Radical transparency goes mainstream:
The information age and the environmental movement have actually collided. Tons of information is available about products, including the materials and ingredients used. Websites like GoodGuide.com have a mobile application for shoppers on the move. More non-profits than ever, such as Climate Counts are ranking companies on their environmental performance, helping to make informed purchases. Many organizations are demanding more from their supply chain, knowing that this is the new frontier of the environmental movement.
“There are many companies that have done a lot on climate change internally with their own operations and what they are now doing is starting to look at the companies in their supply chain,” says Sonal Mahida, vice president of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in the United States. “We’re working with a number of companies on those issues, such as PepsiCo, IBM, and Walmart.” This often begins by asking tough questions of suppliers.
Although not all consumers want to do homework before making a purchase, this trend allows those interested to make more conscious purchases. It also encourages companies to make self-initiated improvements encouraged by transparency.
Greener fleets hit the streets:
Although personal auto sales were low last year, many companies worked on greening their fleets. Coca-Cola Enterprises’ announced that it would have the largest hybrid-electric diesel delivery fleet in North America, Frito-Lay added 1,200 efficient delivery vehicles, and UPS now has more than 1,800 alternative-fuel vehicles globally.
Energy efficiency gains horsepower:
Companies continue to take advantage of low hanging fruit to reduce energy costs and mitigate carbon emissions. A new generation of technology has made energy management simpler and easier by providing real-time information. Some software allows real-time energy pricing to be viewed along with minute-by-minute usage data. Engenuity Systems is helping McDonald’s save 13.6% each year on lighting, heating, cooking, and cooling by installing equipment that turns off lights, heating, and cooling systems when not needed.
IT aims to save the world:
The energy footprint of all the information and communication technology is responsible for 2% of the total greenhouse gas emissions, according to McKinsey & Co. The potential of such technology however is worth its weight in gold and many IT companies have been developing these valuable tools. Telecommuting and teleconferencing are two obvious examples, with Cisco and HP as leaders in this area. Software has recently been developed, such as Google’s Powermeter and Microsoft Hohm help monitor residential and business energy use. IBM also recently launched Sustainable Supplier Information Management Consulting, assisting companies to collect supply chain data.
Sarah Lozanova is passionate about the new green economy and is a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Energy International Quarterly, ThinkGreen.com, Triple Pundit, Green Business Quarterly, Renewable Energy World, and Green Business Quarterly. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative.