NEWS AND INFORMATION FROM AROUND THE GLOBE
By Marta Bright, Bobbie Hartman, Kate Pavao, and Alison Weiss
Creating an environmental policy that works for your company
Eco-advantage was a novel idea five years ago when environmental strategist Daniel C. Esty coauthored the first edition of the
business book Green to Gold (Yale University Press, 2006).
“There were just a handful of companies that had begun to
realize the value of bringing an environment or sustainability
focus to corporate strategy,” Esty recalls. “Today, a very large
number of companies understand this logic, and the challenge
has turned out to be not just that you should
do it, but what to do.”
That’s where Esty’s new book, coauthored
by Corporate Eco Forum Chair P.J. Simmons,
comes in. “Green to Gold was basically about
why it makes sense to bring environment and
sustainability focus into core business strat-
egy,” he says. “The Green to Gold Business
Playbook [Wiley, 2011] tells how to do this.”
Here, he lets Profit readers in on the secrets
to shaping a smart sustainability strategy.
Profit: What do businesses need to know
about going green?
Esty: It turns out that the environment and
sustainability agenda has lots of pieces.
Not every green initiative will pay off, and
there will be a certain process of trial and error. It makes sense
to expect some success and some things not to work out.
Companies should do more of the things that are paying off—and
end those things that are not, so they can try something else.
It’s important for companies to pick some initial priorities to
focus on, and then move on to other issues. Recognize which
initiatives will pay off—and pay off biggest—and focus on
Profit: What are some easy initial wins?
Esty: Almost every company is going to find opportunities to cut
their energy spend, which will both reduce emissions and bring
down costs. And for a good number of companies, there are
going to be opportunities to become more efficient with other
products—whether that’s water or the materials that go into
something they’re manufacturing.
Profit: How can companies use technology to become more
Esty: One of the big areas of opportunity for companies that are
in any way information technology intensive is to really pursue a
green IT agenda that, again, cuts costs and
improves results at the same time. A lot of
companies have realized you can improve
the efficiency of operations, cut the electric
bill, and reduce emissions if you embrace
some of these new opportunities like cloud
computing and virtualization as a strategy.
Profit: What about compliance and regulation?
Esty: It certainly makes sense to keep an
eye on the unfolding environmental issue set.
Companies managing that with a clear focus
are more likely to spot issues early and figure
out how to become compliant with the law
in the lowest-cost way. They may in fact get
themselves advantage in the marketplace
while the competition is still floundering.
Profit: You just started working as the commissioner of
Connecticut’s new Department of Energy and Environmental
Protection. What’s exciting about the new job?
Esty: It gives me a chance to put into the policy realm the work
I’ve been doing over 20 years on a more business-oriented
approach to environmental protection. I’ve tried to argue that
the best path forward toward a clean energy future and a world
that’s going to make environmental protection central to how
we do business is to get beyond the narrow focus of command,
control regulation, and figure out a broader portfolio of incentives
that engage the private sector in delivering solutions to our range
of environmental challenges.
HOW TO IMPLEMENT SUSTAINABILITY PRACTICES FOR BOT TOM-LINE RESULTS IN EVERY BUSINESS FUNCTION THE DANIEL C. ESTY AND P.J. SIMMONS