In recent years, events from around the world have inspired people to be more ecologically aware. This mindset has crossed over into the business world, and now customers prefer companies that have a strong sense of ecological conservation and environmental friendliness.
Indeed, “going green” is not only a fad, it has become a business necessity. But beyond the positive environmental implications, the propagation of a healthy corporate culture, and the reduction of unnecessary waste, green businesses also pioneer social change. Because of this, many advantages now exist for companies that are thinking of becoming more environmentally friendly:
Tax Breaks and Legal Advantages
It’s not just the customers that are paying attention; even the government is getting involved. State governments like the one in California have begun cracking down on emission allowances for corporations. While this might seem like a bad thing, it has actually fueled innovation: companies like GE and FedEx have started researching and incorporating various types of green tech to reduce their carbon emissions so as to meet state standards.
But not all green standards are punitive; certain states will give out tax credits and incentives for companies that decide to put Mother Nature before profit. In states like Florida, where environmental conservation is a statewide initiative, companies can avail of corporate income tax credits if they sell electricity from renewable energy facilities. Business in that state can also take part in a sales tax exemption if they use renewable energy technologies like solar panels and wind turbines. Florida’s Solar Energy System Incentives Program also allows businesses that use solar power to receive tax rebates. Other programs include the Renewable Energy and Energy-Efficient Technologies Grants Programs that provides companies that use solar and other renewable energy system cash grants.
At the Federal level, the IRS allows various tax breaks for companies that go green: companies that use hybrids and other alternative motor vehicles as company cars can receive federal tax credits, while businesses that use and propagate solar and wind energy can receive up to 30% tax credits.
Operationally speaking, going green can improve the overall efficiency of any company. By reducing unnecessary waste, a business can trim the fat off operational costs. For example, simply turning off unused lights can drastically reduce energy use, saving on energy and thus saving on utility costs. While the monthly amount may seem small, it adds up, and by the end of the year, companies can be surprised by how much their bottom line increased just by being mindful of their energy use. Shifting to a completely paperless system not only positively impacts ecological conservation, it also lowers the overall budget spent on office supplies like paperclips, pens, printer ink, staplers, staples, and the like. Again, taken individually, these may not amount to much, but if it’s added up, the total amount of savings a company can make can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars every year just by cutting out paper usage.
Other cost-cutting green solutions can include using hybrid vehicles. By relying less on petroleum, companies don’t need to spend massive amounts of cash to refund employee mileage.
A Healthier, More Positive Workplace
Going green affects both the company as a whole, and the individual employees that work there. Implementing green options in everyday office life can have a positive impact in the office: eco-friendly cleaning supplies work just as well as chemical ones, but without trigger the respiratory conditions of certain employees. Buildings that use natural light during the day have also reported happier, more productive employees, while saving on energy costs.
This push for greener office spaces has also fueled innovation: researchers from the University of Illinois are trying to find ways to convert leftover food from office cafeterias and pantries into methane. The methane can then be used to power office buildings, furthering companies’ self-reliance on energy and cutting energy costs exponentially.
It’s not just about being popular, going green has been shown to boost a company’s image with the general public. While this alone is not the most ethical motivation for going green, it is a great side effect to have. Green initiatives are good for business because of the current mindset of ecological and environmental sustainability. This means that more and more people are consuming products that are eco-friendly and environmentally safe.
And large corporations are taking notice; already, companies like Target and Wal-Mart have started incorporating green initiatives in their respective businesses, from promoting the use of alternative energy to power their stores, to smaller initiatives like recycling, providing streamlined transport routes to reduce gas usage, providing more green products, among others.
Because of these changes, both companies have enjoyed a rise in profit, with the past decade giving them a 20% boost in annual profit from green products alone. In this customer-centric world we live in today, it’s important that companies give people what they want.
At the heart of going green is a desire for companies to become more sustainable. Sustainability is the effort of companies to avoid depleting natural resources and maintaining an ecological balance. This requires not only a change in practice, but also a change in mindset: for companies to be sustainable, they must direct their investments in such a way that it impacts the environment as minimally as possible, even if it means a dip in profits.
Doing this doesn’t just save money; it also helps our planet recover from the damage we’ve wrought upon it over the years. By encouraging corporate social responsibility, via sustainability, we can reverse the negative effects we’ve dealt to the environment and push forward with a better model of doing business, ideally one that doesn’t advocate the unbridled exploitation of natural resources.
The technology to do this exists, and more technology is being developed throughout the years. We need only to accept and implement these technologies in order to feel the positive effects.
Ideally, companies realize the importance of going green before its too late. Luckily, major corporations have already started making changes. Let’s just hope everyone else follows suite.