The Path to Green Business Practices

The author of today’s post, Sheryl Canter, is an Online Writer and Editorial Manager at Environmental Defense.

Why should your company take action to fight global warming? Shareholders want progress, investors are calling for transparency, national policy is coming, and waiting to act will be costly.

To help you get started, Environmental Defense has developed a hierarchy of effective actions called the "Four Cs" – conserve energy, convert to lower carbon energy, choose quality offsets, and call for action.

Here are the details.

  1. Conserve energy. Energy use in buildings – heating, cooling, lighting, etc. – is responsible for nearly 40 percent of U.S. global warming pollution. Simple changes such as occupancy sensors to control lighting and Energy Star office equipment can substantially reduce emissions and energy costs. You can save even more by improving efficiencies in manufacturing and corporate fleets.
  2. Convert to lower carbon energy. State and utility incentives can make it cost-effective for companies to install renewable power systems like solar panels or wind turbines. The benefits are long-term emissions reductions, a hedge against fluctuations in energy prices, and a visible commitment to clean energy.
  3. Choose quality offsets. Offsets support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions outside company walls. They don’t replace reducing your own emissions, but they’re a helpful additional step. We recommend purchasing offsets after making all the on-site reductions you can. Offsets have to be purchased each year, and must be carefully assessed to ensure they truly reduce emissions. Since evaluating offsets can be complicated, we list several credible, high quality offsets on our Web site.
  4. Call for action. Corporations are well positioned to influence others – government officials, suppliers, customers, and others. Leadership brings a variety of advantages. A national climate policy would create a single set of rules to play by, and reward those who act first. Encouraging suppliers to be more efficient can reduce a company’s own costs. Finally, getting out ahead on fighting climate change helps a business improve its reputation in the marketplace.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is good business. It can cut costs, drive corporate innovation, improve public relations, and help prepare for federal regulations. The Four Cs can get you started.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted September 27, 2007 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Also, use more public transit. This can have an immediate affect on reducing greenhouse gases. Here’s a story today from the American Public Transportation Association:

    9/27/2007 Public Policy
    APTA study: Public transportation use substantially reduces greenhouse gases

    The most powerful weapon you can use to combat global climate change may be a daily transit pass, according to the results of a study released yesterday by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

    When compared with other household actions that limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, taking public transportation can be more than 10 times greater in terms of reducing this greenhouse gas, according to Public Transportation’s Contribution to U.S. Greenhouse Gas Reduction, a study prepared for APTA by Science Applications International Corp.

    Moreover, one commuter switching his or her daily driving routine to using public transportation can reduce his/her household carbon footprint by 10 percent. And if one household’s driver gives up that second car and switches to public transit, a household can reduce its carbon emissions up to 30 percent.

    “Encouraging use and expanding public transportation should be a part of our national strategy to address global climate change,” said U.S. Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, in a prepared statement. “The report provides further evidence that public transportation is one of the most important tools to minimize carbon output, help the environment and assist the nation in achieving a sustainable transportation system.”

    How important a tool is it? An individual switching to public transit can reduce their daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds; that’s more than 4,800 pounds per year, which APTA says is “far greater,” for example, than home weatherizing and adjusting the thermostat for heating and cooling — which saves 2,847 pounds of carbon annually. It also would have more of an impact than replacing five incandescent bulbs to lower wattage compact fluorescent lamps, which saves 445 pounds of CO2 per year, or replacing an older refrigerator freezer with a high-efficiency unit, which saves 335 pounds of CO2 per year.

    Meanwhile, the problem of pollution from vehicle emissions is accelerating, the study concluded. Greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources grew 27 percent from 1990 to 2004, with autos and light-duty trucks representing 61 percent of the total.

    “While it is good public policy to require more fuel efficient automobiles, increasing the use of transit can have a more immediate impact on our nation’s transportation fuel consumption,” said William Millar, president of APTA, which is calling on Congress to incorporate public transportation into a national climate strategy. “It could take 20 to 30 years to see a complete turnover of the vehicle fleet. A household does not need to go to the expense of buying a new vehicle to make a difference; they can simply take advantage of the nation’s existing bus or rail services to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint.”

  2. Posted September 28, 2007 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    I found another interesting article that said most IT companies still only pay very little attention to being ‘green’. It’s from

  3. Posted November 19, 2008 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    Hi I’m trying to build up a business helping companies make the green transition. I have two questions:

    Could you point me to where I can seek out funding for advertising, certifications, and travel while getting it all up and running?
    What kind of certifications are available?