Wednesday, April 14, 2010

No Job Market? You're apparently looking in the wrong place...

From Cooler Planet, this article about the Top 9 Solar Jobs for 2010:

If you are thinking about a career change this year, the future of the solar can be your shining star. Those having knowledge and experience in any area of solar energy can easily reconstruct their resume and expand their options for employment in this growing field.

We are at the forefront of a booming industry and with the solar energy transition projected to create around 350,000 new jobs by the end of this year, the biggest problem has been finding workers to meet the increasing demand.

Those who do gather the information and experience they need to take advantage of this burgeoning industry will be well-paid and highly regarded. This solar energy revolution could be America’s best hope for the future of our labor force. Let’s take a look at some of the top jobs in the solar energy industry.

1. Urban Planner: Careers in this field are in huge demand. The skill set of urban planners who conduct contingency planning are badly needed in our pursuit to reduce our carbon footprint. Positions in Urban Planning are expected to rise by over 15% over the next 5+ years.

2. Solar Operations Engineer: Engineers in this position are faced with the task of designing new solar systems, then supervising and inspecting the structures during construction, which makes them the architects of the entire facility operation. They are also involved in monitoring and testing the correlation between old and new solar energy facilities.

3. Environmental Engineer: This position has some pretty big shoes to fill. The objective of these engineers is to prevent further deterioration of our planet by limiting soil erosion, global warming, acid rain and ozone depletion. The next 7 or so years should show employment opportunities in this field rise by as much as 25%.

4. Solar Lab Technician: Companies are seeking technicians with design, production, installation and testing skills involved with solar-energy technologies. With the increase of homes and commercial buildings investing in solar energy, so increases the need to find skilled professionals with the knowledge to get the job done.

5. Solar Power Installer: This is a relatively high-paying position within the solar energy spectrum of jobs and the opportunities abound. If you have a background in construction, you may want to look into some of these positions to install solar-thermal water heaters and solar panels on rooftops.

6. Wind Turbine Fabricator: Because wind is the leading source of alternate energy, these wind turbines are in higher demand than ever. And because they are garnering considerable financial support and tax rebates, wind farms are appearing everywhere. These jobs offer a great opportunity.

7. Energy Efficiency Builder: Our existing buildings are one of the greatest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, making them energy “guzzlers”. If you’re a skilled engineer, architect or retrofitter, your skills are in high demand to not only convert existing structures but also new buildings that are energy efficient.

8. Sustainability Systems Developer: In order to design, build and maintain the network required to support solar energy sources such as smart energy grids and wind farms, software developers and engineers are in high demand. This is a particularly golden opportunity for those with experience in web 2.0 applications and open source programming.

9. Solar Hot Water Installer: With a surge in the number of homeowners and business owners purchasing solar heating systems, the demand for professionals in this area is escalating with it, in both residential and commercial buildings. As the technological advances in this area escalate, so does the number of people required to fill these positions.

Looking for training?

Education is the missing puzzle piece in the growth of solar.  We need more qualified installers to grow a competitive market.  We need a competitive market to increase customer interest.  We need good instructors willing to step up and help Renew the Nation through solar. 

Are you willing to step up?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Corporate Social Responsibility and Small Business

"Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should underpin the actions of organizations and the MBA should adopt a stakeholder focus concerning all those affected by the actions of an organization, rather than just shareholder focus."  -"MBA's Adapting to Changing Focus", Jeanette Purcell, Chief Executive, Association of MBA's

"The issues we are addressing - from clean water, to safe food, to sustainable and vibrant cities, to smarter work, to empowered communities - are not a choice between business strategy and citizenship strategy.  They are both."  -IBM Corporate Social Responsibility Plan 2008

"What does being a good corporate citizen mean?  It means that we work hard to deliver attractive returns and exceptional value to our shareholders.  At the same time, it means that every day, in every one of our operations around the world, we strive to do our part to make the world a better place."  -TimeWarner Corporate Social Responsibility Plan

So, what does all this mean to the small or mid-size business?  You're not TimeWarner.  You're not IBM.  You're business plan doesn't include global domination.  You're happy to make a difference and do your part in your little corner of the community.

