Thursday, December 18, 2008

Developing a Cleantech Strategy (Slideshare presentation)

This is a condensed version of a presentation I gave to the ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies). It provides a high level strategy for developing a focused growth strategy that incorporates cleantech and sustainability revenue streams.

Read more!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sustainability Seminar Series (Slideshare presentation)

This is an overview of the sustainability growth strategy seminar I have developed for executives in the EPC, AEC, and environmental services industries.

Read more!

Monday, November 03, 2008

"Developing a Cleantech Strategy"; online seminar for ACEC

I am conducting an on-line seminar for the ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies) this Thursday November 6th at 10:30am (PST); the title of which is “Developing a Cleantech Strategy”.

I will be covering sustainability & cleantech growth drivers, benchmarking strategies of global EPC firms, and providing a general framework for incorporating cleantech into an AEC / EPC strategy.

Link: Read more!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Seminar Series on Sustainability

I developed a seminar series on incorporating sustainability into corporate strategy, for executives in the EPC / AEC, water resources, and environmental services & consulting industries. The course information has been developed as a result of on - going projects, as well as from benchmarking studies I have conducted with global EPC firms.

An 'executive summary' of this series will be presented to ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies) on November 6th; see my previous post describing this presentation.

You can view the document describing the 'Sustainability Series' by clicking on the Slideshare button on the right. Or, you can click here; registration for viewing is required. Read more!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New column on SustainableMinds

My column titled "In the age of financial meltdown, does sustainability matter?" was recently published by SustainableMinds; link is here. Read more!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New articles published on TriplePundit and Celsias

TriplePundit recently published an article I wrote: "In the Age of Financial Meltdown, does Sustainability Matter?" (note the provocative title....)

Celsias also published a column of mine; this one is titled "Will Crisis Management drive Sustainability Adoption". Read more!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Green Tech Market Trends, from the American Climate Values Survey

I had a chance to attend a briefing by EcoAmerica, which sponsored the American Climate Values Survey (ACVS), concerning climate change. Psychographic research was conducted by SRI to fully understand what motivates the American public to act on global warming.

This briefing was conducted with the purpose of sharing messages, defining specific population segments, and provide positioning information to foundations and policy groups (and perhaps 'green' product & solution companies that wish to influence (or sell to) consumer and commercial populations).

One area of interest to me was the opportunities for green technologies to influence public perception and consequently, policy making. The ACVS revealed that GreenTech is viewed favorably by those individuals who are "Onboard" (aware and motivated to act) as well as those who are "Agnostic" (those who are aware but have not engaged or acted).

The positive messages for greentech are:

  • New source of jobs (very important given today's market climate)
  • Americans' hope for climate rescue without having to make significant lifestyle changes
  • Attraction to novel solutions

The ACVS also points out that greentech still requires 'dramatic' positioning (i.e. technology leadership, much lower costs and energy use, large economic benefit) to overcome any 'discounting' (the perception that greentech is accepted and expected).

While the 'high level' messages may not be new to those in the greentech business, I do think that the market segmentation, specific messaging themes, and strategies for overcoming global warming doubts (and associated greentech adoption) would be very valuable to greentech companies.

The ACVS is targeting foundations and policy groups to best utilize the results, but I would think that any company that seeks to launch a solution leveraging greentech would be very interested. Electric utilities, consumer product companies, retail, and professional services companies might benefit from review of the study and incorporation of key messages and themes.

Read more!

Friday, October 03, 2008

In the age of financial meltdown, does sustainability matter?

I was in the UK at a CIO workshop last week (post coming up), and missed a lot of the on -going maneuvering on the part of both political parties here in the US. It made me think about sustainability market drivers (again; yes, I need a life...), and whether we have turned the corner from sustainability as a 'vitamin' (nice to have), or an 'aspirin' (critical need).

Right now, I would guess that most people (consumers) and many corporations are focusing on very tactical and survival -based activities, such as cost control and risk / exposure management. Where sustainability programs are already established, there is probably little impact from the financial crisis, in terms of potential termination, cancellation, etc.

But where sustainability initiatives are being considered or reviewed, I would venture that many will be put on hold for the time being, as corporations sort through on - going programs and rank and prioritize those that are truly 'mission critical' for short term goals.

But there may be a silver lining.

One could say that the current populism will engender more awareness of social impacts associated with current and projected modes of doing business. That could feed into more interest in sustainability as the template of conducting business: doing what is right (do no evil?), taking care of your employees and those who are affected / involved in your business, and developing strategy & inititiaves for promoting long term viability.

Another potential benefit: whoever becomes president, there is no doubt (in my mind) that we are entering a new age of regulatory oversight. I believe that the 'wave' of rule - making for the financial markets will spill over to other industries / sectors, and will include new environmental and social metrics.

Some may see additional regulation as anathema to the overall concept of sustainability, but as I have posted before on crisis management (link), sustainability will not be adopted by the majority of corporations until such time that: they have to incorporate programs to be competitive; or, they have to comply with new regulations. Indeed, if you view the UK and Europe, sustainability adoption is due to stringent new rules in building design & construction, consumer product design, and waste recycling; all driving much more awareness (and acceptance) in the local populations.

There. Anybody feel better about the current mess we are in?
Read more!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Software as a Service (SaaS): Applications to CSR

CSR, SaaS, GRC.....

(Note: nothing like starting a blog post with a whole bunch of acronyms...)

As CSR and GRC technologies are gaining traction in industrial markets, it is interesting to review how the technology (and solution) could be delivered:

  • Perpetual, on-site licensing model, or
  • Services based, on-demand model (i.e. software as a service, or Saas), or
  • Hybrid model (SaaS architecture, but licensed to sit behind the client's 'firewall')

With SaaS established in the enterprise software market, what are some of the key solution and strategy issues that a CSR or GRC service offering should consider?

1. Develop a partner ecosystem that is aligned with SaaS delivery (i.e. not a set of system integration firms that rely upon rampant customization & integration)

2. Understand complete pricing & value dynamics (cost for the entire SaaS solution; what functionality and tech partners might be needed to provide a complete business solution)

3. Review and modify organizational design (particularly for sales: telesales and partner sales supported by account managers)

4. Refine / amend market strategy (initial entry into SMB sector to gain awareness, proof points, referenceable clients)

5. Lower the risk of adoption, and allow customers to move back to perpetual licensing if desired

Perhaps the adoption of SaaS in the GRC and CSR markets will mirror that of the adoption of business intelligence (BI) solutions.

Most BI applications were originally sold in the traditional perpetual licensing arrangement. This was probably a function of risk management; keeping confidential information such as HR records and financial projections inside the firewall. Gradually, those concerns abated, as more established software firms provided and publicly supported their SaaS offerings.

Many CSR technology firms are not starting with perpetual license offerings, so they do not need to migrate customers to new solutions and work with them in business process alignment. But they do need to prove that they consider 'risk management' an important component of their value proposition: data and applications security; managed data center access; multiple levels of user permissions & security; and company committment (i.e. financial security, product roadmap visibility; partner acquisition & alignment).

Read more!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Emerging Careers in Sustainability Consulting

Read an interesting overview of the career opportunities in sustainability consulting; both in traditional management consulting as well as with new boutique consulting firms (article on Triple Pundit). I think the E&C consulting industry is also a viable source of career opportunities as well.

