Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Movin' on up ... to the green office

Posted By on Wed, Dec 30, 2009 at 11:41 AM

It pays to be green, just ask top eco-execs:

During his more than three decades in real estate David Pogue played many roles, but environmental expert was never one of them.

That didn't stop his company, Los Angeles real estate brokerage CB Richard Ellis, from naming him the company guru of all things eco-friendly nearly two years ago. Pogue suddenly found himself in charge of making the firm and its projects more energy efficient and environmentally conscious, an abrupt switch from his previous property-management responsibilities.

"I'm an outsider, a real estate guy trying to become an environmentalist," said Pogue, the company's national director of sustainability. "But I believe in what I do, that it's something bigger than myself."

Positions such as Pogue's often are placed in the upper echelons of companies, where they are highly visible and directly overseen by the chief executive. At Coca-Cola Co. and Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc., chief executives Muhtar Kent and Ryoichi Ueda, respectively, have adopted the sustainability officer title as well.

Other firms bundle in extra duties, such as dealing with the supply chain. At Levi Strauss & Co., Michael Kobori works on labor standards and general green issues as vice president for social and environmental sustainability.

"Ten years ago, the position I have didn't exist," Kobori said. "Now, we are seeing a new generation of business leaders who have grown up with sustainability. There is actually a career path in this field for someone at a corporation."

"This isn't just a job on the side," she said. "It really influences everything we do. It goes beyond compliance and into long-range planning and preparing the company for a broader view."

Bank of America's on board, too:

After Bank of America Corp. announced a $20-billion, 10-year commitment to sustainable operations, products and services in 2007, it took on several eco-officers. Among them: a manager certified in green building standards who works on environmental compliance for the company's 96 million square feet of space, an "electronification of paper" executive and several investment strategists focused on renewable energy.

Read the rest of this L.A. Times article, by Tiffany Hsu, here.

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