The Middle Way of Energy Efficiency

July 22, 2010

Buddha, Bubba or really green guy?

Finally, others are seeing the light.

No, this is not a post about energy-efficient lamps and getting people to use them. It’s about getting environmentalists and other green advocates to see the light—and dim their own wasteful rhetoric.

Michael Kanellos of Green Tech Media (no relation to GreenTech Advocates) recently wrote that one of the reasons “green” has such a tough time in America is that environmentalists are viewed as scolds. Kanellos writes:

Much of the opposition to Al Gore comes because he’s Al Gore. I support his ideas, but let’s face it — he comes across as smug. Bill Clinton or Rachel Carson he’s not.

So, so true. And something that we here at GreenTech Advocates have been saying all along.

The problem, of course, goes far beyond poor old Al Gore. The public perception of green includes environmental police, too many restrictions, limiting lifestyle choices, sacrifice, compromise and higher costs. These are significant marketing hurdles to overcome.

Adds Kanellos:

Like it or not, the posture of some green advocates has made it easier for the opposition.

You think? Wow. Imagine that. Demanding that people cut back on their energy use and change their driving habits and buy generally more expensive products that may or may not work actually be met with public resistance and derision? Who woudda thought?

Kanellos is right, though, and he quotes Alan Salzman at VantagePoint Venture Partners for suggesting that the issues be framed in new ways.

This is exactly what we’ve been saying all along. And it’s really not that hard. You don’t have to go all Al Gore on people. Instead discuss the other benefits of green and energy-efficient products.

In the areas of green home technology and energy management systems, that means:

One area where I would fundamentally disagree with Kanellos is the order of his reasons that green is such a tough sell in America. “Environmentalists as Scolds” lists as number five of five on his list. (Which means one has to read way to the bottom to arrive at that gem.) I’d put it near the top, right after one that he really didn’t cover: Education. People need to become more aware of the energy and money-saving potential in their homes and business—and then the other benefits of green tech and energy management systems.


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