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Play a Game… Save the Planet

Who says saving the planet can’t be a matter of fun & games? Certainly not “eco-entrepreneur” and sustainability professor Scott Cooney. But then again, Cooney lives and teaches in Hawaii, so perhaps that state’s laid-back lifestyle has influenced his philosophy as well as his game—GBO Hawaii.

The GBO stands for Green Business Owner, and eco-entrepreneurship features prominently in the game. Here is a brief description from the web site:

GBO Hawaii is the first sustainability-themed board game for a mass market audience. Through private sector investment in sustainable businesses, (a field known as impact investing), players are able to help the state of Hawaii meet its sustainability goals, reducing fossil fuel consumption, advancing the local and organic food movement, and reducing waste generation.

Please note that GBO Hawaii is not yet another Monopoly clone. True, GBO players represent business investors, but in this case they are socially- and environmentally-conscious green investors. Making money is still important, but that is not the sole criteria for winning the game. Instead, GBO Hawaii takes into account the “Triple Bottom Line” of long-term business sustainability and measures your success with people and the planet (social and environmental impacts), not just profits.

The game reflects an admirable level of real-world detail without sacrificing playability—or fun:

For instance, a 70 MW Geothermal plant produces the same number of barrels of oil offset as a 100 MW wind farm. The reason for this is that Geothermal produces what they refer to as a baseload energy source, meaning that it’s very consistent and can be readily used by utilities on existing power line infrastructure. Wind is less predictable, so even though it may be a higher capacity, it may produce less electricity that’s actually used.

Don’t let the Hawaii setting dissuade you from playing this game anywhere in the world. As an island state, Hawaii bumps up against ecological limits more quickly than other states, but the Earth itself is an island of sorts, and we are rapidly bumping into these same limits everywhere. This game is not just about saving Hawaii; it’s about saving the planet—one green investment at a time.

The game is not rules-heavy; in fact, the quickest way to jump into a game is to watch the short introductory videos on the web site. Check out the game’s many testimonials, and download the free sustainability lesson plans to extend the reach of the game into broader classroom learning.

I mentioned eagerly anticipating GBO Hawaii in one of my first blog posts here on The Green Register. Now that the game is out, I am glad to say that the game is as much fun to play as it is an important way to learn about saving the planet. Shall we play a game?

by Kyle Crider

Kyle is Manager – Environmental Operations at Ecotech Institute and Education Corporation of America. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a double-emphasis in Urban Planning & Policy Analysis. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, Neighborhood Development (LEED AP ND). He is currently in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Ecotech Institute or Education Corporation of America. Email Kyle at