Can an economic system exist where businesses can better satisfy their customers' needs, increase profits, and help solve environmental problems all at the same time?

Amory Lovins believes so.

Lovins, co-author of Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, will share his vision of future business on January 30 in Atlanta at the 2001 Winter Meeting of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The free session, entitled "Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution," is open to the public.

Lovins defines natural capital as the earth's natural resources and the ecological systems required for economic activity.

"These services are of immense economic value; some are literally priceless, since they have no known substitutes," according to Lovins. "Yet current business practices typically fail to take into account the value of these assets. As a result, natural capital is being degraded and liquidated by the wasteful use of such resources as energy, materials, water, fiber, and topsoil."

Lovins describes four principles through which natural capitalism can be achieved. The principles are: radically increasing the productivity of natural resources, shifting to biologically inspired production models and materials, moving to a "service-and-flow" business model, and reinvesting in natural capital.

"Many firms adopting these principles are thereby increasing profits and gaining striking competitive advantage," Lovins said.

Lovins will speak at the ASHRAE public session from 1-3 p.m. January 30 at the Georgia World Congress Center.