The industrial and post-industrial revolution has maintained a fixed formula for “profit” that is only now beginning to factor in our environment and our planet’s sustainability and resources. The past 40 years have seen growing alarm and a trend among industry and the general population to more awareness of health and environmental impacts. In 1987, the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development released the report Our Common Future, which defined Sustainable development as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This ground-breaking report has served to galvanize action in the world community.
Given their focus on the old definition of “profit,” it is no wonder that most businesses do not have a conscientious approach towards using natural resources, waste management, and overall sustainability. This deficiency led Doug Smith, Founder, and CEO, to establish Village Green Global Inc. (VGG), a sustainable development consultancy.
The environmental entrepreneur
Doug holds a master’s degree in Sustainable Practice from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT Victoria, Australia). He hails from Melbourne, Australia, and has over 25 years of experience in the business sector.
Doug has always been a self-motivator and spent 17 years as a qualified Chef. The hospitality industry taught him the importance of self-discipline, dealing with stressful situations, and attention to detail. Unfortunately, the hospitality industry also revealed the negative sides – the need to make a profit with no regard for our environment, our people, or our community – “profit over planet and people.” Doug decided to leave the hospitality industry to change this perception into “profit with planet and people.” He started VGG and expanded it into international markets. VGG has had a global presence for over 20 years and is based out of California, USA.
For Doug, work needs to have a purpose and when that happens, work does not feel like a chore; it is a passion. To maintain balance, he regularly goes walking or bike riding outdoors. During this time, “quiet” thinking time, it allows Doug to reset for the next day or the next challenge.
Finance, people, technology, and community coming together.
VGG commenced with the creation of energy-related software measurement and verification for GHG reporting in urban environments. In 2008 VGG was introduced to the North American market through an Australian Federal Government trade mission on energy, water, and sustainability. Then in 2009, Doug established the Global headquarters for VGG in California. VGG is proud of its history and Australian heritage. It has conducted over 3,000 Sustainability Audits and Energy and consulting activities in over 25 countries worldwide.
Through industry invitations, Doug has delivered lectures on Environmental Pollution Management at RMIT (Victoria, Australia), Chapman University (Orange, California), UCI (Irvine, California), and East L.A. Community College (Los Angeles, California). He has also conducted Strategic Carbon and Energy sessions in over 80 cities globally with notable events for climate researchers at JPL-NASA.
When Doug created VGG, he was not focusing on “success,” he was concentrated on the process needed to achieve his goal and firmly believes that when you achieve your goals, success will come in many forms. One of Doug’s major goals is to bridge the gap between ability and achievement. He exclaims, “My expectation of success will always be greater than my ability to achieve.”
Doug does not define himself as an entrepreneur. He merely looks at issues and assesses if he can add value to that issue or cause. Doug observed the amount of waste generated and the amount of water and electricity consumed by small businesses and was concerned by the waste. Hence VGG was inspired!
VGG began with environmental audits on small businesses to help them better understand the management of natural resources and empower their workforce to do the same, resulting in businesses’ increasing profitability.
Village Green Global (“Town Center”)
The word “Village Green” is an English term for “town center” or “meeting spot.” The vision is the link that joins finance, people, technology, and community.
Village Green Global Inc. designs and implements technologically advanced energy efficiency projects in the marketplace. In certain cases, it also arranges funding for these projects. Additionally, VGG has designed and implemented proprietary software called “SMARTweb™” for natural resource management in urban environments. VGG has developed workplace training courses and lectures with curriculum for elementary, high school, college, and university campuses worldwide to complement core business.
VGG’s mission is to make customers more profitable through the implementation of sustainable business practices. The critical elements of the mission are:
- Building engaging relationships with the clients
- Providing project management experience and implementation for large scale project development
- Acting as Director of Sustainability for all projects and their customers
- Adding value to the clients by raising their awareness of the benefits of sustainability to their operations
- Motivating and training employees to maximize the best technologies and equipment.
- Making customers more environmentally sustainable
Minimizing operational risk
Setbacks are more of a common occurrence than an exception in this industry. VGG prepares for these setbacks by trying to have direct and effective communication with all stakeholders. Sometimes, the clients must be conveyed bad news. Nevertheless, providing the information clearly and directly can ease anxiety, confusion, and concern. Setbacks are always calculated beforehand during the risk assessment of a task. VGG tries to conjecture possible setbacks and plans a strategy to deal with them before they occur. This minimizes operational risk.
To stay informed and relevant in the Sustainability industry is a daily challenge. The industry is better educated and technically equipped today when compared to 20 years ago to deal with the social, environmental, and economic impacts within our society. VGG is constantly researching and reviewing technical reports and scouring the world for best practice initiatives impactful for a community. VGG has embraced working in partnership with these groups to further awareness of their activity and strengthen industry relationships.
There is no monotony in the work VGG performs. Doug spends some days working on structured business planning and financial projections, while other days, he is working on design concepts and altruistic goals presented by the clients. The role combines technical knowledge, accounting, project design, and communication through digital and in-person interactions. The leadership role can vary from a listener, learner, or leader to a combination of all three within the same meeting.
There are a lot of good people in the world trying to make a difference in their communities. This fuels VGG vision. Doug ensures that within VGG, the team stays motivated through the discussions they have with the industry peers and their clients.
Through Doug’s leadership, VGG has gained several awards over the years. The latest feather in their cap is the 2021 Homebuilder Awards by BUILD Magazine for the Best Sustainable Development Consultancy – West Coast, USA. Doug has also met many Heads of State globally. However, the best achievement for him is seeing former employees, that had started in junior roles now shouldering leadership positions elsewhere in the same industry. He is happy that “knowledge is being passed down the line.”
VGG has an active channel model in several countries with plans to expand this model in the future. It can be scaled up or down, as needed, to minimize organizational risk and future-proof the company from outside threats such as global pandemics and economic downturns.