We’re at the Intersection of Tech & Sustainability

by Oct 18, 2018

Shelton Insight

49% of Americans think that reducing household energy use is one of the three most important things you should do if you want to minimize your environmental impact (Shelton Eco Pulse 2016).

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Sustainability Win of the Week

This week I have the pleasure of attending and supporting the annual GreenBiz VERGE conference, showcasing cutting-edge work at the intersection of technology, business and sustainability.

This conference couldn’t be any more timely, as the convergence of technology, sustainability and business is at a critical point. In the past couple of years, consumer interest in electric vehicles and ride-sharing services has skyrocketed – and homeowners are increasingly turning to “smart” technologies to regulate their home’s energy efficiency. In fact, our most recent Energy Pulse data, fresh in from the field, notes that a majority of Americans expect EV’s to be the “new normal” in 10 years, and many expect smart technology in their homes to be ubiquitous in the next two years.

As Daniel Hill, project manager at Shelton Group client EDF Climate Corps, states, “Technology continues to make our lives easier. But, besides convenience, it has the incredible potential to reduce our day-to-day impact on the environment.” He’s right. As the electric grid gets greener, one of our best bets for hitting the Paris 80×50 goals is electrification – which includes cars AND space and water heating.

There’s just one problem: getting Americans to do their part.

Despite the stat above, and despite other stats we have that indicate that well over 80% of us believe the average person should take steps to reduce his/her impact on the environment and that we have a moral obligation to leave the planet better than we found it, only 9% of us have any intention of buying an EV or PHEV anytime soon. Why? They’re too expensive, they take too long to charge, and there aren’t enough places to charge – and consumers hold the automotive industry accountable for that. Further, when it comes to space and water heating, they’re split on which is better for the environment: natural gas or electricity. Not surprisingly, that breaks down based on what they own: if they own a heat pump, they think electricity is cleaner; if they own a gas furnace, they think natural gas is cleaner.

I think this is a phenomenal business and marketing opportunity. The company that makes EV ownership easy, the company that makes home and building electrification sexy, will not only move the market in the right direction, attaining incredible environmental savings, but that company will also capture an enviable brand loyalty and leadership position for years to come. Think Apple and the smartphone or Nest and the thermostat. That’s what’s on offer – make it easy for Americans to use fewer fossil fuels and we all win, especially the company that masterminds the way forward.

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News of the Week

Is lab-grown meat ready for dinner? – Wall Street Journal

Is it Frankenstein meat, or the future of sustainable food sourcing? Lab-grown meat made from stem cells may be the solution to food shortages and pollution such as methane, a greenhouse gas generated by animal agriculture. As the article states, “the environmental toll of raising 70 billion animals a year” for food is immense, “and consumption is steadily growing throughout the world.” Could lab-grown meat curb this trend?

5 ways companies can act on the latest dire climate warnings – TriplePundit

After last week’s major climate news, companies are in search of how to start on the path toward 1.5C. This article outlines the exact steps companies can make to step up and stop global warming. Some of the steps, to name a few, include measuring and reporting environmental stats across the supply chain, setting science-based targets for GHGs, and accelerating environmental innovation.

140 US companies band together to rally more people to the polls – Sustainable Brands

Elections are just around the corner – and companies are teaming together to bring more people to the polls. One of the most commonly cited reasons by Americans for not voting is being too busy or having work and life demands that are just more pressing. Companies such as Levi Strauss, Lyft, New Belgium Brewing, and Patagonia among others are coming up with solutions to encourage voter participation such as time off work – and even free or discounted rides to the polls in Lyft’s case. Election day is Nov. 6.

Do consumers really care whether brands take a stand?

Yes, they do. But your brand can’t choose just any stand and expect them to love you for it. Learn how social purpose can create connection with consumers.

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About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.