October 7, 2014

The Shores of Sustainability

It was a windy walk last week along the Charles River from my hotel to the MIT campus. I arrived at the Student Center, in search of a t-shirt or hat to take home with me. It was my first time ever on campus, and I was excited to bring back a souvenir from my dad's alma mater.

I noticed an interesting shirt that had a bunch of periodic table elements and other math-related symbols, like the  imaginary number "i". I asked the student next to me, "hey, what does this shirt mean?". He responded immediately and quickly: "Science"!

I felt like a dunce. Of...

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August 18, 2014

In Memory of Garbage Cans

Before moving to Nashville to attend Vanderbilt, I lived in DC, where one of my favorite spots was the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. This sprawling cave of a building contains fantastic relics of our country’s history -- like the adding machine, the telegraph, and other items that were once so ubiquitous it would have been hard to imagine a world without them. One could spend days, even weeks, exploring this treasure trove of things gone by.

 Wandering this great building once, I wondered what highly common item used today in society might appear...

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June 24, 2014

Sustainable Brands 2014 - Reimagine, Redesign, Regenerate

Every year, hundreds of sustainability professionals gather in sunny San Diego to listen, learn, and network at the annual Sustainable Brands conference. This year the event attracted more than 2,000 attendees plus many, many more that joined plenaries streamed on the Internet. This year’s theme was “Reimagine, Redesign, Regenerate.”
I put that theme of "re" in the front of my mind as I...

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March 31, 2014

Jeff Gowdy pens the March 2014 EDGE Report

In this month's issue of the EDGE Report, The Nashville Chamber of Commerce asked Jeff Gowdy, founder and president of J. Gowdy Consulting - Profitable Sustainability Solutions, for his insights on ways businesses can implement sustainable practices that positively impact their bottom line. J. Gowdy Consulting provides strategy, implementation and communications consulting for companies and nonprofits around environmental...

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March 17, 2014

Greenbiz Forum 2014: Millennials, Valuing Natural Capital & Employee Engagement

I recently attended the annual Greenbiz Forum, which was held in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona this year. Note: word from the Forum is that it will be held there going forward.

As with most leading sustainability gatherings, there were the expected topics: reporting, NGO partnerships, and the growing need for emissions reductions. Those are all needed and important but my ear is out for new issues. New issues that emerge in multiple ways and start to form a new signal.  Here are the three that coalesced over the three day event:

1.) Valuing Natural Capital...

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February 10, 2014

Sustainable Carrots

Economics is often referred to as the “dismal science.” Its theories are often cold and calculating, and explain such disappointing outcomes as freeriding, moral hazard, and the tragedy of the commons.

Many of these theories are based on money as being the primary and often lone focus of human value. In real life, other things matter: free time, fun, beauty, family, community, religion, baseball, music, cold beverages, naps, surfing and on and on.

Most people would agree that money matters only to a certain point and then loses its marginal value...

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January 17, 2014

Corporate Culture Change: The Ultimate ‘Intangible’

<<The following is a summary of Jeff's presentation at the December 2013 Sustainability Symposium hosted by theTennessee Department of Environment & Conservation >>

Impalpable, untouchable, incorporeal, discarnate, abstract.  In other words, "unable to be touched or grasped; not having a physical presence."  This is the definition of "intangible."

In the world of sustainability, Culture Change is the ultimate intangible. It is the one thing that sustainability leaders all seem to want but no one knows the recipe for how to...

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October 7, 2013

Sustainable Brands - A Recap

Last week, I traveled to the Sustainable Brands conference on the campus of the University of Penn to present with Bridgestone Americas on "The Three Waves of Sustainability Reporting" and the Sustainability Reporting Hub that I have helped Bridgestone develop. 

The following are a few key takeaways from our presentation and audience Q&A:

* Reporting Waves - Most companies have progressed through the "three waves" of sustainability reporting: posting information/data to company websites, adhering to various reporting programs,...

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August 22, 2013

Rethinking Waste

The equation of business is simple: revenue minus cost equals profit.  The task of business leaders is to drive revenue streams and lower costs across the business -- thus, increasing profit.

For nearly every business, the word “waste” is synonymous with costs, trash, and annoyance.  This often results in wastes being overlooked, dealt with begrudgingly, and rarely re-examined for better options. And better options do exist.

Here are three ways to think about better options for your wastes:

Option #1.) Less Costs - Waste...

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July 13, 2013

Reflections on J. Gowdy Consulting entering year 8

I first considered a career in sustainability in the early 2000s. I was aware of the beginnings of the sustainability movement and wanted to get involved. I was able to join an Energy Conservation Initiative for a Fortune 500 client of my then employer, American Management Systems. I was hooked and decided to return to graduate school at Vanderbilt University to study sustainability in the MBA program at the Owen Graduate School of Management.

While in graduate school, I served as a consultant for pay, for class credit, and as a volunteer for six sustainability projects in...

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