Carol Brzozowski 2016-01-13 13:48:13
In his sustainability endeavors, George Nassos is driven by a philosophy first expressed by Stephen Grellet, French/American religious leader (1773-1855): “I expect to pass through the world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again.” Nassos is a consultant, teacher, project developer, and writer—he co-authored Practical Sustainability Strategies: How to Gain a Competitive Advantage (John Wiley & Sons). He is also a principal with George P. Nassos & Associates in Glenview, IL, consulting in sustainable strategies and renewable energy systems and president of Sustainable Energy Systems, a company that develops and sells renewable energy systems. What He Does Day to Day Nassos currently spends his time consulting in environmental and social sustainability, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, and markets an onsite waste-to-energy technology. He is developing projects in biofuels production and converting coffee grounds to an efficient fertilizer. Nassos is creating an executive certificate program in sustainability for a local university and an executive education Master’s program in sustainability for a Greek university, and writes a monthly newspaper article and blog. He teaches sustainability at the Quality Training Institute in Skokie, IL. Nassos is currently seeking a site and sponsor to install and demonstrate a highly efficient small wind turbine—one he says generates 45% more energy than a typical small wind turbine. What Led Him to This Line of Work When working for International Minerals and Chemicals Corp., one of Nassos’ assignments 38 years ago was to manage its European subsidiary in Germany. During the three years Nassos and his family lived there, he was exposed to numerous energy-efficient systems that even today are not normally seen in the US, he notes. Those experiences, as well as subsequent work with Waste Management’s Cemtech LP subsidiary as its fiber fuels division general manager, planted the seeds from which his interest in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and environmental sustainability grew. That interest was augmented by a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois and an M.S. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Northwestern University, from which he also earned an MBA. That led him to pursue business opportunities. Nassos was an associate industry professor and director of the M.S. in Environmental Management and Sustainability Program at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart School of Business for 14 years. He also was the director for the Center for Sustainable Enterprise, a resource center advancing ecological and economic sustainability in the Chicago area. What He Likes Best About His Work Nassos says he has developed a “real passion for the environment” as he engaged in continuing education while teaching. “I have learned that over the past hundred years or so, the human population has degraded the environment faster than ever,” he says. “Today, we are consuming 50% more of the natural resources than the earth can regenerate. We are using one and one-half earths. At the rate we’re going, we will need two earths by 2030. I may not be here at that time, but I am concerned about my children and grandchildren, and, everyone else that will be on this earth.” Based on his research, Nassos has made numerous presentations on the state of the environment. “Most of my presentations are depressing until I get into strategies that may mitigate these problems,” he says. His Biggest Challenge Nassos views his biggest challenge as convincing corporations to adopt practical sustainability strategies allowing them to gain, extend, or maintain a competitive advantage in such a way that doesn’t negatively impact the environment. “Unfortunately, corporations—large or small—are more concerned with their quarterly earnings report and don’t look at the long term,” contends Nassos, adding that many company managers believe they satisfy stakeholders by appointing a chief sustainability officer. “Unfortunately, that is not enough,” says Nassos. “Sustainability should not be the responsibility of one person or even a department. Nearly every employee should have some understanding of sustainability so it can be embedded in the company culture. In this manner, everyone can work together to achieve that goal. This requires corporate training in sustainability.” Carol Brzozowski writes on the topics of technology and industry.
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