Increasing Profit Through Sustainability: A Rant

Wed, Jun 23, 2010


I have been thinking lately of some of the things that really bother me about company practices around sustainability, and thought I’d throw out a list of a few of my favorite ‘unacceptables.’ I am focusing this list on tactics. I could do a larger list on issues of strategy but I’ll save that for another day.

Unacceptable Business Practices Around Sustainability

  1. I have met no companies that talk to their people regularly about saving electricity. They are out there – I just have not run into one. All I am asking for is some manager to make a habit of spending 5 minutes a week reminding employees to turn off the things they aren’t using, and to be a bit smarter about how they use resources. I have no data to support this but I’d bet a day of A2X Consulting’s earnings that an investment of 5 minutes a week would provide some measurable returns. Building employee awareness doesn’t take much work.
  2. I don’t understand why every company doesn’t do some benchmarking. Just post your utility usage each month and assign a target of 10% less. People will work to lower the goal just for the benefit of doing something green. Better yet, offer them a pizza and you’ll really have their attention. The investment in the $10 pizza and the poster-board will build attention for this topic and the benchmark will help you know if you are making progress.
  3. Managers need to start thinking of sustainability for what it is – something that enables a company to be more successful. It is all about finding ways to reduce waste and find new markets.
  4. If you are selling a ‘green’ service to a business, understand the language of business. I’ve spoken to too many lighting vendors who can’t understand why a company won’t upgrade lights based on a 2-year retrofit. The reason is the decision has nothing to do with payback and everything to do with cashflow. The cashflow problem needs to be solved or a company won’t invest regardless of the payback.
  5. Environmentally-minded people need to stop preaching to other environmentally-minded people about this topic. That’s therapy when what we need is action. Find a business person who understands ROI and have a conversation with him or her that changes someone’s behavior.

By Eric Cohen

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Jason Norman Says:

    Quick win: Instead of having a screensaver kick-in when your computer is inactive, have it turn the display off. Easy to do.

    Sub-metering is also a valuable exercise if you have large amounts of equipment and electricity bills but don’t know where your heavy usage is occurring – Ingersoll Rand mentioned this in a presentation that I reported on : (http://c12solutions.com/blog1/sustainability-green-business-models-fdu/)

  2. drumstorm Says:

    Nj should be ashmaed of itself. WHY is it promoting Solar SO heavily and wind practically not at all, when wind, especially the MVAT Roof-Mounted Turbine, blows away solar in efficiency and cost. But with the heavy state incentives on solar and not on wind, it’s not right.
    $1.00 a WATT for solar. So a 5kw system gets $5000 upfront (solar) $3.20 a KILOWATT for wind. So a 5kW Turbine gets $16 upfront. WHY?
    The state has a mandate to have 20% of it’s energy coming from renewables by 2021, why do they care what renewable technology produces it?
    Could it be the solar political lobby is very strong in NJ. Is that what it takes, political corruption?
    Like I said, shame on NJ.

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