Green: the Color, and Direction, of Progress

Even casual readers of BusinessWest would notice that a growing number of pages in this magazine are being devoted to all matters ‘green.’
Several months ago, we put out something called the ‘Green Issue.’ Yes, the cover was green (actually, several shades of it), and most all stories inside had a green tinge to them. This issue, Sean Anderson, assistant vice president of Facilities and director of Corporate Green Initiatives at MassMutual, graces the cover. He’s standing within a huge solar-power installation that sits on a one-acre section of roof at the company’s 1.4 million-square-foot headquarters building on State Street in Springfield.
In addition to the MassMutual story, which is about much more than solar power, there is another piece about the many ways in which area colleges are going green, and also the people who are heading these efforts: ‘green czars,’ if you will.
All this focus on green is not by accident; it’s by design — literally and figuratively — to show how green, or sustainability, has become part of the fabric of the region and its business community.
As we’ve said many times, our broad goal at BusinessWest is to essentially hold a mirror to this region’s business community, and try to articulate what appears in that glass. Increasingly, that mirror is reflecting businesses, institutions, and individuals working to do what is environmentally responsible and what also makes good common sense when it comes to running a business.
And in the process, these companies, institutions, and people are laying some track for what could be a dynamic new business sector, or cluster, that could create needed diversification for our region, and also more jobs.
Over the past several months, we’re published several green stories — from PeoplesBank’s building of a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified branch in Springfield to FloDesign’s efforts to reshape wind power with a radically new turbine design; from hospitals doing what they can to reduce their sizable carbon footprints to a new company trying to introduce this region to geothermal energy; from the new planned high-performance computing center in Holyoke to the YWCA’s efforts to incorporate green design into its new facilities.
The sum of all these stories amounts to a movement, one that has a number of potential benefits for the region and the planet as a whole. First, we’ll start with the ‘doing the right thing’ aspect of this work. From colleges encouraging students to turn out the lights in their dorm rooms when they’re not in use to MassMutual employing new technology to shut down vending machines when the area they are inactive, action is being taken to conserve energy and ultimately use less of it, which will benefit everyone in the long run.
In the meantime, these steps and countless others are not merely saving businesses and institutions money (in most cases), they are also making them competitive at a time when competition is coming from everywhere and it’s intensifying constantly. This is critically important because, in addition to attracting new jobs, the region needs to retain those that it has, and making companies more competitive is one way to help do that.
Also, when companies and institutions go green, they are helping to build another source of jobs and economic stability for Western Mass. Indeed, green is not merely a trend or a movement, or something for this business journal to write about. It is an economic sector that holds great promise in this region.
To make a long story short, we’re going to keep holding up that mirror, and we’re sure it’s going to yield many more stories about how green is working its way into the local vocabulary.
And that will certainly be a reflection of progress — on a number of levels.

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