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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Nov/Dec 2007 : Read On

Read On

New Guide Helps Savvy Companies Go Green

Expectations for business have changed. Increasing attention and concerns about issues such as global warming are causing many companies to reduce their environmental footprint. New research shows that the public sees “green” brands as higher quality and therefore are more likely to gravitate to these brands. In 2006, PSB Green Brands found that eight out of every ten Americans believe that it is important to buy from “green” companies. Although many companies are “going green,” the public remains skeptical. According to an Ipsos Reid study, seven out of ten Americans strongly or somewhat agree that when companies call a product “green” it is a marketing tactic.

How can a responsible company overcome this cynicism and demonstrate to their customers, communities and other stakeholders that their actions are sincere? Moreover, how can they be sure themselves that their practices are effective and have the desired result of improving the environment? A new tool currently under development can help companies demonstrate their commitment to the environment.

What color is your business?
With wildly fluctuating energy prices, not to mention concerns over landfills, air and water quality and global warming, it pays – literally – to be as green as possible. Financial professionals, senior leadership and investors appreciate the fact that going green can help companies save money, while marketing and public relations staff can take advantage of the opportunity to differentiate the brand from their competition.
Going green – making a commitment and taking concrete and verifiable steps to demonstrate your sincerity and actions – sends a strong message to your customers, suppliers and employees that you are taking a leadership position as a steward of the health of the planet and protecting our mutual future. It’s good business – with the added psychological benefit of providing employer and employees alike with the satisfaction that comes from knowing that they are conducting their business in a manner that is making a difference for future generations.

Green businesses operate in ways that help solve, rather than cause environmental problems. A few reasons for going green include:

1. Increasing employee satisfaction, retention and productivity
2. Improving operational efficiency and effectiveness
3. Saving energy, water and raw materials
4. Shielding yourself from escalating energy and water prices
5. Branding the business and differentiating it from the competition
6. Developing a positive, proactive relationship with local compliance inspectors
7. Reducing pollution, waste and greenhouse gas emissions
8. Avoiding fines and other sanctions green guide and certification

Although the benefits are clear, going green can be confusing. For example, one year ago Fast Company enthused over compact fluorescent light bulbs as the light bulbs that would “change the world.” Today, concerns about the mercury contained within the bulbs are leading to a more tempered and measured approach – and leaving many consumers scratching their heads. Certainly the light bulbs have their place in reducing energy use. However, it appears that any energy reduction results in slower increases in overall energy demand rather than reducing the overall amount of energy that is being produced.

The latest effort to bring clarity to this confusion and provide a toolkit for companies that sincerely wish to “green” their business is a combination of programs being offered by the Sustainable Business Network of Washington (SB NOW). SB NOW, a not-for-profit educational organization made up of over 100 DC-area businesses, has been developing “The Essential Guide for Greening Your Business.” Designed for beginners and leaders alike, the Guide can help any organization participate in the “green revolution.” Through practical steps and checklists, the Guide provides ideas and resources that companies can implement to improve on areas such as: water conservation and quality, energy conservation, waste reduction and recycling, pollution prevention, environmentally-friendly procurement and even training. It is important to note that rather that reinvent the wheel, the Guide is designed to complement existing standards such as the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™.

In addition to the Guide, SB NOW is offering a program to certify companies as “green,” offering compelling third-party validation and an opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves as true stewards of the environment. The process is flexibly structured so that not every business must meet identical requirements to qualify. It features a tiered point system and four levels of certification. In addition, companies can receive credit for initiatives they already may have underway.

SB NOW is piloting the certification process this fall and winter and will make the process open and available to everyone starting early next year.

For more information, visit SB NOW’s Green Business Page: http://www.sbnow.org/template/page.cfm?page_id=64
Contact us at 202.370.1333 ext. 901 or email us at greenguide@sbnow.org.


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