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
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
For more information, visit SB NOW’s Green Business Page: http://www.sbnow.org/template/page.cfm?page_id=64
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