Go Green: 2007

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I have a few reasons to hum the song “Blue Christmas” this year, including the fact that I won’t see my sister until after the holiday. In Colorado, where snowdrifts paralyzed Denver’s airport, she was one of the many travelers stuck in Mother Nature’s holding pattern.

But for the most part, this will be a green Christmas. With temperatures hovering about 60 degrees in many parts of the East Coast, you have to wonder what future holidays in December will feel like. Will I be wearing shorts and hitting golf balls with my brother around my parents’ backyard, uh, like we do in July? Will Santa turn his sleigh in for a new Prius?

2006 was a green year in many ways. Terms such as global warming, sustainability, and other “green” words have become mainstream. According to New York Times writer Tom Friedman, “Green is the new red, white, and blue.” All Americans—including many corporations—are going green. It’s not just for tree huggers anymore.

The high cost of oil has meant that consumer behavior may be changing. Consumers are opting for mid-sized SUVs or not buying them altogether.

Americans for Fuel-efficient Cars (AFEC) is a nonprofit co-founded by Arianna Huffington, environmental activist Laurie David, and film producer Lawrence Bender. Their citizens’ ad campaign, The Detroit Project, in partnership with the National Resources Defense Council, has aired television ads encouraging Detroit to start building more fuel-efficient cars and SUVs.

This kind of encouragement can’t come soon enough. According to Bloomberg News, Toyota may soon surpass General Motors, as the largest carmaker in the world. GM will shut twelve factories in 2008 because of a declining demand for SUV and truck sales, while Ford Motor Company is eliminating 38,000 jobs.

Al Gore may have had a point there in his 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth and now we’re beginning to really get it. Building more fuel-efficient American cars that can compete with other countries is not only good for business and the environment, but it also might even save American jobs, too.

Corporate America has caught the green fever, too. According to a Kansas City Star (Missouri) article, even Wal-Mart is using environment-saving innovations in many of their buildings, like in Aurora, Colorado.

Green building continues to grow around the country. According to a study by Siemens Building Technologies and Siemens USA, U.S. companies are incorporating green practices into their strategic business planning. More than half of the companies surveyed felt that green and green building will lower their operating costs.

And according to an article in Businessweek, the newly built Hearst Building (Norman Foster & Partners) became the first in New York City to receive a Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating. A whopping 90 percent of the steel contains recycled materials.

And that’s only the tip of the (melting) iceberg. Stay tuned. Green is here to stay.



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