(note: I posted a column on this market trend in the spring; CNET published an article on "Green is the new opportunity in consulting").

Both management consulting and engineering services firms (or engineering & construction firms; 'E&C's) are investing in sustainability practices. Management firms are building practices in environmental risk management, sustainability strategy (including organizational design, change management, as well as process design) and carbon management strategy.

The global E&Cs, such as Bechtel, CH2M, URS Corp, have some type of 'sustainability' practice. In many cases, this service offering is focused more on CSR reporting and strategy development; both growing segments.

I work with the global E&Cs as part of my practice, and I believe the bigger opportunity for 'talent' to enter this field is to focus on specific segments such as: buildings / facilities, energy development, water, transportation, and environmental. 'Sustainability' is being incorporated into many of these markets; with most of the interest coming from clients who want to manage their energy costs, minimize use (and costs) associated with resources such as building materials and water; and also manage environmental risks associated with past and current practices.

I actually think there is more potential for professionals who focus on these specific market opportunities in the short term, as industries such as process mfg, discrete mfg, energy development, retail, and real estate, for examples, are all turning to E&Cs for solution development and deployment.
Read more!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Breaking the bond of the "Gatekeeper"....

You know who he (or she) is.

That person you have to deal with to get access into a client's organization. Could be the actual buyer, but many times is just someone who is paid to say 'no', and really does not have any power to say 'yes'.

And you are stuck with him...or her.

How do you break the bond?

I worked with a client this spring; providing business development services to access and develop new strategic accounts in the global Engineering & Construction sector. We had one global E&C account with revenues over $6B, but my client (software company) had very little visibility and access into the account. My role: providing company & industry insights, access to key executives, and refine the sales strategy; complementing and assisting the account manager and his team.

And his main contact in this company was simply...a pill. Someone who was almost hostile to the account manager, who in turn was oblivious to the verbal assault. But someone who did have the power to affect the terms of an enterprise level deal.

Ok, we can just go around him, using my relationships (which were at a much higher level in practice management).


This gatekeeper made it be known that we were NOT to go around him....everything HAD to be coordinated via him.

(Where's Dr. Phil when you really need him?)

Plus, the guy always wanted to meet over lunch.....hmmm; wonder why?

A new strategy was needed. One that minimized the gatekeeper's impact, kept the account manager motivated, and hopefully one that could turn this around.

What was accomplished:

- Killing with kindness (not a great ROI given the level of effort, but there was some minor amount of 'R')

- Me working with my relationships, and providing my account manager with 'plausible deniability':

("Honest, Mr Gatekeeper; I did not know Scott was talking to Ms. SVP of Corp. Dev!!")

- Appealing to the Gatekeeper's primary need: perform less work. We told him we could get other staff within his organization involved, and run all decisions through him. All the power, none of the hassle.

- Finally, working with executives (I was developing some 'benchmarking' for the industry....gave me a reason to reach out) who had a vested interest in our success (the SVP of Process Mfg, and key program managers who wielded enormous influence), and getting them to support our gatekeeper (not that easy to do, given the gatekeeper's internal reputation, as it was).

Rocket science? No.

Lots of lunches? Yes.

Thinly disguised compliments? Sure.

To summarize: taking a chance on alienating the gatekeeper (via my role....note: why do I have to be the bad cop?), getting key influencers involved, allowing the gatekeeper to maintain his position of authority, supporting him via other internal leaders (which made him feel good), and putting him in a position where he had to go forward or would be perceived as truly a gatekeeper.

It's funny, but gatekeepers do not want to be perceived as gatekeepers.

Who knew.
Read more!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Business Models for Social Networking Sites

As a follow up to a previous post (here) on the need for social networking in sustainability communities, and the potential of social networking on a personal / individual level (here), there are some business strategies that may be followed for growth in this space.

Companies such as Viridus, Celsias, Ning groups, and others need to leverage their most important attribute: their network of users. The challenge is how to grow the network and retain & engage members; without alienating them. Facebook, for example, has growth exponentially; has attracted demographic groups beyond that of the college crowd, but still had a revolt on their hands when they reduced the (perceived) privacy of their users with new tracking applets. They are big enough, so that this was a minor bump in their growth; for a start up, that error could be disasterous.

How do we leverage the community? Here are some revenue building initiatives that may apply in the sustainability sector:

  • Provide market research opportunities to outside corporations (allow corporations to test their brand image; new product releases, or to attract new talent via surveys)
  • Allow targeted ads for user pages, profiles, groups, etc
  • Design for internal use on a company's intranet
  • Set up job posting (similar to E-lance and and job searching service
  • Build in knowledge management (i.e. search, knowledge sharing, virtual communities, groups) and license third party access from vendors who may provide specific content and expertise

One area that intrigues me is building an internal site for a corporation; essentially creating a virtual community of sustainability professionals inside the firewall. The social networking company might also provide access to 'federated' data; profiles and groups outside of the firewall, with voluntary 'opt -in' procedures for users. This would minimize / eliminate any privacy concerns, and also motivate specific users groups to join, if they thought there were advantages to do so (job search inside a company, internal networking, specific content they were seeking).

A key challenge for this scenario would be how to integrate into other KM and intranet systems, so that the social networking site was not a siloed application.

Read more!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Will Crisis Management drive Sustainability Adoption? (also published on

(This post was also published on

Recent conversations with sustainability execs, including those in the product - centric industries (CPG, discrete mfg) and in technology firms, have centered around adoption of internal sustainability programs (that is: executive sponsorship and enactment of internal initiatives to create a sustainable organization and business model).

A central issue comes up: how to convince executives that sustainability programs are critical to the welfare, brand, and growth of their company?

As in any nascent market or as part of a new management trend, there are always 'thought leader' executives that 'get it' quickly; in this case: they understand the sustainability value proposition for their company, and more importantly, may articulate the specific programs and initiatives that need to be executed to acheive success.

But many execs are viewing sustainablity with a jaundiced eye; it may appear to be 'one more corporate exercise' as one exec told me. And many view sustainability as an additional layer of compliance (more on this in a future post).

This is not to denigrate or judge those executives who don't get it; the incentives for most of these people are ones that you would expect:

- Increase profitability
- Find and develop new product and services lines, or expand to new markets
- Attract and retain the best talent
- And, keep the company out of trouble (i.e. regulatory compliance, product liability mgt, maintain positive press and brand image, etc)

So what may drive sustainability adoption broadly throughout various sectors, beyond that of the 'thought leaders'?

Perhaps the lessons of the environmental regulations wave in the 1970 - 1980's are applicable; when corporations were hit with a multitude of regulations, such as hazardous waste rememdiation, toxics management, and clean air and water requirements.

I worked with corporate environmental officers in the leading process, discrete, and energy companies in that time period, and I was frustrated when I tried to advance proactive strategic environmental risk programs. The value proposition was simply: it pays to stay out of trouble by investing in such a program on an enterprise level.

This sales approach was not extremely successful.

Clients would listen and adopt strategic programs after a crisis hit; a spill or leak of hazardous materials, or evidence of disposal at a Superfund site, for examples. It is hard to invest in the future, especially for events that have not been experienced.

The driving force of adoption of more proactive, strategic environmental risk managment programs was 'crisis management': some companies found themselves in significant risk, in terms of past environmental management practices (or legacies'), with associated regulatory, cost, legal, and negative public image issues as a result. When viewed in this light, proactive strategies (such as sustainability) that encompass processes, people, and products, look like very good investments after all.

