Christina Page, Director of Climate and Energy Strategy at Yahoo!, is tasked with reducing the footprint of a website network that serves more than 600 million users. “We really ‘walk the talk’ as much as we possibly can,” Page says. “Yahoo! Green is the number one green-content website on the Web right now. There is great green content to be found on virtually all Yahoo! properties.” Page has overseen Yahoo!’s data centers become increasingly more efficient. She claims that Yahoo!’s data centers are 40% more efficient than the competition, use 90% less water and cost far less than most others. The amount of water saved in Yahoo!’s eco-friendly data centers is enough to provide drinking water for approximately 200,000 people for a year.
John Shegerian: This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by The Marketing Masters. The Marketing Masters is a boutique marketing agency offering website development and digital marketing services to small and medium businesses across America. For more information on how they can help you grow your business online, please visit themarketingmasters.com.
John: Hi, this is John Shegerian. I never could have imagined when we started, the Green is Good Radio Show back in 2006, that it would grow into a big podcast called The Green is Good Podcast, and now we’ve evolved that podcast to the Impact Podcast, which is more inclusive and more diverse than ever before. But we did look back recently at some of our timeless Green is Good interviews and decided to share some of them with you now. So enjoy one of our great Green is Good episodes from our archives. And next week, I’ll be back with a fresh and new episode of the Impact podcast. Thanks again for listening. I’m grateful to all of you. This is John Shegerian.
Announcer: Welcome to Green is Good raising awareness of each individual’s impact on the environment and helping to create a more beautiful and sustainable world. Now here’s John Shegerian, Chairman and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International and Mike Brady.
John: Welcome to Green is Good. Mike, it’s great being in studio with you today.
Mike Brady: Hard to believe that another week has come and gone. And here we are all set to empower, entertain, inform, and travel a little bit today.
John: Well, we’re traveling a lot, actually, Mike, we’re going to be going now after commercial to Paris, France again, but via Spain. I’m not going to give any more of this out. People got to come on back now to Green is Good.
Announcer: If a little Green is Good, more is even better. Now back to Green is Good with John Shegerian and Mike Brady.
John: Welcome back to Green is Good. And today we have a first, we have Xavier Moraga on the phone with us, we’re speaking to him, he’s in Spain today, but he’s going to be talking about his amazing hotel, the Gavarni Hotel in Paris, and what he’s done to make that a more sustainable and green property. Welcome to Green is Good, Xavier Moraga.
Xavier Moraga: Yeah, hello to everyone.
John: Xavier, tell us, tell our listeners. You took over this amazing property. You were appointed manager in 2002, and you’ve been running this hotel and now you’ve taken it to a new and green level. What gave you your passion during your education and your professional life for the environment? Where did that come from?
Xavier: Oh, well I’ve always loved nature as far as I can remember. Nature, animals, traveling, discovering other cultures. That’s really, since I’m young. When other kids would be reading comic books, I was reading atlases. I guess I had the luck to be born in a family where everyone loves reading and thus I just learned to love books and practically anything about nature. Well, that’s really, I guess since I’m reading, I’ve always been reading nature, animals, books, and I just grew until now. Recently, I’ve been able to travel a lot and I just deciding that I had to do something for my work and not only for myself. And that’s how it started.
John: Did your parents, did they make you recycle? Were they green people when you were growing up or was the conditions… How did that come?
Xavier: No. Well, I guess at that time that would be really pioneers I would say.
Xavier: Because, we’re talking about like 30 plus years ago, 35 years ago.
Xavier: No, well, of course, there were like small things. Yes, like tips. They would never let me light every place, like every room I was always telling me, “Switch off the light when you go out of the room, don’t let the water run and so on.
Xavier: That’s small things, but yeah, that type of things, they were always telling me. But there’s not nothing really in particular, it’s just, I guess, my passion for nature, for animals, for traveling and what I’ve discovered recently, I would say about perhaps 10 to 15 years ago where everyone not only me, but everyone has been able to see that all these damages that have been done to the planet.
John: Right. In 2002, you had your design company and you had a great education behind you and then you were appointed manager of the hotel Gavarni in Paris in 2002. What made you start taking a legacy, beautiful legacy property… Mike has the property up in front of him online right now for all of our listeners who want to see Xavier’s beautiful hotel. You could go to www.gavarni.com. What made you take it into the new future, take a beautiful legacy property and take it into the future by getting it certified to go green?
