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Opinion Editorials

How to “Go Green”

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Apparently, my last article put some people on the defensive when I pointed out that they don’t live in the greenest city in the country. Fear not! With a few simple steps outlined below, you could do your part to help boost your rankings for next year.

What does it mean to “Go Green”

Unfortunately, “Going Green” by definition is very elusive. This article will not certify you for any type of green credentialing. If you just want to “Go Green” in order to gain more business, you’re missing the bigger picture. I am simply encouraging you to try to do what you can.

It’s so easy

There are a few things you can do that will help to make a big step in the right direction.

  1. Use ALL of your paper. Since so much of your business has moved online, you are probably still using paper to write notes on. As techie as I am and as much as I love email, I still write notes on actual paper. Use the back, use the margins, write in between notes you’ve previously written. Working for a title company, I see how much waste is created in this industry (we still don’t print double sided). According to RISMedia, “It is estimated you can save 20% on paper by everyone following these simple rules. This can save $70 per employee, per year or $7000 in just a 100 employee office! An employee in a typical business generates 1.5 pounds of waste paper per day, most of which is NOT recycled.”
  2. Turn off lights. Depending on the type of bulb determines when you should turn it off. My office faces west, but I honestly get enough light through the windows that I don’t need to even turn on my lights. My coworkers think I either forgot to turn them on or I’m simply not there, but when I tell them I’m saving power, they at least think about it.
  3. Work from home. I know many of you pay desk fees so you want to get your money’s worth, but working from home saves significantly on mileage which in turn impacts emissions.
  4. Change some bulbs. I still talk to people who think the compact fluorescent lights (CFL) provide an inferior light. My parents used to joke that I wanted to house to look like an operating room, so I love lots of great light. I have changed all of my bulbs (I’ll admit, except for the dimmable ones) with CFL’s. They’re cheap now. Costco has them for great prices. They don’t go out nearly as often as incandescents. Dimmable ones are now available, I just can’t find them anywhere on me. When I’m done here, I’m going to order some online. According to Energy Star, “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.”
  5. Turn off your computer and accessories. If you leave everything on 24/7, you are spending an average of $138 per year per computer. Your peripherals are still drawing power even though they are in standby. Consider the Smart Strip (Oprah even recommends them), which uses your computer as the “command appliance” and when it turns off, it completely shuts down power to your peripherals as well. They pay for themselves within about 4-6 months in most cases. Check Amazon, since they are frequently out of stock from the manufacturer after the Oprah endorsement.
  6. Buy Energy Star. The next office mini-fridge, printer or computer should be Energy Star. I’m not saying you should replace every single product you have, but when it’s time, spend the time to look up which products are best since they will pay for themselves in the long run. The Energy Star site will even tell you how much more efficient one product is compared to the next.

Little steps. None of these are expensive or difficult or dramatically life changing, but they all help. For those of you who are doing it, thank you. If you have more ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Jim Duncan

    February 22, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Amen.

    I actually just got back from recycling and buying a few CFL replacement bulbs. One of the best posts I have ever seen is this post by Seth Godin because of its simplicity and for how it resonated with me then and still does today.

    I was driving on the Taconic Parkway last week and noticed a Porsche Cayenne and a Ford Edge were keeping pace with me. I was driving my Prius and getting about 51 miles per gallon. The other two cars were averaging about 20 each. Here’s an analysis I just grabbed from a random website:

    Even though I drive over 35,000 miles per year, a CX-7 would only save me about $300 per year over an Explorer Limited V8 (with regular at $2.40 and premium at $2,60). Even though the Edge will run on regular, and probably achieve a bit better mileage than the CX-7, it would probably only save me about $900 per year on fuel vs the Explorer Limited V8. For someone who drives more typical distances, the annual savings would be less than half those amounts.

    Notice the lack of “times a million” math.

    If we figure that the average driver in the US does 20,000 miles a year, I’m going to use about 400 gallons of gas. A car getting 20 mpg is going to use closer to a thousand gallons. Figure that there are about 100 million actively driven cars in the US, which means that the net difference if “everybody did it” has the potential to save 60 billion gallons (600 times 100 million) of gas. A year.

    Read the whole thing.

  2. Brad Coy

    February 22, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Great post Nick. If your taking a look at going “Green” in your office and home, also take a look at furthering your education in RE with EcoBroker.com. They have set up a great curriculum that you and your clients can benefit from.

