As global concern for the environment increases, it makes sense that many businesses are adopting more environmentally friendly practices such as using and manufacturing greener products. This conscious adjustment also makes good business sense, as it helps the bottom line in addition to the environment.
The greener the better
A recent survey conducted by The Big Green Opportunity found that 62 percent of business owners offer green products or services in part because it is seen as a “competitive requirement” in their field. Of those companies, 80 percent said that they have seen a steady increase in sales of their green products or services, even during the recession. In fact, the greener the company, the better their bottom line: the survey, which labeled companies by their varying level or “shade” of green found that “deeper green businesses were more successful because their customers were more likely to request green products and services, they could reach new green customers and customers bought from them because of their green practices.”
Rebates and credits
The Department of Energy maintains a database of available tax credits for energy-saving practices. Each state offers programs that include rebates or credits for installing more efficient lighting systems, particularly those that utilize renewable energy. In addition to saving money through the tax credit, your business may see revenue increase, as environmentally conscious clientele will be drawn to your firm through your commitment to the cause.
In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency launched an Energy Star certification program for data storage centers, enabling vendors to designate eligible hardware as Energy Star certified. In turn, businesses that purchase the equipment can use the Energy Star promotional mark and will receive credit from the Department of Energy.
Environmentally beneficial actions can yield fast returns on investment. Many of these actions are as simple as reducing energy usage. As mentioned, energy efficient equipment can earn you an Energy Star and a tax credit, but it can also save a substantial amount on your company’s electricity bill. Employees can be enlisted to conserve energy in the workplace and lower operating costs even further. Many manufacturers of heating and air conditioning units now equip their thermostat devices with sensor technology that detects when rooms are vacant in order to lower energy use. A growing number of machines used in the workplace can communicate via embedded sensors, taking measurements and making decisions that conserve energy through automatic shutdowns or low-power states. Recent computer models feature “standby” or “hibernation” modes to employ when not in peak use, and laptops generally use 80 percent less energy than desktops.
Over the past few years, many companies have also taken steps towards becoming paperless. The EPA reports that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year. A statement from tech giant IBM on the excessive use of paper in the workplace reads, “Paper is becoming a bottleneck for business processes and its excessive usage is also becoming a clear impediment for organizations that are embracing greener IT." Several corporations are wearing their paperless status as a badge of honor and encouraging others to follow suit. Google has made the push, offering its Google Drive online storage system to account holders free of charge. Last year, the company partnered with other digital organizations such as Expensify and Xero in a communal pledge to go paperless.
A major benefit to going green is the ability to market your firm as a company that cares. One way to promote your commitment to the environment is through an eco profile. By simply listing the steps that your business has taken towards environmental conservation directly on your products, promotional materials or website, you are sending a message that your firm believes that sustainability matters. The 2012 Edelman goodpurpose® Study found that 72 percent of consumers would recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t. Additionally, 73 percent of consumers would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause. In order to stay competitive in today’s market, a company needs to have environmentally friendly practices in place.
Initially, going green may require up-front costs, but these costs are proven to be worthwhile in the long run. According to the Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility, 50 percent of global consumers surveyed stated that they are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs that give back. It is important to consider what the eventual impacts of going green will be, both financially and environmentally. A business that can increase its revenue while decreasing its carbon footprint is a truly efficient one.