Free Green Purchasing Workshop Offered for Lexington Businesses


When we work toward a more sustainable lifestyle, we spend a lot of time thinking about the things we should do (or not do): turn off the lights, recycle and compost, don’t leave the faucet running, don’t litter.  Equally important – but less discussed – is the impact of the things we buy.  In our consumer-driven society, the way we spend sends a major message to manufacturers; and we want that message to be, “I support sustainable, responsible practices.”

Every person can do their part to green the supply chain, but sustainable purchasing is even more important in the workplace, where major accounts and large quantities carry more weight with suppliers.  That’s why Bluegrass Greensource, LFUCG, and the LiveGreenLexington Green Business Challenge are teaming up to offer a lunch-and-learn style Green Purchasing Workshop for Lexington professionals.  Attendees need only worry about the learning half of the equation; a catered lunch is on us.  The workshop will take place at the Barrel House (903 Manchester Street #150) on Tuesday, November 18th from 12-2pm.

Led by industry sustainability leader Office Depot, the Green Purchasing Workshop aims to provide Lexington’s business community with an overview of green purchasing past and present, its benefits (and yes, you will save money by going green), product samples from sustainable vendors, and tips to get your organization moving in the right direction.  The workshop is free and open to anyone representing a Lexington business, and is ideal for purchasing managers and green team members – but any and everyone can benefit from this great information, so don’t be shy!  If your organization purchases anything from office supplies to appliances to cleaners, this is the workshop for you.  To reserve your seat, register here.


Water Week Activities to be Held June 3 – 6, 2014

Grab your goggles, LiveGreenLexington Partners, because we’re diving into Water Week from June 3rd – 6th!  The water stewardship season of this year’s LiveGreenLexington Games runs through June 30th, so there’s still plenty of time to sign up and work on your scorecard. If you’re getting a late start (or just really want that water stewardship award), Water Week is the perfect opportunity to earn a little extra credit.

Water Week activities include:

  • Lunch-and-Learn on Water Conservation in the Workplace – Tuesday, June 3rd, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
    Eliminate waste, reduce your water bill, and help make Kentucky’s streams a little cleaner with these simple tips on water quality and conservation.  We’ll be focusing on easy, practical fixes – indoors and out – to help your business use water more efficiently, even if you lease your space and you don’t have as much control over the big picture as you would like.  Lunch and coffee are on us!  This event will take place in the Plantory’s conference room at 560 E Third Street.  Please RSVP to by Friday, May 30th to ensure there’s a lunch waiting for you.
  • Tour of the Town Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant – Wednesday, June 4th, 10:00 – 11:00 am
    Where does the water you use wind up once it goes down the drain?  60% of Lexington’s wastewater (up to 64 million gallons per day) runs through the Town Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Get a behind-the-scenes look at how the water you use at home and at work is cleaned and treated before being discharged back into our streams.
  • Stream Clean-Up at the Park Hills Shopping Center – Thursday, June 5th, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
    We don’t always think of litter as a water quality issue, but it is, and nothing makes that more apparent than seeing just how much litter washes directly into streams through our storm sewer system.  Help us clean up the stream behind the Bluegrass Greensource office in the Park Hills Shopping Center at 3120 Pimlico Parkway; we’ll provide gloves, bags, and litter pickers.  Be sure to wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes that you don’t mind getting wet (just in case…we won’t ask you to dive in).  Sign-in runs from 2:00-3:30 pm.
  • Storm Drain Stenciling – Friday, June 6th, 2:00 – 4:00 pmStorm drains carry pollutants and litter straight into our streams every time it rains.  Remind your fellow Lexingtonians to respect our water by marking storm drains along National Avenue with the city’s “No Dumping – Drains to Stream” stencils.  If you’ve always wanted to do a little graffiti for a good cause, this is your chance!

For businesses participating in the water stewardship season of the Games, each activity will earn you one extra point; if your business is represented at all four activities, you’ll earn an additional point (for a total of five possible points).  Water Week activities are free and open to all LiveGreenLexington Partners, even if you’re not participating in the Games.  Email Beth Oleson with any questions, to register for any of our Water Week activities, or to find out how your workplace can become a Partner!


Clive Pohl: Accentuate the Positive

Lexington architect Clive Pohl was our keynote speaker at our 2014 Go Green, Save Green Workshop. We have had many requests for a text version of his presentation, and so with his permission, we are posting it below. Thanks again, Clive!

Accentuate the Positive

by Clive Pohl, AIA
Pohl Rosa Pohl

Prior to the storm of human ingenuity known as the Industrial Revolution our planet was
not immune to catastrophe. Earth’s long history may best be described as a continuous
ebb and flow of conditions alternately hospitable and hostile to life. The continuum of
increasing biological abundance followed by varying degrees of extinction has been
packaged for our comprehension into what is now widely recognized as the “Big Five”.1

I will cite just two examples: The End Permian (Permian-Triassic) extinction of 251
million years ago – the “Great Dying” was caused by massive volcanism in the
convulsions of an evolving planet. The End Cretaceous extinction (66 million years ago)
is now widely believed to have been caused by Earthʼs collision with a 6 mile wide
asteroid. In one fell swoop it put an end to the dinosaurs and made possible our rise to

Most of these “events” and the extinctions that followed were the result of complex
seismic and atmospheric conditions and the exact course of events is the subject of
some debate. However, we can say with absolute confidence that none of them were
caused by any one species. Until now.

