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Green Business Ideas

Successful green product and service innovation process.

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Innovation isn't a new concept. After all, that's how the wheel was invented! But green business ideas are a little different. Here are some of the factors that impact a "green business"... and successful green product and service innovation process. california incentives green solutions

Green Business Infrastructure

Green and sustainable business definitions are not yet settled. However, a number of industry sectors are quite well developed in the green and sustainable business process with well-defined certification programs in place.

A few of these are:

Organic Food and Crop Production: The federal Department of Agriculture has an "organic certification" program in place with inspectors, labeling guidelines, etc.

Alternative Vehicles: Again, the federal government and state governments do research on emissions, fuel efficiency, etc. and make these product evaluations available to the buying public.

Alternative Fuel: With the explosion of interest in alternative fuels, the field is changing rapidly. With various mixture levels of alternative fuels with traditional fuels, various raw material sourcing and various efficiency ratings, this field will probably be in flux for some time to come.

Energy: Residential and commercial equipment from refrigerators to computers are tested under a wide variety of programs, including Energy Star, Green-E, and various specific programs for windpower, solar heat and electricity...etc.

Forestry: The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies a chain-of-custody for wood sourced products from paper to plywood...and beyond. This is one of the most established programs that audits for grower practices, community impact, chemicals, sustainable farming practices...and sustainable business practices to the point of delivery to the consumer.

california mobile green solutions Other industry sectors that are developing programs include irrigation and water conservation, green hotels, green restaurants, green chemistry, even packaging and toys!

Check your industry trade association for their developing programs for conservation of natural resources, social responsibility, energy efficiency...etc.

Green Business Market

The green business market is both local...and global. With the massive population increases we are experiencing, we have a dual dilemna...how to support more people with less. Period. The average American consumes 20 times as much in natural resources as the average African and if all the people consumed at the level of high-income countries, the planet could support only 1.8 billion people, not the actual 6.5 billion. Like any movement, the green business movement started with a core of dedicated advocates and researchers who delved into what they saw were injustices, inadequacies and inaccuracies. These early businesses were traditional businesses with a few innovative products or services, as well as new kinds of businesses delivering new services or products in new ways. Organic food and gardening were instrumental in these early green businesses, as were water and energy conservation products such as water filters, solar water heaters...etc. Every time we faced shortages of a particular resource...such as gasoline, or fresh food or affordable rent...new businesses have been pioneering new approaches.

The green business market of 2007 is very different from the green business scene of even 2004. The business owners are of a different bent -- and many times of a different generation. The products are different.

There's a "designer" approach that's taking the forefront these days. Innovators have decided that people with some money in their bank accounts want high quality...and part of that definition is non-toxic, and environmentally friendly. But it must also be high style. The green consumer wants less...and better.

Hence, architecture and interior design have led the way in the current wave of green product development. From green "LEED" buildings to green furniture with non-toxic fabrics, FSC woods...our top designers have turned their attention to green materials and processes.

The USGBC has developed the "LEED" certification program that cut its teeth on large commercial building projects. In 2007, they began to move into retrofitting buildings and even neighborhood design. The LEED program categories of products and processes give budding businesses a shopping list of innovation demand in order for architects and builders to spec green components:

Sustainable Sites: Erosion and sedimentation control, alternative transportation, reduced site disturbance, stormwater management, landscape & exterior design to reduce heat islands and light pollution reduction

Water Efficiency: Water efficient fixtures, irrigation systems, sensors and water retaining systems to assist with water efficient landscaping, innovative wastewater technology and brownfield redevelopment.

california c&d construction and demolition debris recycling green solutions Energy & Atmosphere which minimize energy use and CFCs with minimum energy performance, CFC reduction in HVAC&R equipment, optimize energy performance, renewable energy, ozone depletion, measurement & verification and green power.

Materials and Resources: storage and collection of recyclables, construction waste management, resource reuse, recycled content, local/regional materials, rapidly renewable materials, and certified wood.

Indoor Environmental Quality: C)2 monitoring, low-emitting materials, indoor chwemical & pollutant source control, controllability of systems, thermal comfort, and daylight and quality views.

Innovation and Design Process: including sustainable design criteria, case studies, research publications, funding, product manufacturers' specifications and direct outcomes.

No one has a corner on innovation -- of products, processes or information. But planning your business to fit into systems that have built-in demand can be a pretty smart move!



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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