Monday, July 16, 2007

Putting People Where the Profits Are Green

Originally posted over at Green Options

A survey released earlier this summer found that while 82 percent of senior technology leaders from companies around the world “closely” monitor the global warming issue, most (65 percent) do not have a defined energy strategy for it.

The “Return on Environment” study included interviews of 420 senior business decision-makers from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and China who worked for companies with revenues the equivalent of US$100 million and more.

Despite over half of respondents reporting that they don’t have a defined energy strategy, 77 percent believe there IS a need to create some sort of chief energy officer position to develop, implement, and manage a company’s return on investment in clean energy technology and sustainable business practices. Joe Paluska of the international communications firm that performed the survey, Hill & Knowlton, said in a statement:

“Despite the hype, few companies are plotting a measurable action plan to drive return on environment. We expect reputation, risk and return to suffer until companies really stand up and take charge and industry as a whole sets the standard for measuring return on environment.”

Perhaps that will soon change. The New York Times recently profiled several global companies that have implemented a position solely dedicated to linking sustainability and efficiency with a better bottom line (and promoting it like crazy).

General Motors’ vice president for environment, energy, and safety policy, Elizabeth A. Lowery, says that ensuring credibility is a priority of her position. She explains that she “toned down” broad statements and claims that were part of GM’s “Live Green Go Yellow” campaign and added more facts (thanks – facts are good).

At DuPont, Linda Fisher is the chief sustainability officer. She says her job is to ensure that the company never overstates the “greenness” of its items. She’s helping to develop a scorecard that researchers can use to determine whether their work will actually produce products that are smarter for the environment.

Those who have been on the greener, environmental issue for a longer period of time and who have often been in opposition to these companies are divided over these new efforts. While greenwashing is a rightful concern, others are cautiously optimistic that companies are finally making the connection that efficiency and sustainability can go hand in hand with profits.

Most importantly, those profits show that consumers are making the connection too.

No comments: