I'm so excited to share this with the community: commonground has a new logo!
In case you missed my post a few weeks ago, commonground is about to get a makeover. As part of this process, we decided commonground need a new logo. Mike Kulka recently posted a great blog on logos. If you've considered updating your company's branding, definitely give it a read.
1. We never actually used a graphic designer to create the one we have now.
2. We got the feeling that our membership and core values as a community clashed a bit with our current theme, especially the weoples.
3. We wanted a logo that communicated our community's story.
So, without further adieu....
Here are the top three reasons I love it.
1. It's social.
2. It clearly conveys what commonground is all about.
3. Instead of the doom & gloom our industry is often associated with, it is bright and almost cheerful.
We put a lot of thought into the process, including advice from our commonground executive commity.
You can expect to start seeing the new logo in use on the site along with new, cleaner background art over the next few weeks.
What do you think?
Over the last several years the industry has grappled with how to deal with vapor contamination on and around properties. Vapor intrusion—and then vapor encroachment—have increasingly played a role in Phase I ESAs as ASTM developed standards to guide screening for vapor conditions.
Regulations and standards that deal with what happens from screening, through analysis and finally the cleanup and closure of sites impacted by vapor contamination are currently under review. Here is a quick review on what's been happening at ASTM, EPA and one state.
Our member poll this week asks you how you think vapor encroachment should be dealt with during a Phase I ESA. Early results show that two-thirds of respondents think vapors should be considered as part of the Phase I. What do you think?
What’s happening in your state? Are you seeing changes to your guidance? What impacts will these changes have on the industry?
It's award season: the Golden Globes a few weeks ago, the Super Bowl this weekend and the Oscars a few weeks after that. Whether you are more the type to tune into media day in Indianopolis or E!'s coverage of the best and worst dressed, there is a common theme: a lot of thought goes into the impression being made by the stars of these shows.
Here in New England, people are buzzing about Rob Gronkowski's press conference yesterday, mostly because it seems like coach Bill definitely had a hand in his preperation. (Not that this is a huge surprise.) But, when it comes to big competitions like these, appearances are critical to psyching out the competition (in the case of the superbowl) or furthering the personal brand of prestige (in the case of the Oscars).
Well, commonground has something in common with the Great Gronk and Viola Davis this year. We learned a few weeks ago that we are being awarded the Environmental Business Journal's Industry Leadership Award! And, we are up for the SIIA CODiE Award in the coming weeks. Last year, we were finalists for the CODiE and lost to Salesforce.com. It was a tough blow--the CODiE is probably the most prestigious award for business software and digital content. But as they say "it is an honor just to be nominated" and "it was a heck of a season!"
In preparation for our big honors, commonground is going to get a bit of a make over, too. Over the past few weeks, we have been working with graphic designers and online community experts to rework the look and flow on commonground. I realized how important this process is to our community when I got an email from one of our loyal members, MattFox, who told me he never saw the notes about our Holiday Hilarity contest. That's a problem! I thought it was everywhere, but Matt has put together his own little shortcuts for navigating around the site because the default homepage hasn't been cutting it for him and he never saw the links to the contest.
This is all going to change. Here is what you can expect:
Over the years, commonground has outgrown the current theme and layout. We have so much more content, many more members and increased functionality on the site and the new commonground will make sure all of this is within better reach. There will also be much more focus on you, the community.
What improvements do you want to see? What is most important to you as we go through this process?
I think the new navigation and theme on the site are sure to elevate the commonground brand and bring it to a place the better-reflects the quality of content and membership we have on the site. Hopefully this will serve us as we head into the CODiE Award process!
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Oh, and go Pats!
Last week we resurrected the weekly poll to start gauging the community on business, political, regulatory and some just-for-fun topics. Our first questions was about the current revisions to the ASTM E1527-05 standard. Below are the results.
While most of the community was aware that the standard was currently being revised, it looks like there are a lot of questions about what could be changing.
Some of you may be asking: why is this standard being revised when EPA has already required it in a Federal rule? According to ASTM policy, standards must be updated or reapproved as-is by the members of the committee every 8 years or they sunset and become unusable. Since the task group had to go through the voting process anyway, they decided to make some clarifications that wouldn't impact EPA's requirement that the standard is "at least as stringent" as the AAI Rule.
