Romer: Being green is good for business

Earth Day on April 22 is marked by more than a billion people around the world as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes. It began in 1970 as the start of the modern environmental movement.

Locally, Walking Mountains Science Center — alongside several community partner organizations — will kick off its first annual Climate Action Week with numerous events meant to highlight the different sectors of the local Climate Action Collaborative.

The Climate Action Collaborative for the Eagle County Community is a group of local governments, businesses, schools, special districts and nonprofits tasked to implement the recommendations of the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County Community. The plan recommends county-wide carbon pollution reduction targets of 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, from the Eagle County 2014 baseline inventory.

Walking Mountains commonly shares blog posts on topics such as what, why and how businesses can and should be more sustainable. Climate Action Week and Earth Day are good reasons to explore the connection between business and sustainability.

Climate action and sustainability are important concepts to the business community — while being sustainable is a good general practice, it must also follow the “3 Ps” of profit, people, planet. The “what” will look different depending on the business, but in general, it shows up as thinking about the long-term effects of your operations and making an effort to have a minimal negative impact on society and the environment.

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There is a significant and growing business case for incorporating the triple bottom line. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication conducted a survey on consumer activism in America. The study found that a majority of Americans agree that companies need to take “climate-friendly actions” and 41% of Americans say they intend to use their money more frequently to reward companies that are trying to reduce climate change. Being sustainable adds brand value, separates you from the competitors, contributes to employee retention and attracts consumers. Importantly, businesses can also reduce internal costs from efforts such as energy and water efficiency measures, reducing transportation needs and allowing employees to work from home.

If you haven’t taken any steps to become a more sustainable business, the process might seem daunting. It is important to remember that it does not have to be done all at once. We all learned to walk by putting one foot in front of the other, and the sustainability journey for a business is no different. Some of the tools available from Walking Mountains include:

  • The Green Business Trail Map maps out the steps you can take in various categories of action and allows you to choose your own sustainable business adventure.
  • If you’re ready to promote your efforts and elevate your performance through an official certification, check out the Actively Green program, complete with training and workshops to help you become a recognizable leader in sustainable business (free for Vail Valley Partnership members!)
  • Their Energy and Buildings team can schedule a free business walkthrough with you to give you advice on energy efficiency improvements and help you navigate commercial rebates to help offset some of the upfront costs.

The link between financial performance and sustainability is growing stronger. It is a wise investment to make an effort in sustainability planning for your business as the market shifts in that same direction. Together, we can all keep Eagle County ahead of the curve and strive toward a better future for our communities.

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