A Business Plan for Capitalizing on Energy Efficiency
The evidence is in, and the findings are clear: every business needs an eco-strategy. Corporate America’s discussion of green policies and corporate policy has changed from whether we need to adopt a green strategy to how. Driven by win-win success stories, the idea of businesses “going green” has surged into the mainstream.
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Green policies and brand improvement – Green to Gold
Take General Electric, for example. After years of legal battles over the cleanup of dioxin and other pollutants its factories had dumped into the Hudson and Housatonic Rivers, the brand suffered due to the resulting bad press. Then, Jeff Immelt took over, and things changed dramatically. GE actually became a world leader on corporate environmental matters. Executives there no longer feel burdened by the environmental regulations. Rather, they see environmental issues as opportunities for competitive advantage and marketplace success. This response is becoming more common.
How can companies improve their eco-policies?
More and more companies are finding that their customers and constituencies judge the overall quality of their brand based on their response and policies regarding the environment. There are four stages of improving a brand’s eco-policies. In reality, all companies – both large and small – are somewhere in the four-stage process.
The four stages are:
- Eco-resistance: This stage is recognized as hostility toward any regulations and the science behind environmental topics such as climate change.
- Eco-compliance: This stage is marked by acceptance of regulations and a commitment to meet legal requirements.
- Eco-efficiency: This stage focuses on lowering costs by cutting energy consumption and eliminating scrap and waste.
- Eco-advantage: The fourth stage is driven by efforts to innovate and to deliver processes, products, and services, which solve customer environmental problems.
It is crucial for any CEO to recognize where the company is along this cycle, because there are increased benefits at each phase. Companies who have reached the forth stage, Eco-advantage, for example, have discovered that efforts are affecting their brand and bottom line in positive ways.
How do you get to the final stage of your eco-policy?
As the owner of a web-based business, you have certain objectives, and because evidence shows that a strong eco-policy is beneficial to building a strong brand and a successful business, CEO’s are looking for ways to jump start their eco-policy. There’s no one size-fits-all approach, but there is a strategy that should be helpful to any company in any industry.
Strategies for jump-starting an eco-policy:
- Think about the key environmental issues and impacts your business faces regarding the following:
- air pollution
- water pollution and availability
- greenhouse gas emissions
- energy use
- heavy metals
- resource impacts
- land use
- Look beyond environmental issues at social concerns, including:
- worker wages and benefits
- workplace diversity
- poverty and community development
- labor rights
- child labor
- human rights
- workplace safety
- health and nutrition.
- Focus on strategy risks and opportunities presented by environmental or social concerns
Keep the focus on the environment
If your company is industry specific, use the jargon of your industry when developing an eco-policy for your business. The plain truth may be a little painful when you weigh the amount of time, energy and capital you’ve laid out to build your on-line web business but it’s true: customers and potential clients don’t care about when you adopted an eco-policy. They simply care what your eco-policy is. So, remember that it is never too late to capitalize on energy efficiency.
Brand success follows organically and you’ve got a powerful business presence – when you put your eco-policy first and make it a top priority.