It means that, of all the organizations on the planet, YOU are in the greatest position to make a significant and meaningful impact on your community, on the people who work for you, and for your clients and customers.

Having a written Corporate Social Responsibility Plan is simply the way to keep track of it all and know if you're meeting your goals.

The problem is that many companies do tremendous good every day through great HR programs, or through philanthropic efforts, or through environmental stewardship, but they don't write any of it down nor do they share it with their clients and customers.  This, in my opinion, is the saddest part.  Don't you think your clients want to know the wonderful things you're doing?  It should make them proud that a portion of the money they paid you for goods/services went to help a local shelter, or assisted one of your employees during their time of need. 

People want to do business with people they like and trust.  You do business with your suppliers because you like and trust them.  What if you found out that the company that handled your pest control gave 10% of their profit last year to the American Lung Association?  What if your child has asthma?  Wouldn't you feel better about doing business with that vendor?  Good corporate social responsibility strengthens relationships and builds integrity and value.  And, at the same time, it benefits the community, the people, and the planet.

More and more companies are taking the time to put good deeds to paper and drafting their Corporate Social Responsibility Plans.  Included in those plans are goals, benchmarks for success, policies, and action items to meet the goals.  If you have 2 or 200 employees, you should have a plan.

As they say, A goal without a plan is just a wish. 

It's time more small and mid-size businesses step beyond wishing for good results.  It's time to make your wishes a reality with a good, well-thought out plan.

Here are a few things to consider when drafting your Corporate Social Responsibility Plan:
  • The Plan is all about your company.  If it doesn't mesh with your company's mission and vision, then don't do it.
  • Your Plan should include People - Profit - Planet solutions.  Include your HR plans, environmental stewardship, and community/philanthropic activity.
  • If your people aren't passionate about it, it probably won't work.  Find out what drives your employees and forge your CSR Plan around that.  If your employees love the holiday food drive, make it a formal part of your CSR Plan.  If your employees are nature lovers, get involved with conservation programs.
  • It's not a "from the top down" program.  Nor is it a "from the bottom up" program.  EVERYONE needs to be included.  Not just the boss and not just "Bill the Green Guy in Accounting". 
  • Write it down.  This is WRITTEN documentation of a firm's commitment to their employees, their community, the environment, and their financial sustainability with measureable goals and targets. As with all things worth doing, if it's not written down, it's probably not going to happen.
  • Someone needs to be in charge.  If everyone is responsible, then no one is responsible.  One person needs to take ownership and authority for the program.  And that person must have the authority to make decision and drive change.  It's great for the receptionist to be a part of the program, but if she's not authorized to tell the CFO that a policy needs changing, it won't happen.
  • Make the Plan known.  Your company deserves recognition for all of your good deeds.  Put it on the website, include it in proposals and in the company's annual report.  Post goals throughout the office.   Put out Press Releases when you surpass a goal. 
  • Reassess your progress.  Your CSR Plan is a living document.  Set a date on the calendar to review your progress and be ready to make changes and up the ante.  Be ready to re-set higher goals.
  • Celebrate your successes.  Include in company newsletters.  Do shout-outs at staff meetings.  Tell your clients. 
Start today.  Don't wait until you get an RFQ asking for your CSR Plan.  It'll be too late.  Ask for help.  Make it a priority.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Green Trends in North Florida

I had the honor of presenting to Jacksonville's Meninak Club on Monday, February 1st, on the state of the 'green' union.  The topic was Green Trends in North Florida and the response was really satisfying.  The members asked great questions that revealed interest and critique.  Those are the best kinds of questions.
Included here are some insights that were shared during the presentation and some facts that are relevant to where we are in North Florida. 

First, did you know that we have (as of today) 623 LEED Accredited Professionals in Jacksonville alone?  This time last year, we were at about 160. 

We have 20 LEED Certified projects, including 5 affordable houses and 2 City of Jacksonville buildings that achieved GOLD.  Wow.  (and Go, City of Jax!)  This time last year, we had about 6 total.

