GLOBE-Net, April 5, 2010 - Towering 442 metres
(1,453 feet) over New York City, the Empire State Building has been a symbol of
American economic might since 1931.
So it was fitting in 2009 that the iconic high-rise became a
model for the retrofitting of older buildings when it replaced
windows, insulation, lighting and its ventilation monitoring system
to lower its carbon footprint and become more energy
The $13 million high profile retrofit is an example of the
growing number of energy efficiency campaigns taking place in
buildings around the world. And it is one of the trends that are
reflected in a recent report from GreenBiz.com, "State of Green Business 2012."
The fifth annual report measures the environmental impact of the
emerging green economy. It documents the progress companies are
making, if any, in improving their environmental performance and
tracks larger trends that impact on corporate America in 2012.
The key message from the report is that sustainability efforts
continue to grow, despite countering forces. In the U.S., economic
issues are pushing sustainability measures to the side as people
seem more concerned about saving homes and jobs than the
environment. Globally, the mantle of sustainability leadership has
fallen from national governments onto the shoulders of cities,
states and companies.
But environmental sustainability efforts continue to grow, often
inside mainstream companies. For many, the risks and potential
costs of doing nothing in the face of climate change are
rising. Many of the world's largest companies are moving
forward, some aggressively, to reduce or even eliminate their
greenhouse gas emissions and those of their suppliers.
The report takes stock of the trends and indicators in the world
of energy sustainability. It reports on how well the world of
business is doing to address sustainability concerns. Some of those
- Energy efficiency is in a bull market: From the Empire State
building to the New York Stock Exchange, companies and building
owners are jumping on the energy efficiency bandwagon, replacing
windows, insulation, lighting systems and upgrading to digital
wireless monitoring of energy use. In Canada, Demand Side
Management programs are underway at many utilities such as B.C.
Hydro as companies promote energy efficiency in the home and
office. The trend is expected to continue in 2012 with new
innovations to make homes, vehicles, office buildings, appliances
and personal devices more energy efficient.
- Climate change is inevitable; the world needs to prepare and
smart businesses are doing just that.Energy companies facing risks
to their infrastructure (power plants, substations, transmission
lines) from rising sea levels and floods. Many are starting to
"harden" their key assets to make them more resilient and the
company better able to minimize business interruption loss.
Agricultural companies are testing drought-resistant corn, and
insurance companies along the Atlantic Coast are declining property
coverage in some cases due, in part, to fears to increasing
hurricane wind damage.
- Small businesses will continue to drive the green
economy:Smaller companies are recognizing the market potential of
the green economy without regulator guidance and filling the demand
for green goods and service. In the U.S., "the hiring demand for
green jobs has grown by an average of 30 percent over the last few
years." Many of these are new jobs, not vacancies due to attrition.
The report's findings mirror similar conclusions in the recent
GLOBE Advisors study, The West Coast Clean Economy: Opportunities for
Investment and Accelerated Job Creation.
- Sustainable mobility:With more than one billion vehicles on the
roads globally, a number that is expected to double by 2020, the
need for smart transportation systems using less energy and
producing less pollution is emerging as a key trend. Car sharing
(Zipcar, HertzOnDemand, car co-op's) is becoming more popular as
people opt not to buy a vehicle and instead share cars. Companies
are also developing systems to make transportation smarter and more
efficient as congestion increases.
- "Gamification"will make ordinary activities fun and rewarding.
Companies will continue to embrace games as a business tool for
effecting behavior change. Frequent flyer and other loyalty
programs are an example. Samsung, Nike and the NHL all got on board
in 2011. Companies will use games to provide rewards to customers
for making good, green choices. The new Nissan Leaf electric
vehicle already provides constant data feedback to the driver so
he/she can make more efficient energy choices.
- Cleantech will continue to mature and do well.Despite some
setbacks, the industry continues to move forward, with new
innovations that are lowering consumer costs, to consolidation of
industry players. "In 2011, for the first time, power plants
operating on solar, wind, and biomass energy garnered more
investment than those powered by natural gas, oil, and coal-$187
billion for renewables compared to $157 billion for fossil fuels,
according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance."
The "State of Green Business 2012" also provides a "Greenbiz
Index", charting how U.S. companies are doing in terms of
environmental performance. The report indicates a "significant
decline in progress" towards cleantech investments, energy
efficiency, green office space, packaging intensity, toxic
emissions and toxics in manufacturing. However it does say
one indicator, green power use, has "markedly improved."
The full report with all trends and the Greenbiz
Index can be found here.