  3. Nick

    February 22, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I keep that Godin post bookmarked, it’s a great one. I tried to stay clear of car recommendations because people get very heated about that one around here. But, if you’re open minded, consider a hybrid for your next car too 🙂 The Camry Hybrid does great for a sedan and the Highlander or Ford options are decent for those of you who need something larger. Even if the mileage isn’t significantly better, the emissions are.

  4. Colorado Mortgage Broker

    February 22, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Thoughtful post, and there is no issue more important than the environment. A few years ago, I didn’t care. Now I care, and it is because of informative articles like this. I’ve been hot on https://www.catalogchoice.org/ as of late, to save paper by opting out of catalogs I don’t want and will never buy from. My wife and I have tested our limits by sharing a car. It forces us to walk more, and even though it is a bit of a hassle at times, it’s working out.

  5. Jeremy Hart

    February 25, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks, Nick!

  6. Nick

    February 25, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    For those of you who are interested in “greening” your car, here’s the 2008 list of Greenest (and Meanest) cars.

  7. Colorado Mortgage Broker

    February 25, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    “Who Killed the Electric Car?” is a documentary definitely worth watching. I would love to see Congress pass a law requiring 10% of cars be zero emissions by a certain year. I am also glad to see the Asian auto makers moving forward in this area. Hopefully, the demand will continue to grow.

  8. Why did nobody mention the vegetarian lifestyle? It is dramatically better for the environment.

    I actually did a rough calculation based on an article I saw that showed that when I drive my two vegetarian daughters and myself in my 14 MPG Landrover I am having less environmental impact than my friend driving two omnivores in his Prius.

    Strange but true!

  9. Marilyn Wilson

    September 27, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Great post. If you would like some other thoughts about go green strategies specifically for real estate you can download our WAV Group white paper called Make More Green by Going Green at

    https://waves.wavgroup.com/greenrealestateoperation

    We tried to provide simple, tangible and affordable ways to reduce your environmental impact while using your greenness to grown your business at the same time.

    Happy greening

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Opinion Editorials

How Gen X is nailing the COVID-19 social distancing order

(EDITORIAL) Of course, someone found a way to bring up generational stereotyping during COVID-19 and claim who is best, but are they onto something?

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Demographics and categorizing people helps us to process groups. A huge part of demographics and how we market ourselves in a job search, for example, is sharing our level of experiences and skill sets related to our profession – thus alluding to our age. Millennials (b. 1981-1996) received a lot of generational shame for being elitist and growing up in a time where they all received participation trophies – therefore being judged for not always winning a fair competition.

Gen X (roughly b. 1961-1981) has often commented that they feel like the forgotten generation which so much attention being play to the Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1964) who seemed to be born in to a great time of prosperity for “The American Dream” and then the Millennials who overtook Gen X and some of their jobs while they weren’t enough Gen Xers to fill them.

In this article “It Took a Global Pandemic, But Generation X is Finally Getting Love”, it is discussed how great Gen X is at this social distancing thing and maybe this will be helpful to anyone who feels like they are losing their mind. This is by no means an intent to shame any generation nor claim no one else knows how to handle it but this article does a great job about why Gen X might be primed to be handling the global pandemic well with the times they were raised in.

Right now, it’s a waiting game for many people who’s professions and lives have changed in what seemed like overnight. The patience required. The uncertainty of it all. The global pandemic forced (without any forgiveness), a swift move to new ways of life. The busy-ness of our days came to a crashing halt when we were no longer allowed to be out and about in places with large groups and possibly sent home to work remotely.

Many non-essential businesses were forced to close which meant people could not only not work at the office, but also had to cease their extra-curricular activities like working out at the gym, shopping, eating brunch with friends or taking their kids to their sporting events, a playground and/or coordinating a play date or sleepover. The directive from our local and federal government was for “social distancing” before the shelter in place orders came.

Gen X may agree that there were some pretty great things about their childhood – the types of things you do with your time because you don’t have a smartphone or tablet addiction and the fact that there was no way for your work to get a hold of you 24/7. Gen X did have TV and video games and sure, Mom and Dad didn’t really want you spending all of your time behind a screen but it also seemed that there wasn’t as much of a guilt trip if you did spend some of your “summer vacation” from school playing Nintendo or Sega with your neighborhood friends.

It seems like the article alludes to the idea that COVID might be helping people to get back to some of those basics before smartphones became as important to us as one of our limbs.

Gen X has had no problem adapting to technology and in their careers, they have had to adapt to many new ways of doing things (remember when caller ID came out and it was no longer a surprise who was calling?! Whaaaat?! And you can’t prank call anyone any more with your teenage friends at a sleepover! Gasp! You also wouldn’t dare TP an ex-boyfriend’s house right now).

