From green real estate to hybrid limousines and reusable packaging to earth-friendly pizza delivery, green entrepreneurs are taking the business world by storm. Can you make money and make a difference at the same time? Absolutely, and the five "ecopreneurs" below prove it.
Here's a quick look at how these green innovators have created successful business models and what they're doing to help the environment. Who knows? You just might be inspired to start your own green business and become an ecopreneur yourself!
1. Chris Bartle - Green Key Real Estate
According to a May 2008 report by McGraw-Hill Construction and the National Association of Home Builders, the market for green homes is growing. Green homes are expected to be 12% to 20% of market share by 2012.
A pioneer in the green brokerage business, Chris Bartle, President and CEO of Green Key Real Estate, is taking full advantage of that fact. He's not only a licensed eco-broker¨, he's also planning to expand his green brokerage firm beyond Northern California into other environmentally-conscious places like Boulder, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon.
2. Frederick Dunn - Dunn Rite Limousine Service
Frederick Dunn runs a high-end limousine service. That might not sound like an eco-friendly profession but Dunn has turned it into one by incorporating hybrid vehicles into his fleet of luxury cars. It's been a boon to his business. Not only is he saving money on fuel, he's also catering to clients who prefer hybrids while reducing his business's carbon footprint. Dunn plans to convert his entire fleet to upscale hybrid vehicles in the future.
3. Spencer Brown - Rent-A-Green Box
Spencer Brown's company, Rent-A-Green Box, makes reusable moving boxes called Recopacks from hard-to-recycle plastics. Brown disliked the idea of cutting down trees to make cardboard boxes that were used once and then tossed in the trash, destined for a landfill. Rent-A-Green Box, which he started in 2004, is now a multi-million dollar business, achieving the dual purpose of making money and reducing the environmental impact of packaging materials.
4. Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive - SolarCity
The two brothers behind the California-based company SolarCity created a program in which neighbors interested in solar energy could pool their resources and be eligible for discounts on solar panel installations. SolarCity has had resounding success branching out into the commercial and government sectors as well. The SolarCity mission statement sums it up best: "To energize our world with clean affordable solar energy. One installation at a time"
5. Vaughan Lazar and Michael Gordon - Pizza Fusion, A Green Franchise
Another green franchise that's delivering—literally!—is Fort Lauderdale-based Pizza Fusion, a fast-food delivery business specializing in natural sodas and pizzas garnished with organic veggies, cheese, and other healthy toppings. But more than that, business partners Vaughan Lazar and Michael Gordon have gone the extra mile when it comes to being green. Uniforms are made from organic cotton fabric, countertops are made from recycled bottles, and all of Pizza Fusion's paper products are 100% post-consumer paper. Even their buildings are LEED certified.
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