Time did not permit sharing the following quotes, but I think it's important to point out that the perception in the area is still a bit conflicted.  When asked how green building would affect individual organizations, the responses were all over the chart. 

From an engineer:  "That segment [green building] of our revenue has continued to grow very steadily over the last several years and we aren't seeing any change in that.  So this is not new to us.  We expect it will continue to be an increasing percentage of our business over the next year.  However, with 'green building' submarkets, we are seeing a significant increase in energy and performance work and commissioning, which we think is reflective of tightening operational budgets and Owner's desires to spend less money on operations and utilities"

From a design professional:  "We are currently working on a LEED registered project and we hope that in 2010 more business owners will look to sustainable design when considering building or renovating space.  Our firm has always been focused on sustainable design practices so our goal is to educate clients about sustainability and introduce them to the concept of sustainable design."

From a university facilities professional:  "We believe building green to be more costly and more time consuming per unit than previous non green building activity.  So, new green buildings for us will simply consume more budget and more time than we are used to - it will be an adjustment"

Interestingly, the University quoted does not have any certified buildings to date, but they are highly receptive to learning more about how to incorporate sustainability on their campus projects while keeping within the budget and schedule.  The experience of my colleagues in the area (and myself) is that the costs and schedule can (and should) be controlled when the team has the following:  passion, education, and experience.  This is true of any project, both institutional and otherwise.  I was thrilled to have such an 'unvarnished truth' response from the university.  Those are door openeners, not closers.

Upcoming trends were also covered, many of which are nation-wide, some of which may be regionally-specific.  Here's my take:
  • We will see a departure from using the phrase "green" and hearing more about "high performance" projects.  With more owners seeking out cost-saving strategies, the idea of high performance seems far more palatable.  And, with a savvy design and construction team, green strategies always find their place.

  • With stimulus dollars making their way through the pipeline, more green jobs will present themselves.  The solar energy market needs boots on roofs.  Consultants that have expertise in sustainability are opening their own businesses and making a profit where larger, less-movable companies are still stuck doing business the same old way. Vendors and suppliers are setting their sights on R&D that will provide greener solutions and energy savings. 

  • Retrofits and renovations are what's happening where new construction has stalled.  Anyone in construction already knows this is happening.  Weatherization programs funded by the government are getting homeowners talking about this, too.

  • Renewable energy will become more mainstream as education, supply and cost align.  There still seems to be a disconnect between these three components which is halting the mainstream buying public from stepping into the renewable energy world.  Most people understand that solar thermal hot water heaters are a 'no-brainer', but why doesn't everyone have one?  As the level of understanding tightens up with costs (and the availability of qualified contractors to install.  Read:  green jobs) I expect there will be more renewable energy in the 'burbs.

  • Consumers will drive supply and consequently drive decreased costs.  Duh.  I know.  Supply and Demand.  But, as consumers are asking for more recycled products or energy saving strategies, more suppliers are scrambling to meet their needs and want to be the most competitive with pricing.

  • Social Responsibility Planning will become the next step beyong green building.  Once your building is green, what do you do with your supply chain, your philanthropy efforts and procurement?  Many firms are writing their CSR programs, especially small businesss which are best positioned to make some significant impact on a national scale.  It's great that the Fortune 5's are measuring their impact, but what would happen it the massive number of small businesses do the same? 
Lastly, how can we improve the quality of our environment TODAY  Instead of listing a bunch of things you can do that everyone seems to already know about (like CFLs, aerated faucets, and rain barrels), we discussed bigger-picture concepts:

  • Remember that all decisions should be based on Triple Bottom Line decision-making that address People, Profit, Planet solutions.

  • Voice your concerns and then seek out information.  You read an article about solar energy not being the solution?  A neighbor wants PV panels on their house but the HOA said 'no'?  Find someone that can help with information and knowledge.  There are so many organizations that make it their business to help you (like USGBC, Sierra Club, NRDC, Green Team)...  seek them out and get your questions answered.

  • Write down your goals and create the benchmark for success.  You know that goals aren't real until they hit paper.  So, sit down with your team at the office, or your team at home, and create your plan for social responsibility.  Make it real and follow it throughout the year.  A year from now, you can celebrate your successes and plan for the next year's goals. 

