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5 reasons your organization should go green

by Julia Pickar
Running an environmentally friendly organization is no longer an optional extra credit that gets you a high five. In this day and age, it’s just good business — even vital. Beyond doing what’s best for the planet, there are dozens of reasons organizations should include sustainability in their forward plan. Here are five.

​Taking on an authentic, far-reaching sustainability strategy — with top management fully behind it — helps build a common mindset within an organization.

1. You can’t beat the PR

Of course organizations want to (at least appear) to “do the right thing.” But being known as a ‘green’ organization also helps your brand. Really. A 2015 Nielsen study1 finds that sixty-six percent of global respondents “are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, up from 55% in 2014 (and 50% in 2013).” Product and services associated with sustainability inherently carry more value. And this sentiment is growing more consistent across socioeconomic levels.

Organizations often pour millions into branding strategies. Ensuring that the message “we truly care” is part of that strategy is a good bet.

2. Sustainability is reliable corporate strategy

GE, Unilever, Ricoh and Sprint all have one thing in common. They have woven sustainability into their corporate strategy.

GE has rebranded existing products into “green” products, enabling them to double sales in three years. Unilever setup a corporate-wide challenge – with tangible goals — to reduce water, waste, greenhouse gasses, improve nutrition, hygiene and use sustainable suppliers. Ricoh’s manufacturing facilities have sent zero waste to landfills since 2002, and the company was a strong supporter of the 2015 Paris Agreement to tackle climate change — committing to reduce their emissions by nearly 90 percent by 2050. Sprint recognized that digital equipment such as phones, computers, tablets, etc., are one of the fastest growing categories of toxic waste. They implemented a buyback program that accepts any mobile device, regardless of where it came from, giving customers $300 in account credit for the trade-ins. It’s a sizable investment for Sprint yet it’s also a smart marketing strategy. After all, providing account credit to people also locks them in as customers. Companies are always looking to refine corporate strategy. Green practices are a great place to start.

3. Going green forces better tracking of operational costs

Ever been on Weight Watchers? The single most effective strategy they give dieters is getting them to write down what they eat. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. When an organization takes on a sustainability agenda, it is forced to track operational waste by examining the use of energy, supplies, and raw materials. To streamline paper, lighting, and electricity use, these organizations must go through a thorough audit. And it’s just about always worth it.

Organizations might even find that going green requires an upfront investment; LED lights are more expensive than standard bulbs, but last up to 50 times longer. This saves hundreds of dollars per bulb over time. (Quick math: an organization has 10 branch offices. Each branch uses 1,000 bulbs to keep the corridors lit. A $200 savings per bulb could save two million dollars.)

Bottom line: Having a sustainability agenda forces tracking. Tracking creates efficiency.

4. Unifying people around a cause boosts morale and culture

Organizations are always trying to establish “culture.” Culture is a nebulous concept, yet it’s known to carry huge benefits in the workplace: morale and productivity. Taking on an authentic, far-reaching sustainability strategy — with top management fully behind it — helps build a common mindset within an organization. Some organizations build cross-functional teams to promote, track and educate others about sustainability. Others create a system of incentives and rewards to recognize employees’ efforts to be environmentally conscious. Encouraging all employees to participate in the green agenda can strongly impact your culture.

Get going on green

Get your green initiatives underway and reap the benefits, from better corporate culture, to tax credits.

5. Eligibility for rebates, subsidies, or tax advantages

There are good federal policies encouraging organizations to go green. For one, companies can take a tax credit of up to 30 percent for the use of solar and wind energy. There are other federal tax credits available for developers of energy efficient buildings.

At the state level, states laws are full of tax credits and incentives to encourage sustainability practices. One example: Florida offers a corporate income tax credit to organizations that produce and sell electricity from a renewable energy facility. They also offer a sales tax exemption for companies using solar (and other renewable) energy systems.
Julia Pickar
Julia Pickar is a Portland-based broadcast and print journalist. She has produced stories for NPR, Marketplace, BBC, regional public radio stations as well as serving as a producer on multiple public radio shows including nationally syndicated “To the Point” out of LA. Julia also blogs for numerous start-ups, specializing in social media marketing.
1 "2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report." Nielsen. 12 October 2015
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