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June 26, 2012, by Charlie Jahnigen

Changing the Perception of Sustainability on a Sunday Afternoon

I was watching golf last weekend on tv and saw a new FedEx commercial.  In the animated commercial, the narrator states, “The inspiring story of how a shipping giant can befriend a forest…” Scenes of stereotypical earth friendly symbols are shown throughout. It ends with the tag line “sustainable solutions…FedEx –solutions that matter.” It’s inspiring to see the progressive approach FedEx has taken to changing market demands specifically pertaining to sustainability.

In the sustainability world, FedEx is frequently mentioned for their initiatives pertaining to the reduction of fuel, materials and noise (airports). According to the FedEx website, “By rebalancing our fleet and optimizing our routes, FedEx Express has improved total fleet miles per gallon within the U.S. by 14.1 percent since 2005, saving over 53 million gallons of fuel or approximately 472,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, with a goal of improving by 20 percent by 2020.”  They have also replaced 727s with 757s, which further reduces fuel consumption by 47 percent. These measurable environmental positions prove FedEx’s commitment to sustainability. They also make for a smart business practice and hopefully FedEx is passing those savings to the customer.

The most intriguing aspect to me is that a company like FedEx can change people’s perception of sustainability. FedEx can promote their sustainability initiatives, on a Sunday afternoon golf tournament and clearly promote the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. FedEx understands that if they don’t adapt to the market, they will cease to exist. (See other paper based businesses….newspaper and postal delivery for example.)

The question I have for the design industry: If we don’t adapt to a changing market will anyone still need us? By embracing sustainably, the AIA 2030 challenge, building information modeling & integrated project delivery, SHP Leading Design will advance. To answer my own question, I hope to adapt throughout my career because I want to watch golf on Sunday afternoons for many years to come….