An insanely famous person wrote the book, “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us” (Clinton, H., Simon & Schuster 1996). Something similar might be said about the incremental and cumulative means by which thinkers and doers make for a sustainable world. It takes a type of village to nurture a greener earth – for today and into the future.
A remarkable example is the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado building ("The Alliance Center") in Denver, which is an office for dozens of green oriented, for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises. I interviewed the center director for this story in American Builders Quarterly, which was ostensibly about the features of their warehouse conversion to office space (the 1908 structure was first repurposed in 2004 and a renovation in 2014 may raise its existing LEED rating from Gold to Platinum). It had efficient heating, cooling and water-use systems, low-VOC materials and was centrally located which allows workers to easily travel by bike and public transportation. Now lighting controls and enhanced use of natural daylighting, waste diversion, HVAC system improvements, use of Interface Carpeting (which is a cradle-to-cradle product from a company that keeps popping up on my radar for its sustainability ethos and thought leadership), and an expansion of usable space, make the building even more environmentally responsible.
But what’s going on inside this building is perhaps of even greater significance. The mission and vision of the Center’s founder was to provide a space for green organizations to easily meet, share, collaborate and just be as effective as possible. Tenant-partners, who get below-market rent in this desirable downtown Denver location, include American Rivers, Bike Denver, the Center for Biological Diversity, Colorado Common Cause (responsible energy), Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, Colorado River Sustainability Campaign, Cottonwood Institute (environmental education), Cornerstone Capital Group (sustainable investing and finance), eGo CarShare, Healthier Colorado, Natural Resources Defense Council, Rocky Mountain Institute Carbon War Room, Western Clean Energy Campaign, Western Resource Advocates, Wild Earth Guardians and others, including several organizations renting no workspace but which use the facility meeting rooms and other shared services.
The staff of these many different entities may occupy just one or many cubicles in this 260-workstation facility. It’s not hard to imagine that a group working on clean rivers might have information and programming that can feed the mission of a green education organization, a bike advocacy group or a land trust foundation. It is a beehive of people who live and breathe principles, strategies and tactics of environmental stewardship every day, with the happenstance of cross-pollination an important benefit.
Perhaps we should think of the earth as a child – something that has a future that will likely outlive us. I’m glad to see there are villages such as The Alliance Center that accept the responsibility of ensuring this “child” will grow and thrive.
Russ Klettke is a business writer with interests in green advocacy, causes and enterprises, with a wealth of experience in finance, law, construction, architecture, manufacturing, food, fitness and infrastructure. Contact him to discuss your communications needs.
Photo – Meeting space and an easily accessed downtown location enable the Center to host town hall-style meetings. If the tenant-partners were independent organizations distributed around the city and state this resource would not likely be feasible. (credit: Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado)