Businesses mull merits of 'natural capitalism'.

Author:Rastelli, Linda
Position:Brief Article - Interview

ABOUT 50 MID-LEVEL CORPORATE AND GOVERNMENT-AGENCY ENVIRONMENTAL managers met in February to hear how business can work toward preserving rather than destroying the environment.

Christopher Juniper, director of strategic planning for the new Colorado Sustainable Business Network, led the discussion, held at the Denver offices of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The CSBN was launched last November by the Catamount Institute, an educational non-profit and "field campus devoted to environmental research, leadership and training, and located on 177 acres near Woodland Park, outside Colorado Springs.

Juniper talked that night about "Natural Capitalism," a system of business and industrial development described in a book co-authored by Hunter and Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, and Paul Hawken, co-founder of mail-order garden-supply company Smith & Hawken.

The book promotes profit-making through a "radically more productive use of natural resources." And the CSBN, which has signed up 23 members so far, is intended to grow that environmentally friendly movement.

Said Betsy White, product engineer at Agilent Technologies, a new CSBN member: This increases our opportunities to learn and share the best practices for becoming more sustainable."

Juniper, who also is a principal at EcoLogic Resources, an environmental consulting firm, talked with ColoradoBiz about the network.

CR: What are the CSBN's long-term goals?

CJ: We want to create a critical mass or a "buzz" in Colorado that will inspire and support businesses to explore the competitive advantages of environmentally sustainable business practices. We hope to reach every business in Colorado in the next few years that has more than 50 employees, and somehow involve them in the learning community. The early adopters will help the rest move down the path.

CB: Who is most interested in joining the CSBN?

CJ: Businesses that want to see this dialogue happen. Businesses like to learn from each other, so the generation of more local examples helps the business community that they live and work in. Industry focus groups can be a very cost-effective source for new information about how to be competitive. As one CEO has said, "Businesses don't compete with each other, supply chains are competing with each other." So, businesses that would like to bring their Colorado supply chain along with them.

CB: Why would a business be interested in sustainability...

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