Three Reasons for Adopting Sustainable Business Practices
There are several reasons businesses should – and many are – adopting sustainable practices, like decreasing water consumption, switching to green power and even designing and constructing facilities in new ways. Not only do these practices conserve the natural environment and contribute to the planet’s health and longevity, but they also can help firms save money, build a positive public image and practice social responsibility. With such practices trending, there are burgeoning career opportunities for individuals with MBAs in sustainability.
Reduce Energy Bills
Companies are employing energy-efficient technology to help reduce pollution, or emissions that contribute to global climate change. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, burning fossil fuels for heat, electricity and transportation is the largest human-driven contributor to greenhouse gas emission. A few methods to promote energy efficiency include driving fuel-efficient company vehicles, using energy-efficient light bulbs and installing water-efficient toilets and intelligent lighting systems.
In addition to benefiting the environment, implementing energy-efficient practices helps companies save money as they do not use as much electricity. Businesses also are seeking opportunities to use renewable energy sources, including wind, hydro, geothermal, solar and biomass. These sources often are referred to as “green power,” according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Even if a firm cannot individually install renewable energy technology at its facility, it may be able to purchase green power from certain utility companies. Many businesses are seeking individuals with knowledge in these areas to head new green initiatives.
Cut Down on Waste
Many businesses are working to reduce the amount of paper they use and waste they produce. From harvesting and shipping trees to manufacturing, the paper production industry runs on a significant amount of energy and negatively impacts the nation’s forests. Additionally, disposal costs can add up for businesses. To cut down on paper use, the SBA suggests using double-sided printing and copying; distributing documents electronically when possible; selecting paper products made with recycled content; and, of course, recycling paper. Businesses can set up teams, comprised of personnel from various departments, to generate strategies for improving the company’s environmental performance and to monitor the execution, according to the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The institute’s ideas for mitigating waste are plentiful, from turning off unused lights and providing refillable pens, to switching to biodegradable cleaning products and toilet paper or paper towels made with recycled fiber.
Practice Social Responsibility
Decreasing water consumption helps businesses save on their energy bill, as it takes gas or electricity to heat water, as well as for utility companies to purify and pump the water. More importantly, issues like where a business sources its water and how much it uses are seen as social responsibility concerns. Companies wanting to bolster their brand or demonstrate positive environmental stewardship are taking the lead on water issues. Businesses sometimes may be losing water in ways they don’t realize. The SBA suggests a few water-saving activities for businesses, such as repairing leaking fixtures, pipes and seals; installing water-efficient appliances; installing controls to turn off faucets automatically; and installing water-efficient landscaping, among others.
Companies who want to adopt sustainable practices and principles must be keen to a broader vision of success, one that values the well being of society, employees and future generations, according to IISD. For individuals who want to join and further the green movement through their careers, obtaining an Online MBA in Sustainable Business is a way to develop skills and knowledge applicable to the workplace.
U.S. Small Business Administration https://www.sba.gov/managing-business/running-business/energy-efficiency/sustainable-business-practices (accessed Aug. 2, 2016)
“Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions” Environmental Protection Agency. https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/sources.html (accessed Aug. 2, 2016)
“Sustainable Business Practices: IISD’s Checklist” The International Institute for Sustainable Development. https://www.iisd.org/business/tools/principles_sbp.aspx (accessed Aug. 2, 2016)