Welcome to the The Sixth Extinction. In her recent book Elizabeth Kolbert concludes
through careful examination that we are the cause of the next big event. This epoch, the
anthropocene, OUR time, is the only one in which one species has managed to change
the course of Earth’s natural history.

Kolbert illuminates a list of examples of our devastating impact with an even hand.
Whether inflicted by over-hunting, pollution, the destruction of habitat, or transportation
of invasive species, every casualty can be traced back to humanity’s myopic appetite for
forward motion, progress, and material wealth. Because the casualty list is long and
most of us feel powerless when we hear the tragic stories.I will resist the temptation to recap her examples. I will, however, briefly reference one casualty – coral reefs – as hopefully we can all accept some degree of complicity when the devastation is caused by our collective carbon footprint.

Even climate change deniers3 are beginning to feel the impact of global warming. But it
is the loss of our planet’s biodiversity, not our thermal comfort, that is most
disconcerting. Ocean acidification (caused by the dissolution and reaction of CO2 in
water) is threatening coral species with extinction at rates that exceed those of
terrestrial animal groups. The reefs (resulting from corals’ secretion of calcium
carbonate) which serve as the home to biodiversity beyond our capacity for imagining
will cease to grow in the next 50 years.4 There is no need to wait for bad news,
however, as Earth’s biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial, is already as low as it was
during the End Cretaceous extinction.

But bad news is not the focus of this essay despite early evidence. We are enthusiastic,
industrious, profit driven souls capable of revolutionary innovation and there are many
examples of our capacity to modify our behavior to serve a desperate cause5
particularly when it threatens to impact our wallets.

Can we course-correct in the face of mounting evidence? As profit driven souls can we
find a new business model that incorporates the value of nature? The answers are yes
and yes.

Natural Capital Accounting

Every company, large or small, has “externalities” and typically none have a place on
the company ledger. Air pollution, for example, is a visible externality of manufacturing,
the cost of which is generally paid by others. If the cost of these externalities were
understood 6 and charged, as they should be, to the business of origin, managers would
quickly take steps to curtail destructive corporate behaviors.

Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) places economic value on nature by identifying,
measuring, and managing externalities. Many of the guiding principles have been
developed by TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) under the
guidance of it’s team leader Pavan Sukhdev. Since 2007 they have produced a series of
studies and guidance manuals that aim to standardize methods for natural capital
accounting.7 This is an emerging field with increasing acceptance and credibility in
governmental policy circles and the establishment of protocols and standards is well
underway. In fact, organizations like the UN and the World Bank are beginning to invest
heavily in this new paradigm as evidenced by these initiatives:

SEEA (System for Environmental-Economic Accounts): The UN Statistical
Commission recently adopted this protocol to provide an internationally agreed upon
method to account for material natural resources like minerals, timber, and fisheries.

WAVES (Wealth Accounting and Evaluation of Eco-Systems): A World Bank
global partnership launched at the 2010 Convention on Biological Diversity WAVES
will promote sustainable development by ensuring that natural resources are
mainstreamed in development planning and national economic accounts. Work
plans include compiling accounts for natural resources like forests, water, and
minerals, as well as experimental accounts for ecosystems like watersheds and

NCA is also making it’s way into the private sector as for-profit companies blaze their
own trail. In 2010, a consultancy named Trucost, was commissioned by PUMA to assist
in developing their Environmental Profit and Loss Account (EP&L). Admirably, all of this
information, their process and their reports, are available to the public due in large part
to the courage and confidence of Puma’s CEO, Jochen Zeitz, and can be found readily

As with any transformational idea forged by caring thought leaders, widespread
acceptance may be years away – the amount of time inversely proportionate to the
gravity of our perceived threat. Regardless, these visionaries are defining a new era of
sustainability metrics in which degradation of our ecosystems and biodiversity will
quantified and revealed as an untenable expense. The relentless quest for an economic
upper-hand is the root cause of environmental degradation in the Anthropocene and a
wholesale reconsideration of our economic models is essential. The valuation of nature,
acknowledged through natural capital accounting is cause for great hope. Given the
foibles of human nature it may be our only hope. After all, Mother Nature has limited
natural capital and it is up to us to recognize the economic imperative for conservation.


1 In a 1982 paper by Jack Sepkoski and David Raup.

2 Ex 1: 10’s of thousands of giant sea turtles are killed every year as “bycatch” (the unintended target of commercial fishing). Ex. 2: In the tropics 14 species per day are being lost according to a calculation based upon loss of habitat by biologist E.O. Wilson

3 Timothy Egan put it succinctly in a recent NYT article: “It is human nature, if not the American way, to look potential disaster in the face and prefer to see a bright and shining lie.”

4 Studies conducted at volcanic vents near Castello Argonese, Ischia Island, Italy

5 The conversion of American automobile production to fighter planes during WW2, for example.

6 The world’s top 3000 businesses are estimated to have annual externalities of almost 2.1 trillion dollars (or 3.5% of the global GDP) – A Trucost analysis

7 Pavan Sukhdev’s excellent TED Talk (“Ending the Economic Invisibility of Nature”) can be found online