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What Does Green

Really Mean?
Sustainability as a Core Business Strategy and Value

Adiel Gavish
Sustainability Strategist
The Living Business

Program Director
Federated Conservationists of Westchester County
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The Jumble of Green Jargon,

Certifications, Reporting Systems
Sustainability 2.0

An outcome-focused holistic approach.

An ethic and process that builds prosperous businesses creating
innovative systems, products and services.
Businesses founded on good financial results, responsible use of
resources, and community well-being.

Sustainability 1.0

compliance, CSR, reduction, limits, siloed, environmental

Sustainability 1.0 vs. 2.0

The definition of success is changing

The Triple Bottom Line

social, environmental and financial success

“Although we inherit the Earth from our fathers and

mothers, we borrow it from our children.”

Sustainability 1.0 vs. 2.0

What is the common ground?

Where do you look for guidance?

How can you navigate this ever-evolving field?

How can you determine on your own what is truly

“green” and sustainable?

What is “Going Green”?

“We cannot solve problems using
the same thinking that created them.”
- Albert Einstein

Re-Think, Re-Design, Re-Imagine

What is “Going Green”?

3.8 billion years of research and development

Nature holds the secrets to sustainable design in

her DNA
• Sustainability is embedded in everything
nature does and makes
• Not an add-on
• Holistic, not siloed

Nature is the Guru of Green!

The Earth as a consultant
Nature is a consummate innovator
• Aggressive innovation
• Survive and thrive
Look to nature for the “greenprints” of
• Systems
• Products
• Services

“Nature is full of solutions looking for problems to solve.”

Christopher Viney, Materials Engineer

Nature is the Guru of Green

Life has been performing design experiments on Earth’s R&D lab for
3.8 billion years.

What’s flourishing on the planet today are the best ideas - those
that perform well in context, while economizing on energy and

Whatever your company’s design challenge, the odds are high that
one or more of the world’s 30 million creatures has not only faced
the same challenge, but has evolved effective strategies to solve it.

- The Biomimicry Guild

Nature as Model,
Mentor & Measure
Life Creates Conditions
Conducive to Life

Optimization not maximization

– multifunctional design

Leverages interdependence
– recycles all materials
– fosters cooperative relationships

Uses benign manufacturing

– life-friendly materials (chemical-free)

The Principles of Sustainability

Who Am I?


Store carbon
Fix nitrogen
Distill water
Make complex sugars and food
Accumulate solar energy as fuel
Create micro climates
Self replicate

The Principles of Sustainability

The Principles of Sustainability
Life Learns, Grows, Adapts and Evolves

Resourceful and opportunistic

- uses free energy
- shape rather than material
- place-based

Feedback Loops
- continuous feedback, continuous improvement
- antenna, signal and response

Integrates cyclic processes

- waste is food, nothing is wasted

- diverse

The Principles of Sustainability

Life Creates Conditions Conducive to Life

The Principles of Sustainability

The Most Important Question to
Determine “Greenness”:
“Does my system, product or service help to
create conditions conducive to life?”

The Principles of Sustainability

“Green business” has reached an inflection point. It’s no longer
simply a brand-building or risk-management tool—it has become a
new source of business innovation, operational improvement,
and revenue. - Mary Driscoll President CFO Conferences

“Sustainability has moved from risk mitigation to a business and

revenue opportunity,” - Mark Newton of Dell Computer

“Our environmental stewardship is integral to the way we do

business. It is not an aside, or an add-on; it is core to the way we
behave.” - Michael Monahan, CFO of Pitney Bowes Inc.

Sustainability in Action
Sustainability is a core value that defines behavior- an ethic
that informs all decision making and is integrated into all
business systems, products and services.

Infuse your business with the principles of sustainability.

“Design is the first signal of human intent.”

Bill McDonough, Author, Cradle to Cradle

Sustainability in Action
The Four Pillars

Each pillar is supported by several key initiatives with near and long
term quantitative targets and was vetted through a rigorous
stakeholder engagement process. Clearly articulated social and
environmental goals.

Timberland and Sustainability

In recent years, many companies have developed green stories or
green initiatives, and we applaud this growing momentum.

For Interface, however, “green” is just the beginning. Ours is a long

term commitment to sustainability, a systems-based
perspective that fundamentally changed our company.

It touches operations and manufacturing, it guides senior

management and our associates’ decision-making, and it influences
our relationships with customers, suppliers and the entire web of
commerce in which we conduct business. Sustainability is part of
Interface’s DNA.


Interface and Sustainability

“Costs are down, not up, dispelling a myth and exposing the false
choice between the economy and the environment, products are the
best they have ever been, because sustainable design has provided
an unexpected wellspring of innovation, people are galvanized
around a shared higher purpose, better people are applying, the
best people are staying and working with a purpose.

The goodwill in the marketplace generated by our focus on

sustainability far exceeds that which any amount of advertising or
marketing expenditure could have generated – this company
believes it has found a better way to a bigger and more legitimate
profit – a better business model.”

Ray Anderson, President and Founder, Interface

Interface and Sustainability

“We are not retreating,
we are advancing in another direction.”
- General Douglas MacArthur

Sustainability in Action
Green Genius is Greenius
Look to the principles of sustainability

to help you through the process

to lead you in the direction you want to go
to inform your decision-making
as a part of your core business strategy and values

Sustainability in Action






Some of my favorite resources

Discover your own Greenius!

Thank you!