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green@work : Magazine : Between Blue & Yellow : Mar/Apr 2007

Between Blue and Yellow

The Power to Change the World

by Jeff Orloff

Over the years, we have seen a shift in the overall attitude toward sustainable business practices and green living. We have seen a shift from consumption to conservation when it comes to natural resources, and a move from disregard to genuine concern in how we view the ecology of the planet.

 This month, Dennis Walsh brings to light sustainable city living in his cover story. In highlighting the necessity of large cities to the economy and growth, he points out how urban areas are doing their part to promote sustainability. In his piece, Walsh names Denver and Seattle as two of the leaders in this movement. Having been born and raised in one of the most atypical blue-collar cities—Chicago—I was surprised to find that Mayor Daley has instituted a program that has created more green roofs in Chicago than any other cities combined.

By the same token, Canada’s Lakehead University recently embarked on a $23.3-million project to optimize building and energy efficiency and cultivate its overall social responsibility. In the end, Lakehead decreased its deferred maintenance liability by more than $20 million. This decrease was achieved through a reduction in electrical consumption on existing buildings by a dramatic 23 percent, and a cut in gas consumption by a stunning 43 percent. As the article on page 17 informs us, with its sleeping giant of deferred maintenance placated, Lakehead will continue to make the effort to achieve a sustainable campus.

On a slightly different note, in this issue’s “The New Renaissance Man,” Tiffany Downey discusses the efforts of not a government or organization—but one man—to make an impact on the world in which he lives. Jason Olive, a one-time top athlete at the University of Hawaii, turned to a career in the arts before focusing his attention on social responsibility by founding a charity to improve the lives of children through the sport of volleyball. Additionally, he created the exercise-philosophy trend Budokon with friend Cameron Shayne, who shared Olive’s vision of making an impact in the lives of people everywhere.

“When people think of ‘changing the world,’ rarely do they imagine the immense power they already possess to do so,” Olive says. “Oftentimes, people believe that they must first reach a position of power to become powerful. The irony is that no one will ever be what they are not now already.”

Hearing words like these further my belief that the focus on green business practices and green living is due in large part to how children are educated and what they see everyday. After all, at the risk of sounding cliché, I believe the children are our future.

Back in elementary school, we had a program titled CARE, Conservation And Responsibility for Energy. There a seed was planted, but as Wesely Bonafe points out in his article, “An ‘A’ for Efficiency,” today’s students are used to much more than being told to turn off the lights. Bonafe details the ways that schools have come to be leaders in energy efficiency. Not only are they saving tax dollars, but they are fostering an attitude in this generation that sustainability is a necessity. I am seeing this firsthand, as my daughter sat down the other day with me following up on a discussion she had in school about the Kyoto Treaty. She talked of her classmates’ resentment over the fact that the United States has yet to sign.

That, to me, speaks volumes about our future impact on the environment.

Jeff Orloff
Associate Editor

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