Blogs > Sara Gutterman > May 2012

All That We Need is Here

Yesterday, Green Builder Media interviewed Laura Storm, executive director of Sustainia on our Impact Series: Game Changers in Sustainability webinar program.

As former Director of the Copenhagen Climate Council and the World Business Summit on Climate Change, Storm has a great deal of experience in working with world leaders to tackle challenging climate topics.

During the interview, Storm referenced the general disappointment that people felt after the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks. All talk and no action, according to countless critics. Perhaps the topics were too broad to fully comprehend, the ideas too esoteric to transform from concepts into tasks.

Storm cited some interesting lessons learned from the 2009 meetings that she hopes won’t be replicated when the next round of RIO+ 20 global climate talks begin on June 20, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro.

Communications failed in 2009 because the messaging was simply too complicated to create global momentum. People couldn’t relate to the climate language that was being used. For some reason, words like carbon emissions, joint implementation, clean development mechanisms, and emissions trading schemes just didn’t get the juices flowing.

Furthermore, the gloom and doom messages that were used to describe the apocalyptic end that’s right around the corner unless we all immediately start riding our bikes to work, wearing hemp clothing, and eating nothing but organic broccoli didn’t seem to resonate with the crowd. Fear just wasn’t a good motivator for a group of people who traveled from countries around the world with the hope of walking away with real solutions—instead, it caused distance and even disillusionment.

This year, Storm is eagerly anticipating a new approach for the climate meetings. She hopes that leaders can use language that inspires and engages the throngs of people who will be in attendance. She has encouraged Sustainia founders Governor Schwarzenegger and European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard to focus on existing green technologies rather than abstract future concepts.

There’s some sage advice for all of us in Storm’s words—sustainability discussions don’t have to be complex or scary or polarizing. Inspiring images, simple language, smart technology, and existing solutions may be all that we need to create the momentum for a sustainable future. As Henry Ford said, ‘Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.’

Have ideas about how we can generate greater momentum towards a greener future? Write to me at, follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @greenbuildermag and @VISIONHouseGBM for regular updates and breaking news.

Posted: 5/31/2012 8:57:11 AM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments

Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal

Former U.S. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan once said that “Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

Around the world, we’re witnessing governments, corporations, and individuals making proactive, deliberate choices that reflect the prioritization of environmental considerations. Ideas abound about how we can build the cities of tomorrow, create an economy of abundance, and develop actualized societies.

There is a myriad of organizations that are designing innovative solutions for a sustainable future. Green Builder Media recently discovered Sustainia, a group founded by global leaders like Arnold Schwarzenegger (Former Governor of California and Founder of R20 Climate Group), Connie Hedegaard (European Commissioner for Climate Action), Dr. Dajendra Pachauri (Chair of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and others to craft real political, economic, and social solutions for sustainable world.

Sustainia has correctly identified that, ‘We embrace things that hold promise for our lives--things that make us happier, healthier, and wealthier.’ The group has also rightly recognized that sustainability has very real political, economic, and social benefits today, making it a compelling factor in the way we think about everything from our homes and cities, to transportation and energy sources, even to fashion and food.

On May 30 at 9:00 PT/12:00 ET, join Green Builder Media President Ron Jones as he interviews Sustainia Executive Director Laura Strom on our Impact Series: Game Changers in Sustainability webinar program about the strategies that Sustainia and its partners, including global corporations such as General Electric, Microsoft, CISCO, and IKEA, are generating to build a greener future.

As former Director of the Copenhagen Climate Council and the World Business Summit on Climate Change, Ms. Storm is no stranger to forward-thinking leaders or challenging climate projects. Click here to register for what promises to be a truly enlightening webinar program.

Have ideas about how we can collaborate to create a greener future? Write to me at, follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @greenbuildermag and @VISIONHouseGBM for regular updates and breaking news.

Posted: 5/17/2012 8:43:55 AM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments

Lifting the Veil

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of The Little Prince, said that, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don't assign the tasks and work, but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

This quote leads me to reflect on the distinction between the muddled climate change debate going on in our country and our very real need for a sustainable future.

The billboards posted recently by the Heartland Institute inferring that only crazy people like Unabomber Ted Kacynski still believe in climate change demonstrated how polarized our country is when it comes to the climate change debate. But the unspoken truth is the debate over climate change is just a diversion.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter how we feel about things like melting polar ice caps, rising levels of water and air pollution, mono-crop agriculture, or increasing global temperatures. What matters is that our world is undeniably becoming increasingly more resource constrained, and it will take all hands on deck—from all walks of life—to shift debate into action.

