Interview With An Eco Coach

Anca Novacovici is an eco coach. What’s that I hear you ask? Well we asked that too.

Tell us about how you came to set up Eco-Coach and be one?
I have always had a passion for the environment, and have wanted to work in the field for quite some time. My interest has been in helping businesses become more environmentally-friendly, since businesses use a large amount of resources. However, at the time that I graduated from college, and later on, from grad school, sustainability consulting was not a well-known field. Therefore I went the more traditional management consulting route, hoping one day to be able to do what I am doing now. While I enjoyed my time in the management consulting arena, learned a lot and have met some amazing people, I decided to start Eco-Coach to combine my interest and skills from consulting with my passion for the environment.

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How do you help people and businesses?
We educate individuals and businesses and provide them with the tools to help them be more eco-friendly. For individuals, we do this through workshops on different aspects of green living, home eco-audits, and a variety of related services. For businesses, we provide support through green business audits, sustainability planning and benchmarking, training and educational workshops, and LEED certification and consultations.

Why do people/companies come to you? Is it not something they can do themselves?
They come to us because we have the expertise to do it and we bring in past experience and best practices that will enable them to obtain a better solution in a shorter period of time than they probably would by doing it on their own. They can certainly do most of this themselves, but it would take them more time and resources; by working with us, this enables them to focus on their core business while we focus on helping them become more sustainable.

What’s been the most surprising thing that you’ve learnt from the reviews and consultations?
When I started the business, I thought individuals would be more willing to hire someone to work with them than would businesses. However, I have found the reverse to be true. Businesses are eager to become more sustainable, whether it is to save money, improve their brand image, or from a genuine desire to help the environment. Individuals are also interested, but most are more willing to take small steps and spend a minimal amount versus investing considerable time and money in becoming more eco-friendly.

What sort of things do you suggest?
Suggestions for businesses vary based on the situation, and can be either simple or more complicated, depending on resources and commitment. Some of the simpler recommendations include: purchasing wind power, implementing lighting changes, installing water saving fixtures, changing to eco-friendly products/vendors, greening existing services, and training and educating employees. More complex suggestions include implementing a sustainability plan, identifying ways to become carbon neutral, and making building-related changes.

Once you’ve finished with a business or person, do they stick to what you’ve told them?
From our experience, most businesses and individuals will take the suggestions and implement a majority. Though not all of them. Some clients have come back to us and asked for further recommendations, and we will do these as long as they have implemented all of the previous recommendations or have a good reason for not having done so.

Has your business changed since you set it up?
It has changed somewhat, in terms of the service offerings — we have added some services and removed others, based on clients’ response.

Have people’s attitudes and perceptions changed since you set up Eco Coach?
Yes. Because of the increased media attention after Al Gore’s movie [An Inconvenient Truth] and some of the natural catastrophes we’ve had, most individuals are aware that there is a problem and that they could be part of the solution, even if it is at the micro level. People are much more willing to learn and to educate themselves, as well as to take action. However, the actions are still relatively minor and most still will not act unless the action is relatively convenient, easy to undertake, and not too costly.

What advice would you give our readers?
This may sound cliche, but it is true so it bears repeating – every action and inaction counts. We vote with our money and our time, whether at the business or individual level, so choose to consciously and vote for the earth and for healthier living.

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