It’s not easy being green (and believed)

I know that some of you out there (unlike me) are pretty cynical about anything that Autodesk says on any subject. So when Autodesk makes a big thing about being environmentally responsible, such as its new Autodesk Sustainable Design Center site, it would be tempting to say “Yeah, right” and assume it’s just more spin to ignore.

That would be wrong. Yes, Autodesk is using its green credentials as a marketing tool. No, that doesn’t mean it’s all bovine excrement. Autodesk is genuine about this stuff. It’s being driven from the top, and it’s being driven hard.

How do I know? In addition to Autodesk backing up its assertions with a reasonable level of detail and independent scrutiny, I have a little first-hand knowledge. When I was attending the AutoCAD 2010 launch bloggers’ event last year, I was able to chat casually with quite a few non-marketing people. During those conversations, Autodesk’s move towards green issues was mentioned by more than one person, and in unscripted ways. It was clear to me that Carl Bass was serious about this and was strongly pushing a green culture within the company.

Disclosure: when attending the AutoCAD 2010 launch in February 2009, Autodesk provided transport, accommodation and some meals. Yes, I am fully aware of the irony of learning about Autodesk’s green culture only because it flew me half way round the world and back again.

7 comments to It’s not easy being green (and believed)

  • Autodesk’s office in San Francisco is located in one of the most green buildings in the city. They make it a point to tell all their visitor’s that, which is a good thing.

  • I wonder if you had been flown in for this year’s AutoCAD 2011 launch whether there would have been any talk of green. There certainly wasn’t at the Inventor 2011 event; when we asked about it, we were told there were a limited number of topics that could be discussed in a day.

    As for “Autodesk’s move towards green issues was mentioned by more than one person, and in unscripted ways,” this is known as “coordinated keyword messaging.” PR tells staff ahead of time which keywords to include when speaking “casually” with visitors. Happens at any media event.

  • Ralph, I’ve been the recipient of enough corporate BS to know it when I see it. This wasn’t it.

  • JGerth

    Green is a word currently beloved by PR folks, mostly because it can mean whatever they want it to mean at that pa5rticular moment in time. Especially when the non-green aspects of your industry can be externalized. Past that however, there is a reasonable mantra associated with that term: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In that context, the autodesk facilities (which I have not been to since ’98) could very well be greener than grass. Easy enough to justify, since the cost savings are evident. Especially when you can use that as a rationale for reducing customer shipments, ala the default download for 2011 sub customers.

    But labeling the company as ‘green’ when their main product requires increasing amounts of computer power every year is a mistake. Autodesk’s ‘black vs green’ footprint could reasonably be extended to the power consumption and pollutant discharge associated with the ever more powerful computers their customers need to purchase to keep the software running. That’s an external cost, so the corporations will not count it.

    But seriously, the P-3 and P-3 CPUs in older machines did not wear out, nor has the RAM in those boxes degraded into sand from being used for 4 or 5 years. More efficiency in coding, aka greener programming, should not demand ever increasing hardware, and would not result in eye candy features that end up being turned off to regain some of the perfomance lost by their development.

    That three R mantra is newer, but there is a very old Appalachian motto that’s even more applicable to being green: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

  • Robert

    There is no metal in the blog anymore. :(

  • Robert

    Hey Autodesk: How about living in an existing building for once and passing the savings on to the customer?

  • If Autodesk wanted to be truly green…

    …all its employees would work from home.

    …it would sell only to customers living within a 100km radius (sucks to be located near lots of bodies of water!)

    …it would shut down.

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