A Test Of Corporate Leadership: Recession Amidst Green Market Growth


Executing a green business strategy can be inspired by a desire for profit, as in the oft-cited Wal-mart example, by regulatory pressures, for liability-protection sake, by ethical inspiration, or by some combination of these.

However, business strategy setting is a relatively whimsical act compared to designing and building a new product (few appreciate how long it takes from product ideation to marketing a commercial product). For companies striving for the "green," herein lies the rub.

Executives can't just call up the R&D; Director and say "turn up the green dial." It takes years and careers and immense budgets and good luck for breakthroughs to become products and for products to become popular enough to make a difference. Think of how many years the Prius took to become a market driver?

For Non-Tesla companies, the best that can be expected, in good economic times, is for products already in the corporate R&D; pipeline to be profiled on green attributes. That's pretty much the GE business model.

But, we are not in good economic times. And, as Lloyd pointed out today, the regulatory option can be put back on the table: see; "Quote of the Day: Bear Stearns and the Environment."

Provoked by the conflicting pressures of increased green product demand and poor economic times, corporate leaders will be forced to choose: they can join those who view "green" investment as an area to be cut back in the shareholder interest; or they might join those who leverage the delay to innovate and design and build better products. Resolute, quiet, bold innovators will prepare us for the coming resource deficiencies and increased costs of carbon emission. We need a New green Deal from forward thinking corporations. The rest "need not apply" and will, indeed, just "move along", as the sign suggests.

Not sure you believe this schism is significant? Try this example.

Dow Jones Newswire reports that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will open its Las Vegas Supercenter that uses new cooling technology to cut overall energy use by up to 45%.

Wal-Mart said the new Las Vegas store adds to those savings with a new cooling system based on water evaporation for total energy savings of between 35% and 45%.

The latest store is built specifically for the arid climate of Western states, where water evaporates faster than in the more-humid East.

It uses rooftop cooling towers to chill water that then runs in conduits under the floor of the store. The radiant cooling from the floor replaces traditional electricity-powered air conditioning.

Via::Dow Jones Newswire (by subscription); Image credit::New Deal Network, Jobless Men Billboard