  • Lastly, and in my opinion, most importantly, start with "THE ONE THING".  It takes a while to establish a habit and the best way to do so is with one step.  Choose one sustainable practice and commit to it.  Do it diligently.  Say no to water bottles.  Bring reusable bags to the store every time.  Choose the ONE THING and make it a habit. 
Thanks again to our friends at Meninak for inviting the green building perspective and for all the tremendous work they do in our region.  I hope my action items were well-received as this is a group of 'action' people.  They will make things happen! 

Speaking of which, have you started your "ONE THING" yet?  Get to it!

Thanks Jacksonville Magazine

A quick shout out to Jacksonville Magazine for featuring the Greener By Day blog in their February issue.

They get a "green thumbs up" for including a full online version of their magazine on their website.  Bookmark it and keep up to date on what's going in in Jax.

Also, they have a sister magazine, 904, which gives the skinny on business happenings in North Florida.  Remarkably slick and reminds us that Jax is still pretty snazzy!

Thanks again, Jax Mag.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

PR and Marketing in a Sustainable World

I have a new favorite book:  "The New Rules of Marketing and PR" by David Meerman Scott.

Here's a quote:
"Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars per month on a media relations program that tries to convince a handful of reporters at select magazines, newspapers, and TV stations to cover us, we should be targeting the plugged-in bloggers, online news sites, micro-publications, public speakers, analysts, and consultants that reach the targeted audiences that are looking for what we have to offer.  Better yet, we no longer even need to wait for someone with a media voice to write about us at all.  With social media, we communicate directly with our audience, bypassing the media filter completely.  We have the power to create our own media brand in the niche of our own choosing.  It's about being found on Google and Yahoo! and vertical sites and RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds.  Instead of writing press releases only when we have "big news" - releases that reach only a handful of journalists - we should be writing releases that highlight our expert ideas and stories, and we should be distributing them so that our buyers can find them on the news search engines and vertical content sites."
Can I get an AMEN?  Agreed, agreed, agreed.

As Scott states, we are in a different world when we market our business, our services, and our products. 

If you decided right now that you want to purchase a new coffee machine, what would you do?  Raise your hand if you'd do a google search of "best coffee machines"?  Or would you wait until the Sunday paper came out, thumb through the pages for a snazzy advert for small appliances?  Better yet, would you hope that a flashy TV ad would come on and direct you to a store?  I doubt it.

We get the information we need from the vast and rich knowledge available on the Internet.  Through interactive websites, search engines, blogs, news sites and e-zines. 

So, why are we still stuck with this idea that a PR campaign is not complete without a clip book filled with copies of media bits?  How many trees have to die before we recognize that print advertisement is probably in the final stages before it's full transformation to online platforms?

Sustainable PR and marketing is the New Marketing.  Green campaigns are social media campaigns.  It is not presenting a clip book to your client to show you've done your job, but presenting your client with the attention of targeted BUYING customers.  As a business owner, would you rather have ten newspaper clippings about your company or ten times as many buying customers on your phone?

One last quote from my new favorite book, the New Rules of Marketing and PR

  • Marketing is more than just advertising

  • PR is for more than just a mainstream media audience

  • You are what you publish

  • People want authenticity, not spin

  • People want participation, not propaganda

  • Instead of causing one-way interruption, marketing is about delivering content at just the precise moment your audience needs it.

  • Marketers must shift their thinking from mainstream marketing to the masses to a strategy of reaching vast numbers of underserved audiences via the Web.

  • PR is not about your boss seeing your company on TV.  It's about your buyers seeing your company on the Web.

  • Marketing is not about your agency winning awards.  It's about your organization winning business.

  • The Internet has made public relations public again, after years of almost exclusive focus on media.

  • Companies must drive people into the purchasing process with great online content.

  • Blogs, online video, e-books, news releases, and other forms of online content let organizations communicate directly with buyers in a form they appreciate.

  • On the Web, the lines between marketing and PR have blurred.

