Taking care of the planet is essential to taking care of business these days, based on the findings of a report just released by New York City-based PricewaterhouseCoopers (News - Alert) (PwC), a professional services firm headquartered in London.
Indeed, slightly more than half (52 percent) of the 600 business professionals polled for a recent PwC–US webcast called “Boosting your bottom line through eco-efficiency,” said that they rate eco-efficiency as a high or growing priority—but not because they want to save the planet.
The PwC survey results indicate that businesses are putting greater emphasis on efforts to drive financial savings and build a competitive advantage in the market by being more environmentally conscious. Eco-efficiency initiatives meet multiple business objectives and more than half (54 percent) of respondents noted cost -cutting as the main objective for their companies; this is followed by 30 percent who are focused on enhancing corporate reputations, and 12 percent who are concerned with managing risks.
"Identifying innovative cost-reduction opportunities through a sustainability lens is top of mind for the C-suite…. Companies are focusing on the significant financial benefits of improving efficiency— unlocking incentives and rebates—while delivering better environmental results for stakeholders," said Don Reed, managing director in PwC's Sustainable Business Solutions practice.
"There are a range of financial, environmental, and reputational benefits for organizations taking a more eco-efficient approach, and well-positioned companies are using sustainability initiatives to gain a competitive advantage in their markets," Reed added. "Beyond the cost focus, company leaders are looking at other motivating factors including strengthened reputation, reduced risk and improved customer and employee experience."
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Biggest Barrier is Funding
Changes to behaviors, processes, and materials are an important component to implementing eco-efficiency initiatives, but companies can best achieve other goals through investment. More than one- third of respondents (38 percent) said funding is one of the biggest barriers to making eco-efficiency a reality in their own organizations. Beyond funding, management support (21 percent) and internal capability (21 percent) emerged as additional obstacles.
To secure funding for eco-efficiency programs, companies should look at additional cash benefits—including utility rebates, maintenance savings and government incentive programs, noted PwC. Some utility providers may cover or subsidize capital costs for new equipment that is energy efficient. Likewise, the federal government and many state or local governments provide tax credits, cash grants or loans to spur the adoption of renewable energy, according to PwC.
Room for Improvement
When it comes to areas where executives see room for improvement in their eco-efficiency strategies, energy usage (52 percent) and waste (27 percent) are the top categories where respondents think their own companies could be doing more. Opportunities to implement eco-efficiency initiatives vary, but common areas that are ripe for returns include lighting, on-site solar, energy efficient fleets, water, and raw materials, according to PwC.
"Being more efficient and reducing environmental impacts means thinking and acting differently and companies need to learn how to understand and measure benefits of their eco-efficiency initiatives to really maximize the value and returns," concluded Reed.
Edited by Rich Steeves