WSJ: Firms Use Earth Day To Show Their Green Side

The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article around Earth Day last week, stating: “As corporate America gets greener, Earth Day is following the path of Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas, and turning into a corporate marketing opportunity. But instead of advertising chocolates or toys, companies are selling themselves and their greenness — and often, the biggest marketers are those with sizable carbon footprints.”

Please click here for a link to the article: The article goes on to discuss various companies showcasing their “green” initiatives, as well as the fact that there was a surge in trademark applications in the United States last year for products or ideas bearing the words” green,” eco”or “clean.”

Although green marketing is important, as it allows organizations to communicate values-laden messages to their constituents, consumers are very smart, and it is critical that these initiatives are not simply words. Rather, they need to be backed up by actions throughout the organizations to reduce their carbon footprints. The winners of the green movement will be the ones that have true commitments to environmentally-sound business practices.


Supply constraints hamper green product adoption

Earlier this week, a major health care client of my firm asked for some help with an upcoming community event, during which they hoped to distribute eco-friendly shopping bags to the 1000 expected attendees.

This client had previously given away these bags – see image attached to this article. Made from non-woven polypropylene, they are produced with recycled materials and are 100% recyclable. We reached out to the manufacturer that had originally provided them and were told that they were currently out of stock and could not guarantee delivery by the early June event date.

We then called several other best-in-class providers of environmentally-friendly products and were told that they were “wiped out by Earth Day” and that they were “hoping” that their next overseas shipment would arrive by late May. With this unreliable information in hand, I was forced to call my client and explain that we would likely have to look at alternatives for the event.

One oft-cited reason for companies not implementing green initiatives, especially throughout their marketing activities, is the perception that they will drive costs up. In fact, my firm recently surveyed a subset of our clients who have indicated interest in being “greener” and a startling 94% of respondents said that their main hesitation toward “greening” their business practices, and specifically their marketing collateral, is cost. Our in-the-field work has demonstrated that this is a misperception and that there are creative ways to reduce an organization’s carbon footprint without adding much, if any, cost. There may even be ways to save money!

However, these supply issues, which I experienced first hand yesterday, and the inability of product providers to provide better information or hope that they can be solved, are certainly another reason why organizations are not adopting environmentally-friendly business practices more rapidly. The inefficient supply chains of green product providers are significantly hurting adoption rates, and leading companies to take the paths of least resistance and relying upon the tried and true – and often “ungreen” – practices of the past. This must change.

One major barrier to success from creatives is that they often come up with great ideas but fail to execute (to read more on this, please see the fascinating work that Behance has done). A similar issue is facing “green” product providers: when they advertise the potential benefits of their innovative products, but fail to provide them in a timely fashion, they are holding the movement back and giving major corporate buyers the excuse to go back to their ways of the past. My hope is that over the next several months and years, green product providers can work to solve these supply chain issues. I know the demand is there.

CoStar Study Finds LEED, Energy Star Bldgs. Outperform Peers

There has been increasing news about “green” buildings, and the importance of LEED Certification. I was on the U.S. Green Building Council’s website last weekend (USGBC oversees the LEED system) and came across a news release on a study done by CoStar Group, a leading real estate research firm, on the financial benefits of building “green.” The findings were pretty interesting, and underscored the importance of “green” business practices. Below please find the first part of the report.

A new study by CoStar Group has found that sustainable “green” buildings outperform their non-green peer assets in key areas such as occupancy, sale price and rental rates, sometimes by wide margins. The results indicate a broader demand by property investors and tenants for buildings that have earned either LEED® certification or the Energy Star® label and strengthen the “business case” for green buildings, which proponents have increasingly cast as financially sound investments. According to the CoStar study, LEED buildings command rent premiums of $11.33 per square foot over their non-LEED peers and have 4.1 percent higher occupancy. Rental rates in Energy Star buildings represent a $2.40 per square foot premium over comparable non-Energy Star buildings and have 3.6 percent higher occupancy. And, in a trend that could signal greater attention from institutional investors, Energy Star buildings are selling for an average of $61 per square foot more than their peers, while LEED buildings command a remarkable $171 more per square foot. Andrew Florance, president and CEO of CoStar, called the findings a “strong economic case for developing green buildings” at a recent seminar hosted by the District of Columbia Building Industry Association (DCBIA) where he presented results from the CoStar study last month.

