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Andrew Shapiro is CEO and founder of GreenOrder

RENY: How has corporate thinking about green energy and the environment begun to change?

Shapiro: When we started six years ago there wasn’t as much acceptance of the ideas we were putting forth. There’s basically been three phases. First, businesses and environmentalists were on opposite sides of the table. Businesses saw the environment as a cost and a problem—they’d comply with the law, but that was it. In the mid to late ‘90s, there was a new phase where progressive businesses said, “We need to go beyond that and be socially responsible.” They were saying the right things but still didn’t really see it as core to their business. Now, companies are saying, “Maybe this environmental, green stuff is actually a source of value to us.” Not just savings but top-line growth. More and more businesses are looking at (going) “green” and saying we can differentiate ourselves and deepen relationships with our customers and investors. Look at Toyota, and the success of the Prius, a hybrid car that is certified as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle. (Organic food retailer) Whole Foods is the fastest growing supermarket company in the country. Its stocks are trading at a huge premium. Ask Douglas Durst why he’s building green buildings. He’s aiming for the Bank of America Tower to be platinum LEED certified. It’s leasing up quicker at a higher value because it will be the greenest building in the world.

RENY: What has your role been in developing the green features at the WTC?

Shapiro: We helped Silverstein come up with the response to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.’s commercial sustainable design guidelines. Independently, I was on the LMDC’s green advisory group and we came up with guidelines laying out rules for what the developers at the WTC site could do. People in the Downtown community were really concerned about air quality, so coming up with guidelines that were tough on the developer was necessary. To their credit, Silverstein Properties actually went beyond what the rules required. They recognized that the green features were a selling point and did things like create an initiative to use ultra low-sulfur diesel fuels in the construction equipment. As a result, the EPA gave an award to Silverstein.

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