Convincing corporations to go green can be very easy, it turns out: just show them the money. As the Staples CFO put it, Going green is saving green.
“Going green is saving green.” For Staples, it was about $4 million. Dupont – not exactly a name that comes to mind in a discussion on environmental consciousness – boasted that it saved $3 billion from 1990 to 2005 by cutting its greenhouse gas emissions 60%.
But you don’t have to be a global chemical company to see benefits, it turns out. A 2010 poll by Accenture found that 49 percent of businesses improved brand reputation and customer trust by going green- and 42 percent lowered operating costs. Any business, it seems, can save by cutting waste and reducing electricity costs.
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Raymond Building Supply, a U.S. building material dealer based in Florida, estimates that it saves $1200 every single month by going paperless in its invoicing, estimating and ordering processes – and this is only from ending its contract for off-site paper storage. If the cost of paper, ink, and human resources are added into the equation, the savings are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Using high-efficiency fluorescent lights and equipment saved $130,000 each year for Pelican Products Inc., a California-based maker of protective equipment cases and lighting systems.
Newmarket International, a hospitality services business, cut $60,000 from its annual budget doing some pretty basic green improvements, such as removing styrofoam cups from its cafeterias, going paperless on travel itineraries for its employees, moving into a greener office space, and delivering software electronically to its clients.
The Holiday Inn on King in Toronto saved close to CDN$15,000 by installing low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators. The Holiday Inn in North Vancouver cut out $16,000 by installing in-room energy management systems.
Bowman Design Group, a California-based company that creates exhibit spaces, went on a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its operations. The individual changes were small – they traded the company’s SUV for a Prius, implemented a program to fight “vampire power” from computer devices left on during the night, and began replacing equipment such as a printer and an air conditioner, with energy-efficient devices. Bowman <now saves $9,000 annually.
Taylor Companies, an Ohio furniture maker founded in 1816, found that it too can change its centuries-old practices and go green. It did some small things: by capturing saw dust from its operations and giving it to farmers, the company saved $4,000 alone in hauling costs; another $5,000 were saved by saving their leather scraps and giving them to purse manufacturers. But by moving its operations into an energy-efficient buildings saved a whooping $80,000 in annual energy costs.
Going green is not just about cost savings – it’s also about getting more for less. Building consulting company Umow Lai built its new headquarters in South Yarra, Victoria (Australia) to green standards, including through the use of natural lighting and fresh air flow. It found that its staff became 13% more productive.