Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, & Paul Hawken

Road Map for Natural Capitalism

Harvard Business Review 1999


1.       Earth’s ability to sustain life-including economic activity–is threatened

          a.       By way we extract, process, transport and dispose of vast flow resources (220 billion tons a year)

          b.       Is this true? Sustain life? Sustain quality of human life?


2.       We ignore and thus degrade ecosystem services

3.       Businesses only look at exploitable resources of earth’s ecosystems (forests, oceans, plains), not a the larger services that those systems provide for free

          a.       On nature of ecosystem services click here:

4.       Forest example: the resource they provide is wood; services provided include water storage, habitat, regulation of atmosphere and climate, soil stabilization, flood control

          a.       Businesses earn income from harvesting wood often do so in way damage forests’ ability to carry out their other vital tasks

5.       We damage ecosystem services because value of those services does not appear on business balance sheet (nor in GNP)

6.       Value of ecosystem services that nature provides for free is estimated at 33 trillion a year (in 1999), comparable to the gross product of the entire world

          a.       For this estimate click here:

          b.       For most of these services there is no known substitute at any price and we can’t live with out them


7.       Paper advocates: Natural capitalism

          a.       Change way we run businesses so that

                    i.        The biosphere is protected

                    ii.       The “natural capital” of ecosystem services (our most valuable asset) is properly valued

                    iii.      Profits and competitiveness improved

          b.       There are simple changes using advanced techniques for making resources more productive that yield startling benefits for both today’s shareholders and future generations


8.       Four major and interrelated shifts in business practice needed

          a.       (1) Dramatically increase productivity of natural resources

          b.       (2) Redesign production according to biological models

          c.       (3) Solution based business model

                    i.        Shifting to a service business model

                    ii.       Leasing not selling products (Inteface replacing carpets in offices, selling cooling services instead of air conditioners)

          d.       (4) Reinvest in natural capital

                    i.        Companies that protect the ecosystems they use do better with consumers

                    ii.       Fisheries



          a.       Stop wasting so much: Make natural resources (energy, minerals, water, forests) stretch 5, 10, even 100 times further than they do today

10.     How? By

          a.       Implementing whole-system design and

          b.       Adopting innovative technologies


11.     (A) Implementing whole-system design and thinking

          a.       Consider the industrial system as a whole and not part by part

          b.       Example: Interface engineer cut energy use in pumping system of factory by 92% by simple changes in design mentality

                    i.        Choosing more expensive fat pipes (lowered friction) which allowed for smaller pumping equipment (instead of cheaper thin pipes and more expensive pumping gear)

                    ii.       Laying out the pumps in a way that allowed for short/straight pipes, instead of the usual way of letting the pumps be placed in a arbitrary positions and then twisting the pipes to fit.

                              (1)     Pipe fitters profited from the earlier system of extra pipes and fittings and did not pay for oversized pumps and electricity bills

12.     Example of efficiencies available

          a.       Automatic electronic lights that dim lights to match daylight

          b.       Design and retrofit building to be energy efficient

          c.       New windows reduce flow of heat/noise four times better

          d.       Leads to increased labor productivity (people work better in well designed and efficient buildings)

                    i.        Huge financial savings

          e.       1980s California’s industry grew by 30% and cut its water usage by 30% (to avoid fees)

          f.       Dow Europe cut office paper flow by 30% in six weeks by discouraging unneeded information

                    i.        Mailing lists eliminated and senders of memos got back receipts indicating if information was wanted by recipient

          g.       ATT paper costs cut by 15% when it set default on office printers and copiers to double-sided

          h.       New technologies can strip off old printer ink and let paper be reused 10 times.

          i.        Savings in paper and construction industries could make wood fiber so productive entire world’s current needs could be met by intensive tree farm size of Iowa



13.     (B) Adopting innovative technologies

          a.       Adopt alternative environmentally friendly technologies

                    i.        Many already available and profitable and not widely known

                    ii.       Blocked by cultural rather than economic or technical barriers

14.     Auto industry

          a.       Only 1% of energy consumed by today’s cars is actually used to move driver

          b.       Only 15-20% of power generated by gasoline reaches the wheels

          c.       Like typewriter industry before advent of personal computers, auto industry is vulnerable to displacement by something completely different

          d.       Hypercar

                    i.        85% reduction in fuel, 90% reduction in material used

                    ii.       Carbon fiber (strong for safety but real light)

                    iii.      Aerodynamic design and better tires, reduce air and rolling resistance by over 50%

                    iv.      Together save 2/3 fuel

                    v.       Hybird electric motor saves another chunk of fuel

          e.       Could make pollution free, high-performance cars, SUVs and pickups that get 80 to 200 mpg

                    i.        With no compromise in quality or utility

                    ii.       W/o government mandates or subsidies

                    iii.      People will buy them for same reason by CDs rather than records: superior product

          f.       Hydrogen fuel powered hyper cars could be plugged into a grid and sell back electricity

          g.       Energy thrown off as waste heat by US power stations equals total energy use of Japan



          a.       Biomimicry: emulate nature’s techniques

                    i.        Spiders convert digested flies into silk that is as strong as Kevlar (w/o boiling sulfuric acid )

                    ii.       Abalone can convert seawater into an inner shelll twice as strong as our best ceramics

                    iii.      Trees rung sunlight, water, soil and air into cellulose, a sugar stronger than nylon but less dense

          b.       Smart designers see that nature’s benign chemistry offers attractive alternatives to industrial brute force

16.     Closed-loop manufacturing

          a.       Waste equals food (eliminate waste)

          b.       Every output of manufacturing either composed into natural nutrients (returned to ecosystem in benign way) or remanufactured/reused

17.     Examples

          a.       When Motorola found out CFC used in cleaning circuit boards was destroying ozone layer and outlawed, if redesigned its process so no cleaning was needed.

          b.       Xerox saving $1 billion by remanufacturing its new entirely reusable or recyclable line of “green” photocopiers.

          c.       Germany and Japan make many manufacturers responsible for their products forever.

          d.       Interfaces’s Solenium a new floor-covering material that can be completely remanufactured into identical new product

                    i.        So much better it does not market it as an ‘environmental’ product, just a better one.