The Green Opportunity

ChuckLohreCincinnati Business Courier

October 26, 2023  – Cincinnati Business Courier event promoting environmental education in the Tri-State region. Cincinnati Business Courier and Bank of America brought together local experts on The Green Opportunity for a panel discussion.

Jamie Smith, the Market President and Publisher of the Cincinnati Business Courier invited us to attend the event Thursday, October 26, 2023, 
7:30 am – 9:30 am at the Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown Hotel
 36 E 4th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202.

Sustainability is making headlines and becoming a strategic imperative for businesses across all sectors. From investing in net-zero solutions and transforming operations to moving toward renewable energy sources, going green means many things for businesses.

 Hear from local leaders as they discuss emerging opportunities, current initiatives, and how they are actively harnessing the greener good.

Matt Elliott, Sustainability Executive for Bank of America Business Banking and Global Commercial Banking, will be moderating the conversation.

Participants included:
• Mayor Aftab Pureval gave a brief welcome.
• Mark Fisher, Vice President – Facilities, Planning, and Sustainability at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
• Melissa Wideman, Vice President, ESG Initiatives, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
• Annie Wissemeier, Senior Manager, Sustainability, 80 Acres Farms

Aftab Perval – Welcomed everyone to the event and raddled off all the major Cincinnati companies that lead the carboin neutral wave, and the 2030 District members which pledge to reduce their energy us by 50 percent by 2030. Aftab predicted that high costs on the U.S. coasts, there will be a migration to the interior for fewer environmental impacts and lower costs of living. Cincinnati has committed to carbon neutrality by 2050. The Inflaction Reduction Act from the federal government represents the largest investment in climate mitigation in the history of the U.S.

Matt Elliott, Bank of America – Outlined the goals and definition on sustainability. He started off with the mantra “You Have To Grow,” but you need to grow sustainability. Planet, People, Governance he said replacing the People, Planet, Profit typical three legged stool used to make a ven diagram on the intersection of the three paths. He mentioned the new sustainability reporting required by public companies by the Security and Exchange Commission. All of the Bank of America’s carbon in offset by purchasing carbon offsets. He said, today we will discuss:
• What does my industry look like in a Net Zero world?
• What is my business model for succeeding in that world?
• What changes should I make now to prepare for success?
• What will our business need to make these changes?
Matt mentioned that 150 billion has already been committed of the three trillion available in the IRA. It’s helping re-industrialize the U.S. Most of the investments have been made along the I-57 corridor right down the middle of the country. Follow the money, this year for every dollar invested in fossil fuels, $1.40 is invested in renewable energy; next year it will be $2 invested in renewables.

Mark Fischer, Zoo – The core of their business model is, How can we do better? Operational Excellence is the backbone of their business model. At the end of the day its the employees that are the front line to improve their sustainability. Getting front line the technicians and front line staff involved and impliment their suggestion is the key to success. Facility folks are the key to your sustainbility efforts. Mark was asked to explain the Inflaction Reduction Act. The IRA is paying for their additional large solar array because the Zoo is a non-profit. The IRA is also paying for a battery array system. In total it’s a 12 million array/battery system with 40% off. Their is a limit to the IRA and he encouraged participation before the funds are gone. “Solar panels prints money,” no other investment does that. Their energy costs are only 2% versus 9% before their investment in solar. He presents the $300,000 saving with solar, which offsets the $20,000 they need to invest to reduce waste. Instead of paying for carbon offsets for the carbon they still have, they invest in the surrounding neighborhood by weatherizing neighbors homes to reduce their electric bills for example. The are other ways to make tangible and responsible effort to offset your carbon.

Melissa Wideman, CVG – Their sustainability goals included being carbon neutral by 2050 and environmental jet fuel. Environmetal Sustainability Goals are the foundation of their efforts. She uses their sustainability time line as a path to reach their goals. She stated that to answer the “You Go Woke – You Go Broke” question, you need to have your engineering and plans ready to tak advantage of the IRA. You are only as good as your data, you have to measure your total carbon footprint to measure reduction.

Annie Wissemeier, 80 Acres – Their indoor vegetable greenhouses are based on giving their plants what they need when they need it. They collect a lot of data and use that to improve their sustainability goals. In sustainability farming they grow, pack and ship all from one building. They have an entrepreneurial spirit and that drives their sustainability efforts. Making a sustainability goal prediction is not that hard. There are many tools available to take your utility bills and purchase orders to produce carbon use measurements. They like to work with suppliers that align with their goals and can help reduce their carbon footprint. Those suppliers have helped them produce vegetables that taste great, stay fresh longer and don’t need to be washed befroe eating.