Xavier: Well again, it’s my passion for traveling. In 2006, I had a chance to travel for two months along the Silk Road in Central Asia and China and Tibet. I have to say it’s something to hear something on radio, for example, or watch it on TV. When you see an oil spill, when you see any damage done to the planet, and it’s completely something different to watch it with your eyes in front of you as in just in front of you. During this trip, particularly, I’ve been shocked to see all the damages. If I have to give only a few examples, in Central Asia, there is a sea, the Aral Sea, that used to be one of the largest seas in the planet, and that is actually quickly disappearing. It’s just like perhaps 10% of it is remaining. That’s because they’re using all the water for the cotton industry. I’ve seen that in, even the most remote places I visited in Himalaya, for example, the bad sides of, I would say technology new world, Western world or civilization have changed completely the culture of the people living there. It’s sad when you see that Tibetans are totally forgetting their culture and their history and turning to something like they could be French, or they could be American. Nobody will see the difference. They just flow to the big cities and try to get a TV, a computer, and so on. I don’t have anything against TVs and computers, but if they forget everything about their past and their culture, then I think the planet and us, we are losing something. All of these different things that I’ve seen and that I’ve experienced have really shocked me at the point that when I came back to work, I said, well, look, you are doing all that work at home, but you’re going to have to do something at work too, because you have the possibilities of doing it. I just decided one day, I would say, when I woke up, I said, well, let’s try to do something. I just started, in a few words, I just started with kind of like a chart, with all the products, all the procedures that make a hotel, looked carefully at what we could change to help protect the environment so it’s simple things like change the bulbs for CFL or LED. That’s also installing flow reducing valves in all the faucets and the showers. That’s putting motion sensors, eco-friendly detergents, organic food, waste sorting. I mean, it’s really a lot of things. It’s just starting like that actually, little by little, and it took us about two years to reach a point where we thought that it would be nice for us to have an independent confirmation of all we did. Because we could say that our hotel was the most beautiful and the greenest on the planet, but if no label was, independent label was there to confirm then it’s as if we didn’t do anything.
John: Right. And how many hotels in Paris are certified green and then why did you choose the European Ecolabel?
Xavier: As of today, there are seven hotels that are certified green in Paris. Well, I must say not certified green because there are different green labels, but certified with the European Ecolabel. There are seven and among the seven, six are Best Western Hotel, so the chain, and we are still the first and the only independent one as of today. Just to give you an idea, there are 66 hotels in France which I guess it’s 46 independents and about 20 Best Westerns.
Xavier: In Paris, seven all in all, and we are the first and only independent one.
Xavier: If you want to know about, a little more about European Ecolabel and why we chose this one, actually there are a lot of green labels. Actually, it is perhaps a problem because, I have to say that, some are good, some are not and some are just like nationwide, like French ones or German ones or American ones. I think that it is good for a label to be seen everywhere and to have the same meaning. That is the reason, one of the reasons we chose the European Ecolabel, because it was the same in all the countries of the European Union. Another thing that this made us decide for the European Ecolabel is that the criteria are quite strict. They’re sensible and they are encompassing all that makes a hotel, a hotel, meaning they’re really talking about detergents, they’re talking about energy, water consumption, waste sorting, staff training, client’s awareness, food and beverage suppliers. I mean, really everything that makes a hotel a hotel, everything is in the, all the criteria are there. And the last thing, very important thing that made us choose that one is that because the label attribution is not permanent, but you have to go for it after, year after year, meaning that a year or year and a half, depending on how they are, because sometimes they’re overwhelmed with the demand. But every year you’re supposed to get, again, the label, you don’t have it permanently.
Mike: Well, Xavier, I find it interesting that the genesis of your epiphany and wanting to change your hotel came from the result of your travels, especially on the Silk Road. As you mentioned, seeing the ecological damage done in Tibet, and then also the Aral Sea. When I think about travel as broadening someone’s horizon, one of the most incredible destinations any traveler on the planet can hope to reach is your own beautiful city of Paris. Now, when people, and I have been to Paris, I was fortunate enough to go there and it is truly just one of the world’s most beautiful cities. I also thought, okay, if your genesis, and your epiphany happened while you were traveling, with so many people coming to Paris, there is a golden opportunity for you. This is a perfect nexus, when you took care of your hotel. My question is this, the hotel Gavarni is a rather small hotel, very elegant with 21 rooms and 4 suites. Did the fact that you had a property of that size, make it more manageable for you to be very aggressive in your ecological efforts?
