According to Plunkett Research Ltd Environmental Consulting is experiencing explosive growth; this green collar profession is worth an estimated $13.3 billion (US) according to US census data taken from 2008. The exciting potential to reorient the traditional business model away from over-consumptive growth has attracted the most unlikely of business people to an industry, that is in it’s infancy. A case in point is Jill Doucette, the founder and operator of Synergy Enterprises; an environmental consulting firm based out of Victoria, British Columbia.
Jill Doucette’s independent business venture, according to her website bio seeks to: “address the needs of small and medium-sized firms in greening their operations” this is accomplished by working with business firms to: “build a progressive environmental action profile that covers energy and water, waste management, transportation, sourcing, investment, social marketing, buildings and climate change.” Her list of current Victoria based businesses includes: the Black Stilt Coffee House, Habit Coffee, Lab Salons as well as Oughtred Coffee and Teas. Jill Doucette, selectively works with small and community-minded businesses, because working with them is extremely rewarding and returns the most immediate results: “I won’t work with large companies on purpose, this is because I can green 40 small businesses whereas it would take at least 100 employees, to green one large business,” and this makes perfect sense when, I soon realize that she is a university student. Jill, is a trailblazer by exemplifying a new class of working professionals. These professionals have come from diverse educational backgrounds to become part and full-time environmental consultants.
Originally, a biology student at the University of Victoria, she became extremely frustrated with the disconnect between academia and the real world; she kept learning about environmental best practices in the classroom but did not have a way to actively apply her skills training outside of class. Jill, a resourceful person by nature, wasn’t held back when she was handed with these metaphorical lemons.
A chance opportunity, given to her by, her former employer the Black Stilt Coffee Lounge changed her life forever. When asked to locate the nearest environmental consultant, to conduct a waste and energy usage audit, she was shocked to discover their weren’t any located on Southern Vancouver Island. After doing her research, Jill established her second business Synergy Enterprises, her first venture was a small home renovations company. She credits her former renovation business, as a learning experience that allowed her to make the transition from student to businessperson.
Synergy Enterprises and her regular speaking engagements, are enough to make any graduate student, ‘green’ with envy: she is co-founder of Common Energy Society (2o06), past co-chair of World Student Environmental Summit (2009) and recent recipient of the prestigious Nicol Entrepreneurial Award (2009). So what lies ahead for Synergy Enterprises?: “I would really like to get into more niche markets by franchising and diversifying my business,” and for those individuals that want her advice, but can’t access it, what advice does she have to give?
Jill wants you, the reader, to actively question consumption: “Look at your purchasing habits, how can you minimize the environmental impact of what you are buying? Try to shop and source things as locally as possible,” she gives evidence of her positive experiences with local Farmer’s Markets, such as the popular Moss Street Market as a sign of positive and progressive change. Jill is a staunch advocate for the creation and support of farm markets as well as the expansion of worker’s co-operatives and social enterprise models as a means, to re-envision the world of modern business as an agent for progressive social and sustainable change.