When we view sustainability program adoption today, there are certainly those companies who are visible due to their proactive approach (think Walmart), but: we are also drawn to environmental and health crisis's that have occurred; the Mattel issue with it's suppliers was a highly visible example of the need for a corporate sustainability program (or at least a sustainability initiative for the supply chain).

I would advance the idea that in the near term, the vast majority of corporations (i.e. those that are not 'thought leaders', and are in the population within 2 standard deviations of the bell shape curve of their sector) will not adopt sustainability programs unless faced with a crisis; either their own or one from a competitor or well known company. The crisis may not be a major one, but could be big enough to cause negative impacts on brand, customers or employees. They could be: product returns, worker health & safety, past environmental liabilities, losing key talent to competitors, or have a supplier face the same issues.

I don't think this adoption driver will continue on indefinitely, but given the lagging economy and business investment in key sectors (construction, manufacturing), many companies may defer on moving forward with enterprise level programs. When the economy turns around, adoption will probably hit some level of inflection point in the near future (2 years), where sustainability programs will not be a 'nice to have', but will be necessary to compete. But I do not think we are there yet.
Read more!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Quick review of "Profit from the Peak" book: significant investments in sustainability and infrastructure?

I was provided a copy of "Profit from the Peak" from John Wiley & Sons, a new book on the history of fossil fuel development, and the associated investment opportunities that take advantage of emerging energy development as well as in targeted segments of 'traditional' oil & gas (i.e. discovery, development, refining, and distribution).

Just started reading it a week ago, but noted an area of particular interest: how the maturation of oil field development and 'peak oil' have spurred incredible investments in infrastructure (including development of sustainability / alternative energy projects).

There is a general consensus that we are past 'peak oil' (the optimum rate of production), and discovery of new major oil fields is not anticipated. Therefore, Middle East countries, who are awash in royalties, are now investing in and building infrastructure for refining, chemicals production, and distribution (will they invest in the retail side?).

This level of investment in infrastructure by Middle East countries such as Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Bahrain is simply amazing. These countries are investing in engineering & construction services to the general level of $350 billion in the near future. The reason for this investment level: the oil producing companies in the Middle East have determined that they if they can control more of the downstream lifecycle for oil & gas, they can substantially increase their profitability, compared to that associated with oil production. And with production and development investments not predicted to rise appreciably given the state of peak oil, this is the time to invest in other parts of the lifecycle.

And that requires skills and labor in engineering design, construction, and operations; along with significant requirements in materials (i.e. steel, cement, networks / telecom, monitoring systems, chemicals, etc).

What does this mean for the AEC sector, and for sustainability (specifically alternative energy development)? Some thoughts:

  • Many of the global AECs are currently very active in the Middle East, and have set up new operations / offices there. The talent required to deliver on these projects is coming from multiple locales: India, China, EMEA, US. But talent availability remains a bottleneck.
  • Given the huge level of investments and associated demand for talent, many of these global AECs are somewhat strapped for talent here in the US. One executive told me that between the two markets of Iraq rehabilitation and UAE development, that the US market for them has become secondary.
  • The 'greenfield' opportunities (building new facilities, as opposed to retrofitting older ones) means that owners are very open to new technologies and designs; particularly those that will optimize use of precious resources in the area, such as water. Two primary sustainability markets are benefitting as a result: alternative energy development (solar PV), and water treatment, distribution, and recycling.

What does this mean to cleantech start ups? Build relationships with practitioners in the leading global AECs; not the corporate development or business development leaders. Why? The practitioners, in most cases senior program managers with client relationship and deployment responsibilities, are the ones who can make decisions on integration of new technologies, since their clients are the ones will who pay (as opposed to investment on the part of the AEC firm). I think this applies to early stage cleantech firms as well, that may still require success in a 'test bed' or pilot demonstration before scaling to a larger infrastructure project.

Interesting reading....may post again on other topics in this book.... Read more!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Social Networking column published on ENN

ENN (Environmental News Network) has published my column on "Why the Sustainability Community needs Social Networking"; originally published at

Link for the ENN article is here. Read more!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Another twist on social networking....

I read a blog by Maguerite Manteau-Rao, who provides some thought provoking questions around whether 'social networking in green is dead' in a recent Cleantech blog post.

(At the personal or individual level this is probably true, but not necessarily at a business / corporate level). In particular, she also asks: "what type of behavioral strategies are needed in sustainability"?

I think that there is far too much pressure on individuals to be sustainable; there are certainly specific opportunities out there (saving energy, minimizing GHG impacts), and there are those people who will serve as thought leaders and take it upon themselves to drive change. But for the mass of people (i.e. to 'cross the chasm'), daily life and getting by are the key drivers of day to day behavior. There are regulatory, brand mgt, revenue generation, and production cost drivers that need to evolve, until individual behaviors evolve.

So, from this standpoint, 'behavioral strategies' should be reviewed and modified (if necessary) by those groups (industry, government, education) who want to modify manage behavior (i.e. buying products, getting involved in social initiatives etc) on the part of individuals.

From a 'professional' standpoint (that is: those individuals who will make their living in the sustainability field), there are ample opportunities to change behavior; if for no other reason than to live a lifestyle of choice (and to satisfy intellectual and moral needs). I just wrote a column on TriplePundit on this opportunity. Read more!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Column on TriplePundit: 'Why the Sustainability Community needs Social Networking'

This column is a re-post of a column I wrote last week; click here to get to the article. Read more!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Exit Strategies for Sustainability Reporting companies?

Over the past few months I have had discussions with a number of sustainability technology firm execs, as well as with other tech execs that follow this field.

One particular question keeps coming up: what is the growth and exit strategy for these companies? Many have started with compliance (such EMS or EHS) as the building blocks, while others are new and have built the applications for customizable reporting for the myriad of NGO protocols out there.

While sustainability reporting is just taking hold here in the states, in Europe it has been adopted at a higher rate. Those companies providing such reporting technologies are now faced with the issue of building off this installed base, or seeking additional customers. Up - selling to the base may include providing additional functionality (i.e. I talked to one firm that is building a 'fraud control' set of features, for managing social impacts associated with fund disbursements in sustainability programs). Obtaining additonal customers can be acheived by acquisitions; which also allows for building a broader solution. One trend seen: EMS and sustainability reporting firms acquiring emerging GHG inventory application companies. Perhaps here in the US we will follow this trend of market evolution and consolidation in the next 12- 24 months.

But at the end of the day, it would seem that these firms should be part of a broader set of solutions, or embedded in a enterprise level platform, in order to meet the demands of clients. While reporting is important, I think the real value is in developing and implementing the workflow necessary to manage and improve sustainability processes, which means the reporting tool must be integrated into supply chain, product management, CRM, financials, and other ERP modules.

So, shall we see M&A activity in this sector in the next year? Consolidation of sustainability application companies (such as that of IHS's strategy)? Larger compliance / GRC platform companies such as BWave, Agentis, and SAP make key acquisitions in the GHG management space?

There are questions as to the viability of these growth strategies; a peer of mine on Sand Hill Rd. thought that 'we could develop a Linux platform and open it to developers, which could drive a lot of the sustainability tech firms out of business' (or general words to that effect).