  • If you own your own company or are in a position to market your company, this book is required reading.  I'm definitely incorporating these ideas into my marketing plan and into the plans I create and execute for my clients.  Thankfully, Greener By Design Consulting's team has always seen the extreme benefit of social media management and the power of the Web.  It's assuring to know that we are not alone and, quite possibly, absolutely correct!

    When you read the book, it will either excite you or terrify you.  Be cautioned, though.  If you find the content too terrifying, or you are unconvinced, chances are you may fall flatly into the "left behind" category.  Re-read with an open mind and remember that the Web isn't going away.  It will continue to grow and change, grow and change.  Will you grow and change with it?

    Thanks to David Meerman Scott.  Be sure to visit his website and follow his blogs:

    Happy Marketing!

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    Matisse and the Masters at R. Roberts Gallery

    Greener By Design Consulting is proud to be working with R. Roberts Gallery on this exciting event that is just around the corner. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in North Florida for you to aquire works of the masters: Matisse, Chagall, Miro', Renoir, Dali, and Picasso.

    "Can I really purchase a Picasso?" Yes...

    "You're saying I can invest in a Renoir to pass along to my children" Absolutely...

    "What do you mean 'payment plan'?" Call the gallery today to find out....

    The event opens with previews on January 8th and closes with two very special events on January 16th and 17th. At 11am on Saturday, the 16th, the gallery is hosting a special children's event with the 81-year-old Pierre Henri Matisse.  Bring your children to meet the step-grandson of Henri Matisse and invest in a legacy piece that will pass through generations.  Imagine your child remembering the day she met the artist and then looking at the piece hanging on the wall.  This is a story that will live through generations....

    Public events begin at 6pm on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday.

    If you're as amazed as we are about this incredible opportunity to aquire a Masterwork, RSVP for the Matisse and the Masters Show at R. Roberts Gallery. Make an appointment to see the works accompanied by the experts at the gallery and away from the crowds.

    Call 388-1188 and ask for Heather or Jen or email

    This is not to be missed! Visit the gallery next week:  3606 Saint Johns Avenue in Historic Avondale.

    Visit the website: for a sample and follow us on Facebook:  Greener By Design Consulting and R. Roberts Gallery.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Welcome to your new Green Life in 2010

    I found a really great article in last year's National Geographic Green Guide describing the day in the life of someone that pulls in all the pieces of a newly-converted environmentally conscious person. (Italicized and bracketed comments are mine). Here's the highlights:

    7:00am:  Read the morning paper online.  Reading a year's worth of newspapers on your computer saves 520 pounds of paper, or about three trees per year.  (And, no stepping outside in your bathrobe frightening the neighbors)

    7:15am:  Shower with a low-flow showerhead.  Because low-flow showerheads reduce water consumption, they can save up to 10% on water-heating costs.  (Alert:  money saver!)

    8:25am:  Pack your lunch in reusable containers.  Containers and packaging make up one-third of municipal solid waste, more than any other category.  (Again, a money saver.  No purchasing baggies or expensive, often-unhealthy, restaurant food for lunch.)

    8:45am:  Brew a cup of eco-friendly coffee at home and pour into a reusable mug.  Because conventional coffee is grown on clear-cut land and requires loads of chemical fertilizers, each household that switches to organic, shade-grown coffee helps protect more than 9,000 square feet of rain forest.  Plus, Americans toss out 16 billion disposable paper cups per year.  (Eco-friendly coffee is often a better quality brew as well.  If you're a coffeehouse addict, purchase their coffee and brew it at home.)

    8:50am:  Power down before you leave the house.  TVs, stereos, chargers, and most appliances with clocks drain energy when they're plugged in - even if they're not on.  Its called "standby power" and it accounts for 5% of residential energy, costing US consumers over $4 billion per year.  Plug them into power strips that you can switch off easily. 

    9:00am:  Carpool to work.  According to the California Air Resources Board, approximately 50% of air pollution comes from automobiles.  (Depending on where you work, this can either be really smart or rather difficult.  Weigh your options and make changes elsewhere if carpooling is not viable.)

    9:30am:  At work, fire up your laptop.  Laptops require much less energy than desktops.  (When your firm makes a change in their technology, suggest laptops all around.  Don't forget to donate your used computers to a non-profit or to a school.)

