Proceed with caution

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Articles - June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014

 LESSON 3: The market is already rewarding green practices.

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Sandra McDonough, president and CEO,
Portland Business Alliance

Despite opposition to new regulations and disagreement on incentives, many companies have found that the marketplace is already pushing them to adopt environmental practices.

When asked what “green business” means, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales reels off a list of textile designers and building companies. He cites Neil Kelly remodelers, founded in 1947, which has become a national leader in alternative-energy and sustainably focused home remodels, and property developer Gerding Edlen, which touts the principles of “People, Planet, Prosperity” on its website. Hales shows off his iPad case, made by Looptworks out of other manufacturers’ scraps. Today Portland’s reputation as an environmental leader helps attract talented employees and bolsters the city’s economy, Hales says. But many of the city’s green businesses became market leaders simply by pursuing economic opportunities. “A lot of what businesses are doing now qualifies as green, but we weren’t always thinking about saving the planet when we got started,” he says.

While some Oregon businesses have pursued market opportunities and then been labeled “green” after the fact, others are just beginning to see the financial benefits of environmental practices.

Skip Newberry, president of the Technology Association of Oregon, says green policy issues are not on his radar. “We haven’t posed those questions,” he says, when asked how his members feel about incentives and regulation. But the high-tech companies he works with are thinking about energy use and sustainability within their own operations. “There’s a broad look at environmental footprint among a lot of tech companies,” Newberry says. “There’s an economic reason for this: It’s good marketing, good PR. Some say being good stewards of the environment can be good for retention and recruiting top talent. And operational efficiencies can save resources and be good for business.”

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Skip Newberry, president,
Technology Association of Oregon

And it’s not just high-tech firms that see the financial logic of adopting environmental practices. The Portland Business Alliance, which acts as a chamber of commerce for 1,700 companies in the metro area, draws crowds of business owners looking to learn from one another at its quarterly Green Bag Lunch events, says McDonough, PBA president. “There’s the ethic of wanting to be environmentally sustainable, and these practices make business sense.”

Even forest-products companies — which have a long history of clashing with environmentalists — say market forces are spurring them to become greener.

That’s the case at Roseburg Forest Products, which CEO Allyn Ford says has adopted an increased focus on sustainable business practices. The family-owned, Roseburg-based company was founded in 1937, a time when Oregon’s natural resources seemed limitless, and quickly grew to become one of the region’s largest private wood-products manufacturers. Today Roseburg Forest Products employs more than 3,000 people in six states. It owns private timber lands and sells lumber and manufactured-wood products. The company has come to understand that its future depends on responsible use of resources, Ford says. It offers one of the largest and most diverse selections of green building products in North America. “We have a relationship with the land, and that involves a commitment to good management of the forest and commitment to the land itself.”



 

Comments   

 
Guest
0 #1 ownerGuest 2014-06-09 21:19:23
It is interesting that public giants like Nike and Intel refuse to participate. More alarming is the pollution Intel put upon us here in Oregon. Nike does it through the jet stream from China in various forms including acid rain that comes here daily. Conformed reports show 30% of the daily air pollution in Oregon comes from Asia and most of that China.
Of course the governors offices in China even if they had any never are going to be green leaders nor is the gov't of China going to get their pollution corrected and over seen by what we have here like the EPA.
The sky over Oregon is not confined in a bubble.
It is made up of everything moving thru it from wherever and easily charted daily.
That sky pollutes everything called Oregon from air to and to water and all habitats human,natural and animal and vegetable.

So Why Not begin like folks in Montana call their BIG SKY and define Oregon's Big Sky and really make things happen.

Last week I signeda petitin to force the labeling of foods that use GMO's

Well how about labels for anything that is produced outside of Oregon that comes here riddled with pollution both in actual product and the air that carries it sooner and in an open form that causes at this time far more damage.

Putting a label on what folks like Nike and Intel and others create here inOregon will at least make the public aware of what they are supporting with their purchasing dollars.
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