frog: The Inconvenient Truth Of Going Green

After spending $5,000 on solar panels for his home, Colin Cole of frog, realized his ‘eco-fit’ didn’t qualify for utility rebates. Going green is an expensive and complicated process. Why would anyone make the effort?

When you’re passionate about something, it’s easy to maintain your commitment. For years, environmentalists have sorted trash to recycle and protested for stricter emissions standards. They’ve paid a premium for energy-efficient products. But what about consumers that are on the fence? Those who want to be environmentally responsible, but won’t chase it any cost? Setbacks in their early efforts to choose greener products and services can quickly shatter the best intentions.

What happens the first time you accidentally break a $20 LED light bulb? Will you spend another $20 to replace it, or will you go back to the $1 incandescent? What happens if you receive a higher electric bill the first month after your utility company installs a new “smart meter”?

I recently experienced this kind of eco-buzzkill firsthand. After a lengthy application process, I was told my planned solar panel purchase didn’t qualify for utility rebates. Several houses on my block were approved for seemingly identical systems (with the same panel orientation and hours of available sunlight). The rejection left me feeling burned by a convoluted process and unevenly applied rules. In a bad economy, I had been willing to spend $5,000 out of pocket on something that wouldn’t break even financially for seven years. All because it seemed like the environmentally responsible thing to do.

Adoption shouldn’t depend solely on consumer passion and persistence. Convenience, ease of use, and ease of access must be part of any new product strategy. Otherwise, the market for greener products will continue to be just a sliver of its potential.

Energized is an ongoing series following my education about living a more sustainable life.

Colin Cole is the Vice President of frog’s Design Realization group. He works closely with design and engineering teams to bring innovative ideas to market. With over 20 years of experience in both creative and engineering management, Collin brings focus and multi-disciplinary expertise to this critical phase of the delivery process. In 1996, Collin co-founded frog’s digital media group and has worked extensively with frog clientele in the USA, Europe, and India.

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