Sometime last week, I ventured out to George Washington University campus, attending ‘the Business Response to Climate Change’ conference. This conference was a student lead conference hosted by GWU Energy Group, Net Impact GWU chapter, Sustainable GW, GWU School of Business MBA Associations. These students are not waiting for things to happen. They made it happen. They invited businesses representing a cross section of the clean energy, climate change industries, that happen to be based or have offices around Washington DC metro area. Businesses like O-Power, Verdeo Group, Carbon War Room, Better Place, Washington Gas, Reznick Group, SustainAbility, Maryland Clean Energy Incubator, Cadmus group.
Every business represented at the conference, is saying about the same thing on business opportunities. “Clean energy is the next dot com,” said Jeff Erickson with SustainAbility. Actually it’s multiple times the size of Internet economy. According to CERES, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, close to around $6 trillion. More or less. With a big “T” that is.
So skeptics: you can stay at where you are. We (heart) you. Because we have less competition. This market is only for those who have the passion, who sees the opportunities and who believe in it.
Of all the talk in the conference around business opportunities in the climate change, the conversation that strikes me the most is this: when Dean Murat Tarimcilar, the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, said that the students at GWU are making the change. The students helped them with curriculum change, recommending reading materials, etc., etc. Those are some of examples of a long list of efforts pushed by the students. Students are making a difference.
That is one school. Other universities, colleges around the nation are also pushing the climate, sustainability, green issues front and center. They have modified the curriculum to reflect this.
While attending the conference, I met two individuals who collaborated in putting this conference: Aaron Menkin and Patty Pina. Aaron, is the founder of GWU Energy Group and Patty, is the President of GWU Net Impact chapter. I talked with both of them about what they think and do surrounding climate and the business of social responsibility.
Here’s my conversation with them.