The other related article that I keep noodling over was in the New York Times. Neil Irwin’s article “Welcome to the Everything Boom, or Maybe the Everything Bubble.” Irwin laments that every asset class is “expensive by historical standards.” Where can investors put their money that will yield returns that are higher than inflation? He lists New York real estate, French cable companies, stocks and Iowa farmland as examples of assets with high valuations.
I have an idea to invest a tiny fraction of this cash; a place that will yield impressive results in terms of payback and create high quality jobs. Each U.S. business with more than 500 employees should hire a sustainability project manager.
The sustainability manager will be in charge of finding and implementing operational efficiencies. Every business has opportunities to do more with less energy, water, and materials. As someone who has spent most of her sustainability consulting career contracting with government agencies to encourage people within business to implement waste prevention, energy efficiency, water conservation, green procurement, alternative commuting and green building projects; I can report that these projects don’t happen without someone on the inside championing them.
The second sustainability manager can help convey the value proposition of the operational efficiency efforts and make a case for continued funding for their position through cost savings, brand enhancement and improved employee morale.
I have met so many people inside businesses who love doing this type of work. Yet, they are often doing it on borrowed time: on their lunch hours and at night.
Our country should be investing in full-time sustainability project managers for every company. This will create middle class jobs and streamline operations around the country. This is an investment that will yield dividends for generations to come.