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Sustainability...the Final Frontier?

tl;dr: Frontier has a special meaning for Greenheart Partners in more ways than one

Frontier has a special meaning at Greenheart Partners. Much of our work is on the cutting edge of sustainability, ranging from considering new scopes of greenhouse gas emission inventories, turning climate action plans into municipal action plans for sustainability, and our SIMON platform that we are about to launch. SIMON, (Sustainability Interactive Modular Online Network) is a first-of-its-kind distribution system that allows residents of the towns and cities that implement it to get real-time, relevant, and refreshing information that allows people to live more sustainable lives. People at Greenheart are happiest straddling the boundaries between established and new. Living on the frontier offers excitement, danger, and discovery. This is true for physical frontiers, and it is also true for business ones.

Frontier is important for another reason. Some of you may have heard of Frontier Airlines. Frontier is an ultra-low-cost carrier that is proudly going all-in to remain "America's greenest airline" according to CEO Barry Biffle. In a recent CNN interview, Biffle stated that Frontier gets 97 miles per gallon per passenger seat compared to the industry average, which is in the 60s. Frontier leads the pack not only in CO2 emissions but also in fuel efficiency. These efforts alone would cause Frontier Airlines to be looked upon in a very positive manner by those of us who deeply care about emissions issues. But, for us at Greenheart Partners, Frontier goes even further than that.

Two individuals were travelling during the busiest time of the year, the Thanksgiving holiday season. One was a weary political operative desperate to get to see his wife and dogs after being in another state on a campaign for several months. The other was an Army officer trying to get to his sister's house where the entire family was getting together to celebrate the holiday. Both do not regularly fly Frontier Airlines. The political operative booked his flight on American Airlines, but part of the flight was distributed to Frontier. The Army officer missed his flight, and so the next best flight available was a Frontier flight. So, very early on Thanksgiving Day, the political operative boarded the Airbus A320neo in Miami, thrilled to get an empty emergency row to sit in. Unfortunately, the flight stopped in Orlando before arriving at the final destination of Raleigh-Durham Airport. As the new passengers boarded in Orlando, the Army officer was stowing his duffel bag into the overhead bin as he was about to sit in the emergency row next to the political operative. The mistake that the Army officer made was carrying his gear in an Army Rugby duffel bag. You see, the political operative learned to play rugby at Kutztown University (2022 Collegiate 7's National Champions!) and enjoyed playing against Army West Point (2022 Collegiate D1A National Champions!). Both individuals were tired and were hoping for a flight unencumbered by annoying conversations. What happened instead was a non-stop stream of discussion about a myriad of topics beginning with rugby.

Once the plane landed at RDU airport, the two did the polite thing and exchanged Facebook contact info and parted ways. The political operative told his wife that he actually had a cool flight because of the conversation. The Army officer probably told his sister that he couldn't get any sleep because he was bugged by someone sitting next to him. This is why it was very surprising to the political operative to receive a Facebook Messenger question from the Army officer almost two months later. January 6, for many, is a terrible day because of the awful events that happened on that date in 2021. For Greenheart Partners, it is the day that the two founders started down the path of creating the company and doing the work that can make a profound difference. All of this came from a random flight on a somewhat random airline that sat two strangers with the common interest of collegiate rugby together for a couple of hours.

Frontiers, whether they be commercial entities or borders of possibility, matter in sustainability. Is it a coincidence that the genesis of this sustainability consulting firm was on an airplane operated by the greenest airline? Who knows. What is known is that if there isn't substantial progress made in our field, we're all in a whole lot of trouble. The title of this blog is a playful parody of the beginning of all Star Trek shows and movies. However, the way humans are managing life, existing resources, and physical and societal threats is not very encouraging at all. If we don't adapt responsibly, sustainability truly will be the final frontier because we won't have anything else to explore. Frontier Airlines is committed to doing the best it can, and Greenheart Partners will continue to push the possible from the front as well. Sometimes being on a frontier (flight and otherwise) is the best place you can be.

P.S. This is not a paid Frontier advertisement, although it could be...hint, hint FrontierAirlines!

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