Xavier: Yes, I guess, if you have a hotel of say 300 rooms it’s quite different than if you have 25. But I also have to say that for me, it’s really a commitment. It’s something I have in mind, and actually the whole team, I’m not the only one who is going for it. It’s a team work and every person of the team is really committed to make it green. I guess, that even though it’s more difficult, if you have 300 rooms, as long as the team is really green minded, and as long as the chart and, and the procedures are well done, I believe it’s not that different. Perhaps it looks more difficult because it takes more time. But, the things that make a hotel are still the same. We still have suppliers, we still have energy consumption, the water consumption, we still have waste. We still have detergents and so on. It’s just a different size, but a different scale. But the work is the same. We’re actually, we just bought a new property a few months ago and we are starting to make it green. I have to say that it took us about two years to reach the point where we thought, we had done quite a good job with Gavarni and it only took us four months for the second property. The experience also changed the way and the time you’re looking at to make a hotel green. If you want an example, another example, talking about chain hotels or larger hotels. Many Best Western Hotels in France have been awarded European Ecolabel. That’s because in the chain, there is a team that has been brought up to help every manager of every hotel that wishes to make it green, get the European Ecolabel. That’s something a larger hotel, whether it’s a chain or not could do. That’s also something that we cannot do, because if you have 25 rooms, you can easily understand that you have perhaps 10 or 12 people working there. But while if you have 300 rooms, you perhaps have 50 people working. So it’s easier to give one or two persons a task to change a lot of things while in a smaller hotel everyone has its own task and that’s already a big task. I don’t think we have to talk about easy or not easy. It’s just a matter of time and procedure. But, perhaps, because as I said, a while ago only seven hotels in Paris have been awarded a European Ecolabel. Perhaps the tasks seem too big for many hotels, because it is a commitment. The European Ecolabel cannot be done for, I mean it cannot be given to people who are just in the green fashion.
Xavier: It’s really a commitment. You have to be really committed to that.
John: Xavier, for our listeners that are just joining us now, we’re on the line in Spain with Xavier Moraga, and he’s talking about his great passion for green and what he’s been doing in Paris with his two properties, the hotel Gavarni and the Trocadero. The hotel Gavarni, if you’d like to see it and one day travel there, it’s a beautiful property in Paris. You can look it up at www.gavarni.com. So for our listeners that one day want to come to your property, what can, give two or three things that truly set it apart in terms of sustainability, things that they can expect to find in your hotel that they wouldn’t find in typical hotels that made you get the European Ecolabel.
Xavier: As I said, the European Ecolabel really encompass everything.
Xavier: It’s difficult to pick up a few things. I have to say something that perhaps would seem weird but, a lot of the things we’ve been doing and we are still doing, and we plan to do are something that are quite only common sense.
Xavier: For example, when we talk about water consumption you can imagine a lot of things like flow reducing valve, but you can also just imagine how you can make the clients aware about their consumption. How you can teach the staff to look, to watch out for the leaks. Sometimes a toilet that leaks for that it looks very like small drops or faucet but at the end of the day, it can be a 100 or 150 liters of water that has been lost. If you multiply that by the number of rooms and the number of days in a year, that’s really a big number, and it’s a lot of different, small things that make a difference. It’s not only like if you talk about energy, you don’t only consider solar panels. That’s something that seems obvious, but it’s also a lot of different things in a smaller scale. I would say like motion sensors, like instead of having switch, you just have motion sensors that would detect someone passing and would switch on and switch off the light after 30 seconds. You have the bulbs that are all CFL or LED but not only changing the bulbs, for me, being green is not changing the bulbs for me being green is rethinking how you light up the room. Many occasions, you do not need so much light in a room. That’s also something I want to say. It’s like when you have a car and you want to be green, the question is not that you going to take a greener car. The green question is, do you need a car, or at least, do you need a car every day? Perhaps you can rent one, perhaps you can share one. That’s the real question for me. And as many occasion, the answers are not important and expensive works and investments, but rather small things that would be everyday work like when you have, what do you have at home actually. If I have to give again small examples, if we’re talking about water, the small things that we added in every faucet, the flow, reducing valves and every shower that cost about say $3 per valve.
Xavier: It’s saving 50% of water.
Xavier: That’s nothing, absolutely nothing, $3.
Xavier: There are a lot of things like that. If I have to give tips, I would say just rethink how your home works and you’ll see quickly that there are lot of things that seems normal, but at the time not. If you want another example, now computers are everywhere in rooms, and homes. Many computers, many TVs are not switched off properly, but just put it in standby mode. But standby mode is very energy eaters, very big energy eaters, and that should never be done. It should be always switched off completely. And that’s a big save. Believe me, we’re not talking about a few dollars, but we’re talking about thousands and thousands of dollars if you think of the consumption of a company or larger city.
