Green Consulting

Compared to the “Great State of Texas”, Oregon and Washington are amassing a concentration of not for profit organizations geared toward sustainable and environmental programs. Although sustainability driven non-profits are beginning to emerge in Texas, not nearly as many are as well-funded and established as those in the North West. A smaller emphasis on profits seems to be emerging in the North West with not only the abundance of non-profits but B-corporations as well. Businesses trending toward reaching equilibrium between people, planet and profit might be the first step in changing our culture of commerce to one with more sustainable goals.

When a business is moving into a new area of expertise it is not always in their interest to hire a new work force with special knowledge, therefore consulting has found a niche as the industry of experts and integrators who can provide companies and organizations with professional advice and contacts necessary for amateur and new markets. Sustainability, one of the newest editions to business practices, may become a very lucrative sector for consulting firms across the nation. With so many disciplines and special knowledge wrapped into sustainable development; consulting over what actions to take is a necessity for businesses and organizations to pursue the correct positive changes they pursue. NBIS | Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability

One facet of consulting involves bringing the right people together so that each side might benefit by working together at some point in the future. This kind of consulting has gone on for some time now in organizations across the board, but firms such as Network For Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS), have fully embraced advancing the business case for sustainability not only through consulting members, but also organizing social events for NBIS member groups to host. Leaders at NBIS are fully aware that commerce contains the greatest leverage for helping or hurting sustainability. Due to this, NBIS, a not for profit organization, always makes the business case that sustainability is profitable through qualitative and quantitative results. These results are conveyed through triple bottom line metrics that explain societal and environmental aspects, as well as monetary indicators for a more holistic progress report. Aside from sustainable consulting, NBIS also pursues workshops, forums and eco hours; member/non-member networking opportunities for organizations and businesses in Seattle and surrounding North West regions.

NBIS Services Model  imageNBIS has also decided to pursue community connections with businesses in order to provide socially conscious pursuits that organizations can take advantage of and get involved in. These pursuits involve regional problems and NBIS is there to help companies figure out how to be a part of the solution, through volunteering and donations. Many non-profits garner funding through grants provided by the public sector, whether that be the federal or local government, but NBIS gathers most funding through membership dues. This is due to most grants going toward direct approach actions, not systematic changes, which NBIS generally conducts; but if non-profits such as NBIS can remain solvent over time with membership dues and without grants from the public sector, profitless organizations might find a whole new batch of entrepreneurial talent to lead the non-profit sector. Bright minds do not always want to join organizations to beg for money, so if membership into organizations such as NBIS becomes popular, sustainable not for profits might have a new strategy for sustaining.


Not all non-profits are created equal, nevertheless non-profits geared toward sustainability tend to have some overlap. The Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability and EarthShare Washington both work with businesses on employee engagement. They provide education for employees through workbooks software and advisement that the company or areas within the company can use to become more sustainable and aware. EarthShare also provides organizations and their employees with charitable opportunities in the realm of environment and sustainability. Providing these opportunities is actually EarthShare’s central activity and highest source of funding. This firm represents many non-profit organizations and assists them with campaign/fundraising recommendations and procedures, such as tax and legal filing. Workplace giving is a procedure that EarthShare advocates; this helps many non-profits and companies benefit from individual employees choosing where annual donations are awarded. Yet another novel idea for non-profit funding: raising money by helping others raise money.

ecotrust logo

Ecotrust, another not for profit dealing in consultation, has found a way to serve many purposes and remain financially sound for quite some time. Evolving over the years, Ecotrust has been pursuing environmental conservation and consultations since the beginning, worldwide. Spencer Beibei then decided it was time to focus his efforts in the Northwest, so the Natural Capital or “Ecotrust” building was created. After retrofitting an aging train depot originally, the building was used for Ecotrust and environmentally minded organizations offices. Patagonia and a few sustainable minded eateries were then allowed to rent the bottom floor and the Natural Capital Building became what it is today. These tenants enjoy green minded patrons seeing their company’s name and cheaper rent from all the savings in utilities. At the same time, Ecotrust enjoys those benefits plus regular rent to fund the endeavors it pursues. Other than consulting, the firm aims at accomplishing initiatives in the following areas: Ecotrust Building

  • Fisheries, Food and Farms
  • Native American Programs
  • Whole Watershed Restorations
  • Forest and Ecosystem Services
  • Marine Life Initiatives
  • A Natural Capital FundNatural Capital Building

The savings in utilities stems from the sustainable design implemented in the restoration of the building. Green roof/walls keeps insulation costs down while also collecting runoff (a tax incentive in the NW) with the parking lot’s bioswales. Sustainable lighting and window placement is also a feature of the building that has saved so much money over time for the occupants. Along with sustainable building materials (rubber flooring, recycled carpet square installation, Forest Stewardship Council Wood and ash concrete), the building is a model of sustainable capital. Ecotrust doesn’t have to deal with fundraising to often, due to rent collection and therefore can focus on consultation efforts, like ecosystem service evaluation, data collection/management, life cycle analysis, software development and many more initiatives. The Natural Capital building truly is a model for the direction businesses, organizations and commercial buildings should head in.

One consulting firm that is not a non-profit, but uses the power of business to create public benefit, is Green Building Services Inc. This type of corporation is known as a Benefit Corporation and unlike regular businesses these must meet: comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards, raise legal accountability standards and build business constituency for public policies that support sustainable business. GBS started out as a local utility in Portland in 2005 and has quickly grown to become a firm that deals in energy services, LEED training and consulting. Essentially, GBS is a one stop shop for getting green developments off the ground and maintaining them properly. The consulting efforts of GBS exist on five continents, consisting of %5 of all LEED certifications.

All of these organizations not only consult in green development, but are located in a LEED certified or green office of some kind. They consult because they can talk the talk, but after viewing their facilities it’s easy to see they also walk the walk themselves. Fortunately, these companies that are not seeking profits or mega profits are thriving in a region that obviously embraces and supports environmental and social endeavors. Although each of these work in different areas of green consulting, there is quite a bit of similarities between them, including their green global logos…

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