That is certainly possible, although I think a more likely outcome will be that the lagging economy will reduce the overall urgency for sustainability reporting, with tech firms struggling to find paying customers and gaining leadership or market share. The near term result will be a lot fewer of these firms in the next 12 months, with a potential follow - on phase of acquisitions by larger platform companies.

Just a thought.... Read more!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Need for Social Networking within the Sustainability Community

Over the course of the past 4 years I have had the opportunity to work with or share market strategies with executives at social networking companies such as LinkedIn, Spoke Software, Visible Path, and BranchIT. Of particular interest to me was the ability to develop and leverage what I referred to as "Relationship Capital Management"; the opportunity to develop, foster, and share relationships within an organization (or ecosystem) for the purposes of optimizing knowledge management and revenue generation. (I posted some columns on this trend a couple of years ago on "Relationships as Assets" and Relationship Capital Management and CRM).

Viewing the challenges and opportunities in the sustainability market, it seems that social networking (both process and underlying technology) could play a large role in accelerating both awareness of key issues as well as potentially accelerate adoption.

Why? Here are some of the big challenges in the sustainability / cleantech arenas:

  • Talent shortage (engineers, executives, scientists) of trained staff worldwide, with increased demand forecasted
  • Limited training and higher education programs available today, especially in light of talent demand
  • Wide range of sustainability technology and processes mean no single person / entity can be an expert in everything
  • Very few sustainability processes have been codified at this point; case in point: the number of sustainability reporting schemes

The early stage of this field means that formal, centralized business models may not be the best organizational structure to follow (whether within an organization, or within a vendor company providing sustainability solutions). The development of virtual groups, social networks and other more flexible organizations may be better aligned to develop and implement fledging solutions. This is particularly important when one considers the range of expertise required to develop and implement a sustainable solution, a process, or even a company: business case development, financial modeling, conceptual and detailed design, construction, manufacturing / supply of materials, operations, etc.

So how are sustainability professionals interacting, sharing knowledge, and organizing for solution development and deployment? Here are some best guesses:

  • Discipline - related: civil / environmental engineering (ACEC, ASCE, AWWA), Sustainable MBAs, etc
  • Business process - related: supply chain management, process optimization, procurement, product management
  • Industry groups: LEED, AIA, AGC, buildSMART, and other buildings initiatives for architects and engineering design professionals
  • Regional groups: such as those in NY, Boston, India, and Silicon Valley; where there is an abundance of educated professionals with significant interest and expertise in relevant business processes
  • On - line networks, such as groups set up in Plaxo, Ning, LinkedIn,, Facebook, and Yahoo.

In the short term (next year or so) we will probably have multiple small networks that will grow organically along with their aligned sustainability / cleantech sectors (i.e. green buildings, green IT, etc). Over time I think there will be significant opportunities for start ups (one or more of the current social networking sites?) to build fee - based networks and integrate knowledge management, training programs, and perhaps certification programs to ensure high quality and continuous improvement / innovation of delivery.

I'm ready to help.

Read more!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

CIO Workshop on Collaboration & Interoperability

I have been invited to attend the CIO Workshop for executives in the AEC industry, to be held in London in mid September. This yearly event is an invitation - only meeting and an interactive exchange of insights by CIOs and thought leaders in the AEC industry.

Attendees of the workshop are in the infrastructure, engineering and construction sectors and have global responsibility for the planning, implementation, and management of information systems in their enterprises.

This year's event will focus on "Information Management for Tomorrow's Asset Infrastructure", and will include discussions on how to deliver 'sustainability' in an engineering & construction organization. Read more!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Upcoming presentation with ACEC: "Developing a Cleantech Strategy"

I will be conducting an on-line presentation for the ACEC (American Council of Engineering Companies) this fall; link is here.

This presentation will provide global AEC executives with a better understanding of the specific market segments in sustainability; the emerging trends in technology development and investment, and strategies to consider to drive new revenue growth.

Strategy development examples from other industries such as system integration will be discussed for their applicability into AEC space. Case studies of cleantech strategy development at other global AEC firms will be discussed to facilitate benchmarking. Read more!

Article on 'AEC Bytes' for Green Technology Trends in Buldings / Facilities

I contributed to AEC Bytes, a leading source for AEC technology trends, and edited by Lachmi Khemlani. This article follows up on past articles and blog posts I have written on the transformation of the buildings industry and influence of key market drivers such as BIM and virtual modeling. I incorporate new insights I have gained to provide additional market strategies for both AEC tech firms as well as 'cleantech' firms in the energy efficiency, energy modeling, CSR reporting, health & safety, and lifecycle assessment segments.

Link: Read more!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trends in Energy Analysis, from the BE 2008 conference

One of the presentations at the Bentley BE 2008 conference I had a chance to view was by Drury Crawley; Team Leader of Commercial Buildings R&D at DOE (Dept. of Energy).

(Side note: his title is WAY long……but he knows it, too….).

He covered trends in energy analysis, high performance buildings, and new business models for sustainability in buildings and facilities. I thought his high – level view of where the buildings / facility industry is going was very interesting, and it re-iterates a number of issues that I have seen in my work. Key themes included:

  • Consolidation of the Buildings industry (mergers & acquisitions)
  • Worker Health / Productivity / Comfort
  • Green House Gas (GHG) inventory and management (note: 39% of carbon emissions come from buildings….)
  • Green Buildings
  • Zero Energy Buildings (ZEB)
  • Energy Services Companies (ESCOs)
  • Bioterrorism

Some thoughts on his presentation and viewpoints are below:


Evaluating the impact of buildings on WAGES (Water, Air, Gas, Electric, Steam), Crawley cited figures indicating that buildings (including the electric power required) account for 45% of water use in the US alone. Not including electrical power, domestic use is 100 gpd per capita, and total water use considering the impact of electrical power generation is 140 Billion gallons a day. While most of the industry is currently focusing on driving down energy use and costs in buildings as a first step in achieving sustainability, it is clear that the ‘delta’ for improving water resource conservation is very high, and should also provide a strong market driver for adoption of technologies to maximize conservation and efficiency of water use in buildings.

Building Simulation

Similar to the advent of intelligent modeling driving adoption of green technologies (which I posted on here), Crawley maintains that building simulation allows for earlier decision making in the design – build process, particularly as it relates to energy use and analysis. In regards to technology, he sees the following major drivers: visualization, risk assessment (particularly for insurance), interoperability between systems, toxicity of the built environment, calculating ‘embodied’ energy via life cycle assessments (LCA), and integration of tools for thermal analysis, acoustics, and CFD for examples. It is clear that there is no one toolset to allow owners or consultants to conduct building simulations, and there is still a very strong need for training in simulation methodologies; not just the technology itself.

Another interesting point was that Green buildings and accreditation was driving the use of these simulation methodologies and tools; not higher energy costs.

Websites for more info on DOE’s commercial building R&D:

Read more!

Friday, June 06, 2008

BE 2008.....every picture tells a story, don't it.....

Group photo of the jurors at the BE 2008 conference....I am casually dressed with the khakis on the left....
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Friday, May 30, 2008

Highlights from the Bentley BE 2008 Conference

This week I had the opportunity to attend the annual BE conference in Baltimore MD, hosted by Bentley Systems; a leading provider of design & construction technology solutions for infrastructure, government, and industry. I was invited to be a judge of sustainability technology submissions in the "BE Awards of Excellence"; Bentley's program to recognize innovative use of their technology in various settings.

