Today GreenBiz.com – a website devoted to tracking and fostering green business – released its inaugural State of Green Business 2008 report. The 64-page document, which is free online, attempts to measure the progress American businesses are making toward environmental sustainability. No easy question to tackle. Summing up the state of the industry during a telecom press conference this morning, executive director of GreenBiz Joel Makower says, "It's just getting started."
GreenBiz evaluates the industry on 20 measures of environmental performance with a ‘sink,’ ‘swim’ or ‘tread’ water grade. Check out their GreenBiz index for a full review, but here are some of the highlights:

Swimming:

- More companies are jumping on board with the Carbon Disclosure Project, making public their internal audits of greenhouse gas emissions.
 
- Clean tech investments are on the rise.
 
- Energy efficiency has improved when measured as a ratio of energy use verses GDP.
 
- LEED certified office buildings are sprouting up like weeds.
 
- Paper use is down and recycling of the stuff is up, through perhaps not surprisingly as businesses move their affairs online.
 
- The amount of toxics released by business verses our GDP has also dropped.

Sinking:

- Carbon intensity, meaning our greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP, isn’t being reduced quickly enough. While the ratio lowered slightly this year, it was but a drop in the bucket when faced with what must be achieved to avoid the serious effects of climate change.
 
- E-waste, shorthand for electronic waste such as computers and electronics, is piling up with nowhere or way to be recycled.

GreenBiz concedes the data underpinning their conclusions is at times incomplete to non-existant. For the most part their calculations are on a macro scale looking at consumption divided by GDP as opposed to survey responses from individual companies.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in January 2008. The story was added to MNN.com in July 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2008