I sit on the ASTM E50 committee and have tried to take part in as many of the task group meetings and calls that have been happening over the past few years as the E1527 task group debates what-if anything- should change.
Here is a list of the topics that have received the most attention and will likely change a big in 2012.
Did I miss any? Now this list is just what is being brought to the table, and I don't expect all of the components are going to change in the version of the standard that will go to ballot in the coming weeks. After the E50 committee sends out the ballot (I think we are shooting for sometime in late Feb or early Mar), the task group will have to deal with all of the negative comments to build consensus around the new standard. So, we will likely have a new version of E1527 in late spring or early summer.
If you want more details on the revisions, read Tina Huff's blog. She's also a task group member and has written some good stuff on the debates we've been having.
Oh, and don't forget to weigh in on this week's poll on the homepage. It's a bound to start some debate!
I’m paranoid and I hate it. Hearing untruths that rock my sense of reality has led me to believe that I can trust no one.
Over the past few weeks we’ve seen two liars get their dose of the truth. Bernie Madoff, possibly one of the greatest liars that ever lived, was able to convince thousands of investors, analysts and federal regulators that he was running an investment company and not the world’s largest and longest lasting Ponzi scheme. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford announced, in an inarticulate press conference that was nothing short of a PR nightmare, that he had been lying to his wife for eight years by carrying on an affair with a woman in Argentina in addition to abandoning his state under false pretense. Both men will pay for their actions: Madoff earned a well-deserved 150 years in prison while Sanford will continue to receive scrutiny from his party, his constituents, and no doubt, his family. However, the damages that lies like theirs create will never be rectified.
The thing I cannot get my head around is that people continue to construct elaborate lies despite the fact that we’ve watched so many liars-past be discovered, publicly ridiculed and destroyed professionally, politically, and personally. How many executives will have to go to jail before future executives stop messing with the lives and well-beings of their investors and employees? How many politicians have to be caught sleeping around before future politicians stop doing it?
My next question points to my paranoia: how can we trust that everyone around us isn’t lying? We obviously couldn’t trust the SEC to hold up its end of the deal in calling out Madoff or Sanford’s staff for keeping him in line. Instead both parties were complicit to the liars’ actions. And what do you do when you know you are being lied to? With so much lying going on in the world, if we all had our whistles in hand, we wouldn’t be able to distinguish one whistleblowers call from another!
I have to note that most lies we encounter are not as grand or painful as the ones I draw on here, especially the Madoff scheme, which will have far-reaching and long-lasting repercussions for those it impacted; however lying is pervasive. Even the little lies that get us through the day have the potential to snowball and eventually become agonizing, self-propelled bullets in our careers and personal lives.
I don’t really have a resolution for this blog. However, I’ll note that any naiveté I had a few years ago is being washed away quickly. I don’t want to believe that paranoia is a helpful condition, however at least I have reached a point where nothing surprises me. (Oh, but ignorance was such bliss! I loved being able to trust people!)
My message to liars everywhere: you’ll get caught. Maybe not tomorrow, or next week, or even next year, but eventually you will be found out. Especially as technology and the Internet make so many aspects of our lives more transparent, the truth will emerge.
My message to Gen Y, as we progress in our careers and begin to gain personal and professional clout: don’t lie. Please, I beg you! You’ll get caught too. Learn a lesson from the Madoffs and Sanfords out there and don’t be stuck apologizing yourself one day.
Last week I blogged about how Gen Y is putting off homeownership along with the commitment and expense that comes with it. By renting, twenty-somethings are able to spend money on things like electronics, travel, and grad school instead of being weighed down by mortgages, maintenance and taxes. I came across a great post to the Green Shoots Blog on NREI.com (consistently great reading) noting that young renters don't seem to consider the environment before signing their leases. Commercial real estate analysts are very interested in how competitive LEED certified and other "green" building will compete with the clunkier supply of real estate already on the market. While there is not a lot of data yet-mostly because so few green buildings have been resold to date-there is anecdotal evidence that office and retail tenants are willing to pay more for and are more attracted to energy-efficient buildings for reasons like energy savings, employee satisfaction, and PR. However, the apartment market may be a little different, especially with young renters on tight budgets.
