Every year, Earth Week, Earth Day and World Environment Day inspire businesses around the world to show their support for Mother Nature by making the commitment to go “green.” However, there are more reasons to adopt sustainable practices than some business owners may realize. Todd Moss, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, explores the benefits of transforming your business into a sustainable enterprise.
Sustainable enterprises use socially responsible and environmentally friendly actions to reduce negative impacts on an environment, community or economy while providing market solutions that appeal to the interests of shareholders and stakeholders. In a 2013 research report published by MIT Sloan Management Review, 91 percent of executives surveyed believed that sustainability strategies were or would be vital to their companies.
“With the maturing of the environmentally-conscious millennial generation, enterprises will only continue to become more sustainable,” said Moss.
Sustainable enterprise practice can include going paperless and refurbishing used products. One most common sustainable enterprise practice is being more efficient with “natural capital.”
“As the name implies, natural capital refers to the world’s stock of natural resources like wood, clean water and petroleum,” said Moss. “Practices which seek to be more efficient with these resources are the low-hanging fruit of sustainability, and thus tend to be first enacted.”
For example, switching from incandescent to LED light bulbs can save over 80 percent on lighting energy costs, which requires fewer natural resources to create the needed energy. Advances in technology and economies of scale have drastically reduced the price of LED bulbs. This decreases the amount of money a company has to spend on replacing light bulbs.
“Besides the obvious benefit of being better stewards of the natural environment, sustainable enterprises can find additional opportunities to increase revenues,” said Moss. “Some energy companies generate extra revenue by conducting energy studies of manufacturing companies, offering these companies recommendations for improvement and even selling them energy-efficient power equipment.”
Other benefits of a sustainable enterprise may include:
- A positive shift in brand image
- A Competitive advantage
- New sources of innovation
- Better compliance in regulations
- A reduction in company waste
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