John: Xavier, your travel has been, gives you tremendous insight and visibility into the state of affairs of the sustainability movement not only in France, but around the world. Can you just share for a minute or so with our listeners, what is France’s state of environmental affairs versus Spain and the other countries you visited to and spend a lot of time in?
Xavier: What I can say about France is that as in, I guess, most of the world, if not all the world, we’ve all heard about climate changes, we’ve all heard about damages done to the planet, who in the planet actually has never heard or read anything about it. It’s difficult. Sometimes, even myself, I feel that it looks like a green washing. I have to say that, as green as I can be, sometimes I’m bored to hear or see always things that talking about climate changes. Why, not because they’re talking about climate changes, but the way they’re talking about it. If I give you an example about climate changes. When you can watch on TV a few experts talking about the number of degrees or the inches of water, the sea level that would raise in the future 20 or 40 years. I don’t think it’s of any interest for the normal people. Well, if you tell them that at home, if they do this or that small things, like I was talking about, about water or energy, that’s something that really it’s like a hit, really you get started and you say, wow, that’s a lot of money because when you’re talking about saving energy, saving water you are talking about your bill. I have to say that if you read the number, the figures, and you say, well, that’s $500 at the end of the year. Well, it’s not that I am really green, but I have to do it because it works.
Xavier: Most of the time ecology and economy are really completely they are the same. So in France, I have to say, people are really green because they are green-washed. They are green, now we have to go further one step, and talk about everyday things and not only about the concepts or larger things like, wow, how many degrees, how many inches and so on. I’m happy because I see with my two girls, they are 9 and 11…
Xavier: …that the younger generation is much more green minded, but very practically, I mean, really in everyday life. And they’re the first to tell me, “Papa, you didn’t switch off the light or Papa, you’re letting the water run while you’re brushing your teeth. You shouldn’t do that, like, that’s a lot of water,” These small things. So if I have to compare, I can say that Northern European countries are very much green because they are green from their younger age. And that’s part of them. It’s really part of them. It’s every day for them. France is rather a founding country for the Europe. And it’s more like you have to teach the people.
John: Got you.
Xavier: That makes a big difference. If you want my opinion on other countries, I have to say that I’ve traveled to Africa recently and to Southern America also. Many occasion I’ve heard people thinking that poorer countries would have a population that wouldn’t be really that green, because there are other important things to think about like food and lodging. And actually, it’s not true. I’ve met many many people who are very poor and yet are very green conscious because, and it’s easy to understand when you go and see why, because they are the first who suffer from the climate changes.
John: Got it.
Xavier: They are green more than I can be.
John: Wow. Well…
Xavier: If you look at the richer countries, you look from US, Canada, Europe, and so on, there are most of them are temperate climate.
Xavier: While poorer countries are rather extreme climate. So they are the first to be hit by the climate changes. And they are the first to be green.
John: That makes so much sense. Well, listen, unfortunately we’re out of time today because your travels and your experience and your knowledge is amazing, but we’re so thankful that you came on. For our listeners out there, please go to Xavier’s wonderful website for his hotel, www.gavarni.com and go visit a hotel Gavarni when you’re in Paris and see what a real European Ecolabel hotel is about, or his sister property, the Trocadero. Xavier Moraga, you are a hotel and hospitality, ecopreneur and visionary, and truly living proof that Green is Good.
Xavier: Thank you. If I may say one last word is that, if people are interested in, not only visiting Paris, but about anything that is green in the City of Light and around we also have a blog and it’s simple it’s greenhotelparis.com, www.greenhotelparis.com. That’s a blog about anything green in Paris and around.
Announcer: If a little Green is Good, more is even better. Now back to Green is Good with John Shegerian and Mike Brady.
John: Welcome back to Green is Good. Mike wasn’t Xavier Moraga really amazing?
Mike: Boy, he was so continental, so elegant and so green.
John: Well, now we’re going to keep it green and we’re going to keep it in the states. In fact, we’re going to go online. We’re going to go over to Yahoo up in Northern California with Christina Page right after this commercial. So come on back to Green is Good.
Announcer: If a little green is good, more is even better. Now, back to Green is Good with John Shegerian and Mike Brady.
John: Welcome back to Green is Good and we’re so honored today to have Christina Page on the phone with us. Christina is the Director of Climate and Energy Strategy for Yahoo, where she’s responsible for driving the company’s corporate environmental strategy, and I should really make that plural, strategies. Welcome to Green is Good, Christina Page.
