Is Your Business Sustainable

Published on February 22, 2013 by arothstein

sustainable businessBusiness students and professionals understand that business models are constantly evolving. As we enter 2013, more businesses are becoming aware of their environmental impact both globally and locally. This trend towards environmental sustainability is rapidly moving forward as more companies begin to adapt environmentally friendly policies and practices. Broadview University students and faculty have researched what makes a business a “sustainable” business and want to pass the information along.

A Sustainable Business is a Green Business

Sustainability of an enterprise is loosely defined as companies adopting business practices that have minimal impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy. Often a sustainable or green business will put in place progressive environmental and human rights policies. For example, a manufacturer may work to lower their energy consumption by adapting green heating technologies in their factory to offset their carbon usage in the manufacturing process. When this achieves a 1:1 ratio, that business is considered to be carbon neutral.

But sustainability goes much deeper than energy use or carbon footprint. Many companies adopt the concept into all of their decision processes on the corporate level. Some switch their production to green only products to replace demand for non-green products.  A true sustainability model will focus on three core concepts, people, planet, and profit. This is known as the “triple-bottom line.”

Debunking Some of The Myths of Sustainability

Business owners who are unfamiliar with the concept of a sustainable business model have misconceptions and fears. Two of the most common are that sustainability is all about being an environmental activist or about philanthropy, and that sustainability will increase operating expenses and affect profits. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Making small changes in the daily practice of your business can go a long way towards increasing your company’s sustainability. Something as simple as digitizing your invoicing saves tremendous amounts of paper, helping the environment. While switching to a renewable energy source to power your company can be costly, using low VOC paints and carpets and properly insulating doors and windows are inexpensive, environmentally sound steps that can actually save money and improve employee health.  These are all small steps towards a sustainable model.sustainable business

Sustainability Principles

There are four operational principles to look at and assess as you move towards a more sustainable business model:

  1. Good Employer – Your company is committed to employee satisfaction and morale. You offer opportunities for growth and well being to your employees.
  2. Environmental responsibility – Your organization is respectful towards the environment and operates in an environmentally positive way. For example you recycle, and manufacture products with an awareness of waste produced.
  3. Community Contribution – You contribute to making your community a better place to live and work. You use locally produced materials whenever possible. You always exhibit fairness, openness and honesty with employees, vendors and customers.
  4. Influencing Others  – Your company actively encourages suppliers, customers and employees to improve their sustainability practices.

Steps taken today can launch your business on the path to sustainability. As you become comfortable with taking small steps, you will find that sustainability is an achievable goal that is good for business and your employees and great for the planet!

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