I thought this graph was super intriguing. But, it begs the question: is Gen Y unwilling or unable to spend the money for energy-efficient digs? It also made me realize that I hadn't thought about this myself in my recent apartment-hunting activities, despite the fact that I follow LEED as part of my job. Maybe it is an awareness issue? LEED certified buildings have a lot to offer tenants outside of the warm-fuzzy feeling from saving the planet. The air quality is usually better due to the incorporation of indoor gardens and the use of low-VOC paints and other healthy construction materials. They often integrate lots of handy features like bike racks, preferential parking for hybrids, and on demand water heaters. Maybe the way to push green living to Gen-Y is by appealing to its selfish side?
Another year is coming to a close, and commonground has come a long way (look for a post next week about the State-of-the-Community)! We have experienced tremendous growth, fantastic conversations, ample controversy, and some wonderful expansion into new topics. It would only be right to award our most dedicated participants on the site, the members who make commonground the dynamic and valuable platform that it is. This year, each of our winners is receiving a cozy commonground Fleece! (Fleece modeled by the newest member of the cgTeam: Derek Showerman, our SEO expert.)
Most Helpful Member:
This award goes to a member who is always willing to reach out and give advice to fellow members: jessedphillips. Jesse is great about following up with members who post challenging questions to the forums. This type of contribution creates the supportive environment on the site that is so valuable to new and existing members.
Most Popular Post:
Some posts are just too compelling to stay away. The winner of this award is responsible for posting the most viewed discussion on the community this year. The $700 Phase I ESAs post started with member Jon Welge disagreeing with a blog written by our resident Market Maven. It turned into our most prolific discussion post today, with over 45 comments and 2,000 views.
This award goes to the member who is never afraid to create controversy on the site. MaxEng consistently brings an alternate point-of-view to discussion posts while maintaining the professionalism which members so appreciate.
Most Responsive Member:
Tom Speight has been one of our most dedicated members since commonground's inception. His commitment continued in 2010 and Tom has one of the highest comment-to-new-post ratio of our membership, giving him fantastic social networking Karma!
Most Popular Blog:
Dianne Crocker’s Market Maven Blog is a cornerstone on the commonground community. Not only does her blog garner more comments than any other commonground blog, but it is also one of the most visited pages on the site. Her original content continues to educate and inform members while bridging the gap between the environmental due diligence industry and the commercial real estate market.
Most Active Member:
The member who has commented and posted more than anyone else on the site (We excluded EDR employees) is Larry Schnapf! Larry is never shy when it comes to stirring (or shaking!) the pot. This year he’s been keeping us abreast of the latest contamination law suits, issues for homeowners, how politics influence environmental regulations, and sustainability through his blog and discussion posts.
Congratulations to our winners and thanks to all of our members for making commonground one of the most thriving professional communities on the web! We hope to bring you more compelling content and tools to help you do your job better and grow your business in 2011. If you have any ideas on how we can improve, we'd love to hear them!
Today, Microsoft announced the winner of their first ever Kodu Cup. Kodu is a simple interface that kids (or adults) can use to create computer games based on anything they can dream up. The winner was a 10 year-old named Hannah who created a game called Toxins. Hannah says her game “is about how the environment is getting polluted, and we need to help shut the factories down and cause less pollution.” For her efforts, she won a cash prize, a trip to New York, an Xbox 360 with Kinect, a lap top and all of the fabulous gear a 10 year old could dream of to go with it. Who knew saving the world from pollution could be so rewarding! Obviously I say this tongue-in-cheek, and Hannah should be much applauded for her creativity and hard work. The reason I am blogging about this is to point out two trends made apparent to me by Microsoft’s announcement today.
1. Gamification will have an increasing impact on all aspects of society. Business, education, politics, and healthcare are all poised to gain from the goal of making mundane or daunting tasks more engaging. Whether you grew up in the age of Atari or you have kids who are glued to their Wii, you have probably experienced the addiction that video games create. This phenomenon has been harnessed by many forward thinking groups and is proving a powerful force.
Here are a few examples:
2. The next generation of leaders has been ingrained with environmentalism. While Hannah’s game may not give completely accurate accounts of its “bad guy” or its solution, the fact that today’s kids are aware of and concerned about environmental issues is going to have big impact on their vision for the world, the businesses they pursue, and how they go about their lives. It is safe to assume that the environmental age will continue as our youth enter college and the work force. We can only guess what the next phase of this movement will look like as their ideas begin to impact society.
