Eco-friendly workplaces and the bottom line

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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

 BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

During our 100 Best Green Companies to Work for in Oregon awards luncheon on May 29th, atendees heard about a wide range of green workplace practices, including giving employees free bikes to encourage bike commuting, installing innovative solar arrays and growing onsite community gardens.

One week later, I'm awaiting the results of a nationwide green workplace survey that sounds like the perfect follow up to our event: how the bottom line of businesses that adopt green practices fare in comparison to those that do not. The survey and related report will be released by Green America, EcoVentures International (EVI), and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) tomorrow.

The first-of-its-kind project surveying 1,305 businesses was prepared by Dr. Julie Cincotta, principal, CLA Organizational Solutions. The poll looks at whether sales increased or decreased when businesses offered green products or services, whether environmental business practices influenced consumer preference, and whether green services and products made businesses more or less competitive. The report explores the practical implications of the survey findings.

Tune in tomorrow for the results.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear from Oregon companies about how they think green practices have influenced their bottom line.  That's one question our 100 Best Green survey does not address.

UPDATED:  The results are in:

Three out of four small businesses responding to the survey reported that unlike much of the economy, sales for green products and services actually increased over the course of the recent economic downturn. Among those businesses, the greener the company’s practices, the higher their sales.

In the report presenting the findings, Green AMerica, EcoVentures and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity found that over the past 10 years, the market for green products and services has expanded dramatically. For example, the green building market has increased by 1,700% while the conventional building market has contracted by 17 percent. The organic food market has increased by 238 percent in comparison to the non-organic food market’s expansion of only 33%.

Of the respondents that reported gains during the recession, the greener the company was, the more likely it was to report increased sales.

The survey segmented the 1,305 respondents into three groups based on the green attributes of their products and services and their level of adoption of specific actions intended to make more efficient use of water, energy and/or waste. The “deep green” segment in the survey (the 27% of business owners whose answers reflected the most intense embrace of “green”) reported stronger performance compared to their “light green” peers (38%  of respondents) on nearly every dimension tested. There also was a “medium green” segment accounting for 35% of surveyed businesses.

Linda Baker keeps tabs on CEO and public policy issues, with frequent forays into innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

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