Discovering Profitability Going Green with ‘Green Living Guy’ Seth Leitman

May 22, 2013

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good and we’re so honored and excited today to have our good friend, Seth Leitman on with us. Seth Leitman is The Green Living Guy and Seth, I just want to say welcome back to our new show on Green is Good on Sirius XM. SETH LEITMAN: You’re the man getting it on XM. Look at you. Nice! JOHN SHEGERIAN: Thank you so much. Listen, we can’t have our new show on Sirius XM without having The Green Living Guy as one of our first guests back SETH LEITMAN: This is great. This is just great. I’m so excited. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Thank you. Seth, we’re so excited and the only reason we got on this network now is because of great guests like you who are changing the world every day. Seth, for our new listeners out there and more listeners out there than we ever had, can you share a little bit the journey? How did you become The Green Living Guy? And for my audience out there, this is really Seth. You got to go check out his website at www.greenlivingguy.com. SETH LEITMAN: It started a while ago but since I was a kid, I was always interested in the environment but got into my master’s program and since then, I really got interested in how governments were in the past, not so environmentally friendly with China with the coal burning power plants and all of those kinds of things but with me, I always try and take it to the next level so when I was in my master’s program, I went into The World Bank, got to meet the guy who was actually the project manager for the coal burning power plants in China and I got to ask him -we’re on satellite here- ‘What the hell are you doing? Seriously? What the hell are you doing?’ and it was a lame excuse he gave me and I knew that this could work, meaning green energy, meaning sustainable energy, and I know that people have a hard time with it if they can’t wrap their heads around it but you’ve got to realize it is more profitable than you could imagine to go green and that’s one of the big things I’ve always noticed even in my master’s program are the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. They prove the efficacy of green so then I got into working for the New York State Energy Resource and Development Authority, NYSERDA, and I simply put it to people, ‘If you see The Today Show or any show and you see a hybrid electric transit bus in Manhattan, I probably got my fingerprints on it because I managed the first $100 million worth of money that went out to get those buses out on the street,’ the hybrid electrics, and I also worked on indoor air quality programs, green building ideas, getting the first green building tax credit out in the country. When people used to joke with me, ‘Hey, what are you doing, painting the walls green there.’ JOHN SHEGERIAN: When you were on the show last, you had one book out, Seth, and now you’ve got nine! Who does that? SETH LEITMAN: I know, I know, I know. I told you man, when I do something, I do it right. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You do it big. SETH LEITMAN: You’ve got to go big like you and Sirius and XM. Come on! After all my work and expertise, McGraw-Hill asked me to write the first book, which was Build Your Own Electric Vehicle; Second Edition. It did so well, meaning it did more than the first edition did in ten years and the first edition started in ’93 and we released the second edition in ’08 and we surpassed the record of the book by leaps and bounds very quickly to the point where we’re going home and I said, ‘You guys can’t stop here, man. You guys have got to go, go, go!’ so I said let’s come up with an idea and at that point, I evolved into The Green Living Guy and how that started was ironically, a former Sirius radio host, Josh Dorfman, amazing environmentalist, and I were talking because our families know each other from back in the day and I said, ‘You know, I’ve got to come up with a brand. This is crazy,’ because I was just going as Seth Leitman so he goes, ‘Well, you love green living. There’s no question about that,’ and then I said to him, “Yeah, and when I worked for the state, they always used to go, ‘Oh boy, here comes that guy,’” so he was like, ‘Dude, Green Living Guy’. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s awesome. I didn’t know Josh helped you on that. Josh has been a guest. Josh is a great guy. That’s awesome. SETH LEITMAN: That’s how it started so once I got that, I even had Josh texting me that night saying, ‘If you do not buy the URLs, I’m buying them.’ So, I bought the website names, got the website, and ran with it but because of the success with McGraw-Hill, we turned out nine books, Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits, Renewable Energies for Your Home, Solar Power for Your Home, Build Your Own Small Wind Power System, Green Lighting, LED, LED, Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle, Build Your Own Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle and now we’re coming out with the third edition to Build Your Own Electric Vehicle, so it’s just based on the success of that book and I’m now just trying to get all these other books out there to people. I want to get them into schools. Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits is such an easy primer and you can build off of that and I just want to get them out. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Are they also e-books for our listeners out there? SETH LEITMAN: Yeah! JOHN SHEGERIAN: Cool! I just want our listeners to go upload it on their Kindle. SETH LEITMAN: Johnny, I’m going to make it easy for you. You go to the site, Green Living Guy, you click on books, they’re all there. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow, Green Living Guy. For our listeners out there that just joined us, we’ve got Seth Leitman today and it’s GreenLivingGuy.com. You’ve got to go his site. I’m on the site now and I’m just seeing one of the 50 great things that Seth touches on. He’s giving away Nest Learning Thermostats. I have a Nest. This is amazing. SETH LEITMAN: I get these great stories from all over the country and these guys say, ‘Look, I’ve got to get these out here,’ and I’m just, ‘Tell people I’m going to give it out on Earth Day,’ so you’ve got to sign up with the story, you’ve got to sign up with this guy, and you get a chance of getting a thermostat and all these people are writing me so now, I know you might not be able to see it but I’ve got people like Jessica Alba’s people now asking me to write stories about them. I’ve got a story now about what’s-her-name, oh my God. I’ve got one coming out about Tiffani Amber Thiessen. There are all these people. It’s all these great stories, like you, man, all these great stories, all these great guests. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s why you’re on the show today. Seth, last time you were on, we talked about the EV market. Give our listeners like an update like on what’s happening. SETH LEITMAN: Since the second edition of Build Your Own Electric Vehicle last time I was here, they were just talking about getting cars on the road. The biggest and only electric out back then was the Tesla Roadster. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You’re right. That was crazy! SETH LEITMAN: That was back in the day and I was saying let’s convert cars and stuff like that. The conversion market, the EV conversion market exploded. It’s just mushroomed into larger and larger networks across the country. There’s so many more little conversion shops or people try and convert their own and I always joke with people that if you go on with Build Your Own Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle, and if you go on to Chevy Volt and you go to buy one of their cars, there’s no surprise that it says, ‘build your own’. I gave them a copy of the book. There’s no coincidences here. They’re following. People are listening and now look. You’ve got Nissan. You’ve got the Leaf. They’re coming out with a better version of the Leaf. They’re going to now add that drive train to other vehicles going forward. You’ve got Toyota coming out with the RAV4 EV and they’re doing plug-in hybrids so you’re starting to see even more plug-in hybrids than you ever have before. You’ve got millions of hybrids on the road by default. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Yesterday, we even had the guy who owns and runs EV Low Bike Company. SETH LEITMAN: The bikes, the electric bikes. JOHN SHEGERIAN: The bikes! Unbelievable! Exploding! SETH LEITMAN: Exploding everywhere all over the place so you’ve got a lot of plug-in hybrids now, which are convincing hybrid folks to go all EV and anybody who’s got a Chevy Volt gets it. Anybody who’s got a Prius plug-in hybrid gets it that you can go electric drive and you don’t have to fill up with gas. Even Green Car Reports You know that guy? They just wrote a story about the worst thing that happens when you drive a Tesla. You know what it is? JOHN SHEGERIAN: What? SETH LEITMAN: You don’t want to drive a gas car anymore. That was the main part of the story, which is true. You get in one and you’re like you’ve got to be kidding me and I’m hearing more people getting it. They cancelled in the Tesla Model S, the small range vehicle, because everybody wants the 300 miles. Let me just bring up a point because I want to really hone in on this. Even though we still have all these electric vehicles out there and the smart EV is going to come out with a cheap one, you’ve got Fiat coming out with the 500e and all that stuff, we’re still in the early phases of this stuff and what happens is, as we know, battery price drives the cost so as we’re seeing more and more cars out there, Elon Musk is committed to getting us that $20,000 EV. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Making it affordable for everyone. SETH LEITMAN: Everyone, so it’s common people. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You heard it from the Green Living Guy and I’m telling you everything he said on the last show has come true. Seth, I want to do a little shameless plug for you. Our listeners, when they go to Green Living Guy, what can they engage you in? You can do so much and you consult to governments and corporations and to movie stars. Green Living Guy, how can people engage your services to make their life, their company, their government better? SETH LEITMAN: I’ve taken all my experiences and created a consulting firm about it and if you want to get in touch with me, I’m really straightforward. All you’ve got to do is go to my Contact Us page, fill out a quick little thing, send it, and because of the greatness of technology, it goes straight to my iPhone or to my email and I respond. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I know you respond. Seth is all over the place. We’re always contacting each other via Facebook and everything else so I wanted to make sure our listeners heard that. You want to engage Seth to help your local government, your big government, your company, your small company, just your household, Seth is the guy. Seth is truly the Green Living Guy. Seth, I want to now toggle from the EV market to something else you also know a ton about, Green Lighting, the book you wrote, and also the advent of LED bulbs and how is that going? SETH LEITMAN: Oh yeah well, LEDs, man, I’ve been saying for a while and I really do believe this, that just like, ironically, when I handed the book, Green Lighting, a signed copy of it to James Cameron, Director of Avatar and Alien and Aliens and all that stuff, I sent it to him. He took one look at this and he said, “If we just did this, we could save this country.” It’s true and people say, ‘How can screwing in a light bulb do that?’ Well, listen. I’ll give you an example. Macy’s alone has relamped. They first relamped half or three quarters of their lighting with LEDs and in New York alone, they were saving over a million dollars. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. SETH LEITMAN: Forty states, right? They, in three years, saved $80 million. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I just want our listeners to get that. If you think you can’t afford to call or email Seth and to engage his services and his wide breadth of knowledge — there’s some people that are just becoming sustainability consultants now because it’s the hot and the cool thing. Seth has been doing this for a long time and he knows so many different parts of the pieces of the puzzle here. Sustainability, our listeners should keep trying to understand this, it saves companies and governments and households money. SETH LEITMAN: A ton of money. Even with electronic recycling, people, what John does every single day. What is he doing? He’s taking parts out of electronics and selling the heavy metals and materials back on to the market so these companies then don’t have to go and mine for it. You’re just reusing and repurposing this stuff so that the Apples or whatever can reuse it. Why go digging? Macy’s, in three years, they saved about $80 million. They got them to save about $80 million so now I go back into Macy’s just for the giggles because I had to go in because one of the friends of the family had a bar mitzvah so I went to get a nice shirt. I go in there, they relamped. John, they took out- You know like when you look at a CFL in a high hat? JOHN SHEGERIAN: Sure. SETH LEITMAN: In a building and the bulb goes across, not down and they always just say, ‘Oh those fixtures are so hard to change out.’ Macy’s ripped out every single one of those CFLs, ripped out the fixture, kept the high hat, and then came up with innovative new ways to make those high hats pro-LED, meaning that you can put an LED in them so they created some of them with necks so that the LED hangs out of the fixture. They came up with the most innovative ways and that was one store so they relamped 100% of their lighting in the ceilings LED. If that’s not a commitment, I don’t know what is. Yes, they still have T12s that are CFLs but I bet you over time, they’re going to relamp that but all the high hats gone. No CFL, goodbye, and these guys are now going to get up to saving $100-, $150 million and that’s one company. Now, imagine if local governments did it, school districts did it, federal government buildings did it. Then we would reduce the cost of electricity to our governments, which then we all pay for and reduces our tax burden so that’s why I try and work with governments because I’m trying to reduce the cost of government. I’m not trying to cut people. All you hear about sequester this and all this gobbledygook on the radio and on the TV, on the TV, not the radio, God forbid, is just talking about cutting people and I scream sometimes. I’m so frustrated at it. Now you just gave me the story. Here it is. It’s going to come up on my site: How many politicians is it going to take to screw in a light bulb? I mean seriously, The Federal Government is doing it, The Navy is doing it. They got it. They get it. What I’m saying is it can save businesses and it can save government and we’re talking in the trillions. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Seth, we’ve come to the end of today’s show but now we’re back on and we’re back on every week and you’re going to come back and visit with us more often now. SETH LEITMAN: I’m so happy you guys took it to this level. This is huge! JOHN SHEGERIAN: We love ya. SETH LEITMAN: Sirius XM, man, I mean you guys, I listen to Sirius XM all the time. This is just huge! It shows what you’re doing, John, it works, man. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Green Living Man, an inspirational green evangelist and truly living proof that green is good.