Sustainability is not about a standoff between scientists. It’s about implementing intelligent solutions.

If we’re getting stuck on semantics, then we need to transform our lexicon to prove that we can create a more comfortable, profitable, enjoyable, colorful, and livable world through sustainable solutions.

Where is the nexus between adaptation and mitigation, hope and despair, politics and innovation? How do we create a shared vision for our future that creates change, not distance?

Have ideas about how we can collaborate to create a greener future? Write to me at, follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @greenbuildermag and @VISIONHouseGBM for regular updates and breaking news.

Posted: 5/10/2012 3:16:57 PM by Mary Kestner | with 0 comments

The World in Reach

Best-selling author and Jungian psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes once said, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Shiano embodied the essence of this quote yesterday when he drafted Eric LeGrand. Shiano had coached LeGrand at Rutgers, where LeGrand’s promising football career was ended prematurely in 2010 during game in which he suffered a serious spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed.

Shiano stated that he drafted LeGrand to “recognize his character, spirit, and perseverance”, and to showcase the qualities that he is looking for in “Buccaneer Men.” Despite the fact that LeGrand will never play for the Buccaneers, Shiano fulfilled LeGrand’s dream of becoming part of the NFL while simultaneously reminding the rest of us that thoughtful decisions can lead to remarkable transformation.

As I ponder our ability to affect positive change in the world around us, the circuitous journey of my mind conjures images of the true heroes of our industry. From green building pioneers John Wesley Miller (builder of the Biosphere) and Colorado developer John Kurowski, to visionary influencers like Green Builder Media’s own President Ron Jones, to market transformers like CR Herro (VP Environmental Affairs, Meritage Homes) and Jacob Attalla (Senior Director of Sustainability Initiatives at KB Home), there are countless numbers of individuals dedicated to the sustainability revolution.

I am encouraged.

Robert Kleiman, Co-Founder of Structure Home, builder of Green Builder Media’s VISION House Los Angeles, understands what it means to leverage our work to consciously alter the world around us. He says that “making meaningful change to old paradigms is necessary to preserve the health and well-being of our people and our planet. The VISION House Los Angeles is an effort that represents, encourages and fosters such change. If we embrace this change and allow our creative spirit to flourish, then the future will be very promising indeed.”

And Robert is right. Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the VISION House LA as it crosses the threshold into the last phases of construction. Upon entering the stunning Californian contemporary home with its sleek lines and perfectly blended natural elements, I was not only taken by its beautiful design and advanced green products, I was embraced by something much more subtle—an undeniable sense of balance, peace, and place. This home has a powerful visceral affect that makes a visitor want to stay for a long time, wrapped in the comfort of the home’s tranquility.

The VISION House LA is one of a plethora of green homes across the country that is infusing its finishes with intention, its building envelope with compassion, and its intelligent systems with consciousness with the goal of making the dream of a sustainable, self-actualized life real for a future homeowner.

We’re not just building homes, we’re improving lives. How do you stretch yourself to mend the part of the world that is in your reach?

We invite you to join us at the launch of the VISION House Los Angeles on June 10, 2012 from 11am to 5pm. For more information about the project or debut event, visit, write to me at, follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.

A sincere thank you to our generous sponsors including Trex, JM, Kohler, Kitchen Craft Cabinetry, Schluter Systems, Leviton, Uponor, Noritz, Honda, Trane, Schlage, Boise Cascade, DuChateau Floors, Custom-Bilt Metals, Kichler Lighting, Gaggenau, DuPont, Beam, Orenco, Whirlpool, Mythic Paint, Bentley Prince Street, GreenRock, and EnergyStar for helping to make the VISION House LA a blissful reality.

Watch the evolution of our VISION House Series on Facebook at and Twitter (@GreenBuilderMag and @VISIONHouseGBM).

For more information about green building and sustainable living, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @greenbuildermag for regular updates and breaking news.

Posted: 5/3/2012 9:21:59 AM by Mary Kestner | with 1 comments

About Me


Sara is the Co-Founder and CEO of Green Builder Media.  An experienced entrepreneur, investor, and sustainability consultant, Sara specializes in developing companies that are simultaneously sustainable and profitable.  Sara is a former venture capitalist and has participated in a portion of the life cycle (from funding to exit) of over 20 companies.  Sara graduated Cum Laude from Dartmouth College and holds an MBA in entrepreneurship and finance from the University of Colorado.




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