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We've designed our 'we see green' blog to help keep our community informed of interesting and important environmental and business topics. It's also a way to help our clients stay better informed of all the interesting and value-added services we offer. To get regular updates, subscribe to this blog via email (yep, that box to the right there), or add our feed to your RSS feed reader. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

SEatWtC Part 7: World Energy Council

World Energy Council Logo
Logo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
Three energy sources. Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons,

World Energy Council (WEC)

What is the WEC? According to the WEC website, “the World Energy Council (WEC) is the foremost multi-energy organisation in the world today. WEC has Member Committees in nearly 100 countries, including most of the largest energy-producing and energy consuming countries. Established in 1923; the organisation covers all types of energy, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and renewables. WEC is a UK-registered charity headquartered in London. WEC Services Limited was established in 2001 as the incorporated trading subsidiary of WEC. WEC's Mission is 'To promote the sustainable supply and use of energy for the greatest benefit of all people'.”[4]

It would seem that the studies and analyses that the WEC provide would be equally beneficial as the services that the IEA provide. Though the studies conducted by the WEC are more likely to be input to the IEA, WEC studies would also be valuable insights for global companies to investigate too. If WEC reports show how the rest of the world thinks about energy, the reports would help global companies to market themselves around the world.


Tune in tomorrow for Part 8 of SEatWtC!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

SEatWtC Part 6: International Energy Agency

International Energy Agency (IEA) Logo
Image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
International Energy Agency (IEA)

International Energy Agency (IEA)

Who is the IEA? According to the IEA website, “the International Energy Agency (IEA) is an intergovernmental organisation which acts as energy policy advisor to 28 member countries in their effort to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for their citizens. Founded during the oil crisis of 1973-74, the IEA’s initial role was to co-ordinate measures in times of oil supply emergencies. As energy markets have changed, so has the IEA. Its mandate has broadened to incorporate the “Three E’s” of balanced energy policy making: energy security, economic development and environmental protection. Current work focuses on climate change policies, market reform, energy technology collaboration and outreach to the rest of the world, especially major consumers and producers of energy like China, India, Russia and the OPEC countries.”

The IEA focus to provide input to legislative bodies regarding the Three E’s is a valuable resource because it would not seem common to have legislative bodies that contain sufficient experts on energy security, economic development and environmental protection. Through this one agency, legislative bodies can be better informed about the impact of potential energy policies on these three areas. If the goal of legislative bodies is to provide sound energy security, strong economic development and clean environmental protection, the advice of such an agency as the IEA would be valuable indeed. Businesses too may benefit from preemptively adhering to the advice of the IEA, as they may then be seen as placing the three E’s first, even before governments. For a world filled with citizens concerned about these three areas, the advice of the IEA may provide tangible competitive advantages to businesses linked to the IEA.


Tune in tomorrow for Part 7 of SEatWtC!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

SEatWtC Part 5: Consultative Energy Agencies

Vienna International Center
Photo source: Dean Calma/IAEA
Vienna International Center (VIC)

Consultative Energy Agencies

There are several consultative energy agencies around the globe, but we will only focus on two of them in this paper. The first such agency is the International Energy Agency (IEA). The second agency we’ll look at is the World Energy Council. The benefits of agencies like these are that 1) they provide independent analyses and reports to member nations, 2) member nations are members by choice, not mandate, meaning they don’t have to follow the recommendations of these agencies, and 3) they bring together the thoughts and ideas of broad spectrums of cultures and nationalities, allowing for a more diverse dialogue of the energy issues ahead of us.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 6 of SEatWtC!

Monday, April 27, 2009

University Oaks BBQ Recap

I don't think it would be presumptuous to say that the 1st Annual University Oaks BBQ was a smashing success. I know that as an organizer I have a vested interest, I'm pretty confident the attendees would feel the same way. After all, how can you deny the lure of free brisket on a Thursday afternoon?

Speaking of brisket, major props to my co-worker Nate for his skills on the smoker. You would be hard-pressed to find a better brisket anywhere that's not a BBQ restaurant.

We planned and organized this BBQ as a way to build connections between businesses and professionals in our little enclave of San Antonio. There are so many opportunities for our organizations that are never fully realized because we aren't aware of potential resources and partners that exist right outside our doors. I sincerely hope that you networked with a person or business you weren't familiar with if you attended the BBQ. If you did not, I encourage you to take the opportunity to research some of your neighbors anyway. Who knows what mutually beneficial ventures are out there?

Thanks to our sponsors who helped make the event fantastic: Vamvoras Plumbing, Kegley, and "silent partner" A & A Transportation.

Special thanks to our wonderful hosts and owners of the Smoker, Galaxy Builders.

Please send us the website, blog and social media pages for your business because we love connecting with our peers. You can find out more about us at the following spots:



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See the rest of the pictures HERE on our Facebook page.

Please leave your thoughts about the BBQ in the comments. If you have any of your own pictures of the BBQ, please email them to

SEatWtC Part 4: Kyoto Protocol

Adoption of Protocol in 1997
Image source:
Delegates celebrated adoption of the Protocol in 1997

Kyoto Protocol

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) website, “The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the [UNFCCC]. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012. The major distinction between the Protocol and the [Kyoto] Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize GHG emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.

Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. 183 Parties of the Convention have ratified its Protocol to date. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh in 2001, and are called the ‘Marrakesh Accords’.”[1]

The decision by the United States to deny ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is probably best described as a snub by the U.S. to the rest of the world. Through the Kyoto Protocol, nearly the entire planet has come together to agree on a path forward to reducing GHG emissions. Therefore it may not be surprising if the message the U.S. is sending to the rest of the world is “We don’t agree with you, we’re better than you, we don’t want anyone telling us what to do.” However, the U.S. may have good reason to not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. To date, the U.S. policy to reduce harmful emission is to essentially sell the right to pollute. Each company that wishes to pump pollutants into the air can purchase credits to pollute a certain amount. The beauty of this system is that it allows companies that can reduce emissions for a low cost to do so and then sell their credits to other companies that would incur much, much higher costs to reduce pollutants by the same level. This effectively uses simple economics and the free market to efficiently reduce pollutants.

Participation in the Kyoto Protocol
Green: Signed and ratified, Yellow: Signed, ratification pending, Red: Signed, not ratified Gray: Non-signatory
Image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
Participation in the Kyoto Protocol

[2] What is unclear, then, is why the U.S. simply doesn’t adapt this approach to meet the Kyoto Protocol mandates. This reasoning goes back to the message the U.S. is likely sending to the rest of the world, which is “We don’t want anyone telling us what to do.” Granted, the U.S. is big and powerful enough for now to snub the rest of the world, but that won’t be the case forever. China, India and Russia are seemingly destined to be much larger and more powerful countries and economies, so it will be interesting to see how the Kyoto Protocol and the U.S. refusal to ratify it will impact future international trade negotiations.


Tune in tomorrow for Part 5 of SEatWtC!

Friday, April 24, 2009

SEatWtC Part 3: World Energy Policies

G20 Industrial Nations
Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
G20 Industrial Nations

World Energy Policies

Energy policies differ around the world as much as cultures differ around the world. In fact, it would seem reasonable that the former is dependent on the latter. Perhaps the most prevalent energy controversy in the world today how the United States has declined to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which we will address shortly. There are also consultative agencies that monitor energy policies around the globe and provide input to legislative bodies. Two such agencies are the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Energy Council (WEC) which hosts the World Energy Congress. We will go over a brief description of these agencies and our view of their impact before we discuss the energy policies of the largest countries and global superpowers.

Tune in Monday for Part 4 of SEatWtC!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

SEatWtC Part 2: Introduction

Three energy sources
Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons
Three energy sources. Photo courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons,


In the world of tomorrow, energy will likely be the most significant driver in global policy and the balance of power. The energy sources of today appear to be of finite supply and to sustain the quality of life we enjoy today we will need to either find new supplies or develop new methods and technology to significantly improve the efficiency by which we utilize our energy sources. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do both. But how will this play out? How will energy sources and availability affect business and politics, both globally and locally? There are many aspects of this to cover, and I’m sure we won’t cover them all here in this paper. Regardless, it’s an important topic to cover and to make sure we’re applying ourselves today so that we’re not caught off-guard tomorrow.

To begin with, we’ll look at current energy policies and how they vary around the globe. From there we’ll move into our energy supplies and sources and where we may need to be harnessing our energy in the future. This topic will transition nicely into the future balance of power and potential strife over who gets to use and sell these energy sources. We’ll also cover the obligatory and current hot topic of global warming and how we as the world will need to address the issue of our warming planet. We’ll then conclude with the issue of sustainability and how this very issue is perhaps the most important of them all. The thread that will tie all these topics together is how this will impact both trade and politics, from neighborhoods markets to the international arena.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3 of SEatWtC!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sustainable Energy and the World to Come (SEatWtC) Part 1

World energy usage
Image source: Rice University Report
World energy usage

Setting the Stage

This entry is the beginning of a 25-part series that dicusses the current dynamics (well, as of late 2008 at least) of the world's energy policies, energy types ans sources, tomorrow's balance of power and global warming. Put together, this series should read very much like a research paper, because wouldn't you know, that's exactly what this is.

Today all you get is the Table of Contents. Though it's entirely boring and mostly uninformative, I am including it so that at the end, y'all can see how this can all be put together to resemble a research paper. (For all you college kids out there who will blatently rip off this work, eat your heart out!) The point of this paper was to be a useful synopsis, not a rigorous study, of energy policies and our path forward. To give you an idea of exactly how high-level this stuff really is, when you see my references thoughout the series, you'll notice almost all of my references are from Wikipedia! Wikipedia is by no means the be-all-and-end-all of information, so blame the anonymous masses who contribute to Wikipedia for any inaccuracies you will invariably find.

Oh, and for convenience sake, just be smart and realize that I abbreviate Sustainable Energy and the World to Come as SEatWtC. Blog titles are very expensive real estate!

