Corporations and Profits Key to Battling Climate Change, says CNY Green Economy Expert

Jan 7, 2016

Rick Fedrizzi of Westvale is founding director and CEO of the US Green Building Council. In his new book Greenthink he says better, more efficient buildings can help limit climate change by saving energy more than changing energy production.
Credit Rendering by Wyatt Chapman / usgbc.org

Discussions on climate change are often about fossil fuels burned for energy…and the impacts of pollution from cars and trucks on the roads.  But one Central New York expert in efficient buildings and earth-friendly construction materials wants that to change the debate.  Rick Fedrizzi of Westvale helped start the U.S. Green Building Council.  He suggests a different focus if we want to reduce greenhouse emissions.

“Buildings and the real estate sector are the single largest contributor to CO2 out there.  Everybody thinks it’s the auto industry or industry.  Maybe 40-43% of the problem is related not to the generation of energy, but it’s the demand side, what we use and how our buildings can become better, more efficient, use less, less water, less waste, and in doing so reduce our carbon footprint dramatically.”

Federizzi has written a book titled “Greenthink” in which he suggests saving the planet can be profitable for businesses.  That’s a stark contrast to the thinking that environmental options in building, or energy, or transportation have to be more costly.  He’s credited with the LEED system of rating buildings (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) on their energy use and sustainable building materials.  He remembers designing green buildings was rare and expensive.

“Fast forward to 2015, I would say the first three levels of LEED, silver, gold and platinum, can be done with an educated team, starting the project together with a considerable amount of time, for not a penny more than conventional construction.”

He actively wants to point out economic benefits of green solutions in building and other areas.  In his book “Greenthink” Fedrizzi argues companies will seek out sustainable practices for reasons of profit and to attract customers;

Fedrizzi also is seeing major corporations take the lead in battling climate change – instead of just environmentalists and scientists.

“The idea (is) that a pro-business, pro-economic development, pro-profit organization focus could take advantage for this new agenda where businesses do the right thing, with non-toxic, lower CO2 footprint and less water use.  Once the market embraces that, corporations will invest more and corporations will invest more and those products will be better.  Ultimately the earth wins; we all win.” 

Fedrizzi wrote Greenthink to emphasize teh thought that profts and a strong economy are not exclusive of saving the planet.
Credit usgbc.org

  In Fedrizzi’s new book “Greenthink” he argues companies are seeing value in producing products and services cleaner and greener.  Customers are demanding it, so it makes sense to the bottom line – while also doing the right thing for the planet’s future. 

Fedrizzi believes corporations may be able to do more to battle climate change that government policies. 

“The future is bright.  We’ve crossed an important line, whether it’s green building, or environmental performance of products, programs and services, at the end of the day right now they make sense, because people are thinking really intelligently how to design them, how to package them, how to transport them, so they cost less, they’re higher quality.  It’s the way of the future." 

Federizzi, from Westvale, New York, just published “Greenthink” last month.