Central Florida’s Green Scene

Growing a Green Economy

It sometimes seems sustainability can be a shot in the dark. What does it look like to achieve sustainability? Is it a destination or is it a journey? Is it black or is it white? Does it have to come with a splash of red?

For most businesses, achieving sustainability is a bit of a moving target.

Messaging is easy enough. “We are committed to sustainability,” proclaimed loudly and often by major corporations around the world. But, what does that really mean and, more importantly, what does it look like? It can’t possibly look the same for every business, organization or government entity.

It’s an easy mandate to make. “XYZ Company needs to be more sustainable!” But, unlike other objectives, sustainability can be tough to quantify. Profitability? Subtract one column from the other. Increase output, decrease overhead, even the diversity of a workforce can be assessed with simple math.

Context and Perspective

But assessing sustainability is largely a matter of context and perspective. Asking three different regional sustainability subject matter experts what it means to be sustainable results in three remarkably different answers.

Jeff Benavides is vice president of innovation and strategic partnerships for 15 Lightyears. They are a building performance contractor providing green building and clean energy solutions for developers and homeowners.
He says sustainability is “operating day to day in order to be more cost effective, to conserve on resources, reduce waste, and improve the overall customer experience.”

City of Orlando Director of Sustainability Chris Castro says, “Sustainability seeks to enhance quality of life, reduce inequity, drive economic development and limit environmental impact.”

And Ken LaRoe, the founder and C.E.O of First Green Bancorp and regarded by many in the Central Florida business community as the “Godfather of Green” tells us we need to move beyond the word sustainability. “It’s not very compelling,” said LaRoe. “ ‘Sustainable’ means status quo. We need to be working toward regeneration. We need to start fixing stuff!”

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