The Green Message: A Case for Uncertainty

Through my work in PR and business storytelling, I've learned the value of certainty: "this product is the best," "we are the only," "our service is the first."  Strong affirmations emphasize leadership in the market, and strong predictions for how a certain market will evolve also convey expertise.  The greentech sector, however, is a bit of a different breed.  I see the message here as one in which open-mindedness and a bit of uncertainty can tell a more compelling story than "we are the best" or "we are the only."  Take green cars for example.  There are so many options out there, from pure electric to diesel electric to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.  Green innovators need to be open to continued innovation, and I've found that their ability to talk about possibilities, rather than absolutes, demonstrates more emphatic green intelligence and leadership.
 
Just this week I read a blog post on Earth2Tech about electric car infrastructure trials. The post talks about the Renault-Nissan Alliance's efforts to coordinate electric car networks and hardware infrastructures, and it portrays one partner -- San Diego Gas & Electric -- as a leader because the utility's vision is "just beginning to take shape."  SD&G does not have the answer for how to support plug-in vehicles.  The utility sees  uncertainties  as exciting possibilities, and emphasizes collaboration over a single-best technology for the job:
 

"SDG&E now plans to leave the hardware piece of the vehicle-charging puzzle (charging stations) to private companies, property owners (who might decide to install charging hardware at an office or home garage, for example) and public agencies. While the utility is “in talks” with several charging companies...it is mostly to help each other figure out the best way to integrate their equipment."

 

This same mentality -- possibility over uncertainty -- applies to individual vehicle designs as well.  Through my work with EcoCAR, a green car contest for college students across the US, I've noticed that because green car innovation never stops, lauding one technology as the "absolute best" impedes breakthroughs and can alienate consumers.  To tell the green car story, even the media keeps an open mind, as demonstrated in a recent post on CNET :

 
"Pure electric cars have gotten a lot of attention lately, but there is still a strong argument for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. With current technology, a fuel cell vehicle has much better range than an electric car, as hydrogen tanks take up much less space, and are much lighter, than a large battery pack...However, electric cars have the advantage of an already-existing infrastructure in place to recharge them. Electric lines run everywhere, so you generally just need to attach a charging station."
 
In my opinion, the best stories about green leadership and technology end with "to be continued."
 
-Contributed by Susan Wise.  Follow her at @swise