The Color of Money

June, 2007

The media seems greener than Kermit the Frog these days. “Ahnold” (Schwarzenegger) graced a recent cover of Newsweek, in recognition of Mr. hydrogen-powered Hummer’s growing green cred. Earlier this year, Fortune magazine recognized green business achievers and featured outdoor outfitter Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard on its cover. Many other magazine covers and stories have given us much food for thought since we decided in the summer of 2006 to do this green issue.

What exactly “green” means and whether or not it’s “good” for business is a complex question, with answers that vary by industry and company. Consider the contrasts between oil companies Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX). Exxon was recently also featured in Fortune for its unapologetic drive toward profitability with no politically correct nod towards alternative fuels research and development. While last year, Chevron announced that it was forming a biofuels business unit to pursue the production and distribution of ethanol and biodiesel in the United States and committed millions of dollars to biofuels and hydrogen research. At the time of this writing, Exxon’s stock price was $81.23, while Chevron’s was $80.04. Who has the “better” business model depends upon with which criteria and time frames one measures.

How and why to go green is a question all of us must grapple with as individuals and members of the business community. It’s one of the reasons Hawaii Business produced this green issue. It’s also the reason why we are partnering with the Hawaii Institute for Public Affairs in a series of forums – where businesses address questions about sustainability. 

The forums run parallel to the efforts of the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Task Force, which has been holding community meetings and putting together drafts of a definition, vision and guiding principles of sustainability for Hawaii.

Here’s the Task Force’s latest draft definition of sustainability:

Sustainability in Hawaii means achieving a quality of life that:
• Strikes a balance between economic prosperity, social and community well-being, and environmental stewardship.
• Meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
• Respects the culture, character, beauty and history of our state’s island communities.

It’s hard to argue with mom and apple pie, but your business and pocketbook are truly where sustainability meets reality. 


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Kelli Abe Trifonovitch