There’s no escaping the greening of America. With environmental awareness on the rise, green technology, green buildings and green products have entered the thoughts and lexicons of professionals worldwide.
Major car manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, Lexus, Nissan and Ford constantly strive to maintain a competitive edge in the rapidly growing green auto market. Even last year’s Nobel Peace Prize was granted—not to someone negotiating a treaty between warring nations—but to people working to make peace between industry and the environment.
What Does ‘Green’ Mean?
According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, green buildings “are designed to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment.”
Being green is more than just a practice; it’s a process, culture and a belief system. According to respected entrepreneurial publication Startup Nation, “‘Green,’ ‘environmental’ and ‘sustainable’ are more than just labels. They’re practices that include every aspect of business—invention, definition, construction, production and the ultimate disposal of the product.” With more entrepreneurs, CEOs and business owners seeing green, the culture of green business is more prevalent in professional industries than ever before.
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, plans to spend $500 million in coming years to make operations more green, according to CEO Lee Scott. General Electric’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, also believes in green changes. “The opportunity to provide environmental solutions is going to be one of the big four or five themes of our generation of business leadership,” Immelt states.
Being green has become one of the most highly sought-after competitive advantages in business, making it clear why so many businesses are coming down with a case of “green fever.”
While the big-wigs in the green revolution concern themselves with the political benefits of going green, many medium to small companies must focus on another shade of green: cash. Despite common misconceptions, going green presents opportunities for businesses to cut costs, work more efficiently and ultimately improve bottom lines. For example, energy costs, a large factor in any business’s budget, can be reduced through environmentally beneficial, low-energy consumption methods. According to a 2004 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report, energy costs associated with a company’s physical plant represent nearly 40 percent of all energy use and 68 percent of total electricity consumption.