Op-ed: Businesses need a clean energy revolution

Posted at 9:03 AM, Nov 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-23 09:03:27-05

Steve Melink is founder and CEO of Milford-based Melink Corp., which markets renewable energy solutions for the commercial building industry. He is an expert on sustainability, green buildings and clean energy.

I recently wrote my first book – "CEO Power & Light." I did it because there is a critically urgent need to educate and inspire CEOs and other business leaders on the strategic opportunity of clean energy. I did not write it for any political purpose. It’s about business and our children’s future.

Steve Melink

Adopting a clean energy strategy will make companies more cost-competitive for the long term. And it will strengthen their brands by being part of the solution rather than the problem. Doing so will attract a more engaged and committed workforce, resulting in productivity gains as well as a potentially larger and more loyal customer base.

The Clean Energy Revolution

The cumulative effect of thousands of companies embracing clean energy will unleash a revolution that will make the computer and Internet ages look small in comparison.

In addition to the economic impact of creating thousands of new jobs, it will transform our national security by making the United States independent of the oil that tyrants and terrorists use to finance their operations. Just as importantly, it will empower us to turn the tide on climate change and its many costs and risks.

The key factor is not governmental policies and regulations, although these would certainly help. It is something I refer to as transcendent leadership – thinking and acting above and beyond maximizing profits.

Transcendent Leadership Needed

Transcendent leadership is about doing the right thing for our country and the world at large. There are greater goods at stake than only reaping financial rewards for investors. And we should not rely on dysfunctional politicians to tell us what these are. We should be ethical and moral leaders in our own right.

Fortunately, there are more than enough business leaders who exemplify this higher form of leadership. Apple is not the most valuable company in the world as a result of plundering the Earth for profit. To the contrary, Apple CEO Tim Cook is renowned for courageously standing up to an investor by stating there are some things more important than return on investment. In effect, he defended the company’s clean energy strategy as being good for infinitely more stakeholders than there will ever be stockholders.

"CEO Power & Light" also is a reflection of my nearly 30 years of being a company president and the many lessons that has afforded me. The most important lesson has been the power of authentic leadership when applied toward a greater cause than myself or my company.

There are many great causes worthy of our support. Helping end poverty, disease and injustice are just a few. But sustainability and clean energy have the unique ability to prevent human suffering that is both universal and irreversible.

The good news is that the benefits and avoided costs of making the world a better place for current and future generations far exceed the alternative. The other good news? You can be part of the solution too.