Ok, on to the Table of Contents (TOC):

Table of Contents

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of SEatWtC!

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Susan Boyle Can Teach Professionals

(Photo from ITV via

By now, if you use the internet regularly, you've probably seen Susan Boyle's unlikely performance on "Britain's Got Talent". The manipulation of "reality" television has become predictable at best, if not completely boring. Most people observe the cliched foreshadowing almost immediately. However, the folks at "Britian's Got Talent" took advantage of our preconceived notions and delivered a rare, legitmiate and authentic moment on television. Undoubtedly we will all get to know her better in the coming weeks since she's become an internet phenomenon with nearly 50 million views.

So what can we learn from Susan Boyle? She serves as a reminder of many different things, but the most prominent is simple: Be Yourself.

I know it's a message you've heard dozens of times from parents, counselors and afterschool specials, but their unconvincing presentation does not make the lesson any less true. Boyle has none on the ancillary qualities you'd expect from a pop singer, but has actual talent in spades. If she were discouraged because of how she stood out or tried to conform and fit in, she never would have become a star. In fact her appearance, the very thing that caused countless people to dismiss her, has now become a benefit instead of a liability. While her staying power is uncertain, she has made her distinct and lasting impression on the pop culture landscape.

Professionals, do not allow Susan Boyle to become the new Peanut Butter Jelly Time, just one of the countless viral videos you've watched on your computer. Use her perfectly illustrated experience as a motivator to further your career. What opportunities have you passed on because you don't fit the traditional mold? Are you limiting yourself even though you have the necessary talent and skills? Still afraid of pursuing your dream? No matter what anyone else has said, you are completely unique and there is at least one position out there perfectly suited to your skills and abilities. Many people never muster enough drive to pursue their goals. Will you?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Value Proposition

The Proposition by Judith Lester.  Photo of artwork courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons,

I want to proposition you. Now hold on there, let’s not get off on the wrong foot. I’m not soliciting you to perform some lewd act. Sheesh, what kind of guy do you think I am? Wow, all I really wanted to do here was to put forth an idea that is the starting point for a case I want to make, but now that’s been ruined. Okay, let’s start again. I have a business proposition for you. Well, I guess that really isn’t any better after how we started the first time, especially considering what the world’s first profession was. So, how about this: I have something I would like you to think about in relation to how modern business is conducted. Is that bland enough for you? Swell. Here it is:

Why is it that we call a company’s product and service offerings a “value proposition”? Couldn’t that potentially be reinforcing the negative view in America that corporations will prostitute themselves for the almighty dollar? What is value, anyway? Why are we talking about prostitution again? C’est la vie.

All too often, I think, businesses define value solely as the amount of money for which something will find a buyer. I can’t really blame companies, though, since this is precisely how Webster defines value. It’s also what Wall Street and investors want businesses to be focused on. To Wall Street, the primary responsibility of any company’s leadership is to create and sustain this kind of value. Why else would quarterly earnings reports carry such weight? If earnings and revenues aren’t going up, investors quickly demand that the leadership be ousted because they aren’t fulfilling their responsibilities to the shareholders. It’s either that or share prices fall and the future of the entire company comes into question. No wonder managers will put jobs on the chopping block and lay people off to improve the earnings numbers. Still, just because I might understand why it happens, that doesn’t mean I think that it should happen to begin with. How could we really call that creating value? Isn’t there more to life than having more money? How did we as a society get to this point? Why do I sound like a socialist nut-job?

Don’t get me wrong, here. I’m all for free enterprise, and I believe the market is the best mechanism for allocating resources in an economy. Where I differ from conventional Wall Street thinking, however, is that I believe that there is more than one measure of value. It is still the primary responsibility of a company’s leadership to create and sustain value, except value is measured in much more than just dollars. Value is people. A company is nothing without the people who make a company’s products and services a reality. Consequently, value starts with hiring the right people in the first place, then rewarding them, protecting them, investing in them and empowering them. In a nutshell, a company should exist such that its employees pursue their own wellbeing and goals by working hard to advance the interests of the company.

Wall Street’s view might say that this approach might increase costs and reduce profits. But what if the opposite is true? What if instead of increasing costs, this approach increased revenues and profits? Imagine a company where everyone, from the CEO to the housekeeping staff, works tirelessly toward company goals because in so doing, they are simultaneously drawing closer to their own personal dreams and aspirations. Sounds like a pretty awesome company to work for. Sounds also like a very productive and profitable company to work for.

We as Americans like to rate things, which is partly why our market economy works so well. Why don’t we add a measure of a company’s people value to the market indices? It would certainly help us start placing more value on people, and perhaps less value on money. The market then would still be responsible for allocating resources in our economy, except sometimes the market would briefly take its eyes off the dollar signs to look at the real measure of a company.

I realize that to do all this it will require a huge cultural and sociological movement throughout the world. Maybe that’s too much to ask for. Or maybe I simply haven’t propositioned enough people yet …

Nate Barber is a student in the EMBA program at the University of Texas at San Antonio and is Vice-President of Barber and Barber Associates, Inc.