Wanted: A 'GreenDex

Greg Galitzine : Green Blog
Greg Galitzine
| Helping environmentally-conscientious business leaders choose environmentally-friendly solutions.

Wanted: A 'GreenDex

There have been plenty to the point of overload of competing green claims--that some times amount to greenwash--regarding the apparent and supposed environmental benefits of buildings, products, features, technologies, services, and practices: from LEED buildings to telework.

At the same time there have been points raised about the costs both direct and indirect i.e. lost productivity of going green: at what price to organizations especially in this tough economy with limited resources.

To help organizations, decisionmakers, and yes journalists and the public, could some reputable association develop with consensus from all parties: industry, academia, government, environmental groups devise an objective 'GreenDex' to evaluate products, services, applications and practices to help us reduce our environmental footprints?

This 'GreenDex' could be based on a basket of total environmental harm i.e.

--Emissions (CO (2) plus other and more noxious air pollutants: gases, particulate matter)
--Nonrecyclable solid waste
--Physical footprint, including impacts such as erosion, destruction of habitant, removal of carbon-converting plants, creation of heat islands, both for property and for workplace- supporting transportation systems
--Heat production
--Energy consumption, with two models: standard i.e. current mix of fossil-fueled, large-scale hydro, nuclear, and alternative (biomass, small-scale hydro, solar, and wind) and Green made up of alternative, such as that supplied by Bullfrog Power in Canada

--Indirect damage, such as emissions and physical footprint from transportation to/from workplaces (The Victoria Transport Policy Institute is one of the best sources of information on transportation and land use direct and indirect environmental impacts) and healthcare costs arising from pollution-borne illnesses such as asthma

The GreenDex could be then be quantified, based on best available information, with rough assigning of direct and indirect (i.e. personally responsible for but incurred on others i.e. transportation demand, health) costs. It can then be compared with straight line direct/indirect capital and operating costs and productivity gains or losses.

Once we have some idea of the harm that our actions can and are causing, versus what we stand to gain, then we can decide to make responsible and effective decisions on what we buy, what practices we use, and how we choose to accomplish our tasks.

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