Why Green Means Business Small Business and Sustainability
Sustainability is not just for big business or governments; a growing number of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs -- firms with less than 500 employees) are exploring the potential of what sustainability can mean for them. In an era of market globalization and increased competition, environmental performance is becoming a key driver of improved resource management and productivity. By moving beyond thinking of the environment as an additional cost to doing business and towards seeing sustainability as an opportunity, companies are saving money - even making more money - and helping the environment in the process.
Being green is no longer a cost of doing business; it is a catalyst for constant innovation, new market opportunity, organizational purpose, and wealth creation."
- Noah Walley and Bradley Whitehead, Harvard Business Review
Opportunity Knocks - but only if you're listening
There are over two million SMEs in Canada, which taken together produce 58% of the country's gross domestic product. As the engine of the Canadian economy, SMEs are also a significant source of environmental pollution, accounting for approximately 20% of reported pollutant releases. Environment Canada research on pollution trends over the last five years shows large firms appear to be outperforming smaller firms in reducing pollution.
At the same time, many SME owners indicate an interest in pursuing environmental improvement activities within their company. However, SMEs cite limited awareness, technical know-how and financial resources as major barriers to action. Nonetheless, some SMEs are overcoming these barriers and finding that by improving their environmental performance, they're in fact reducing costs and increasing profits.
In Toronto for example, SMEs are taking advantage of the Toronto Region Sustainability Program. This program provides technical and financial assistance to enhance SME's environmental performance while improving their competitiveness.
Bowne of Canada, Ltd. is a medium-sized printing company that through the Toronto program has moved beyond mere compliance and is collaborating with employees, vendors and service providers to maximize environmental performance. Bowne is diverting waste away from landfill, achieving reductions of pollutants at the source, minimizing emissions of volatile organic compounds that cause smog and greenhouse gases that cause climate change, as well as decreasing consumption of resources such as water and electricity. Upon full implementation of their identified opportunities, Bowne will achieve annual aggregated reductions of 29.3 tonnes (T) of volatile organic compounds, 6.6T of greenhouse gases, 51.6T of process wastes, while saving 2,700T in water usage with overall savings of $133,000 and a payback of seven months. Earlier this year Bowne was recognized for its achievements with a Pollution Prevention Award from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.
On average, companies participating in the Toronto program have realized cost savings of $85,000 with a return-on-investment of only 11 months, and environmental reductions of:
86T of GHGs
13T of air pollutants
1.5T of toxic chemicals
20.5T of hazardous waste
8,090T of water
These reductions are among other more sector-specific improvements.
Source: Environment Canada
Building Codes Division takes action
to allow water conservation in commercial buildings
(Salem) - In a continuing effort to make water conservation easier for Oregonians, the Department of
Consumer and Business Services' Building Codes Division this month approved the use of wastewater
conservation systems for commercial and industrial buildings. The systems could reduce potable water
BC Energy Plan The BC Energy Plan puts British Columbia at the forefront of environmental and economic leadership. This plan looks to all forms of clean, alternative energy in meeting British Columbians' needs in the provincial economy.