Chicago Green Jobs

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce For The Win!
April 12, 2010, 3:06 pm
Filed under: Event

Did you hear the one about how the United States Chamber of Commerce explained in a petition to the EPA that global warming doesn’t matter because more people get air conditioners every day? No? Well, that’s actually the whole joke!

The good news is that not all Chambers of Commerce are created equal.  In fact, our very own Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce has launched the Green Business Forum, a new effort to help local businesses capitalize on the opportunities inherent in sustainability.  I’ve done some informal consulting on the business greening challenge piece if the GBF, and from all I can see this effort has legs. There will be winners and losers as our country moves towards developing a more sustainable economy, so good on the Chicagoland Chamber for seeing past the politics and protecting the interests of its members.

It’s definitely worth spending a few minutes with the PPT deck from the inaugural Green Business Forum event on March19th.  It’s divided into two segments: why businesses should incorporate sustainability into their strategies and how they can take advantage of the incentives and programs available in Chicagoland.

Deloitte, the Chamber’s partner in the Forum, contributed the research on the why behind business sustainability strategies. Highlights include:

  • The framing sentence “Sustainability is not about “going green”; it’s about ensuring an enterprise’s long-term viability and includes environmental, social and economic programs.” I could kiss the person who wrote this.  Over the years I’ve worked in this field the phrase “going green” has gone from being useful shorthand to an overused cliché that makes about half of your audience to roll their eyes and start thinking about something else.
  • A nifty graph on slide 13  showing how companies with a sustainability strategy outperform their peers financially. Click here for a fuller explanation of the 2009 source study.
  • A shout-out to Walmart’s $1 million a year savings from removing the light bulbs from vending machines, an innovation proposed by North Carolina store associate Darrell Meyers during the Personal Sustainability Project launch in 2007. Fun fact: I was the PSP strategist who interviewed Darrell Meyers for the details of his money and energy saving brainwave (and yes, I will be signing autographs after the show).

The rest of the deck is chock full of information on incentives to help businesses start moving towards sustainability. Highlights include:

I personally find energy conservation incentives and financing structures a little dry, but the next Green Business Forum event is on a subject near and dear to my heart: how are corporate claims of sustainability verified? The event runs from 5-7 in the evening on Wednesday, April 28th, and will feature a discussion of carbon trading and sustainability reporting.

It’s early days yet, but it looks like the Chamber’s efforts have the potential to cultivate new and important allies in the effort to make Chicagoland a leader in the green economy.

And if we’re lucky, the United States Chamber of Commerce will follow Chicagoland’s lead instead of continuing their comically out of touch anti-sustainability battles.


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