Going Green: A Compulsion or Business Opportunity

It is becoming more evident now that the way we do business is unsustainable and causing a huge burden on our environment, as well on our future. Rising energy prices, shrinking oil reserves, binding carbon emission targets and other regulations are forcing companies to adopt sustainable ways of operating. Companies are in a quagmire in their attempts to become sustainable while remaining profitable.

Everyday in our corporate and professional lives we make many decisions that have an impact on global warming and however small these actions seem, when we take into account all the professionals and corporate houses across the globe, the aggregate impact is quite significant.

Global warming is becoming the latest hot topic for governments across the globe and is on the main agenda for many corporate houses. With the new binding emissions cuts agreed by the governments and with governments thinking of levying carbon taxes, etc, its time to look at this issue from a very new perspective. This article explores the road to going green as a business opportunity in the long run rather than a compulsion or shallow act of improving the public image of a company, or just a CRS activity.

A Compulsion:

The governments across the globe are trying to restrict the rise in temperature to no more than 2 degrees. The EU has agreed to reduce its green house gas emission by 8% below 1990 levels during 2008 to 2012. The Australian government has proposed carbon taxes on its
biggest polluters from July 1, 2012. The European Union, several U.S. states, Norway and New Zealand already have such rules. India will levy a carbon tax on coal producers that expects to raise $535 million that could be used to promote green energy. A new carbon tax of €15 Euro per tonne was announced in Ireland. All the other countries are trying similar measures.

A Business Opportunity:

For most of the corporate sector, going green means investing millions of dollars, but we fail to take into account that by adopting small measures we can significantly reduce an
organization’s carbon footprint. A small measure like using the latest e-learning technology can save around 30 pounds of CO2 for every 1000 pages of learning material we avoid printing. Having light and temperature sensors and video conferencing facilities, it’s possible to significantly reduce CO2 emissions and in the long term these prove financially viable alternatives. Adopting green buildings is another viable option; for example when DPR constructions planned its regional office the additional costs for adopting green lighting materials, sensors, architecture costs, etc, were around 85,000 but in the next 10 years it will save more than 400,000 in operational savings. Green buildings not only help in saving energy, water, etc, but also help to achieve better employee retention. IT companies are using storage consolidation and server virtualization and have achieved overwhelming success. This technology reduces the need for physical servers. In another example, a company used print on demand and saved printing of around 30,000 pages.

As consumers are now more aware of the consequences of global warming, they could be willing to pay slightly more for products that are produced having a minimum impact on the environment as compared to other products in the market. These companies can use proper marketing schemes to educate consumers that they care for nature and this will help them retain and increase their consumer base. Additionally, it will help them improve their company’s image and they will be in a better position than their competitors when strict regulations are put in practice.

Now clients are also preferring companies who have sustainability on their business agenda.   Also, investors are filing shareholders’ resolutions requesting more disclosure of what they are doing on a sustainability front. Now the time has come when we can say that reducing environmental impact, and profits can both go hand in hand.


AAE is a volunteer-run organisation coordinated by a network of national teams.

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