From Business Week:
On the surface, it appears that Big Business is getting serious about climate change. Almost every major company is launching a green strategy, designed to cast it as being part of the solution on global warming. But how much are businesses actually doing to lower their emissions of carbon dioxide? And what happens when protecting the environment collides with the drive to maximize profits? BusinessWeek found that green claims range widely; most tend to be heavy on hype, light on substance.
The cover story, is a good reality check about how the greening of business is not always going to be fun or easy or even profitable. In reality, as the subject of their article points out, "This is hard work. It's messy. It's not always profitable."
They go on with some examples. One article follows the struggles of a "corporate sustainability advocate working for an Aspen resort:
Thwarted on guest rooms, Schendler switched to Little Nell's underground garage. Guests never saw it because valets park all cars. For $20,000, Schendler said he could replace energy-gobbling 175-watt incandescent light fixtures with fluorescent bulbs and save $10,000 a year. Unimpressed, Calderon again balked. If he had $20,000 extra, he would rather spend it on items guests would notice: fine Corinthian leather furniture or shiny new bathroom fixtures.
At the company's next senior management meeting, Schendler brought an unusual display to make his case for new garage lights. He had wired a stationary bicycle to show how much less energy fluorescent bulbs consume. Thirty managers watched as Schendler challenged a burly executive to hop on the bike. Sure enough, it took much more sweat to make several incandescent bulbs glow. But Schuster, the real estate chief, didn't believe the new lights would save money. "I was skeptical on the ROI [return on investment] calculations Auden had presented for the retrofit," Schuster recalls. "One of my concerns was that we were committing capital based on theoretical returns without any real opportunity for a look back on the actual returns."
It took Schendler two years to overcome resistance to the garage-light replacement, and then only after he secured a $5,000 grant from a local nonprofit. He acknowledges the strangeness of a corporation with annual revenue of about $200 million, according to industry veterans (the company declines to provide a figure), seeking charity to reduce its electricity use. With a hint of sarcasm, he notes: "This is the sort of radical action that's needed to get people over ROI thresholds."
Energy saving lightbulbs are a serious no brainer, both for saving money and saving the environment. Millions of businesses and individuals have already made the switch, but millions more haven't. This is a great example of why we need to outlaw energy wasting bulbs completely (you can help). There just isn't enough time to do "bicycle demonstrations" for every last company and person.
Also, great to see a publication like Buisness Week exposing greenwashing, and publicizing real progress. There's a lot of hope in that if you think about it.