Natural Logic: Strategic Advisors to the Sustainable Economy
December 2009

Year's end always provides a great opportunity to take stock -- of accomplishments, opportunities missed, aspirations, and commitments for the year to come. This is especially true for those facing big change and big challenges -- businesses, NGOs, governments; executives, managers, employees, investors; customers, activists and neighbors.

Let's be clear: the challenges are huge. Front and center: climate change. More accurately: the challenge of reducing global CO2 emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 -- or, as World Policy Institute's Lester Brown asserts, by 2020. (See our perspective, below, on the COP15 climate negotiations -- getting underway in Copenhagen as I write this.)

As big as the challenge is, there are businesses and communities that are taking it on -- setting dramatic emissions reductions goals, and reinventing the very ways they do business.

As big as the challenge is, consider the anniversaries we mark this year. Forty years ago there was no Internet; it was launched 40 years ago last month (and crashed with the first email; change isn't easy). Twenty years ago last month, the Berlin Wall came down. Fifteen years ago you'd never heard of Google. Five years ago, Facebook and Twitter didn't exist.

Four years ago last month, WalMart announced its game changing sustainability commitments to 100% renewable energy, zero waste and "only sustainable products" -- and challenged its (then 61,000, now more than 100,000) suppliers to do the same.

And this week, 56 newspapers in 45 countries ran a common editorial -- many on page one -- declaring that "Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, & with it our prosperity & security."

Where are you and your organization now, in the face of this world of change?
  • Is your climate change strategy to "wait for imminent carbon regulation"? (Which, by the way, the US EPA just announced.) Or are you getting out in front of the inevitable, and reducing your carbon risk now?
  • Does your company have plans in place to meet and exceed rising energy efficiency standards -- and are you systematically wringing every bit of waste out of every corner of your operations?
  • Is your supply chain engaged and optimized to meet your internal metrics and changing client expectations?
  • Have you established performance metrics -- and real-time reporting systems -- that enable you to track and drive progress?
  • Have you adequately evaluated the costs -- and risks -- of being slow out of the gate?
How you answer these questions will determine the business value of getting "sustainability" right. How well you design and implement your company's sustainability strategies -- building both frameworks for thinking and platforms for implementation -- will determine how profitably you realize that value.

Please let us know where we can help you with:
  • a Year-Ending (or year-starting) Strategic Briefing & Review;
  • Rapid Diagnoses of your strategy, risks and opportunities; your operations, performance and carbon footprint; your organizational capacity for effective change;
  • a Strategic Briefing to your leadership; or
  • a Full Cycle Sustainability™ initiative to profitably embed sustainability at the heart of business.
The quickest, simplest place to start? Place a copy of our acclaimed new book, The Truth About Green Business, in the hands of your CEO, your executive team, green team, employees, coworkers, suppliers, distributors, customers, students, professors and friends. It makes a great holiday gift!

(You can order from your local bookstore; from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Better World Books, Powell's and other online booksellers; or order autographed or bulk shipments directly from Natural Logic.)
Our reader survey this month focuses on Sustainability Training: How does your organization address this need? What's important to you? And more. Your confidential responses will help guide Natural Logic's training offerings (and may, in aggregate, support a future White Paper on the subject).
Natural Logic has begun work with eBay's sustainability team on measuring and messaging sustainability impacts and opportunities for what may be the world's largest reuse engine.

Hewlett-Packard, an established leader in high performing, energy efficient technology, asked Natural Logic for our perspective on the impacts and options of printed vs. electronic media--and our findings will surprise you. We will be releasing the White Paper in early 2010.

For the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI), we've analyzed the energy savings that have resulted for CSCI's member actions on their pledges to improve the energy efficiency of the world's computer servers. Quick summary: there's been progress; there hasn't been as much as intended, yet progress nonetheless toward aggressive goals of moving the entire industry to higher energy efficiencies.

The CSCI work highlighted the challenge -- which we encounter with so many companies, industries and initiatives -- of data transparency and interoperability. That's why we're working with a new company that just may have developed a key solution to that challenge. We'll tell you more in coming months.

Business Metabolics™ -- our web-based sustainability scoreboard system (and the engine behind and the National Carbon League) -- is poised for a significant upgrade. Contact CEO Gil Friend to explore how your company can become an Advanced Development Partner and help shape the next incarnation of this powerful sustainability platform.

The online, distance-learning version of The Truth About Green Business -- the next offering in our Carbon Neutral Learning™ series -- will launch with webinars and self-paced eLearning in Q1/2010. Please contact us now to discuss how your company can be a charter sponsor of this breakthrough learning opportunity.

We're also pleased to announce two new strategic alliances:
  • Climate Coaching helps sustainability leaders excel. Climate change consultant Gina Blus is currently coaching groups of local government climate change coordinators, who are developing a common approach to shared problems. The program is sponsored by non-profit Sustainable Silicon Valley and offered at no charge to its members.
  • Scientific Conservation, Inc., provides SCIwatch™, a software-as-a-service solution that enables building owners to reduce annual energy costs by up to 25 percent, by providing real-time, at-a-distance "tune-up" of building energy systems. We think SCIwatch is a perfect complement to our RetrofitOptimizer™ service; we look forward to talking with you about how this combination can lower the footprint and operating cost of your building fleet. 
The Truth About Green Business continues to sell well. A growing number of companies are buying dozens or hundreds of copies to give to employees, customers and suppliers, and business schools are adopting it for courses. You can get individual copies from your local bookstores or various online sellers -- or contact us for bulk, customer or autographed copies. It makes a great holiday gift -- for your boss, employees, customers, suppliers, green team, professors, students... well, you get the idea.

