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Corporate Environmentalism Goes Online–Slowly

Is there anything out there in cyberspace that’s really useful for businesses? The Internet is still a slow, bumpy road for companies trying to find information to help them become cleaner and greener. But there are a few worthy destinations out there.

In a perfect world, a single service or World Wide Web site would provide ready access to the kinds of questions most often heard from companies seeking up-to-date resource lists of products, organizations, federal and local government assistance programs and new technologies. There would also be case studies of companies’ “best practices,” as well as online discussions of what works and what doesn’t.

There would be a way to pose questions for other businesses to answer, and a means to query experts on specific issues. Users also could find—and download into their own computers—everything from speeches to press releases and opinion poll results, as well as stories from current and back issues of relevant publications. There might even be a means for ordering recycled or otherwise environmentally preferred products or services.

Unfortunately, nothing like that currently exists. Not remotely.

But there are some useful resources on the World Wide Web. A good first step is to check out the major search services, such as Yahoo, where you can search for specific environmental topics. Your search will likely yield dozens, even hundreds, of potential sites, not all of which will live up to their hype. Otherwise, here’s a sampling of some of the best sites for managers and business owners looking for good, green information.


Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network

This is the U.S. Department of Energy’s site, providing a wide range of energy information resources, including links to other sites offering technical assistance, product information, ideas, research, and searchable data bases. A great starting point on energy topics.


Global Recycling Network

GRN is geared to resource users, consultants and researchers looking to develop international trading of recyclables. A reference library includes directories of companies, organizations, even stock quotes of recycling firms.


Nortel Habitat

This is a corporate site, but it’s a good example of how companies can and should use the Web to share information. Nortel’s site includes information about its eco-management system, including a downloadable “Envirobase” tool for tracking company performance.


Solstice

An excellent nonprofit information source from the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology. You can learn about environmental legislation and policy, as well as economic issues—and get help with energy efficiency, solar energy, and other topics. Green Seal, which certifies products that are environmentally friendly, and many other organizations have home pages within Solstice.


Fedworld

This is the straightest line to information about environmental and pollution protection information of many federal programs, including the Alternative Fuels Data Center, National Biological Survey, Army Corps of Engineers and others.


Environmental News Network

A daily news and feature service with information on a wide range of topics. It’s very well designed and easy to use, and includes a search mechanism for archival data. It costs $25 a year to access more than a skeleton of the site, but anyone can try it out free for 30 days.


Global Network of Environment and Technology

You can find a wide range of information on emerging and proven environmental technologies. Highlights include a technology data base, market data and business assistance, marketplace news, and a “trade show” showcasing envirotech companies.


National Materials Exchange Network

NMEN is a freE/The Environmental Magazine marketplace for trading and recycling used and surplus materials and goods. More than 10,000 listings in 34 categories can be found here, with searching capabilities. There is also a database of recycling related companies.


Green Guide on Trimming Office Waste

This service helps users analyze purchasing and waste-management practices. It includes a series of cost-benefit analysis forms to rank environmental opportunities. The site is designed for government agencies, but it has information useful for any business.


It would be nice if all this environmental business information were centrally located but, the Internet is still a great way to get free access to material once available only in expensive newsletters and arcane trade magazines.

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