Are these trends affecting your day-to-day life yet? Where do you see games popping up in unexpected places? What are your predictions for children raised during the environmental movement?
Maybe it's because the new fiscal year is right around the corner or because I recently relocated (from southern Connecticut to the Boston area), but lately I've been feeling like I need to make some changes in the way I do things, let's call them "New Fiscal-Year Resolutions"! One area where I know I need to turn over a new leaf is in managing my time both at work and at home. I am a compulsive multitasker, but I'm starting to think that this isn't working for me.
In my quest for some new time management pointers, I came across this (rather long) talk given by Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor made famous by his "Last Lecture". A dedicated father, husband, and professor given 3-6 months to live after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Pausch understood the importance of time management. In this lecture given at the University of Virginia in November 2007, Pausch mentions the competing forces of efficiency and effectiveness. He notes that though multitasking may allow you to drive multiple tasks to completion at one time (efficiency), you may not receive the best results on each of the individual tasks (effectiveness). He gives the example of combining a get-away with his wife and a guest lecture at a university in the same weekend trip, which would be efficient, but not necessarily effective, as the two tasks compete with each other. This really got me thinking: we do so much multitasking, but is it really helping to get our work done?
As I sit at my desk right now, I have several windows open on my double monitors: MS Word, browser windows for the commonground website, my gmail account, and several other sites I monitor throughout the day, my Outlook inbox and Webex (yes, I'm listening into a webinar as I write this!). While I acknowledge that this means I will have typos in my blog that I'll have to go back and fix later and that it will probably take me longer to write this than if I focused solely on writing, I have the undeniable urge to multitask. Or maybe it's not multitasking; maybe multitasking is impossible! Maybe it's demitasking?
I came across this term for the first time last week in a blog written by Elysa Rice. Rice refers to an article written by Jody Gilbert, who notes that we are often tempted to "mentally engage in several things at once", which is proven ineffective.
So, my first resolution for the new fiscal year (I'll warm up for this starting today): stop multitasking! How can I argue with a dying man's advice? Today I'm going to (try to) stop sacrificing effectiveness for efficiency's sake. My plan is to break tasks down into small, manageable steps and focus attention on each until it is completed. I'm turning off my Outlook email notifications so that emails won't distract from important tasks. Furthermore, I'm not going to neglect to give email the dedicated attention it deserves.
I have several methods of time management that I'm planning to try out over the next few weeks. Hopefully by October 1, I'll nail down a system that works! I'll keep you posted on my progress.... I'd also love your advice! What works for you? Do you think multitasking is possible? I still want to believe it is, but that I'm doing it wrong!
I returned on Monday after a much-needed, never-before taken, fall vacation. It’s funny how when you step away for a week you start to notice things you didn’t see before! EDR started its new fiscal year on October 1st. (We should all vacation more often!) Inside our walls, a lot has changed over the past year, (or two)—but it seems that our focus on surviving the downturn in the commercial real estate market has now completely shifted to a focus on growth and getting ready for what comes next. They say that most innovation happens during, or right after, a downturn in the economy and I seem to be seeing signs of that everywhere I look.
Just last week the environmental jobs board on commonground had four new posts added for environmental professionals in different parts of the country. In my conversations with EPs lately, I know of many other companies that are looking to hire new people. We’ve had several recent college grads who were hired by environmental consulting firms over the summer go through our commonground University classes. I’ve also heard of some recent restructurings at companies…unfortunately that has meant post-recession layoffs, but even these seem to have a different feel to them, like companies are in change to be the most competitive company we can be in 2011-mode rather than don’t drown-mode.
I’ve also seen signs in my personal life: I have had three emails from friends (all in the marketing/media/PR industries) letting me know that their companies are hiring and asking me to pass information on to anyone I know who is in the job market. My husband, a structural engineer, got a call from a recruiter last week on behalf of a company looking to hire. A friend of mine who left her career in marketing just a few weeks ago to pursue her dream of running her own professional photography business is so busy that she has just hired a college intern part time to do administrative work and a person to clean her house.
Is it just me, or has there been a shift lately in the economy and the job market? I know the statistics for new jobs and unemployment aren’t there yet, but it just feels different to me!