When your organization goes green, you win big. Your top and bottom lines win; you win by increasing your social and societal value; and your environment wins, through the reduction of water waste, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Remember when the press was touting the win-win situation? Well, today it is even better, we are in a win–win-win situation, because the impact of greening affects the triple bottom line – profit, people and the planet.
Winning by Increasing both the Top and Bottom Lines
There are sensible monetary reasons to green, even if you think global warming or climate change are not important. The cost of home energy and water use is a big drain, so reducing them in this tight money time only makes sense. After public scrutiny, corporations such as General Electric, Wal-Mart and Dow made drastic changes to their energy and recycling policies; later those policies remained because those changes ultimately saved them a lot of “green”. Since 3M instituted water and energy efficiencies, they have saved over one billion dollars. Yes, that’s “billion” with a “b”.
Small changes can make a big difference in saving money. By tinkering with its truck engines, Staples has bolstered fuel mileage, lowered maintenance costs and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Fleet efficiency has increased from approximately 8.5 to at least 10 miles per gallon, saving as much as 500,000 gallons of diesel per year due to this one uncomplicated change. With all the new tax incentives and credits, imagine what an investment in hybrid or plug-in vehicles could do for their bottom line or yours! Eco-Coach can help you learn that the incentives there are in your city, county and state, so you can install solar panels or a geo-thermal system, for example.
Going green can also fatten the top line. Grossman Marketing Group, a US$30-million (sales) maker of marketing, decided to spend up to US$4,000 every year to ease the strain on the nation’s energy grid by purchasing renewable-energy “credits” from two California wind farms. Adding 5% to its energy bill didn’t save Grossman money at the time, but it did attract eco-friendly customers like Google and Green Mountain Coffee. Envelope sales — which represent 45% of Grossman’s top line — grew 20% in 2007, which is a pretty good return on a $4,000 investment!
In response to a question about whether it makes financial sense for companies to embrace green initiatives, Jack Welch said, “The bus has left the station,” and that any company that doesn’t recognize this trend simply “doesn’t get it.” And what makes sense for companies makes sense at home also.
Winning by Being Socially Responsible
The responsibility revolution is underway, argues Tim Sanders in “Saving the World at Work: What Companies and Individuals Can Do to Go Beyond Making a Profit to Making a Difference,” published in 2008. He points out that even small actions, whether of compassion or of leading by example, are vitally important for not only a business’s success but also for bettering the world. Both consumers and employers have turned away from price consciousness to demand that companies make a difference to society through their products, manufacturing methods, environmental efforts and community outreach. The new majority of mindful consumers have brought in a new value system, paying as much attention to a company’s environmental and social policies as to its pricing structures. Today, companies that do not transform will not be competitive losing customers who want their money to go toward good causes.
In a recent interview, Rupert Murdoch said that his decision to have his global media empire act on environmental issues was simply good business. The News Corp.’s environmental program would recoup costs many times, by creating efficiencies and because “[t]his program is a huge morale builder.” Ignoring green trends risks losing talented younger employees to companies with philosophies that are more in tune with their own: a third of Americans say that they would rather work for a green company over one that doesn’t promote environmentally friendly practices. It makes a great difference that you buy, invest in and where you work.
Winning by Saving Your Environment
There’s no denying it any more: from climate change to fisheries crashing, the global environment is in crisis. Thanks to former Vice President Gore, the awareness of global environmental challenges has finally gone mainstream and responsible people everywhere are struggling for solutions. The magnitude of the problems can be overwhelming, yet the most exciting fact is that creating a healthy, profitable and sustainable world is possible. However, sustainability requires immediate attention in each workplace because we cannot afford to wait any longer.
Today there is considerable focus on how improved technology can solve those aspects of climate change associated with carbon emissions from fossil fuel sources. Yet by simply using less energy and using it more efficiently, businesses can have a major positive environmental impact. Fossil fuel is at the root of much environmental degradation: the invisible collection of long lasting gases in the atmosphere that is caused by our burning of fossil fuel, is affecting all life on earth, causing everything from floods to fire and droughts.
So it comes down to how we use and produce energy at home and at work. Technology can help, but relying on technology to save us is an expensive and insecure solution. Only by choosing to less energy and using it more efficiently, can businesses and homes have the major environmental impact that results in a triple win: for profit, people and the planet.