And we have a great entry opportunity for some of you: new internship teams are forming for the new year; check out our careers page to source our current projects.

Perspective: Beyond Copenhagen
The 15th Conference of the Parties climate negotiations in Copenhagen this month are the latest clarion call for business leadership in meeting the climate challenge.

The recent tempest over embarrassing emails from a few climate scientists has contributed to public confusion over the overwhelming scientific understanding of anthropogenic global climate change. (Confusion that has been well nurtured by the denial axis and their deep-pocket backers -- and clarified by Scientific American, among many others.)

The real story for business leaders lies beyond the buzz.

COP15 will produce a series of emissions reductions pledges from participating nations -- which will be hammered out into regulations over the next 12 months to be ratified at next year's meeting in Mexico City. But, that's not the real story either. Not for anyone who has any smidgen of strategic vision.

The real story is that the business landscape -- regulatory, competitive, and financial -- is changing rapidly. And resistance is futile -- both because the process of climate change now seems inexorable, and because the business opportunities it presents are so significant.

  • Current and upcoming state and federal regulations will offer real teeth to curbing carbon emission, and changing what your value chain produces--and how they produce it.
  • Regulations and market realities will give real economic value to curbing carbon emissions
  • The process of curbing those emissions (despite the rant about the cost) will be an innovation driver -- for the wise.
California is leading the way in the US, with AB32 kicking into gear in 2010 as cornerstone of the state's efforts to reduce emissions 25% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Emissions charges are expected to triple during the first few years -- and then California's cap and trade program is slated to launch in 2012, as other regional carbon markets open.

The US EPA has just declared its intention -- and legal authority -- to regulate carbon emissions, and will require annual carbon reporting from manufacturing facilities starting in 2011.

And WalMart is considering (as UK retailer Tesco has been doing) asking for carbon footprint labels on every item on every shelf; what WalMart "asks" for has a way of happening.

(Visit one possible scenario of the carbon regulation landscape over the next three years in this excellent blog post from our ally Terry Tamminen at Pegasus Capital Advisors.)

All of these events should inform the one-, five- and ten-year plans of all companies, regardless of industry. If you keep your head in the sand, you're risking your fiduciary duty to your shareholders (if you have them), your family (if you don't) and your own integrity.

The only question is this: What does leadership in a carbon-conscious economy look like?

Ultimately, the coming carbon regulations give executives the same choices they've always had: resist, follow, or lead. This time, though, it's for real -- and the stakes are stratospherically high.

The good news: this changing business climate offers an opportunity for companies -- like yours? -- to deploy integrated, game-changing sustainability strategies that leapfrog regulations to drive exceptional environmental performance, profits, market share and brand value.

Climate change is just the tip of the iceberg -- a doorway into a world of new possibilities.

To be continued, next month. (Meanwhile, feel free to follow my COP15 comments and links on Twitter.)
We're just wrapping up an exciting and busy year on the speaking circuit -- generated by both rising interest in sustainability and the strong response to The Truth About Green Business -- with lots of travel last month and mostly local gigs this month.

Recent keynotes have included:
  • Green Business Conference
  • EcoTuesday
  • Green Wine Summit (Sonoma County)
  • CleanTech Open (with Google Energy Czar Bill Weihl, and former California State Controller Steve Westly) -- where I challenged the Clean Tech Industry to look beyond it's thing-focused, IP-bound business model to a pattern-focused, open innovation model that has the potential of matching the scale of global problems. We need invention of new business models, not just new technologies -- and that's an initiative worth investing in!
  • Sustainable Brands Boot Camp: I kicked off this 13 week series with a webinar (available on demand) on "sustainability and innovation"
  • Green Festival (San Francisco)
Remaining presentations scheduled this month include:
As always, our complete speaking schedule is at; consider checking back regularly, since we update the as events break. And of course, contact us any time for speakers for your next event. (Need some persuasion? Check out this video of CEO Gil Friend's recent speech to the Commonwealth Club. You'll find many others on our video pages at YouTube, FaceBook and Natural Logic.)
Join Our Mailing List
In This Issue
Beyond Copenhagen
Quick Links
About Natural Logic
Business Metabolics
Sustainability Leadership
CEO Blog
Harvesting Value
Newsletter Archive

If you've enjoyed this newsletter, your colleagues might find it valuable too. Just use the link at the bottom of this email to forward it to them, and invite them to subscribe.

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to others who might be interested. Keep us posted about your organization's sustainability initiatives (but please conserve electrons and don't include this entire newsletter in your reply). Read -- and subscribe to -- my blog. (And follow me on Twitter!)

And give us a shout if there is any way we can help you:
chart your course,
read the signs and
make it go.

With best regards and seasons greetings, on behalf of the entire Natural Logic team,

Gil Friend
Natural Logic
Phone: 510-248-4940