To read the full release, please click here:

To view CoStar’s full presentation of their findings, please visit:

BusinessWeek Online announces Green Business newsletter

As a past subscriber of BusinessWeek, I recently received an email announcing the launch of a monthly newsletter on green business. According to their website, the newsletter, which will be published from Spring 2008 until September 2008, is a “monthly digest of our reporting on how climate change, alternative energy development, and the sustainability movement are affecting business.”

At first glance, it looks like a helpful resource for anyone who is interested in green business issues. This month’s focus is green design. To learn more, please visit the following website:

Green approaches help Boston-based hotelier

Over the weekend, I had the chance to read an interesting profile on Tedd Saunders, a principal of his family’s Saunders Hotel Group and a leading proponent of “green” business practices in the lodging industry. The article, published in Connecticut College’s quarterly magazine CC: Connecticut College Magazine, discussed Saunders’ (Class of 1983 from Connecticut) long-time commitment to the environment, and was titled “On The Green List: Hotelier Tedd Saunders ’83 is helping the world’s largest industry set environmentally friendly standards.”

Saunders, in addition to his ownership stake in his family’s business, also founded Ecological Solutions Inc. in 1992, an environmental consulting firm focused on the lodging industry. A web link to the article from CC Magazine was not available. However, to read more about Tedd, please see the following link from the Green Lodging News:

According to Green Lodging News, an industry publication on “green” issues, at the Saunders Hotel Group’s 212-room Lenox Hotel in Boston, environmental retrofits and other thoughtful business practices have produced impressive annual savings: 1.7 million gallons of water, 110,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, 37 tons of trash from the waste stream, 175 trees through paper recycling. For these and other efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, the Environmental Protection Agency recognized the Lenox with its Energy Star rating in February 2008. Please see an article in the Boston Globe for more information:

For more information on the Lenox Hotel’s green efforts, please see the following page:

The main takeaway from reading about the pioneering work that Saunders and his family are doing is that green business practices can not only result in cost savings (water, energy, etc.) but they can also strengthen a company’s relationships with their existing customers and attract new business from eco-minded travelers. In fact, in 2006 the Lenox was included in Condé Nast Traveler Magazine’s Green List. What’s more impressive about this is that the Lenox was the only urban hotel in the world to be honored. (Here’s a link:

My firm featured on the Great Green List

I was reading the Internet tonight and came across an interesting website, called “the great green list.” The Great Green List describes itself as “the fastest growing human edited library of environmentally focused information on the Internet.”

My company, Grossman Marketing Group, was included in the Green Marketing section. Here’s a quick link to the page:

The site features a number of “green” resources. Check it out!

Dell’s HQ Switches to 100 Percent Renewable Energy

In further news that renewable energy is a good thing for an organization to adopt, see the news below about Dell, courtesy of

OAKLAND, Calif., April 3, 2008 — Energy from wind and landfill gas sources now completely powers Dell Inc.’s 2.1 million square foot headquarters in Austin, Texas, the computer maker said Wednesday.

Dell’s announcement of a deal with Waste Management and TXU Energy Wind Power is part of its bid to achieve carbon neutrality at its owned and leased facilities this year.

Waste Management’s Austin Community Landfill gas-to-energy facility will supply about 40 percent of the power needs at Dell’s headquarters, with the remainder coming from existing wind farms in the state through TXU Energy.

Dell’s Austin Parmer Campus also is seeing an increase in green power, from 8 percent to 17 percent, through Austin Energy. The company’s Twin Falls, Idaho, facility is also powered completely by wind and solar power.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, the company said the contract is for a little more than 80 million kilowatt hours per year. Dell declined to say how much the contract was worth, but predicted that green power, which now sells for a slight premium compared to conventional power, could one day sell more cheaply.

Retrofit projects across Dell facilities, such as deploying power management systems and replacing inefficient lighting and air conditioners, save the company $2 million a year.

The news comes just days after the company said it would close a desktop PC manufacturing plant in Austin and lay off as many as 8,800 workers as part of a massive restructuring plan designed to save the company $3 billion during the next three years.

