Eco-Advantage Blog

January 23, 2008 | Andrew Winston | Jump to: Comments (0) | Post A Comment

The Ripple Effect

[Originally posted on my site here on September 30, 2007]

There’s been a lot going on in the green realm. The world’s biggest economies are meeting this week to possibly, maybe, at some point in the future think about reducing emissions. But, luckily for all of us, at the same time, Wal-Mart continued barreling forward and announced that its suppliers would have to rate their energy use. I’ve been waiting for this one – the greening of the supply chain has ratcheted up a big notch. Now it’s not just compliance, but actual data on your footprint. Better get out the calculators. Next up, I believe, is more shelf space for those who have the lowest footprints.

As the always pointed Thomas Friedman said about this same juxtaposition this week, the world leaders are together for more of a climate photo op than a climate conference. But all of this leads me to my fun story of the month.

I was speaking at a meeting of the National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association – which was more interesting than it sounds. These are the guys that dig big holes and provide the stuff that, among other things, ends up in roads. I heard a great story of the Wal-Mart effect, which shows just how far back in the chain the ripples are extending.

The chairman of the NSSGA runs a business digging out materials for construction, but has had another, creative and profitable side business – creating commercial space in those holes and renting or selling it. Now, he tells me, his firm is working with Kraft Foods to develop and open an underground food storage facility. How is this green, you ask? Well, as proponents of geothermal energy know, the temperature underground is basically constant and in the 56 degree range. So keeping refrigerated products cool is a great deal cheaper there than above ground. Kraft will save significant energy in this facility. One of the main reasons they’re doing it is because of Wal-Mart’s pressure up the supply chain. And the bottom line for our hole-digging hero is he’s driving new, green-themed revenues.

As you might imagine, I love this kind of Green to Gold story. It’s at least unexpected, and possibly revolutionary. It’s creating green value up and down the value chain. The ripples are moving fast these days.


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