study in 2008 showed certain brands considered sustainable were not, while other brands considered not sustainable, actually were. MapChange 2010 compared the top brands within 10 sectors.

This is a must see. The scatter-grams of brands in nearly all 10 sectors show that public opinion is upside down (inversely related) to the truth of brand sustainability.

These results demonstrated the importance of companies to accurately share their sustainability accomplishments with their customers.

Gap Between Sustainability Leaders, Laggers
by Tilde Herrera, Feb. 10, 2011, Published on GreenBiz.com

Companies, generally, fall into two groups: those focusing sustainability activities on risk management and efficiency, and those taking a strategy enabling “long term growth and creating a range of tangible advantages.”

Embracers tend to be large and resource intensive and believe sustainability offers competitive advantages. “Sustainability is driven from the top, bottom and integrated across the company.”

In a comment to the article, Dave Meyer, of SEEDS Global Alliance writes: “As leading organizations implement more efficient, less resource intensive and wasteful practices, they quickly realize direct and indirect financial and brand benefits. They ’embrace’ this new paradigm as part of organizational ‘core values’ as successes rack up…its like a snowball effect. This tends to widen the chasm between the leaders and followers, who in turn have to spend much more to play catch up.”

Empire State Building

Johnson Controls, a manufacturer and contractor to the upgrading of the Empire State Building, outlines a multi-million dollar success story with three years of ROI and annual energy savings of $4.4 million. This project is being touted as being a template for upgrading large buildings.

Green Energy Advisor / Advisee Survey
American Institute of Architects (AIA), Portland, OR

The AIA publishes a survey in their effort to build an resources data base of both expert energy advisors and advisees. Refer to the survey for a comprehensive list of areas of focus.

Blog Aggregation

The Puma Press blogs aggregation web site sports a new design for displaying the highlights of the weekly blogs posted by the journalism students at Paradise Valley Community College.

More coming, soon, on blog aggregation web sites.

Blog-It-Out, Blog for You

So, you have been given a mandate to write and post a blog once a week. But, you are not blogging.

You are not getting paid to blog. You are not expecting many readers will read your blogs. You are continually asking yourself why should I blog? What useful purpose does blogging serve? Even your friends and family rarely read your blogs. You receive few comments.

But the mandate remains so you must deal with this, one way or another.

Write one last blog and declare that you are not going to continue your blog. Accept the consequences. Take control. Problem solved!

Or, disregard all the reasons not to blog and focus on a few good reasons that support blogging.

Periodic blogging helps a writer develop the writing habit. One periodic writing habit will lay the foundation for writing larger  projects.

Blogging can be the repository for your praises and your rants. Blog-it-out through the process of writing.

Blogging provides writers with a forgiving platform for experimentation.

Blogging provides a opportunity for the mini-reports. Each week you encounter numerous small questions. What is that word? How did that idea originate? What is that thing? Who was that person? How does that process work? Blog-it-out.

Blog for you.

Pick a day and time for writing that weekly blog. Enter it on your schedule and put it on your calendar. Use green ink, not red ink. Your laundry gets done each week and your teeth gets brushed each day. Your blog will get written and posted each week.

You certainly carry a reporter’s note book. In the back where you list your story ideas make a page for blog ideas. All you need is one idea per week, per blog.

Place a green note ‘WATCH FOR BLOG IDEAS’ in your daily schedule . Enter this into your schedule for each day of the coming week after you complete your blog each week.

After posting your weekly blog do something (else) that is fun.

Blog-it-out, blog for you.

Blogging on Amtrak – Photography, Engine of Perspective

When taking photographs it is important for the photographer to establish dimensional perspective of the subject.

Take a look at this model steam engine.

Steam Locomotive

Steam Locomotive


Oh, really?


The humans in the foreground of the photograph accentuates the enormity of the steam locomotive that sits on display at the train station in Havre, Montana.

Steam Locomotive 2584

Steam Locomotive 2584

Locomotive number 2584 was acquired in 1930 by the Great Northern Railroad from the Baldwin Locomotive Works for service on the Empire Builder Line running between Chicago and Seattle.