Green Marketing: Reducing the Impact on the Environment while Increasing the Impact on your Audience

Below is an article I recently submitted for publication to the Association of Fundraising Professional’s newsletter about green marketing for not-for-profits. Nevertheless, the lessons discussed are applicable to for-profit businesses as well.


Nearly every day, when we open a newspaper or magazine or turn on the news, we see and hear something about the importance of being “green.” There are many reasons for this, most notably the acceptance of global warming as fact. Global warming has gone from a term used in the scientific community to a national issue on the minds of tens of millions of Americans. 2007 was the year when most citizens began to take notice and take action, and they are increasingly demanding that the places where they work, companies from which they buy products, and organizations to which they donate make significant and sustained efforts to address environmental issues. These efforts must cut across all facets of an organization, from energy conservation, to recycling initiatives, to waste and water use reduction.

One of the most active conversations that we constantly have with our clients in the not-for-profit world, particularly those in development and communications, is how they can show their donors, prospects, and constituents that they are acting in an environmentally-conscious way. In addition to implementing some of the operational business practices mentioned above, we highlight their collateral as a valuable tool in this effort. Quite often, their mailings and other marketing pieces are the principal vehicle through which they communicate with their key stakeholders and thus provide tremendous opportunities to connect in focused ways.

Each new project is an opportunity to deliver a values-laden message at a time when environmentally-sound practices are one of the hottest topics on the political, social and business landscapes. In fact, according to recent national polling data, the environment was a top-five issue with Americans, behind the economy, Iraq, and healthcare. For that reason, in addition to using marketing and fundraising projects simply as a means to discuss a specific topic (i.e. an event, annual appeal, etc), it is important to think bigger and bolder. Therefore, we make strategic recommendations on how to produce these pieces in environmentally-friendly ways, which strengthen the relationship between the organization and the donor. This is a critical part of the mission of fundraising professionals, and we are working closely with not-for-profit clients all over New England to make that goal a reality.

Research demonstrates the importance of the environment to prospective donors. According to a 2007 Gallup poll, 83% of respondents said that they believed the environmental record of an organization is an important factor when deciding to buy one of its products. According to an environmental survey published by Cone LLC, a cause branding firm headquartered in Boston, 93% of Americans “believe companies have a responsibility to help preserve the environment” while 91% of Americans said they “have a more positive image of a company when it is environmentally responsible.” There is no question that this data applies to not-for-profits as well.

Not only does incorporating sustainable business practices into your organization make good business sense, it is also the right thing to do. Manufacturing of all kinds, including the creation of collateral, requires large amounts of electricity, traditionally produced by fossil fuel-powered generators. The combustion of fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Therefore, one of most effective ways to address the environment with your marketing communications is to produce your materials with renewable energy, specifically wind power. Any number of third-party reports highlight that wind power resonates very well with end consumers – who make up your respective donor bases.

Therefore, we made the strategic investment in early 2007 to power our envelope production facilities with 100% certified wind power, using Green-e certified renewable energy credits. We offered envelopes made with wind power at no extra cost, and the program took our industry by storm. Some of our initial customers included: American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Boston University, Common Cause, Federation of American Scientists, League of Conservation Voters, National Park Foundation, Partners Healthcare, Project Bread, Tufts University and WBUR. Over the past year, we have worked with approximately 75 clients to produce more than 120 million envelopes with wind power, which has saved more than 33,000 gallons of oil!

In addition to the wind-power envelope initiative, Grossman Marketing Group now offsets 100% of our energy use in all of our facilities, so can help our clients make all of their printed collateral with certified wind power, at no extra cost. In addition to renewable energy, we have come up with some very simple tips to “green” our clients’ collateral projects, always with the bottom line in mind.

We recommend that once clients make the decision to make their collateral more environmentally-friendly, they clearly articulate this to their constituents. We work with our clients to translate the environmental savings into very simple and easy-to-understand terms so your donors can fully grasp the positive contributions you are making to the environment. You should never hesitate to explain the work that you are doing – whether it is on the back of an envelope, or in a section of your annual report or newsletter. Clear communication and transparency are absolutely critical, as they will allow you to use your environmentally-conscious approach as a way to differentiate your organization from your competition and establish a competitive advantage.