Sustainability Business Trends for 2013

Mon, Oct 22, 2012

6. Misc.

With more and more consumers demanding eco-friendly products and practices, businesses that cast themselves in a green light, so to speak, are reaping the benefits of catering to a growing demographic (along with doing something good for the environment). For many, this provides an excellent means of increasing brand recognition, improving public relations, and hopefully engineering a growth in sales that will help companies weather the recession and come out the other side whole and intact. Of course, trends in corporate sustainability are a fluid affair, and businesses looking to adopt the latest eco-friendly practices need to stay ahead of the curve. So here are just a few sustainable ideas that look to be taking off in the coming year.

In many ways, sustainability can benefit businesses looking to cut costs. For example, adopting alternative means of energy is a great way to save money over time, even though it is rather pricy upfront. You could spend thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars installing solar panels or wind turbines that will take your facilities off the grid. But considering you’ll start getting free energy, you stand to make that money back (and then some) over time. And with sustainable energy becoming more popular and easy to obtain, the initial cost could see a marked decrease in the coming years.

Some companies are also looking into the benefits of alternative transportation options. Just look at Google, which provides a fleet of electric vehicles for employee usage. Staffers at their Mountain View, California headquarters are encouraged to use these vehicles for daily errands, lunch breaks, and airport pickups and drop-offs, just for example. The company gets the write-off and the bragging rights for providing their employees with a transportation option that cuts pollution. But many businesses are also looking into the possibility of telecommuting, allowing them to reduce their office space (and related costs) while giving employees the desirable option to work from home. In this era of unparalleled connectivity and communications capabilities, this is one way that some companies have found to operate in a more sustainable manner. As a bonus, it can allow companies to drop other costs, like the expense of hiring managers and helping them obtain certificate IV in training and assessment, for example. Employees working from home could mean fewer managers are required.

Sustainability reporting is also on the rise, and although tools for this practice have not yet been perfected, many companies are seeking software solutions that help them to track and report their efforts in the area of sustainable operations. In addition to customers calling for such reporting, businesses may also be called upon to release relevant information to business partners, investors, shareholders, government agencies, suppliers, employees, and the media. Although you’re not necessarily required to report to all of these people, it’s in your best interest to toot your own horn when it comes to the steps you’re taking to ensure a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable business. And disclosure through reporting is an easy way to do it.

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