By Connie Lilley
Feb. 18, 2010
Most corporations and their management executives are familiar with Corporate Social Responsibility and the benefits it can bring. However, less are familiar with a new term - Corporate Environmental Responsibility (CER) and the Return on Investment it can bring to a company when implemented properly.
In the past, Corporate Social Responsibility consisted mainly of fulfilling philanthropic or volunteer duties. Today’s eco-friendly workforce is now looking for an environmental commitment from not only their company, but also the businesses they frequent, and the products they purchase. Therefore, including a CER plan as a part of a company’s overall business plan is more important than ever.
Here’s how a company can benefit:
Increase Triple Bottom Line - Greening up a business or building will help to reduce energy usage, which in return will reduce costs and thereby increase a company’s Triple Bottom Line — Profit, People & Planet. Just a few short years ago companies balked at installing many of the energy saving products on the market, with good reason. As the energy market was emerging, cost-effective products were very limited. Just a few years ago, financing the installation and purchase required a large capital expenditure, along with a small, or no Return on Investment (ROI). Considering the downturn in the economy businesses just could not focus on the task of greening up. Businesses were simply too involved with just trying to survive.
However in today’s growing green market, new energy saving products and technologies are entering the market every day. The old ROI is being replaced with new exciting higher numbers which CFOs are raising an eyebrow to.
Combining the emergence with these new advanced technologies, along with the lower costs to install and maintain, creates a much more palatable endeavor for businesses that are now ready to green up.
Healthier and happier employees – When a company takes steps to green up, not only are they contributing to the health of the planet, but statistics show that employees are also healthier and happier.
Today’s consumers and workforce desire to work with companies who “do the right thing.” Employees feel a sense of satisfaction working for companies that possess a commitment to caring for the environment, and their staff. Employees and consumers alike are searching for companies that display this commitment.
Most importantly, studies show that employees who work in buildings that meet criteria for an energy reduction certification such as a LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design), or has improved indoor air quality, are healthier and happier.
Nov. 12, 2009 – A landmark study conducted by the University of San Diego and CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc. (CBRE) has found that tenants in green buildings experience increased productivity and fewer sick days, and that green buildings have lower vacancy and higher rental rates. The report, Do Green Buildings Make Dollars and Sense?, is the product of a year-long research effort and is the largest study of its kind to date.
Good Public Relations Opportunity - Companies who green up have a new opportunity to let the public know just how much they care. In addition to publicizing a company’s typical philanthropy, letting the world know that they’ve installed photovoltaic solar panels, or a new geothermal system is an opportunity that should not be missed.
Today’s consumer is now interwoven into a movement which includes them reducing their carbon footprint. This movement includes making purchasing decisions that fit into their personal commitments.
It appears this educated eco-friendly consumer is here to stay. With just one look at what children are learning today, and how passionate they are about the environment, it’s easy to see this movement is creating a new culture.
In addition to these motivating factors to implement a CER plan, new tax credits and grant opportunities are assisting companies who want to take action.
Included in the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction is a deduction of $.30 – $1.80 per square foot of building floor area for buildings achieving a 50 percent energy savings target. This would include the heating, cooling, ventilation, hot water and interior lighting systems installed through Dec. 31, 2013. Visit http://www.efficientbuildings.org for more information.
Also, under the federal Modified Accelerated Cost-Recovery System (MACRS), businesses may recover investments through depreciation deductions. Also known as the energy investment tax credit or ITC, improvements include a variety of solar electric and solar thermal technologies, fuel cells and microturbines, geothermal electric, direct-use geothermal and geothermal heat pumps, small wind (100 kW or less), combined heat and power (CHP). Visit http://www.irs.gov for more information.
Lastly, the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC) gives a 10 to 30 percent tax credit for the installation of renewable technologies such as Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Thermal Process Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Biomass, Geothermal Electric, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, CHP/Cogeneration, Solar Hybrid Lighting, Direct Use Geothermal, Microturbines. Visit http://www.irs.gov for more information.
Corporations who wish to remain competitive in this new economy and environmental market must consider a placing a CER plan within their overall business plan. This will ensure they secure a future hold on eco-friendly employees, and consumers as well.
Connie Lilley is president of the, ECO PR Group, Inc., providing public relations for sustainable products and initiatives and Corporate Environmental Responsibility. She can be reached at [email protected].