Social entrepreneur Drew Shula, who calls himself a “climate optimist,” believes buildings should operate like trees or flowers – perfect closed loop systems that create zero waste and harvest all the energy and water they need on their site – to deal with the current climate crisis.
“Buildings account for 40 percent of all global carbon emissions – an astonishing fact when you consider all the operational energy use, such as turning on the lights as well as heating and cooling, as well as the embodied carbon of materials (manufacturing building materials and then shipping them to the project site),” Shula, founder and CEO of Pasadena-based Verdical Group, said.
“We need to draw down our current carbon intensive way of building to get to zero carbon construction.”
Verdical Group seeks to lead the Pasadena business community on climate issues
Shula started Verdical Group alone in his garage near Caltech 10 years ago to provide sustainability and green building consulting services to help the building industry reduce its carbon footprint.
A decade later, the company still runs like a startup, with a team of 20 sustainability experts who advise clients all across the globe. Verdical Group has doubled in size over the past 18 months, Shula said, and they plan to keep that growth trajectory going.
Even as the company grows, Shula said Verdical Group aims to keep its commitments as a certified B Corporation – creating a positive impact for people and the environment.
A B Corporation certification is given by B Corps, a worldwide movement of people using business as a force for good. The B stands for “beneficial” or “better” – better for workers, better for communities, and better for the environment.
“We’ve done things like calculate our company’s carbon footprint and buy offsets for more carbon than we create to become a ‘net positive’ environmentally restorative company,” Shula said.
“We’ve also tried to be a model for other companies by enforcing a corporate policy to not take money from any companies that earn the majority of their revenue from fossil fuels (he cites SoCalGas as an example). Additionally, we’ve divested our company’s investments to eliminate fossil fuels companies from any of our mutual fund holdings, switching to sustainable investment funds.”
With these initiatives, Verdical Group seeks to lead the business community on climate issues. Through a partnership with Innovate Pasadena, the company wants to share this knowledge with other companies in Southern California.
“We have a carbon problem. Companies across the board are emitting carbon at massive scale around the world, and the emissions hang in our atmosphere and are warming our planet with dire impacts,” Shula said. “Every business, and every individual should be aware of the science, and work toward reinventing our economy from today’s carbon heavy current norm, to a zero carbon economy.”
Green My Business
On Friday, Aug. 26, Verdical Group and Innovate Pasadena are hosting a virtual workshop for business owners in Pasadena who want to make a positive impact on their environment but aren’t sure where to start.
During the event, called “Green My Business: How to Reduce Energy, Carbon, and Waste,” Shula and Rebecca Ramsdale, Director of Projects at Verdical Group, will share a variety of practices that business owners can explore in order to “green” their business.
Topics will include measuring and interpreting electricity use, waste reduction strategies, water savings techniques, and choosing responsible materials for the business – and even in your home office.
Shula said almost every business will experience operational cost savings from focusing on carbon reduction. But beyond cost savings, there are other important business benefits to taking climate action.
“People care and want to buy from companies that are doing good in the world,” he said. “And people want to work at companies that are taking action as well, so the positive actions are great for talent recruiting and retention. Getting ahead of eventual carbon taxes could create long term cost savings as well and be a competitive advantage against other slower moving companies. If you’re still skeptical after all that, I’d question your business acumen and corporate ethics.”
To sign up for “Green My Business” on Friday, visit www.innovatepasadena.org/events/green-my-business-how-to-reduce-energy-carbon-and-waste.
Three weeks from now, Verdical Group will host the 2022 Net Zero Conference in Los Angeles, which the organizers say is the largest net zero event in the country every year. This will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Sept. 14 to 16.
For more information, visit www.netzeroconference.com.