Up to this year, categories have included those typically associated with infrastructure solutions: design innovation, project management, visualization, civil works, geospatial, plant design, and water systems, for examples. This year's conference theme was "Sustaining Infrastructure": sessions reflected the emphasis of building sustainability concepts into infrastructure solutions.

My role was to judge submissions in two new categories:"Sustaining Society" and "Sustaining the Environment". Since this was the first year for these categories, the submissions were quite varied in scope, detail, impacts, and type of technology used (Bentley's....). The winners were: CH2M Hill for an innovative design of a fish barrier system for water intake; and a Badlupar based water utility that designed and implemented upgraded water services (both delivery and quality) to local populations, with the additional goal of knowledge transfer to other Indian water agencies as well.

I think this was a very good start for incorporating sustainability metrics into their awards program, as well as integrating sustainability into the conference and company strategy as well. Indeed, CEO Greg Bentley talked at length about Bentley is managing their own carbon footprint, as well as building sustainability metrics & process into their solution strategy.
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

BIM and Green building technologies, Part 2 (on published the second installment of a column on leveraging BIM (Building Information Modeling) for adoption of green building technologies. This column provides insights on the effect of the GSA and federal building market, as well as providing insights on growth and exit strategies. Link is here. Read more!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blog post on

I contributed a recent post to TriplePundit; topic is how the major market drivers such as BIM (Building Information Modeling) in the AEC sector are allowing for growth opportunities of green technologies. (click on this blog post title to get to the 3P post).

I will follow up next month on TriplePundit with some strategies for cleantech growth, and incorporate some new insights from tech firms I have been working with. Read more!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Some thoughts on sustainability in the supply chain

As the sustainability technology market develops, it appears that there are a number of segments within (such as CSR reporting, supply chain mgt, etc) that are gaining traction, and may 'drive' general adoption of sustainability within organizations. I find it interesting that there are a number of different tech firms such as Aravo, Stakeware, CSRware, Credit360 and many others, that are coming at sustainability from different business processes. The recent Forrester report on sustainability technology (which I commented on in this post) details the general groups as well, but does not identify supply chain solutions as a specific segment. I think this may be an area that could drive faster adoption, and also be a platform that could integrate with other sustainability processes & metrics as they were developed in an organization.

Initiatives to ‘green’ the supply chain generally follow these key metrics:

  • Lower energy use and increase energy efficiency in storage and transportation
  • Minimize packaging via improved product design and use of recycleable materials
  • Lower carbon footprint and emissions via improved energy (above), use of alternative energy sources (where appropriate)
  • Substitution or elimination of toxic materials when possible
  • Effecient use of resources; i.e. "embedded water" costs
  • Optimize the supply chain as to minimize impacts on stakeholders

The market drivers for greening are:

  • Product - specific compliance, such as REACH
  • Sustainability reporting
  • GHG emission reductions and credits
  • Improved risk management (in light of recent supply chain incidents with Mattel, others)
  • Cost savings of shippers / suppliers; leading to better value pricing
  • Stronger relationships & transparency with key suppliers; strategic value

In discussions with many supply chain management solution providers, it appears that many end user clients are deploying 'green' solutions in the supply chain to achieve better energy efficiency, because it is the most visible and generally the easiest issue to solve with key suppliers and logistics partners. But it remains to be seen whether that issue will continue to drive the growth of this segment. There is a general feeling that any additional 'incidents' with global brands will increase awareness and urgency on the part of corporations to gain complete transparency in their supply chains and manage them beyond just energy efficiency gains. Along those lines, continued regulation enactment similar to REACH and RoHS in the EU will also force companies to align their supply chain (and product management) processes so as to be in compliance with product - centric regulations.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Use of Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) in Sustainability Programs

Recently read a blog post on TriplePundit by ClimateCheck, regarding the development of ISO 14064, which covers the measurement and reduction of GHG emissions.

A comment in the article (link is here) caught my eye:

"One of the challenges is the use of an “approved or standardized” approach to quantifying the carbon credits created by new technologies. There are many approaches being used, ranging from in-house engineering calculations to full life cycle analyses (LCA) and computer models"

It made me think about the 'state of the art' of LCAs...(yes, I know: I may lead a very lonely life)......anyway, I do think that LCAs can be a very powerful tool to identify, measure, and manage GHG emissions, as well as do the same for other important 'sustainability' metrics such as: resource consumption (i.e. water); toxics use and emissions, and of course carbon footprinting.

LCAs have been around for quite a while; I developed (rudimentary) tools for environmental management problems in the 80s and 90s; focusing on chemical disposal / recycling challenges. Product Stewardship and 'Responsible Care' were the primary drivers of this market at this time; both programs were developed by the chemical industry in response to potential strict regulations in the aftermath of catastrophic environmental incidents (Bhopal, West Virginia chemical releases). But these programs did not really look at impacts in production; they focused more on the impacts after the sale.

Currently, qualitative LCAs are in use ("LCA Lite" is a term a peer of mine in the manufacturing consulting industry has used). These are quite useful for strategic planning, prioritization and ranking of initiatives and programs, and communications / marketing purposes, but may not add value for decision making on supply chain optimization and 'greening', or similar decisions in green product development in PLM efforts.

I think the standards organizations such as ISO and the Voluntary Carbon Standard are taking a lead in the development of rigorous methodologies, as well as definition of metrics that may be accepted by industries.

This is a market sector that I think both technology companies and service providers may have significant success in the next few years; tech companies in the CSR and supply chain mgt sectors are well positioned to incorporate LCA functionality (and data sets); and 'white space' development and industry - specific customization will be required to get LCAs to the point of being widely accepted tools for sustainability decision making.
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Monday, May 05, 2008

When Compliance is not enough...

Recent industrial accidents have been in the news: an International Paper plant explosion in Mississippi, and in February, another explosion at the Imperial Sugar plant in Port Wentworth GA (link).

When thinking about 'sustainability', it would seem that governmental compliance needs to be adhered to, first and foremost. Compliance in most cases is performed as result of required regulations by EPA, OSHA, and state government groups, for these two cases. But what happens when a facility (or warehouse or distributor) is in compliance, but an accident of this magnitude still occurs?

As reported by the Wall Street Journal earlier this week in their article "Dust Cloud Settles Over Industries", there was a significant dust problem at the Imperial Sugar plant, and questions were raised by outside experts as well as those in OSHA as to how effective cleaning procedures were. In this case, the plant had been cited for numerous violations in the past, but as one inspector put it, they probably did not know the severity of their own dust problems:

"They don't see it, they don't clean it, because they don't realize the hazard is there," says John Vorderbrueggen, lead investigator for the blast at the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, a federal agency that probes chemical accidents. "I wouldn't call it negligence. I'm sure any company, if they had an awareness that a hazard existed, they would take corrective action. So it's really an ignorance issue." (Wall St. Journal)

OSHA regulations may not have been sufficient, according to a member of their own safety board:

"OSHA has a 'gotcha' approach," says Stephen Selk, investigations manager for the safety board. "They look hard and creatively to identify sometimes arcane interpretations of rules that were broken. We're suggesting to OSHA that they don't offer clear guidance. They don't tell industry the things to do to prevent a disaster like this." (Wall St. Journal)

And this is where I started thinking about 'sustainability' versus compliance.


