Green is Good for Business

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

The global corporate community is continuing to expand its dedication to more earth friendly ways of doing business. Each year more companies are adding sustainability and green initiatives to their corporate agendas and mission statements. Today, an appearance on the Newsweek Green Rankings list is a bragging right for companies in both the US and around the world. Customers are demanding this change in how business is done, so going green is as good for corporations’ images and their bottom lines as it is for the environment.

One area where companies have found that they can reduce both costs and their carbon footprint is travel.  Not surprisingly, businesses are encouraging more frequent use of alternatives to travel and making the most of green meeting technologies and innovations. Virtual meetings, webinars, podcasts, and video conferences are allowing businesses to continue their real time meetings while minimizing the need for travel.

Use of alternatives keeps the carbon footprint to a minimum, but there are still times when business travel for conferences and meetings is necessary. However, businesses today are demanding that this be in line with their own environmental goals, and to stay competitive the vendors have responded.  Hotels and meeting venues are now seeking certification with organizations such as LEED, Energy Star and Green Seal. In addition, there are now zero carbon hotels opening in Europe and plans for positive-impact hotels in Asia like the URBN Hotels & Resorts. To help corporate business planners and suppliers navigate the various ‘green’ options, the Convention Industry Council has developed the APEX Sustainable Meeting Standards. This allows business professionals to set policies and practices which clearly define what a green meeting is for them.

There are also a number of ‘green’ tools available to help meeting and conference planners. The MeetGreen, Event Ecological Footprint Calculator and Best Places to MeetGreen sites have online guides and resources to ensure a company’s green needs are met. One unique approach is the website for Scandic Hotels. Their online Live Sustainability Report not only tracks their own environmental achievements, but also allows business planners to estimate the impact of a meeting held at a Scandic property.

And companies are expanding their earth friendly travel approach to include their employees at the local level. Corporations are increasingly encouraging and promoting car and van pooling as well as public transport and cycling for their employees. Many businesses now facilitate the establishment and coordination of these efforts. Even governments are getting behind it; the UK, for example, invested an additional £15 million in 2012 to continue their sustainable travel initiative which promotes cycling.

How does your company rate on the green travel scale? There’s no time like the present to take the initiative and make suggestions to change your company’s policies to be more earth friendly! It helps the environment, and can improve their bottom line. Meanwhile, item 2 on this list has some hints and tips to help everyone be greener while on business travel. And don’t forget that many car rental agencies now offer hybrid and fuel efficient cars if public transport isn’t an option.