Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on May 26, 2010
Here is a very interesting interview we did with John Picard, one of the Advisors for the BP Oil company. His job was to help them go green. See how he explains their thinking at the time and how they changed the companies name for British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum. A name they thought would announce their new direction as world leaders in the new clean renewable energy market. Clean and green, is what BP wants to present, but reality is a whole other thing. Just ask the people living in the Gulf Coast.
John Picard is a name that you may not be familiar with… yet. This pioneer in sustainability has been quietly revolutionizing homes and businesses across the country. Here’s a brief history of his achievements:
– He started out as a builder and entrepreneur and is now a renowned building efficiency and sustainability expert.
– He was a core member of President Clinton’s “Greening of the White House” team.
– He’s president and founder of E2 Environmental Enterprises, whose clients include Microsoft, BP, eBay, Sony, Ford, The Gap, MGM, CAA and Live Earth, to name a few.
Picard’s career is on the move again as he transitions from behind-the-scenes green to on-camera sustainability spokesperson. We were fortunate to have him drop by G Living’s Room 101 where we discussed everything from his early years as a successful Ferrari-driving architect to his days as an angry Greenpeace activist; from consulting at Interface to having Paul Hawken on speed dial.
The story of Interface, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, is a fascinating case study. Large quantities of petroleum are required to manufacture carpet. And once the carpet has served its usefulness, it’s simply tossed into a landfill. This is how Interface operated for over 20 years. Then in 1994, CEO Ray Anderson radically re-orientated his company towards environmental sustainability. By utilizing biomimicry (taking cues from nature) he created a new carpet with zero emissions, which turned out to be more profitable than its conventional predecessor. Enter John Picard, who then helped to introduce the concept of carpet as a “product of service” rather than a “product of material”. This allowed Interface to retain ownership of the carpet by leasing it to the customer, thereby ensuring that all worn carpet tiles were recycled.
Paul Hawken completes this circle. It was his book The Ecology of Commerce that spearheaded Interface’s transformation towards sustainability. The central message is twofold: that business and the environment doesn’t have to be at odds; and that since business is responsible for much of the damage done to the Earth, it should take the lead in sustainability and restoration.
Our initial interview with John Picard was just the tip of the iceberg. We’re excited about future dialogues with him here at G Living, as well as John’s upcoming interviews with his peers, business leaders, colleagues and friends.