Industries Unearth `Green' Boom
Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard
There is a lot of "green" - as in profit - to be made in sustainable "green" industries, the editor of Sustainable Industries Journal Northwest said Saturday during the second annual Oregon Bioneers Conference at Lane Community College.
While volatile fossil-fuel prices - and their potential to spark economic calamity - make front-page news, businesses practicing environmentally sound farming, building and energy production are finding ways to boom, said Brian Back, editor of the journal, whose theme is "economic gain through environmental innovation."
Back based his talk on the journal's ongoing survey of business leaders for its annual report on trends in Northwest green industries.
"It's no longer a fringe. It's a huge economic opportunity," Back said.
The retailing of healthy food is just one sector where consumer demand is building green business, he said.
The stock value of Whole Foods Market Inc. rose 422 percent in the past five years. United Natural Foods' share price rose 340 percent in the same period.
The desire of individuals for a healthier lifestyle lies at the root of environmental awareness, creating huge markets for business, Back said. Markets in green business grow as individuals begin seeking healthier communities and a healthier planet, he said.
The result is demand for locally grown foods, locally produced biofuels, wind and solar energy, and more efficient structures and vehicles.
"Green building is what we see as the most active business sector," Back said, noting that public and private developers in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, B.C., and to a lesser extent San Francisco, are building with energy efficiency, livability and sustainability as core features.
These builders seek a high grade on the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design scale, which rates buildings on their use of less-toxic materials, natural light and ventilation, energy and water efficiency, and other green values.
"It's not just governments that are doing it," Back said. The hospitality and convention industry, hospitals and downtown urban developers are adopting green features to save money and attract customers and tenants, he said.
But the green boom makes some see red, Bank noted.
Auto manufacturing lobbyists, for example, are suing to prevent Oregon from following California's lead in imposing stricter vehicle emissions standards on new vehicles sold in the state. …