Christina Page: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
John: Christina, Newsweek just published their list of green US businesses and Yahoo was listed at number 9. That is just a heck of a accomplishment. What is so green about Yahoo?
Christina: Thank you. We’re really honored to be in the top 10 US green businesses according to Newsweek. I think what that really reflects is the fact that we’ve got an environmental strategy that is really aligned with our values and goals as a company. It’s very much part of our DNA. It really focuses on three things. Number one, we really walk the talk as much as we possibly can and we’re constantly looking for ways to improve on that. One of those is the way we design our data centers. That’s really where our big impact is as a company. We consume electricity as part of our data centers. That helps us to serve our 600 million users. We’re looking for ways to make those as efficient as possible both in terms of our design and how we run them every day, use as efficiently as possible both water and electricity in running those things. The second thing is we’ve got great resources in terms of our properties and the ways that we reach out to our 600 million users. Yahoo! Green is the number one green content website on the web right now. It’s a tremendous opportunity there to educate and inspire Yahoo customers everyday about how to be greener in their own lives. There’s also lots of green information you can find on Yahoo Shine. It’s a site for women. Yahoo News, which people go to every single day, and Yahoo Autos. We had a great piece a while back about comparing the energy efficiency of different car models so great resources and great green content to be found on virtually everywhere on Yahoo properties.
John: Christina, I want to step back a little bit. You got your Environmental Studies degree from Brown and then your master’s Environmental Management from Yale, which by the way has been well represented on this show with lots of your colleagues and others who have graduated from Yale, who have gone on to create great green companies, and written books, and all sorts of other things, but how long ago did you come to Yahoo?
Christina: I came to Yahoo three years ago. I’m constantly impressed and inspired by my colleagues from Yale. One of the great things about having a job in sustainable business is the people you get to work with everyday. I came here from Rocky Mountain Institute which is a energy efficiency think and do tank located in the Rocky Mountains. It was founded by a guy named Amory Lovins, who is an energy efficiency guru. Yahoo kind of made me an offer I knew it would be dumb to turn down. They were really saying, “Hey, we need to figure out a climate change strategy, a corporate sustainability strategy for the company.” When I had the opportunity to do that and apply a lot of the ideas that Rocky Mountain Institute engages in and talks about it was just a fantastic opportunity here. I moved to the Bay Area. The first thing I did was on a plane down to Brazil actually to look at a project that we we’re investing in around alternative energy down there and it’s been a pretty wild ride ever since.
John: Well, when we’ve had people in similar positions like you have from earlier this month, we had the guy on, Dave Stangis, who runs a corporate sustainability for Campbell Soup and we’ve had the gentleman who runs it for Coors Miller, and they all tell us that, “This is really not a race. This is not about a finish line, it’s a continuous process.” I want to step back and talk about like you said, one of your greatest opportunities was the green data center. Talk a little bit about how you came upon that and how you’ve invested so much into making it a greener and a more sustainable opportunity for Yahoo.
Christina: Sure. I think that’s a great example of Yahoo walking its talk. We see an opportunity to both save money and be greener by making data centers a lot more efficient. In September, we opened, there’s a groundbreaking and the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a data center up in Lockport, New York. It’s a brand new data center. It was recognized by the Department of Energy earlier this year, with a 9.9 million dollar Green IT award, from the Department of Energy. Basically, what this building does is it cools our servers a lot more efficiently. It uses a lot less water, and a lot less electricity to cool the servers. The inspiration for that design, we’ve got incredibly smart engineers here, that I’m really honored to work with, came from a couple of friends. One, it came from a design for a chicken coop. If you look at a large-scale chicken coop, you’ve got a lot of chickens in there, you need to keep them cool. It’s a long, narrow, tall building with vents in them. It’s designed to channel the air as efficiently as possible to keep the building cool. The other inspiration, one of the engineers who designed this, it’s a patent-pending design, is the building is in upstate New York, he’s wandering around there. We chose New York partially because of the clean hydro power they have in upstate New York and also the climate was really good for this design that we had in mind. If you look at the older buildings up there, these industrial buildings that were designed pre-air conditioning, basically, before we started moving air around by brute force. These are these long tall buildings. A lot of times, they’re kind of sitting crooked on the land. They’re not set to align with the roads perfectly, they’re on sort of an angle. What they’re doing is taking advantage of prevailing wind conditions. They are really looking at the micro-climate. They’re built to maximize the use of free air and free cooling. Basically in this data center, this chicken coop data center, about 99% of the time, the vast majority of the year, we’re keeping our servers cool just by kind of opening the windows. We’ve got a filter in place to take care of it, but basically, the free air outside is taking care of those servers. What that means is we got a data center that’s 40% more efficient than the industry standard. We’re using 95% less water. It was cheaper to build in the first place because we’re not installing these big expensive chillers, and it was faster to build. We built it in six months from dirt. In terms of the overall savings, in terms of electricity that you see from this data center, versus a conventional data center, so the equivalent electricity savings that you would take to power is about 1.1 million laptops…
Christina: …and the amount of water we save annually is about the same that flows over Niagara Falls, which is right nearby, in about two minutes.
