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Business Faces New Environmental Challenges and Opportunities in 2015

March 25, 2015
For twenty five years, GreenBiz has been a catalyst for thought leadership at the intersection of business, technology, and sustainability through its website, events and peer network.  This past month, their eighth annual report was released on The State of Green Business—2015.  This link takes you to a page where you will be asked to fill out a short form and you will be sent a link to the free report.  It was completed in partnership with Trucost, a company that works with companies, investors, governments, and academics and thought leaders to understand the economic consequences of natural capital dependency.
What follows is a brief overview to this comprehensive and eye-opening report.  Why should sustainability officers be interested?  For several reasons, including the value of staying informed and current on the big picture of trends and innovations in business and industry, being aware that governments at all levels are working with corporations on projects and problems of mutual interest and concern such as energy and water, and recognizing that we are doing business every day with companies whose sustainable business goals and practices are impacted by our volume of business with them and the expectations we bring to our dealings with them over how their products are sourced, processed, manufactured, and delivered to our doors. 
This year’s report indicates that companies remain committed to sustainability and in particular, the focus on natural capital dependency risks and opportunities has grown 85% in the past year to include 350 companies.  Natural capital refers to the stock of resources and ecosystem services on which all companies depend for their success.  As Trucost explains, it isn’t “all about carbon” and traditional fossil fuel concepts such as oil, coal, and natural gas; it’s about water, land use, waste and pollutants. It’s about which raw materials are used and where they are sourced, from energy and water to metals, minerals and agricultural products.  Business is looking at the price tag of their methods of production and seeking ways to minimize the real business risks of relying on unsustainable practices in the face of tougher regulation and catastrophic environmental conditions, such as severe water shortages.
The good news is that many of the largest companies in the US and globally are making big changes.  Interface, Shaw, Puma, Nike, General Mills, Philips, Adobe, BMW, Coca-Cola, and Nestle, to name just a few. 
Here are some of the ten green business trends discussed in the report, which also includes helpful graphs and video clips of business leaders discussing their views and actions.  Unlike the past, companies are now sharing their knowledge and lessons learned so that innovation in sustainability is being accelerated.  The Rocky Mountain Institute is a great resource to learn more about how they are driving advances working with groups in industry sectors.  Big business is leading the way for renewable power—think IKEA and the solar roofs on 90% of its US stores.  Attention to water risks has grown into action.  Example—Nestle is now using water extracted from milk it uses to convert it to use for cleaning, a savings of 1.6 million liters of water a year.  Companies are valuable catalysts for change in cities, developing partnerships to bring intelligent design into use for traffic lights and smart parking, among other things.  How about that?  An app for finding the nearest parking space.  Saves on gas, wear and tear on the vehicle, and time. From the city’s perspective, pollution is decreased and parking meter revenues upped with less down time from vacant vehicles.

This report is not a quick read, but it breaks down in easily digestible and highly readable chapters.  Take the time to read it and GWG thinks you’ll be well-informed and inspired to tackle your green goals knowing that you’re in good company.  Read more.

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