It remains to be seen whether Imperial Sugar and International Paper were in compliance with relevant environmental health & safety regulations. But assuming that they were, they still have incurred very high costs (financial, loss of human lives, diminished brand) as a result of these accidents. Could the implementation of a risk management or sustainability program avoided these accidents?

I think the issue here is that instead of just meeting compliance, or even adhering to a sustainability program, there is a need to monitor and optimize the processes and associated metrics of any compliance, risk management, and even sustainability program. You might be in 'compliance' with a governmental or NGO regulation, or even in compliance with your own sustainability program, but if your processes are faulty, or if you are not measuring the correct metrics, or you don't have a standard to measure the metrics.....then compliance is all for naught.

We have seen this type of problem in the supply chain, with the crisis that Mattel went through recently when it was discovered that toys were being produced by second and third tier suppliers with hazardous metals. Mattel did not have a process that was applicable for evaluating and managing this risk; they essentially had zero transparency into that part of their supply chain. Their financial 'hit' was close to $40MM, along with massive disruption of their supply chain.

These events provide ample evidence that key to any program is the accuracy of data and consistent processes to measure it; selection of appropriate metrics and ones that can be measured; and a validation process to constantly review and amend, in light of business changes, technology advances, etc. 'Sustainability' in its most basic form is then a result.
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Saturday, May 03, 2008

What should I write about? (see the widget 'Skribit' to the right...)

Was checking out this new widget called 'Skribit'; it allows readers of blogs to make suggestions to the blogger on topics they would like to see covered, and also allows them to vote on other reader suggestions. Looks like a cool tool, so I thought I would upload and see if there are any responses...

For whatever it is worth: my blog currently gets about 25 users a day, with about 30 associated pageviews. It looks like most of the readers are in the US, with a smaller number in the UK, France, India, China, and Australia. Common key words to find the site: "scott boutwell" (duh), "BIM", "sustainability technology", "environmental growth trends", "AEC trends", and "building information modeling".

As I describe (somewhat) in the heading, I blog primarily on the market sectors of AEC, environmental, cleantech, and sustainability (recognizing that those terms are fairly broad in their own right). Within these sectors, I focus on external market drivers and associated company or industry initiatives; new strategies for growth; and the enabling technologies that facilitate that growth. I try to incorporate insights and anecdotes I have received from my technology clients, engineering and consulting partners, thought leaders, and people who make pithy statements....and generally aim to make posts enjoyable to read...key word: "aim"...

So, given this update on my blog and review of my blogging goals, it would be interesting to see if any readers have specific requests for blog posts. I can't promise that I will blog on them, but will certainly review and consider. Thanks.
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Friday, May 02, 2008

Who are the buyers (and users) of Sustainability Solutions?

Have had conversations with leading CSR and Sustainability technology companies in the past month or so; focusing on how this market is going to evolve, what are the technology needs, and how to sell complex solutions in an emerging space. What results in this post are some insights from specific tech firms coming at 'sustainablity' from differing business process and requrements.

That leads to the question: who is buying (and using) sustainability solutions? The answer is probably dependant upon what type of sustainability solution is being sold, as much as in how the term 'sustainability' is defined.

Credit360 is a European company with offices here in the US, and providing sustainability reporting solutions to clients such as Ford Motor Company. Christina O’Connell is the director of US sales, and had some interesting perspectives on selling these types of solutions. She mentioned that "sustainability teams are not comprised of technical staff, but have more brand management and PR teams involved". For their clients, many are using solutions to report on sustainability protocols such as GRI, but will also modify those protocols according to company - specific criteria as well.

Bill Best is CEO of Proquis, an UK based risk management technlogy firm. Given their offering in corporate governance and risk, many buyers and users are at a corporate level, and report into the chief counsel or CFO. Many of their clients are pursuing sustainability, but view it as part of a larger risk management strategy. Bill mentioned that their clients are "executives who want to see everything"; assuming a dashboard or similar portal, with the ability to drill down on issues.

From an environmental management system perspective, the usual buyers have been corporate EHS officers. With the need of managing greenhouse house gases (GHG), these EMS systems take on added importance. Users in this case may include those in the CFOs office, as well as the aforementioned EHS officers. Larry Goldenhersh, CEO of Enviance, an EMS technology firm, said that many of their clients have established a role of "Chief Risk Officer", who will oversee GHG emission monitoring and control. An interesting comment: "Many companies are going back to compliance in order to get it right", meaning that sustainability is important, but not at the expense of compliance.

There are other buyers of sustainability solutions in the supply chain and PLM (product lifecycle management space) that represent a more product - centric group of users; that will covered in an upcoming post.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sustainability and Bisphenol A (BPA)

Viewing the recent statement by the National Toxicology Program regarding potential health risks associated with BPA , and the controversy regarding BPA in a variety of consumer products, such as water bottles, made me think of these questions:

If Nalgene and Playtex had corporate sustainbility programs in place, could this issue have been avoided (or mitigated)? and,

If they do have CSR programs, do they need to amend them to 'anticipate' (if possible) and manage potential health and resouce management risks?

It does not appear that Nalgene is using sustainability management tools. I am assuming that they have an environmental management system in place (EMS), but an EMS will not necessarily help in brand management, as well as product stewardship, which is where the problems lie.

I was speaking to Kari Birdseye, VP of Sustainability at CSRware (, a sustainability technology company located in the SF Bay Area, about the BPA issue and what it means to other companies, especially ones in the consumer markets.

Kari thought that "it takes a crisis to look inward and begin the self-evaluation, which would have raised awareness not only related to their environmental practices but in the socially equitable areas as well". Nalgene has marketed its products to a 'green' audience (i.e. water bottles for hikers, runners, etc), so one would assume that they would be especially aware of the opportunities (and challenges) in developing and maintaining their brand.

So, could have this situation been avoided or managed better? Some thoughts:

- Stakeholder Analysis: if a broad group of stakeholders were being polled on critical issues (resource mgt, social equity, materials mgt, emissions mgt), perhaps this issue might have been identified as a potential concern early on, and the company could have evaluated alternative materials and manufacturing processes. This process could provide a 'real time' feedback loop to executives on emerging issues & opportunities

- Product Stewardship: This type of program has been advanced & utilized by the chemical companies; not only to mitigate risks associated with use (or misuse) of their products, but also to provide competitive advantages in commodity markets (i.e. content & services designed to help customers maximize their investment in procuring / buying, using, and ultimately disposing or recycling the product). I am not sure if Nalgene has such a program, but again: it could serve as an additional process for 'anticipating' what problems could occur with product use.
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Forrester releases CSR Tech Vendor review

Had a chance to review the just released Forrester report, and it is a sign of the growing maturity of this market that a research company like Forrester is covering CSR technology as an emerging segment. I have met with a few market research firms in the past 6 months to discuss the cleantech and CSR markets. For the most part, they are just starting with their own due diligence into this space, so they are not up to speed on the market, vendors, key initiatives, and growth strategies. They will most likely address this space coming from their own areas or strength: enterprise software, business analytics, supply chain management, etc.

Forrester broke down CSR technology categories as follows:

  • Niche CSR
  • GRC (Governance, Regulatory, Compliance)
  • EMS (Environmental Management Systems)
  • Business Applications (performance mgt, analytics)

No specific mention of technology platforms for sustainability in the greening of the supply chain, though. I think that this need, along with greening of IT / Data Centers and GRI Reporting, are the primary market drivers for buying these technology solutions today. The supply chain management issue (along with PLM) also directs ties into compliance with new toxics regulations such as REACH and RoHS; creating an additional market driver.