Christina: More than enough water to provide subsistence drinking water for about 200,000 people over the course of the year.
John: Wow. So now, did you learn this also from any of your friendly competitors or did you start this whole project from scratch? And if some of your friendly competitors are out there listening right now, is this an industry, and are you in a position where you and other chief sustainability officer-type folks are trading best practices?
Christina: Yeah, we were just actually at an event here in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is just a great place for this kind of innovation because people recognize that innovation and clean tech is really the next revolution. There’s an event called the Data Center Energy Efficiency Summit, which is this great event. I presented about this design there last Thursday. It’s a great opportunity for the exchange of ideas. It’s such a great time and the challenges are really, really big as you know. But the opportunities are really big as well. I think we’re seeing a lot of exchange of ideas, a lot of [inaudible] the learning curve on the stuff really rapidly. It’s a really fruitful time for all of us, I think.
John: Okay, so the data centers are green and saving millions of dollars and lots of energy and doing what they’re supposed to do. How about in the offices? I’ve been to your wonderful offices and you’ve got a beautiful landmark, campus, and other buildings of course. So what is Yahoo doing in the offices itself to be a greener company?
Christina: Yeah, again, the real estate workforce team here, the facilities folks are just tremendously wonderful folks to work with and we’ve got, throughout the buildings, we’ve got lots of green components that, not only save us money, but also help to make a really good work environment for our employees. So, among other things, we’ve got a green screen, a touchscreen, it’s this real-time energy monitoring device. When you walk through the lobby, you can see how much electricity, your building on our campus, there’s several buildings, is consuming. You can see it on a floor-by-floor level, you can see what it was doing yesterday, whether it’s up or down. You can also translate that into, not only kilowatt-hours, a unit of electricity measurement, you can see how much that is in laptops or light bulbs or carbon. That’s been a great educational tool for us. We’ve got a tremendous employee commuting program. I live in San Francisco, it’s 40 miles to the north.
Christina: This morning I got up and I got onto a shuttle. It’s a great big bus, very comfortable, it’s got free Wi-Fi in it, which took me down to work, as opposed to me having to get into my car by myself and fight traffic all the way down. It’s a productive, much more relaxing way to get down here. We’ve got an award-winning commute program. For folks who aren’t on the shuttle route, there’s a 25%, there’s subsidy for taking public transportation. We’ve got a great carpool matching system as well. It’s very integrated and the intent is, not just to reduce carbon impact but also reduce the impact on our employees. Because driving by yourself can be really stressful on the environment and on you.
John: Is the shuttle just a Yahoo shuttle or is that a sort of a collaborative among other brands also in the Valley?
Christina: That specifically is a Yahoo shuttle, but we also have ways of encouraging folks to use Caltrain and BART and various systems there as well.
John: Let’s go back to the green team. How many folks are on your green team?
Christina: We’ve got, it’s sort of a movement entirely. We’ve got employees in 17 offices around the world. I think last time I checked, it’s roughly about 300 employees. But the number has been growing because people really recognize this is a great way to get involved. The folks who I work with really make it a lot of fun.
John: Your green team then is tasked with giving, suggesting, making suggestions back to you, which then all of you as a collaborative start culling through them and seeing which ones are viable and which ones can be implemented and things of that such. Is that how the green team works? Because other brands listen to this and also other entrepreneurs listen to this. It’s always fascinating to see how a great company like yours, Yahoo, and by the way, for those who’ve just joined us, we are with Christina Page now who’s the director of climate and energy strategy for Yahoo, the great brand Yahoo, which is the number one green website online, Yahoo! Green and greenyahoo.com. Chris, go again. How does that collaborative work? Because it’s fascinating to us. Jim Gowen from Verizon also has a, quote, unqote, a green team that’s filtering back hundreds, if not thousands, of suggestions to him on a regular basis. How does yours operate?
