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Sustainable Success

I remember being at the Christie Digital booth at NAB 2007, when the company had just embarked on its ISO 14000 green adventure

Sustainable Success

Jun 3, 2010 12:00 AM,
By Cynthia Wisehart

I remember being at the Christie Digital booth at NAB 2007, when the company had just embarked on its ISO 14000 green adventure. Now, more than three years later, what started as an enthusiastic, well-intentioned experiment has matured into a sophisticated model of green business strategy—more timely than anyone could have imagined.

As Christie was developing waste wisdom and sustainable culture, energy costs took off; the recession came; and mainstream business theory started to acknowledge the interdependence of countries, processes, resources, waste, and value. Sustainability stopped being a feel-good word and sharpened around its more literal meaning: long-term viability and survival.

As the industry reaches for definitions of “green AV” through dialogue, standards bodies, claims verification, education, and marketing, it is in fact reaching for sustainability in the most elemental sense. Yes, for a time, green will be a slippery, overmarketed, even abused construct. Yes, your business can be fine without it. It will be impractical, misunderstood. What does that remind you of? Every innovation we’ve ever had to make.

At its core, green is an engineering opportunity if ever there was one. And I say that in both the technical and cultural sense of the word. As Christie President Gerry Remers says, “engineers like elegant solutions.” An engineer will be able to tell the difference between a greengloss idea and true systems-oriented efficiency. It’s in fact odd to me that we’re late to the party as an industry because engineers understood efficiency—and a kind of systems integrity—before it was called “green.”

And we are late. You wouldn’t necessarily know it by reading the media; they’re late, too. The true technical innovations that will accelerate green business are more mature than we realize. They have been slowly marching along as an undercurrent that will gain momentum much as the Internet was alive and in use long before the Web. Being in California, I interact with a lot of organizations and companies that are very far down the technical development road. What’s still a challenge is putting it all together into a full business ecosystem. But that will come, and you will want to be ready on whatever level you can manage. The best way to be ready is just to start, just to become educated and modern about efficiency and regulations. It’s not a trend or a fad—green is more of an acknowledgement of something that has always been there. The management of environmental resources is just as finite and core to your business success as time and money. It should be part of the accounting.

In our cover story, the architect of Christie’s environmental management systems, Peter Perkurar, offers the reassuring perspective that if you want to just start with ISO 14000, don’t overthink it. Just start. Environmental management is in some ways self-teaching: As awareness grows, action becomes pretty obvious. And as you and your employees tune in to green practices, they naturally amplify them. The key, Christie learned, was to start with the employees and the internal culture so each person in the organization truly understood his place and power and then could visualize the accountability and innovation that would bring sustainable success.

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