They talked to about 30 companies, which may seem like a good number, but still is a relatively small sample, given the breadth of technologies that they are covering (GRC tech companies alone comprise a big group, and there are a significant number of emerging CSR reporting technology firms on the horizon).

I thought the recommendations were rather broad, but recognize that the report is geared towards a technology buyer community who may be just getting up to speed on this segment. Recognizing that this report will most likely be followed in the near future with in-depth vendor analyses and market segment reviews, I think buyers will need corresponding strategies around the type of complimentary services that are required. It is clear that each technology platform arrives at the CSR market with its own strength and focus, but CSR itself is based on the premise of enterprise level and multiple domain business process development. At this stage of the market, significant consulting help will be required to build enterprise level solutions, regardless of the technology platform strengths.

Consulting services such as CSR strategy development, systems integration, domain specific expertise (i.e. environmental, community development, etc) and also 3rd party validation / assurance are necessary and critical at this early stage of market maturity. Look for an upcoming blog post on this subject…

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Building Effective Alliances for Cleantech start ups

Have been working with a wide range of start ups recently (CSR, water treatment, asset management, AEC design services); developing and validating 'go to market' strategies'. In the initial or early phases of maturation (both for the company and most times, the market segment itself), direct sales by the founders and other 'visionary' staff (both internal as well as advisors / directors) is critical to get early successes: pilot projects, demonstrations, regulatory review & approval (if appropriate) and brand awareness.

But as the start up begins to grow, the markets for the technology solution (that is: the product, team expertise, company vision, and solution roadmap) will require that the solution most likely be integrated into a larger business solution (think of a new roadway; wastewater treatment & distribution system, environmental remediation, etc). This is particularly the case for those cleantech start ups that are targeting industrial clients as well as governmental clients. At this stage, start ups need to build partner 'ecosystems" consisting of complimentary technology and services firms; which requires the development of an alliance & partnership strategy.

Some insights are provided here:

Position yourself to allow your partner to lower the cost of their customer acquisition efforts & identify 'up-selling' opportunities
For the larger and global AECs, the real opportunity for growth is to continue to develop their existing accounts and user bases; providing more value to them (such as incorporating energy modeling solutions, or facility management services). Case in point: can your solution allow the AEC firm tap into other technology or operating budgets in the clients' organizations, that the AEC would typically would not be able to access?

Don't be the obnoxious sales guy when representing your company
CEOs of start ups need to focus on the partner's business model; how can they assist in driving more value and solutions of the partner through the partner's channels? (so: don't go in to a discussion with executives at an AEC firm saying: " I would love to get access to your clients so I could sell my stuff to them".......not a good idea)

If you have something special, they will find you...although it may take some time
Most of the global AECs have executives whose roles include responsibilities to constantly survey the cleantech / green landscape: interview companies, and make recommendations on strategic alliances and acquisitions. Chances are, if you are making headway in your market sector and are building brand awareness and a sustainable client base, that the AEC firm already knows about you. Your alliance strategy should take into account how you can leverage these sales channels to build relationships with the AEC practice leaders as well as with the alliance executives at larger complimentary technology companies. In many cases, a great way to begin the development of an alliance is to focus on specific key end - user accounts where both your company and the AEC may provide a joint solution.

If thinking of being acquired, it's better to develop a strong alliance first
Much of the acquisition activity during the IT growth period of the last 10 years has been a result of demonstrated joint customer success, alignment with product strategies, and some synergy between corporate cultures and goals of the start up and acquiring company. I think this trend is quite applicable to cleantech start up growth and maturation. There is no question that building strong relationships within an AEC firm (or larger technology company) allow for increased awareness of the start up company, and allows for constructive M&A dialog at the appropriate time.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Conducting business development at that conference you have to attend....

I read the HardingCo blog, which provides some great insights on business development and "rainmaking"; especially as they relate to the consulting profession.

I commented recently on a post: 'Getting a Good Seat at a Conference'; the premise being that you need to be choosy and careful when sitting down for lunch, so that you identify the best attendees to spend time with. So, I thought it might be interesting (amusing, perhaps?) to repost my comments here; some of these ideas are fairly basic....but hey; you need to have good 'blocking and tackling'...

- Review the attendee list as soon as you get it, and identify your top targets; pick a realistic number that you can meet during the conference, and develop a strategy to meet all of them

- Research those targets, particularly as it relates to timely (and positive!) events: alliance signing, big client wins, involvement in associations, etc…execs will probably be involved in some if not all of those issues.

- Seek out the conference organizer or director early in the conference and schmooze him or her….get them to point out (or introduce you to) the key speakers and panelists for you before the conference begins, so you can make a beeline for them during the lunch, or hopefully in the halls during networking periods.

- Notice people who seem to be working on presentations in the halls, at tables, or even in the conference sessions themselves. Pay particular attention just before the keynote session, or when the plenary panel convenes; these speakers (and their peers) are often executives and are hard pressed to fit the conference (and prep for their presentations) into their schedules (I have met a number of keynote speakers this way; just before they were going on stage).

And finally….not a lot of people enjoy the rubber chicken dinners at most conferences, so if you are discouraged, head to the hotel’s restaurant or a well known restaurant nearby and take your chances….there will probably be a like-minded conference attendee and potential contact that will welcome a lunch mate….

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Investment Perspectives for the Water Sustainability Market

Have been discussing investment opportunities in the cleantech space with a number of investment groups, particularly in the water sector, which has not received much buzz or press to date. But given critical water demands here in the US (see the recent drought and related policy issues in the southeast) and overseas (need for consistent potable water supplies, as well as for agriculture), it is apparent that this sector within 'cleantech' has significant room to grow.

One investment group that is solely focused on the water sector is XPV Capital in Toronto Canada. I had a chance to talk with Khalil Maalouf, who is a partner, about the market conditions and emerging trends in the water sector. They are focusing solely on investments in water -related ventures, and have a 'book' of 300 or so investment opportunities worldwide in this general sector that they are tracking. Khalil generally described their interest in the following broad categories (I am paraphrasing to a certain degree; my notes in italics):

  • Energy Efficiency of treatment & distribution systems
  • Security (I am assuming it could be both physical and IT related security)
  • Scarcity of Supply (identification of new sources, cost & time effective means of capture)
  • Waste minimization (sludge management / recycling)
  • Materials substitution (less toxic and less use of chemicals for treatment)

(I think another segment for investment opportunities is Information Technology; those required to find, capture, treat, distribute, recycle & reuse, and optimize systems throughout the water lifecycle)

Following XPV's definitions (and those of others) it would indicate that the market sector fo water sustainability opportunities itself is very broad. So what segments might catalyze interest and growth? I think energy efficiency technology to develop water supplies (includes technology such as desalination) and for water treatment may get traction, especially in arid areas such as the Middle East.

Following a recent post I wrote (link), another area of investment opportunity could be those technologies to allow for assessing, managing, and optimizing water use throughout the lifecycle of a product (consumer, construction, and industrial would be important verticals). This "embedded water" or "water footprinting" concept seems to have caught on in EMEA already; it remains to be seen how soon it follow similar concepts for CSR and sustainability reporting here in the US.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Executive CSR roles & pay are growing...

