Beware of the information you receive; you might have just been fed with the wrong one.
For years, America has embraced and adopted pro-environment practices in almost every aspect. Just recently, one of Hollywood’s most prestigious events, the Oscar’s has given seven consecutive years towards a green sustainability theme through energy efficient designs. Indeed, green sustainability has come a long way in the drift and predicament of today’s scenario.
As the term sustainability gains a hefty amount of publicity, people tend to overuse the term and even invent things which are different from its real meaning. City College of New York professor Michael Sorkin defined sustainability simply as the substitution of resources used for the sole purpose of conserving sufficient supply of resources for future generations. Winner of STAR Community ratings Evanston City Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl defines sustainability as “more than just saving energy—it means creating and maintaining a livable, healthy and efficient community accessible to all residents.” However, despite the numerous sustainability projects implemented today, our world is way unsustainable compared to the state of the world decades ago. In the book “Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability,” author John R. Ehrenfeld explains that sustainability strategies and programs fail to address the fundamental causes of unsustainability since most businesses still prefer company and business growth over the damage this may cause to our environment and entire planet.
False Saga about Green Business Sustainability
Sustainability may be common knowledge to most people, but this concept is much too wide to fully understand. Here are some of the misleading facts about sustainability that people may not know of.
- Green equals Sustainability
Contrary to popular belief that sustainability is synonymous with the phrase going green or that it is all about the environment, sustainability simply meant leaving something for future generations without actually having to prefer going for natural resources over the artificial.
With the heavy weight of dependence resting upon technology, it cannot be helped that companies would move towards renewable sources of energy to emit less toxic chemicals and help contribute to the solution of climate change. However, it should be clear that not all sustainable solutions are green per se, such as nuclear power as it produces radioactive wastes despite its qualities of power efficiency and emits no pollutant gases.
- Green sustainability requires money
Sustainability does require investment as with any other business measures. However, businesses require strategic, financial, operational, sustainable business aesthetics, and manageable reasons and considerations before actually implementing it. Though it requires money, companies have clarified that sustainability actually gets a return on investments made.
Xerox CEO Ann Mulcahey shares this view saying that being “a good corporate citizen” saved the company from bankruptcy. In an interview, Director of Sustainability at Alcatel-Lucent Richard Goode explained that “sustainability can be a competitive differentiator, in lean times, it’s a defensive strategy, and in really hard times, it can determine your survival.”
As companies increase their revenues, they are also improving their brand image to both consumers and parent companies. Johnson & Johnson has undertaken 80 sustainability projects since 2005 and achieved $187 million in savings with an ROI of nearly 19 percent, and rising. CocaCola states that they generate a 20 percent IRR on their investments in energy savings initiatives. Diversey, a leading B2B global provider of commercial cleaning and hygiene solutions states that for every $1 they invested in 2008 they expect to recoup $2 in 5 years.
- Environment is to Sustainability
In 1987, the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainability as a developmental movement to meet the today’s needs without compromising the future generation’s needs. By definition, sustainability does not have anything about environment rather centers on the three P’s of sustainability: people, planet, and profit. Accordingly, the bottom line of sustainability is to satisfy these three as they are dependent on each other.
Deceptive Sustainability Approaches
With the technological trends up in the market today, the economy is seeing exceptional growth in the market and yet most business experts see a blurry future with climate change, rapid urbanization, trends of buildings and condominiums in key cities, and weakening natural resources. As such measures have been taken to promote sustainability and other green technology is being laid out.
The concept of the three Rs, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle has been around for decades. However, recycling does not necessarily link to sustainability since it does not lessen the abuse over the natural resources. In business sustainability, however, companies have found that reselling their products and materials have added to their companies revenues. For one, Verizon generated $27 million by sorting out and selling recyclable materials from its waste stream, while also saving over a million dollars in waste removal costs. As this step required reusing materials and reduces the need to extract raw materials from the ground. This may be regarded as a small part of green business sustainability.
The increasing population will always have a significant effect to sustainability. The more consumers we have, the greater the need for businesses to generate products which in turn produces an increased amount of waste materials. As such, if governments were to patch up the problem of overpopulation through education and increased supply of contraceptives, it would not have a significant effect on our unsustainable solution. On the other hand, if laws were enacted towards controlling the number of kids, then it would amount to problems dealing with human rights.
Technology is the key to sustainability, not. Green companies may have turned towards energy efficient homes and green architectural designs. These green architectural designs where growing fast trees are actually sources of growing your business, attracts consumers to your buildings or condominiums. Moreover, research revealed that tree-lined establishments reported a 12% increase in sales. Date further showed that fast growing businesses are where the fastest growing trees such as Willow hybrid trees grow. This may not involve new technology and yet it is crucial towards business and green sustainability at the same time.
Mark Lee, CEO of the London consulting firm SustainAbility explains that “there’s an Italian utility that’s selling its customers hot water, not energy to heat water. It’s a different way of measuring, and it gives the company an incentive to be more efficient so it can be more profitable.” In Australia, data revealed that by 2021, more than $600 million on water and energy bills could be saved through water efficient appliances and products. The amount of water which can be saved is about 800,000 megaliters which is more than the whole of Sydney Harbour. Existing and new technology could both make a huge difference towards sustainability.
Truth be Told
Green business sustainability will further gain popularity as years pass. More and more tips on green sustainability along with deceptive facts about sustainability will surface. Right now among the most effective ways of achieving sustainability is through ecological matters such as energy efficient homes like condominiums and green living where as technology grows, we do not forget the value of environmental balance. A number of misconceptions about sustainability should be acknowledged and before we go into believing these, there should be studies and deep research involved having concrete initiatives toward future and long-term development.