Christina: Part of that is them coming up with great ideas. The other part of it is engaging and inspiring their colleagues on a daily basis. We had a program called Chuck the Paper Cup which is a recurring thing. We consume as you might expect a lot of coffee here at Yahoo. That leads to a lot of cups so part of what we’ve done that the green team has engaged in is, encouraging people to use a ceramic cup, use a reusable mug. There have been a variety of creative ways they’ve done that. There’s a great sculpture that one of our employees did a couple of years ago saying, “This is how many cups we generate globally over the course of 15 minutes.” She built these little domes out of used cups that she planted out around the lawn for Earth Day. We have a fast lane for people who have a reusable mug that they can get in to jump to the front of the queue and get their coffee faster, which is great if you’re late for a nine o’clock meeting. We give away with, we have periodic mug giveaways which are really popular. For Earth Days, again, we had a sort of a little bit of scavenger hunt. We just planted the mugs in different places around the campus. And that’s something that’s a case of a little bit helps, and it’s a great touch point for all employees in terms of a starting point. We’ve got a great green speaker series. We had someone just the other week come down and talk about sustainable seafood. We had Adam Werbach from Saatchi & Saatchi, who is a leader in the green movement, come down and spoke to us about a year ago. That’s something that’s a great opportunity to inspire and educate as well.
John: What’s near and dear to my heart is recycling. So I want you to brag a little bit about your unbelievable recycling program. I want our listeners to get inspired here because recycling is something that’s simple that all of us can do wherever we are, big business, little business, at home, or whatever. Speak a little bit about what you just did, what you’re doing with regards to your recycling, great recycling program?
Christina:Right. About every month, we keep about 85,000 pounds of material out of the landfill…
Christina: …by reducing and recycling everything from water, to cardboard, to computers here on campus. We also have, for food waste, we partner with Bon Appetite who does our catering here on campus. We’ve got a composter. It’s basically a food dehydrator that the food waste goes into. That’s a great way again, to keep materials out of the landfill. That’s right here on campus and we send the waste off. We send the byproduct of that, the compost off to a nearby farm. In addition to that, a little further upstream, Bon Appetite, which is our caterer, makes sure to provide a lot of sustainable seafood and a lot of vegetarian options. There’s great signage around the cafeteria telling people about the impact of food, and where it comes from, when it’s locally sourced. They’re a great partner in terms of feeding people really delicious healthy food and also highlighting ways in which it’s environmentally conscious.
John: And for those listeners out there that have their iPad or their laptop or in front of their desktop right now, or if they’ve lived on another planet for a while and haven’t seen Yahoo’s amazing green website, it’s green.yahoo.com. It is the number one green web property in the world. I want to talk a bit about that, Chris. You’ve been talking about all the internal stuff you’ve done and obviously, you talk a great talk but you also walk a great walk. It’s become DNA, part of the DNA at Yahoo, thanks in large part to you over the last three years. But talk about your opportunity to our listeners and the world out there that you serve on your green.yahoo.com. What does that opportunity look like, and how do you inspire and message to your client base on a regular basis?
Christina: Sure. Absolutely. Yahoo! Green is a great site that’s a product of Yahoo for Good, which is part of our corporate social responsibility initiative. My partner in Green, Aaron Carlson and our blogger Laurie Ponch are doing fantastic things with that site. If you take just a random walk around the site today, the things you really see are opportunities to educate, inspire, and delight. It ranges from things like 10 famous trees around the world, so you have these beautiful pictures of trees from around different corners of the globe that really tap into people’s interest and connection with the natural world. So there’s that sort of, wow, inspirational moment. Right next to it is a piece about plumbing mistakes to avoid. How do you save money by not sticking things down the drain that don’t belong there. Don’t pour grease down it. Don’t leave your hoses connected during the winter. Things that by doing it, you’re doing several things, you’re saving water, you’re saving yourself money by avoiding costly plumbing visits and it’s convenient, meaning, it’s simple it’s easy. That’s where the education part of things comes in as well. Then there’s a piece on, sort of a throwback to the Yahoo compute coop, the chicken coop design for our data centers. There’s a description of how you build a chicken coop in your backyard. Lots of things there that are both opportunities to educate oneself in really practical, really positive ways, but also notes of inspiration. Because what the Yahoo for Good team has really found at this site is, people respond to positive messaging. They’re not so much interested in what celebrities are doing. That doesn’t seem to be something that’s really a key touch point for folks, but they are interested in educating themselves. They are interested in fun facts and inspirational messages about nature and they’re interested in having practical ways that they can not only save money but also do good for the planet.
Mike: Well, on the phone with us right now is Christina Page, and she’s the director of climate and energy strategies for Yahoo. We’re on your website right now, the Yahoo! Green website, Chris, and this is just so much fun like you’re talking about. There are inspirational messages and practical things too. In fact, we’re looking right now, did a little bit of a deep dive, looking at something that will bring a smile to John’s face, Reinventing the Pizza Box. This is amazing. We had talked to someone early on in the very opening stages of our get-togethers here with Green is Good about a year or so ago. It is really amazing there is a great video on just simple things that people can do. Whoever thought about a pizza box using it as a serving tray? This is just one of the fascinating things that you’ll find on green.yahoo.com.
John: And Mike, when you look at their mission statement here on Yahoo! Green, really what they love doing is helping millions of people take easy steps to change the world and make the world a better place and that’s what we do here at Green is Good. Christina, we’re huge fans of what you’re doing, and anyway we could help effectuate change, we believe in that. Like you said, forget the celebrity part, just simple steps can effectuate large change if done by lots of people.
Christina: Absolutely. That’s the message we try to send to our employees, that’s certainly what our data center engineers do every day that they help us to be more efficient. That’s the message we’re trying to communicate to our users as well.
John: Chris, let’s have a little fun here. Three years you’ve been there and you’re doing honestly, amazing work. Mike and I are just blown away and I’m sure our listeners who are listening today are also. But where are you? Are you in the top of the second inning, the bottom of the fifth here? What does the future look like for the sustainability programs at Yahoo and what do you have in your crystal ball to still implement there in the years to come?
Christina: I think there’s always new opportunities. That’s a great thing about this job. We’ve got tremendous challenges. Scientists are saying, “We need to reduce carbon emissions 80% against current levels by 2050, at least, in terms of climate change.” There are always challenges that we’re up against but there are also opportunities. There’s opportunity for greater efficiency. I think you’re going to see great things in terms of greater efficiency around water. That’s something that people are increasingly concerned and aware about. Yahoo for Good is doing great stuff with Yahoo! Green. You can see greater levels of interactivity on the site, green content across even more of our properties. We’re really looking forward to the future in this. You’re going to see more of the same but also some really creative responses to things, continuing to tap into our employees in creative ways around the world. We’ve got a great team that we’re growing in Europe, so, all sorts of stuff. The great thing about this job is it’s continually evolving both the challenges and the opportunities. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen next.
John: Your position really didn’t exist at so many, across corporate America, especially at publicly-traded companies, years ago and we have, five, six years ago it didn’t really exist, and we have lots of young listeners from colleges across America that email us or contact us and they want to know, “How can I be the next Christina Page?” We’re down to the last two minutes. Do you have some pearls of wisdom to share with the next generation coming up behind you on how to prepare to help not only change the world but get ready for their careers?
Christina: Absolutely. I’ve been in this business for 20 years. I’m going to date myself. I don’t think there’s ever been as fruitful a time to get involved with sustainable business, hence the sustainability movement. There are just so many different ways that you can get involved. Let’s say the number one thing is, do what you’re good and passionate about in terms of process. Figure out what you’re interested in studying and learning about because odds are good there’s going to be an opportunity in the green movement, in the sustainability movement that’s compatible with that. If you’re an engineer, tremendous opportunities. My data center guys would love to hire you if you develop expertise in energy efficiency, water efficiency, sourcing cleaner sources of energy. If your passion is communication, there’s obviously great opportunities in terms of generating content for sites like Yahoo! Green or working to craft a corporate sustainability strategy and the messaging around that. I think start with what are you personally passionate about and how can you plug that in and serve sustainability. Also I think, find somebody who has a job that you think you’d really like and talk to them about it, ask them how they got there. It’s such a quickly evolving field that really looking at someone and talking to them about how they got there, is a really great thing to focus on as well. Go to as many events as you possibly can. We’re spoiled here in the Bay area because it’s just such a hub of clean tech innovation. I could go to an event, pretty much any day of the week. But you can also get on the web and look around, find things, talk to people. Read as much as you can about the things that you’re passionate about. And that will all, I’m sure, lead you in an interesting direction. This is, for better or for worse, the problems that we have, the challenges that we have are not going away but what it also offers is amazing opportunities in terms of careers for helping to solve those problems in genius creative ways.
John: Well, that’s well said, and I hope our young listeners out there took some good notes there because that’s great advice. For our listeners here, Christina is doing amazing things at Yahoo. Go to their site yahoo.com. Obviously, the great legendary website, yahoo.com. But, for those who also want to learn more about what Christina spoke about, it’s green.yahoo.com. It’s the number one green website online. Christina, Mike and I are just so thankful and honored that you came to our show today. You’re an amazing and proven inspirational leader and truly living proof that green is good.
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