An Interview With Green Global CEO Bob Sharon
Green Global Founder and CEO, Bob Sharon, explains his business strategy and shares his vision for a sustainable planet.
Green Global's Bob Sharon
You’ve spent many years in the IT industry. When and how did the sustainability bug bite?
It started in 2010 while I was working for a German company that manufactures cooling systems for data centres. I learned that data centres across the globe consume 2% of the world’s power which is indeed substantial. I’m old fashioned in terms of looking after staff and customers and I rock the boat when the wrong thing is being done. Customers weren’t being offered effective solutions to manage their energy use so I started Green Global. As I did so I extended my vision beyond data centres to office buildings, hotels and industrial facilities as well as large residential complexes. Then to waste to energy too.
How do you define “sustainability” as it relates to Green Global?
Well it starts from the inside out. If we don’t walk the talk, then we have lost before we start. As a corporation we support the startup movement as defined by Victor Hwang. He posits that businesses are ecosystems like rainforests where “innovators ‘tinker’ together in the same way that atoms ‘tinker’ together in natural biological systems to discover more valuable recipes for combining and recombining ideas, talent, and capital together.” He points out that we cannot use the old economic machine-like thinking in order to get the very best.
Our team comprises like-minded but unique individuals who have come together to innovate and build a sustainable value proposition for our clients that is second to none. We help clients to dramatically reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint, and to become more culturally sustainable.
You talk about “profitable sustainability”. Tell us more.
It’s the world’s best kept secret!
Sustainability in corporate operations can achieve bottom-line reductions of as much as 80% in energy costs and 90% in greenhouse gas emissions. Most CFOs believe that sustainability upgrades to building or IT infrastructure and operations are a nice to have, but not affordable as the ROIs could take 5 to 10 years. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simple things can have ROIs of 6 to 18 months while major infrastructure upgrades can often have ROIs of 2 to 3 years. Even with renewables, tri and quad-generation, ROIs of sub 5 years can be achieved through piecing together leading edge, proven technologies that outperform traditional ad-hock solutions.
You are critical of the way in which many of the consulting firms that dominate your industry operate. What are the problems and what are your solutions?
Many senior associates have good mates in vendor land and almost always go back to them. They don’t like change and are too afraid to look at new technologies as they are afraid of getting sued. This has led to the provision of mediocre solutions with average results (ie: ROIs of 5-7 years). The prime directive for most consulting firms is “how many billable hours can we charge?” rather than “how can we provide the best results for our clients?”
The other big problem is that consultants often only take responsibility for delivering a project that works, but not for how well it works. Quite often they may predict a 50% reduction in energy consumption for example. But what if they only get 30 or 35%? There is no responsibility taken for this and the client loses out. This seems to be an industry standard which I believe is just not good enough, so we are now changing the way things are done.
Green Global looks for the right technologies to deliver the most cost effective energy efficient solutions without compromise to quality and reliability. This is underpinned by a comprehensive business case which outlines ROIs and all key performance criteria. Once the client has signed off we run the procurement process. As we give a performance guarantee as standard, we get to control the quality of the job. Of course the client can say, “I want my contractor”, but then we will no longer give a performance guarantee as we cannot control quality. We choose vendors on the basis of quality products, but even more important is the quality of their after-sales service. This way, if problems do occur during the project, we have a team that is customer focussed rather than everyone blaming each other.
When everything has been commissioned we stay on board for 12 months or more providing a detailed monitoring service to ensure we deliver what we promised. After that, and subject to agreed conditions, if we haven’t delivered to within 10% of what we promised then all our consulting fees are refunded. This is what I call taking responsibility.
You have set some ambitious plans for the growth of Green Global. What will drive that growth?
Once again, it will happen inside out. Culture and people are critical. Our culture incorporates a very clear focus of delivering what customers need while taking responsibility. We are investing heavily in people and new offices to support business which is growing by the week. The secret is in our culture, our innovation and our engagement processes, all of which are people and results driven.
How easy is it to find contractor and vendor partners that you genuinely trust to help deliver solutions to clients?
Not easy at all. There are many vendors with great products. However, there are few vendors with great products and great after-sales service. Many electrical and mechanical contractors have to compromise in order to cut costs and win business which makes it very hard for them. We select contractors on the basis of quality workmanship and solid after-sales service. We are continuing to look for more as all of this improves our risk profile while delivering outstanding results for our clients.
What do you think a future sustainable planet will look like?
There are no limits to how sustainable practices will positively affect our planet while reducing energy costs and increasing the reliability and availability of power.
Housing will be more medium density but energy will be created onsite through the use of solar, wind and onsite waste converted to energy. High tech batteries will store excess energy till it’s required. Even the lobbies and walkways of residential and office buildings will have many more plants and adiabatic cooling systems. The windows will become the solar panels while the roof tops will become beautiful oases. The sewage will be treated onsite through a series of ecological waterways and mini ecosystems as well as conversion to energy. Nanotechnology will also play a huge role over the next 30 years for major improvements in thermal and other efficiencies.