A recent article from the UK indicated that corporate CSR roles have grown significantly, along with pay scale; link is here.

This certainly a promising trend; the key is to encourage / empower these CSR executives to be part of the decision making process at a corporate level. MBOs could include:

- Increased profitability from effective material use and workflow (use of lifecycle cost assessment tools to measure and optimize processes)

- Increased positive brand awareness; measured by feedback from focus groups, advisory & customer panels, stakeholder input

- Effective risk management: compliance with governmental and NGO standards; increased ROI on risk mgt expenditures

- Identification and development of new business lines that embrace sustainable principles

I am sure there are others, but if the executives are not involved in critical corporate decisions, then their roles will be relegated to more of the "EHS" roles of the past 20 years, which were non - mission critical...

Read more!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sustainability in the Water Sector

I read an interesting article about water sustainability; link is here. Terminology is also interesting: “Water Footprinting” and “Embedded Water” are phrases that are used; perhaps there is opportunity to brand this issue and break it out from other sustainability topics….

The author talks about impacts on water resources which are not adequately reflected in consumer products. Some examples:

- It takes 8000 liters of water to make pair of leather shoes,

- 2400 liters to make a hamburger, and

- 170 liters to make a pint of beer (Ok, so that one is not as compelling to some of you…)

In particular, the construction industry is identified as a market where there is a need for more enlightenment. This industry already incorporates the use of water saving products & devices; utilizes design & construction methodology to promote and achieve sustainability accreditation (i.e. LEED and BREAM); but is not on the vanguard of understanding the demands of water resources to manufacture supplies, equipment, and fixtures.

As ‘sustainability’ continue to develops in awareness, it would seem that specific areas (water, GHG, health & safety, toxics mgt, etc) will evolve and become well defined areas; thus driving more awareness, research, and development of tools that are specific to those problem sets. Again, lifecycle assessment may serve an important role in identifying and quantifying water resource impacts, so that decision makers and consumers have complete information upon which to make design and construction decisions.

Read more!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Invited to be a Judge for Sustainability Awards at the Bentley BE Conference

I recently was invited to be a judge at "BE Conference 2008", sponsored by Bentley Systems. The categories I will be judging are "Sustaining Society" and "Sustaining the Environment". The BE conference typically covers innovative use of technologies in GIS, CAD, visualization, and collaborative project management; in verticals such as water, mining, process manufacturing, transportation, and federal government. This year's conference is focusing on "Best Practices in Sustainable Infrastructure"; the awards session will include submissions from a number of services and end user organizations who have demonstrated innovative technology applications within the broad sector of sustainability.

The conference will be held in Baltimore MD on May 27 - 30 2008; registration link is here. Read more!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Report says that Green Buildings are the fastest way to control GHG Emissions

Recent post in refers to the "Green Building in North America" report by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Canada. Some interesting items:

- The potential reduction in CO2 from net zero - energy and carbon neutral buildings could equal the entire carbon emission loading of the US transportation sector from 2000.

- Key elements for acheiving goals of carbon reduction: ultra efficient materials and equipment; improvement in design processes; innovative financing; and construction and operations

- We need the development of environmental parameters and targets, and use of modeling to assess water & air impacts; use of renewable materials; maximize urban renewal and use of 'brownfields'; and meet water needs of the watershed

From an information management standpoint, it would seem that this is another validation point for the need for integrated lifecycle solutions (i.e. data modeling from the design phase all the way to operations & retirement of assets). This integrated information approach is also consistent with use of a sustainability platform to 'link' and access data sources (GHG emissions, toxic material use, environmental impacts, etc) and provide a roadmap for improvement and also report performance to all stakeholders and regulatory bodies.

Read more!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Green is the latest opportunity for consulting firms"

...says CNET recently in their Green Tech Blog

I wrote on this opportunity for consulting firms earlier (link).

The article's focus is on opportunities in the energy efficiency and "green corporate practices" (their terminology). Green IT consulting will grow into a $4.8 billion industry by 2013, according to Forrester Research (CNET).

As I have written before, I think the market opportunity for services providers is much more broad, and transcends just energy efficiency consulting services for IT departments and data centers. So, perhaps that $4.8B is a conservative estimate...

The other "green" opportunities for services / consulting firms? Some areas to consider:

- Global Risk Management, incorporating all facets of regulatory and NGO (Non Governmental Organizations) reporting. (Subsets are: sustainability reporting, "greening" of the supply chain, stakeholder analysis, environmental health & safety, REACH or RoHS - like compliance)

- Engineering Design & Construcion Services: leveraging specific cleantech in water, air, energy efficiency, alternative energy development, and material procurement.

- Operations & Facility Management Services: 'outsourced' services to manage operations; with incentives for optimized energy mgt, and low / zero emissions (GHG, water)

- Integrated Cleantech / Services: Services companies may license clean technologies in energy (modeling, monitoring) as well as in emissions mgt, and integrate with their methodologies; thus licensing integrated 'toolkits' to access the SMB market via smaller, regional services providers

Read more!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Article on "How BIM and Green Tech Will Change the Construction Industry"

Just published an article for titled How BIM and Green Tech Will Change the Construction Industry. This article is reprised in three earlier posts here on my blog; covering the basics of BIM, benefits of BIM and greentech, role of the federal government & owners, and strategies for greentech companies in leveraging BIM for growth.And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Strategies to grow Greentech via BIM adoption

BIM (Building Information Modeling) is not just the adoption of new technology, but also incorporates new collaborative workflow. There is more emphasis on collaborative design and planning in the beginning phases of a project, so that costs and risks in later stages like construction and operations (where most of the costs are incurred) may be managed and contained. Green tech vendors should be involved in these early planning stages, so that a realistic assessment of cost savings and improved environmental performance are identified. Also, they can add value to the optimization process (conducting ‘what if’ scenarios), which may lead to additional savings and benefits that may not have been readily apparent.

International markets are proving to be quite viable for BIM deployments and green tech as well. Increasing awareness of global warming, green house gas emissions, and sustainability have driven significant market opportunities in international markets of Europe and Asia Pacific as well. John Kennedy of Green Building Studio concurs, and provides advice to green tech start ups: “Look outside the US to both the EU (European Union) countries as well as to Australia”.

Buddy Cleveland of Bentley Systems mentioned that the UK facilities market is farther advanced than the US market, in terms of green certification tools. “New regulations for improving building performance require quantitative assessment of carbon emissions; not just a qualitative assessment”. In this market, it is conceivable that green technologies may assist to “pull” the growth and adoption of BIM, given the regulatory climate.

‘Go to Market’ strategies should also reflect the importance of leveraging established companies in the AEC space for sales, branding, and deployment channels. A key component to this strategy: identify a technology partner who may bring brand awareness, marketing, and channels access. “Plan to partner in order to scale your business”, said Kennedy, who has partnered with a number of leading AEC software companies.

It should also be noted that the ‘exit strategy’ for successful green tech start ups could be acquisition by a larger established software provider in the space. Kennedy’s Green Building Studio was recently acquired by Autodesk, and Bentley Systems acquired a smaller software firm last year that it had partnered with called Hevacomp, which provides MEP (Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing) and energy analysis modeling. Both Autodesk and Bentley are advocates of BIM adoption, and one would assume that these new acquisitions will allow them to integrate green technologies into BIM software platforms.
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