Mike Murphy

One of the inherently fun things about writing editorials for a magazine is that one can assume the state of simultaneously holding opposing beliefs. Perhaps you would rather refer to this as being wishy-washy. Though I have touted green opportunities for contractors, I now ask you to consider the green wash that is all around you.

A Google search for “green” turned up 915 million results, the first being the simplest definition imaginable - “Green is a color …” - to the more complex Guides to Going Green for your home, your health, your school, for techies, for moms and dads, for the college-bound, for your community, for parents-to-be, etc. The list of green is almost endless. In current times, and in the foreseeable future, wherever there will be a dime to be made, there will be a green angle for how to make it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the general idea of being good stewards of our surroundings, our environment, and our planet, is certainly OK with me. It’s the never-ending parade of green warnings, green promises, and green slime that is being blasted across our world that has me bothered. The HVAC industry is no exception.

Look at the sales literature on your desk, the stories or advertising in your copy ofThe NEWS, the sales pitch you heard this morning. Is there a day that goes by that you don’t get a green message? Do you think every single one of those messages is of a purely altruistic nature?

The green movement, rooted in some sense of good, has unfortunately morphed into a mere marketing tool in far too many instances.


Green should be a company-wide style of conducting business. It should be your modus operandi. Your lighting, your garbage, your vehicles, your policies - all should be a result of your willingness to make this planet a better place to pass on to future generations. Can you say that you are green if you sell green products, but burn rubbish in the back lot? Can you say you are green if you sell non-ozone depleting refrigerants but vent the same alleged global warming gas to the atmosphere?

It may not be practical to be an entirely green company. Perhaps it is enough that you are actively working toward being totally green, to justify saying you are green. You might be much further ahead than some if you are anywhere along the path.

The problem stems from touting a superior green position when you know that it is only for the sole purpose of selling more stuff. That is green wash. Some would call it green greed.

John Hall thinks green contracting is good for the environment. I can’t disagree with his premise, but most of what I see isn’t about the environment. It is about greed, a marketing ploy to scare, coerce, or fool people into making a purchase. That’s no way to run a business.

If I had the responsibility of working for a contracting business, or especially for the leadership of that company, I would be very careful about how I played the green card. According to recent studies by the Shelton Group, more than 60 percent of consumers doubted the green claims they were bombarded with on a daily basis.

There are a lot of ways to be green, some more simple than others. There are a lot of ways to fake it, and people are beginning to understand the difference. Here is a simple litmus test: If you knock on someone’s door presenting yourself as working for a green company with a green product, and they ask if you recycle plastics, what would you say?

Recycling plastics might be enough for some of your customers, not enough of a justification for others.

Before you jump on the green bandwagon of products that is flooding our industry, how strongly can you defend your definition of green? Think about how green your company really is, and what shade of green your distributors and suppliers might happen to be.

Publication date:11/17/2008