Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tom Rand will show you how to make the green by being green

This week I was reminded of the “Barrie Means Business” campaign. While I don’t know if that slogan is still current, certainly a focus remains bringing new business to Barrie, and helping existing businesses grow more prosperous. Given the many residents who commute to jobs outside our City, it’s a worthwhile project. Next week, an engaging speaker will be in Barrie to explain more ways businesses can increase profitability while reducing carbon footprint and becoming more secure in an energy-constrained world.
Tom Rand is an entrepreneur, lecturer, and venture capitalist. He specializes in cleantech, an enterprise approach that weds profitability and sustainability in business plans that make money while minimizing ecological impact. He has no interest in self-sacrifice or spending extra money to be “green”; instead, he demonstrates how being green is the path to earning more green. 
One example is Tom’s Planet Traveler hostel in Toronto, a showcase of low-carbon, high-return hotel services. When you think of green building, you usually picture something flashy and expensive, specially built from the ground up following new-fangled designs. But Planet Traveler, dubbed “North America’s greenest hotel”, was planted in a derelict century-old downtown Toronto building, using geothermal, solar, and heat reclamation to reduce carbon emissions by 75%. If that old wreck can become a shining beacon of ecology and profit, then almost any building can! Tom notes that although these improvements are good for the planet, energy savings brought increased cash flows that provide a huge competitive advantage.
With an eclectic education including degrees in engineering and philosophy, Tom’s outlook is different and refreshing. His current passion is managing the MaRS Cleantech and VCi Green funds, putting money into new ventures that promise a good return in a future where we can no longer ignore waste or pollution when we add up the bottom line.
Author of “Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit”, Tom has said, “It is my belief that we have yet to have a serious, public conversation about the threat of climate change, and the economic opportunities afforded by the global transformation to a low-carbon economy.”
Well, that conversation will be taking place right here in Barrie, on Thursday, April 4 at the Georgian Theatre at 1:30 PM. Hosted by Living Green, Transition Barrie, and Georgian students for Environmental Awareness and Research (GEAR) as part of Georgian’s Earth Day celebration, this exciting talk is only $15 at the door, only $10 if you reserve in advance. Visit to get your ticket now, while they are still available.
As event organizer Mike Fox promises: author, entrepreneur, investment banker, hotelier and pragmatic environmentalist Tom Rand is a passionate and engaging speaker that you just don’t want to miss!
Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner under the title "Environmentalist set to share valuable message".
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation 

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