    11:00am:  Print on both sides of the page, single-space your files and decrease the size of margins.  Americans use 5.4 million tons of office paper every year.  You use four times less paper when you print single-spaced and on both sides.  Save even more by shrinking the margins to .75 inches from the standard inch.  (Again, your mileage may vary on this one, depending on layout requirements and readability.  But, at the very least keep a basket near the copy machine for accidents and overruns to be used as scratch paper.)

    3:30pm:  Schedule a conference call with a client instead of a face-to-face meeting.  Conference calls cost a fraction of site-to-site travel and save a significant amount of energy.  Replacing one cross-country trip with a conference call saves 0.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide and enough energy to power 7,000 hours of videoconferences.  (With programs like Skype and the availability of webconferencing, you can still experience face-to-face.  Invest in a really good quality web-cam and highest speed connection to make it work at highest efficiency.  If your best client is on the fence, spring for a webcam for them, too.  Low cost gift for them and it shows your commitment to reducing your carbon footprint.)

    5:55pm:  Plug your computer into a power strip and switch it off at the end of the day.  Over the course of one year, you'll save 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and reduce standby power loss.  (And the boss will love you for working to reduce their energy bill.)

    6:00pm:  Text your partner to say you're on your way home.  Text messages sent from a cell phone use 30 times less energy than sending an email from a desktop computer.  (Before you start the car, though...  Don't text and drive!)

    6:15pm:  Bundle your evening errands to save gas and reduce pollution.  Starting a car with a warm engine emits one-fifth the pollution created by starting a cold engine.  (And you can get to your dinner and movie quicker by effectively planning your time.)

    6:20pm:  At the gas station, tighten your gas cap.  In the US, 147 million gallons of gas evaporate every year from cars with gas caps that are damaged, loose or missing.  Make sure your gas cap is tight by turning it until it clicks three times.  (My dad told me that I had to tighten the cap or the car would explode.  In retrospect, I think he was trying to scare me into doing it.  But, since he isn't an 'environmentalist', I'd say it was probably a cost-saving measure.  What doesn't evaporate, stays in the tank to work for you.)

    6:25pm:  At the ATM, say no to a receipt.  It takes two billion feet of paper to create receipts for the eight billion ATM transactions that occur each year in America - most of which end up as litter.  (Really...   are you going to write it down when you get home anyway?)

    6:30pm:  Take canvas bags to the supermarket.  In the US, we use 11 million plastic shopping bags every hour.  The trick to using your own bags is to put them back in the car as soon as you've unpacked your groceries - they won't do any good if you leave them at home.  (Target offers a $0.5 discount if you bag your items in a recycled bag.  Hey, 5 cents is 5 cents....  good for them.)

    7:15pm:  Before you head to dinner and a movie, print the tickets from your desktop.  Movie tickets printed at home are easier to recycle than the paperboard used to print tickets at the theater.  (And breeze by the line!  That's my favorite part!)

    8:00pm:  Eat dinner at a restaurant that serves locally grown, organic food.  Check for a list of eateries and food stores that sell environmentally friendly vittles in your zip code.  Or, if you eat at home, choose the right burner and don't preheat the oven until you're ready to cook.  If the circumference of the burner is larger than the size of your pan, you're leaking unused heat into the air.  The longer an oven is turned on but not used, the more energy it wastes.  There's no need to preheat if you're cooking foods for longer than 20 minutes.  (Ahh, our grandmas would be so proud of our frugal methods!  She don't care what we call it...  green, sustainable, eco-friendly.  She calls it frugal.  And she's right.)

    -Kate Hanley, National Geographic Green Guide

    One other great idea I found was to create a "Going Green" kit and give as gifts to clients, customers, friends, and family:

    • Reusable tote bag
    • Stainless steel water bottle
    • Travel coffee mug
    • BYO-lunch supplies - an insulated carrier, untensils, and aluminum foil (instead of plastic wrap)
    • Compact fluorescent light bulb
    Brainstorm for other items to include in your Kits and share the sustainability!

    Have a great week!