The State of Green Business


The 2nd Annual State of Green Business (SGB) report was recently released by Although green initiatives continue to receive more notice in the public eye, “the aggregate environmental progress being made is marginal,” according to the report.

The SGB report measures companies on 20 various macroeconomic criterion, ranging from cleantech investments to paper recycling.

“This year’s update is a mixed bag of encouraging and discouraging news,” says Joel Makower, executive editor of and the report’s principal author. “But on balance, despite a growing chorus of corporate commitments and actions, we’re less optimistic that these activities, in aggregate, are addressing planetary problems at sufficient scale and speed.”

Ranked on scale of Swim, Tread or Sink, the report’s authors did note that some categories are, in fact, Swimming. For example:

  • Green building is on the rise, developing new technologies to save energy and money and create a healthier workplace.
  • Every major auto manufacturer is planning to introduce electric vehicles.
  • The leading consumer product makers and retailers are starting to rigorously assess the environmental impact of their products all the way through the supply chain.
Clean energy sources were on the rise in terms of technology development and use in 2007 and 2008. -

Clean energy sources were on the rise in terms of technology development and use in 2007 and 2008. Photo: Trey Ratcliff

The report also includes the top 10 green business trends of 2007, such as the emergence of water as “the new carbon,” “the growth of college curricula on environmental management” and “the failings of green marketing to captivate consumers.”

“It is part of our commitment to help companies gain context and perspective in their quests to align environmental responsibility with business success,” said Pete May, president of Greener World Media, Inc., which produces

Among the results listed above, the report also found that:

  • In 2008, U.S. patents for clean-energy technologies such as wind, fuel cells, hydroelectric, tidal and geothermal were at their highest level in seven years.
  • Carpooling has yet to gain more ground over the solo commute to work. Since a high of 77.8 percent in 2003, the number of solo commuters has inched down slowly to 76.1 percent in 2007.
  • The amount of energy required (in the form of electricity and fuel) per dollar of GDP has dropped more than 75 percent since 1950.
  • The growth of certified green buildings, which for years had been growing from 10 to 90 percent, slowed dramatically in 2008.
  • Generation of non-hydro renewable energy including solar, wind and biomass, grew nearly 7 percent in 2007 from the year before, outpacing the 2.3 percent annual growth in all electricity generation during the same period.
  • The packaging intensity of the economy (the aluminum, plastics, cardboard, and other materials used per dollar of GDP) followed the trend of the past few years and continued to decline slightly.
  • Over the past decade, the amount of paper used per dollar of GDP dropped by 27 percent and the amount of paper recycled rose, also by 27 percent.
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