The president of Baldwin, Samuel Vauclain, claimed this was the most powerful steam locomotive built at the time. It was operated for passenger service up to 1947 then pulled freight until retired in 1955.

See more details.
http://www.gngoat.org/havre2584c.jpg
http://www.steamlocomotive.com/northern


Blogging on Amtrak – Montana

Traveling east on Amtrak from Spokane to Kalamazoo we are rolling through the mountain country of western Montana. I took this picture just west of the small community of East Glacier at about 5,700 feet altitude.

Near East Glacier, Montana

Mountain near East Glacier, Montana

The train has three sleeper cars, five coach cars, cafe car, dining car, baggage car and diesel-electric engine with 8,000 horsepower. The big gripe from most of the passengers is a lack of AC outlets.

My biggest complaints are the continuous waft of one unpleasant odor that smells like soap and the constant sound of blowing air from the air conditioning. The conductors and attendants are friendly, helpful and attentive.

The people using Verizon have connection nearly all the time. My Sprint drops in and out but it provides more coverage than I expected.

Now we are entering the western plains of Montana with brown, low rolling hills. Temperature is in the upper 40s with low overcast.

Plains of western Montana

Rolling plains of western Montana

From time-to-time we stop at a siding to let freight trains roll past. Freight pays more the passengers and the freight trains are too long to fit on a siding.

The pictures are being taken with a Fuji FinePix S700 digital camera.

I upload the photos using a USB cable to my laptop and resize the images for the web from 200 to 300 pixels and output as a .JPG with compression set so file sizes are 30 to 50 KB.

Blogging on Amtrak

I boarded the Amtrak Empire Builder passenger train in Spokane, Washington, 1 a.m. Tuesday morning headed for Kalamazoo, Michigan, arriving 9 p.m. Tuesday evening. The one-way air fare was over $600. The train ticket was $157.

After finding a seat on the upper level of double level coach car, I began looking for AC outlets. I travel with an IBM ThinkPad that rips through a full charged battery in about 20 minutes, helped along by a full sized keyboard, optical mouse, and a Sprint digital cellular USB modem. Sprint provide me unlimited connection to the Internet anywhere in the USA for $59 per month. I am curious how much coverage I will get with my Sprint service as the train crosses Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota.

There are two AC outlets in the coach area of each car on this train. In the dark I can not find them. I certainly would not wake a sleeping person to ask them to move if I found one. The upper level of the observation car has three outlets, none close enough to a seat.

One of the passengers that travels this route once a month tells me there are outlets in the lower level of the lounge car but that has been blocked off with a trash bin. Never deterred by a waste bin, I did find an outlet near enough to a table. So I am now sitting at a well light table zooming through Idaho.

I check my Sprint Internet signal…full strength. I will post this quickly and attempt more posts as we move along.

Changing WordPress Theme and Custom Header

THEME

Choosing the WordPress theme that displays blog content in the best possible design is of primary importance.

To preview and then activate any one of over 77 themes provided by WordPress, log into WordPress, go to “My Dashboard,” then scroll down the left hand panel and open the  “Appearance” menu.

Select and click on “Themes” to preview 77 themes (the number of themes provided by WordPress as of the date of this post).

Blog Garage is now displayed in a theme that presents the posts in serif type for the body and sanserif type style for the heads.

There are thousands of themes that can be downloaded from numerous web sites. Here is a video that describes how to find, download, and install themes other than those provided by WordPress.

CUSTOMER HEADER

A photograph was chosen from the Dill photo archives and uploaded into the blog. This is accomplished using the “Custom Header” tool that appears in the “Appearance” menu.

First make or acquire a .JPG photo with dimensions of 770 wide x 200 high (pixels). Save that photo some place on the computer’s hard drive that can be easily located.

Click open the “Custom Header” tool and follow the WordPress instructions for inserting and cropping the photo.

For details about the photograph that is displayed on the Blog Garage website see the “About” page of the Blog Garage.