Going green is a trillion dollar industry propelled by the energy independence and global warming solutions your customers, colleagues, investors and competitors desire now. The scale and growing pace of the "green collar economy" creates opportunities for your business to grow revenues, enhance your brand and save money.
Now you should be asking yourself:
1. How much of that $1 trillion am I harvesting?
2. What should I be doing to jump aboard this trend as it transforms how the world does business?
To help you answer these questions, this column will spotlight companies that are making and saving money by implementing green policies. I'll also coach you on what has and hasn't worked, based on the results of companies that have adopted green business practices and allies in marketing, stakeholder outreach, business processes and product design.
Let's spark your creative juices by providing two areas of green entrepreneurial opportunities. Refer to them often as you think about how this green economic revolution will impact your business.
1. The United States produces 2 billion barrels of oil a year, but imports 5.5 billion barrels. And 3.3 billion barrels of that produces gasoline every year. Our largest known untapped oil reserve is believed to be in northern Alaska with an estimated 4.4 to 11 billion barrels. Get it? We can't achieve energy independence by predominately running our cars on gasoline. Looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity? How about the estimated $5 trillion plus to re-engineer our 200 million vehicle national transportation fleet and the additional trillions in selling parts, services, financing, non-gasoline-based fuel supplies, etc.?
2. The United States annually emits 6 billion metric tons of CO2, which is the principal green house gas believed to be causing climate change. That is equal to 120 pounds of CO2 emissions per day per person for every man, woman and child who live in the United States. A year-end 2007 study on climate change summarizing the work of over 2,000 scientists estimates the need to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50 percent. If we stopped using all of our coal-fired electricity generating plants, it would only get us to an approximately 33 percent reduction. The cost to do so is at least a trillion dollars as we adopt renewable generation like roof-top solar, bio-fuels and wind plus investments in energy efficiency technologies like in-ground geothermal heating and cooling systems for our homes and offices.
This isn't just an "energy thing." Changes of this magnitude impact every industry in our economy. For example, the entire agricultural industry will benefit as "things that can be grown" substitute carbon-based chemicals in our plastics, clothes and other products. And because carbon is in everything--our paint, cell phones, plastic bags--you should be seeing opportunities to sell something or save money by reducing or replacing carbon-centric products and services.
This is a social revolution. It's changing how your stakeholders think about your business and how they make purchases. Because this revolution is just gaining momentum, the "revolutionary results" are still modest compared to their potential. For example, hybrid car sales represent only 1 percent of total new car purchases. But that's because operating procedures at major corporations are just beginning to be shaped by sustainability performance metrics that recently hired sustainability officers are establishing. The growing list of major companies hiring such officers includes Wal-Mart, Dupont and Google.
Today, marketing is focused on those who adopt green policies. Tomorrow, the focus will be on mass marketing. At the CEO level, corporate America has begun the process toward sustainability and the old saying 'that a CEO spitting creates a flood at the lowest level in the organization' will hold true. If your business doesn't have a plan for this coming flood you will be missing a great economic opportunity.
Buying into the green economy will forever change the way you view the world and its business opportunities. Your customers and work colleagues will be your greatest resource in crafting strategies, green cost savings actions, new products and green marketing promotions that will harvest this commercial opportunity. It's also an opportunity to network with innovative, caring and astute business leaders.
Don't miss out on a green collar economy projected to grow to more than $4 trillion.
By taking advantage of these opportunities, you will make money while making the world a cleaner and safer place to live.
Bill is President of NCCT , a consulting firm that helps companies grow green revenue. His newest book, The Secret Green Sauce , profiles best practices being used by successful green businesses. He has previously held roles as senior vice president of PG&E Energy Services, president of Cleantech America (a solar power plant development company) and COO of Texaco Ovonics Hydrogen Solutions (which launched the first hydrogen-fueled Prius).