Regardless of the need to learn new hard skills and technologies, everyone has been forced to adjust their soft skills like how technology and still being a human can play well together (since it is really nice to be able to FaceTime with loved ones far away). It seems those slightly unquantifiable adaptable and flexible skills are even more required now. It also seems that as you grow in your career, Emotional Intelligence might be your best skill in these uncertain times.

And not that we are recommending eating like crap or too many unhealthy items, Gen X has been known to be content surviving on Pop Tarts, Spaghetti O’s, Ding-dongs and macaroni and cheese which are all pretty shelf stable items right now. Whatever way is possible for you, it might be a good time to find the balance again in work, technology, home, rest, relaxation and education if at all possible.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms. 
 
Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.
 
The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.
 
And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.
 
We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.
 
That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

I just got furloughed. Now what?

(EDITORIAL) Some companies are furloughing employees, betting on their company’s long-term recovery. Here’s what you can expect and should plan for in your furlough.

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Are you furloughed? You are not alone! What now? What does “furlough” even mean? How will I get money? Will I still keep my insurance?

A furlough differs from a layoff in a few ways. Whereas a layoff means you are definitely unemployed, a furlough is at its core unpaid time off. Not all furloughs are created equal, though the basic concept is the same: to keep valued employees on ice without being on the hook for their pay until a financial turnaround occurs.

The good-ish news is that a furlough means the company wants to keep you available. When a company is unable to pay their employees for an extended (often indefinite, as is the case with COVID-19 closures) period, they may opt to furlough them instead of laying them off. This virus has decimated whole industries, at least temporarily.

Furloughed employees are forbidden by law to do so much as answer a work email or text while furloughed–or else the company must pay them. The first large waves of COVID-19 furloughs are in obvious sectors such as hospitality (Marriott International), airlines industries (Virgin Atlantic), though other industries are following suit with furloughs or layoffs.

Some furloughs may mean cutting employees’ hours/days to a minimum. Maybe you’re being asked to take off a couple days/week unpaid if you’re hourly, or one week/month off if you’re on salary. With the COVID-19 situation, though, many companies are furloughing bunches of employees by asking them not to work at all. This particular furlough will last ostensibly for a few months, or until business begins to bounce back, along with normal life.

So, what are your rights? Why would you wait for the company? Can you claim unemployment benefits? What about your other work benefits? I’d be lying if I said I knew all the answers, as the furlough packages differ from company to company, and the laws differ from state to state.

However, here are some broad truths about furloughs that should apply. I hope this information helps you sort through your options. I feel your pain, truly. It’s a tough time all around. I’m on your side.

The first answer people want to know is yes, if you’re furloughed and have lost all or most of your income, you may apply for unemployment benefits. You can’t be expected to live off of thin air. Apply IMMEDIATELY, as there is normally a one or two week wait period until the first check comes in. Don’t delay. Some states provide more livable unemployment benefits (I’m looking at you, Massachusetts) than others, but some income is better than none.

Also, most furloughed employees will likely continue to receive benefits. Typically, life and health insurance remain intact throughout the length of the furlough. This is one of the ways companies let their employees know they are serious about wanting them back as soon as it’s financially realistic. Yet some other benefits, like a matching 401k contribution, will go away, as without a paycheck, there are no contributions to match.

Should you look for a job in the interim? Can you really afford not to? What if the company goes belly up while you’re waiting? Nobody wants that to happen, but the reality is that it might.

If you absolutely love your job and the company you work for and feel fairly confident the furlough is truly short-lived, then look for a short-term job. Thousands upon thousands of positions have opened up to meet the needs of the COVID-19 economy, at grocery stores or Amazon, for example. You could also look for contract work. That way, when your company reopens the doors, you can return to your position while finishing off the contract work on the side.

If the company was on shaky ground to begin with, keep that in mind when applying to new jobs. A full-time, long-term position may serve you better. At the end of this global health and economic crisis, some industries will be slower to return to their former glory–if they ever do. If you’re furloughed from such an industry, you may want to shift to something else completely. Pivot, as they say. Now would be a good time.

The only exceptions are “Excepted” government workers in essential positions, including public health and safety. They would have to work while furloughed in case of a government shutdown (and did previously).

Furloughs are scary, but they offer a greater measure of security than a layoff. They mean the company plans on returning to a good financial situation, which is encouraging. Furloughs also generally offer the comfort–and necessity–of insurance, which means you can breathe a bit easier while deciding your next move.

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