Makower: Businesses move into leadership role in cleantech
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
Joel Makower sees businesses playing a leadership role in the transition to a clean economy.
Joel Makower is among Silicon Valley's go-to advisers for sustainability and the clean energy economy. His GreenBiz.com website and related businesses have grown to 16 full-time employees and a roster of events that spans the globe.
In Portland over the weekend to keynote at the Muddy Boot Festival, Makower sat down with Sustainable Business Oregon to talk about trends in business sustainability and the clean energy economy.
Makower sees sustainability evolving into a more central role in U.S. businesses, comparing it to the evolution of the IT department.
"Back in the beginning, the IT guy sat off in the corner and was kind of different and spoke his own language," Makower said. "Now we're all IT workers. IT is critical to every business' strategy."
The current evolution of sustainability — driven in part by resource constraints, energy costs and consumer demands — is similarly moving to the core of business strategy.
"It's not a perfect parallel to IT," he said. "But it's been interesting to watch more CFO's, more human resources professionals, more operations managers getting involved. It's no longer ghettoized."
Another business-driven trend Makower sees rising is something that GreenBiz has started calling "Verge." As energy grids, transportation systems and the built environment gets greener and smarter, the result will be a different way of life where technology-enabled buildings and transportation make more efficient use of resources.
In the "Verge" world, the lines between sectors blur — car makers become energy companies, waste companies become commodities brokers, electronics retailers get into the solar industry.
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