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PRIVATELY, HOW GREEN ARE YOU?

Maybe we need to put our money where our mouths are. Last week’s Quick Poll revealed a rather stark contrast between what we profess at work and what we practice at home. When asked How Green Are You in Your Private Life?, 49% of the more than 260 votes we got confessed They Could Do Better. This makes sense, of course. Short of abdicating city life for the forest, we can all do better. But a surprising–and surprisingly frank–33% said they’d opt to Fire Up That SUV. A paltry 18% claim to be fully Committed at Work and Home. Karen Penafiel, vice president of advocacy for the Building Owners and Managers Association International, isn’t surprised by the results. She sees it all as part of an evolution. For the record, she would put herself in the committed category, and she gives us a hint about her approach:

-0-0-0-0-0-”The results don’t surprise me although I would like choice Number One to be higher than it is. What we’re finding professionally, especially through our Seven-Point challenge, which is getting pretty widespread adoption at this point, is that usually in each business there are just one or two people who fall into that Very Committed category and lead the charge for the rest of the organization. That’s what we’re looking for in our environmental efforts–that one person to take charge and be the instigator.

“The people who are committed in their private lives are much more likely to carry it into their professional lives, and vice versa. If you look at the number of companies that are doing it, they are capturing headlines, but in reality they follow along the same percentages. I’m glad to see them capturing those headlines, because that’s going to be what other people react to, and hopefully latch onto. The more companies that make the leap the more it snowballs.

“It’s our job–all of us who are committed to it–to make it as easy for the rest of the people to do it. By easy I mean make sure the education is there. We need to take away the barriers and the excuses and communicate continuously the return on investment and the other positive reasons for doing these things in both your business and private lives.

“For myself, I’m pretty committed. You can always do better, but for myself, I’d say number one. I yell at my kids constantly to turn off the lights and recycle. I just replaced my air conditioner with an Energy Star unit and I’m quite proud of myself for doing that (although I have to qualify that by saying the old one had broken down). We sold our SUV about two years ago and, while I didn’t go so far as to get a hybrid, I did get a very fuel-efficient car. And there are only a few light bulbs left that I haven’t changed out. So actually, I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job of walking the walk.”

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