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Many people in the Bay area thought about the color green prior to the year 2000. Sure green lawns and trees were great, but they didn’t exactly paint the whole picture when it comes to sustainability. Ten years later, thanks to education and growing public  awareness, consumers are now purchasing fuel-efficient cars, improving insulation and installing solar renewable energy systems in their homes. Many are also considering
drought tolerant landscaping that requires less water and maintenance.

Looking back at how far recycling has evolved; sustainability doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Homeowners today use curbside containers, which make recycling painless. Most consumer level products including TVs, now feature the Energy Star rating. From entertainment, to home improvement, it’s all about saving energy. There are new, greener products and services in every sector of the economy and more coming each week. In the big picture, these are all choices that count.

While we’re on the right track, there’s more to do. In 2006 we surpassed the earth’s ability to process and effectively deal with CO2 emissions by 13%. The earth simply can’t keep up with us. Many Bay area businesses are also making changes to help minimize environmental impact. Operations and purchasing policies are two areas of consideration. Return on investment is something business leaders and most board members always take seriously. For instance, just like consumers, businesses can realize savings and tax credits on renewables such as wind and solar. Installing skylights, newer heating, and cooling systems not only improves creature comforts and moral, but also
provides financial incentives for businesses to invest. In addition to improving the bottom line, making these critical business leadership decisions helps to reduce CO2 emissions and lessen environmental impact for all. Businesses and consumers can both help reduce energy consumption while realizing return on investment.

Recycling, reuse of packing and shipping materials is also becoming common for many businesses. Trip planning is easy and helps us improve productivity and efficiency while reducing fuel costs and CO2 emissions. We all know what it’s like to sit in traffic for 2 hours. Small changes count.

Consumers can now look to retailers and service providers that keep a thoughtful eye toward the environment. By promoting sustainability through improved operations and investment, local area businesses can become green certified at the county level by working with the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). To promote green building, starting January 1, California State will have the new CALGreen initiative. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification takes residential and commercial buildings to the next level in design, energy, water and waste conservation, using third party, and value added performance standards.

A Native American tribe the Iroquois upheld what is called the Seventh Generation philosophy. Simply stated, this tribe urges the current generation of humans to live sustainably and work for the benefit of the next seven generations.

As we move into 2011, let’s all look forward to a greener, brighter, prosperous, New Year guided by a philosophy to continue making a difference. The earth will give it back many times over and future generations will thank you.

Bay Area green businessDave High is a LEED Accredited Professional with Karbon Consulting located in Pleasant Hill. He can be reached at

Dave High
Karbon Consulting Staff

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