With 2008 just out the door, it’s a good time to look back at the green business issues and news items popular with top sustainability executives. Here are Environmental Leader’s top green business stories for 2008, based on reader interest:
15. HP, L’Oreal, Pepsi, Others Asking Suppliers For Emissions Info
In 2008, companies started asking suppliers for emissions information and many joined the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration. The group wants to create a single standardized approach to measure the carbon footprint of supply chains.
Other popular Sustainable Supply Chain stories:
Keys To Greener Supply Chains
Companies are rushing to create green supply chains, basing purchasing decisions not only on the value that vendors deliver, but also on their compliance with green initiatives and other key corporate values.
12 Steps To A ‘Greener’ Supply Chain
Following in the footsteps of companies like HP, L’Oreal and Pepsi, readers were eager to learn how to achieve a greener supply chain.
Few Willing to Pay for Green Supply Chains
A survey of about 1,600 logistics executives from around the world found that 98 percent of respondents believe green supply chain initiatives are essential for future business success. However, the study also found that the majority are unwilling to invest additional funds to get there.
14. Chevron ‘A+,’ Google ‘F’ In Sustainability Reporting Efforts
Reporting efforts from other companies were also closely followed by execs. According to “Analysis of Sustainability Reporting of Fortune Companies in California,” produced by the Roberts Environmental Center, corporations like Chevron, Hewlett-Packard and Walt Disney publicized their sustainability on their Web sites while others like eBay, Google and Apple rarely mentioned the subject.
Other popular CSR and Sustainability Reporting stories:
Companies That Report Sustainability Data Enjoy Higher Gross Margins
Companies that report sustainability data generally experience higher gross margins and return on sales, higher return on assets, and stronger cash flow than those that do not.
Sustainability Reporting Still Used As PR Tool
Environmental sustainability reporting is still being used as a public relations tool to position companies favorably on environmental issues, instead of holding companies accountable for environmental performance.
Half Of S&P 100 Released Sustainability Report In 2007
Over 50 percent of America’s largest public traded companies now report on their sustainability efforts – and over a third integrate elements of the Global Reporting Initiative sustainability reporting guidelines.
13. Sustainability and its Impact on Brand Value
In 2008, companies were very interested in the ways that green initiatives impact brand value. Paula Oliveira and Andrea Sullivan of Interbrand said GE saw an increase in its brand value by more than $60 billion since 2005, when Ecomagination was launched by CEO Jeffrey Immelt.
Other popular Green Marketing stories:
FTC Examines Green Building, New Green Guides ‘Definitely’ In 2009
The Federal Trade Commission said that it would definitely release New Green Guides in 2009.
Smart Companies Stay Ahead Of Green Trends
Companies who fail to keep pace with rapid changing market dynamics may see their brands undermined.
Backlash Brewing Against Green Marketing Images
Getty Images released its second MAP Report (shorthand for what Makes A Picture) covering environmental-related marketing.
12. Retailers Putting Green Into Their Blueprints
Last year, more retailers started incorporating sustainability initiatives into their operations, racing to gain awareness with consumers and to lower operating costs. Top sustainability executives were interested to learn about such initiatives and about the companies making the shift.
Other popular Green Retail stories:
The Greening of Retail: Lowering Costs and Raising Customer Loyalty
By adopting an innovative set of eco-friendly and sustainable processes and solutions, retailers are striving to reduce total cost of operations and improve levels of customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention.
Retailers Eye Sun for Energy Savings
Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Safeway, Macy’s and other retailers have already installed solar panels on store roofs – some generating electricity on a large scale. Although fewer than 10 percent of the above stores have been outfitted, more are planned – even though it costs more to generate power from solar panels.
Will Companies Get Carbon Labels Right?
EL readers continued to be concerned about the issues surrounding carbon labels. Manufacturers and retailers had yet to come up with an easy way to provide reliable carbon information to customers.
11. Reports Study Actual, Perceived Corporate Social Responsibility Scores
Readers wanted to know how other companies (read “the competition”) stack up on green issues. Google, Campbell’s Soup, and Johnson & Johnson topped the 2008 Corporate Social Responsibility Index. The survey found that corporate governance, ethics and transparency are increasing in their importance to overall corporate reputation.
IBM, Tesco, Dell Top Ceres’ Climate Change Governance Ranking
An analysis of the climate change governance practices at 63 of the worlds largest retail, pharmaceutical, technology, apparel and other consumer-facing companies.
Corporate Knights Lists 100 Most Sustainable Companies
Corporate Knights Inc. and Innovest Strategic Value Advisors announced its fourth annual list of the 100 most sustainable corporations in the world at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Toxic 100 Fingers DuPont As Top Polluter
DuPont headed up the Toxic 100, a list of the top corporate air polluters in the U.S. from researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts.
10. New Financial Models Make Solar Power More Economical
Renewable energy production was also a top hit among sustainability executives. Readers needed to know more about the power-purchase agreements making solar power more affordable.
Other popular Renewable Energy stories:
Alternative Energy Use For Manufacturers Promising, Cost Still A Hurdle
Manufacturers are investing in combined heat and power systems that allow them to produce electricity directly from biofuels, hydrogen and solid municipal wastes.
Duke Caves To Criticism, Halves Solar Plan
Duke Energy decided to cut its $100 million distributed solar rooftop program in half after the company was criticized by companies such as Wal-Mart as being “unfair.”
SCE To Install Solar Panels On 2 Sq Miles Of California Roofs
Southern California Edison will install 250 megawatts of solar panels on 65 million square feet of roofs – that’s two square miles – of Southern California commercial buildings at a cost of $875 million.
9. Top 10 Reasons To Green IT
Reducing IT energy use was a major concern for organizations. Execs were drawn to these 10 reasons that explained why greening IT departments is an important waypoint on the road toward sustainability.
Other popular Green IT stories:
Vendors Should Highlight Cost Savings Of Green IT
More than 70 percent of IT decision makers would either “probably” or “definitely” increase their preference for a brand’s products if they were convinced of the positive impact on the environment. However, measurements of GHG emissions or pounds of e-waste or kilowatt hours saved are harder to wrap your head, or fingers, around than cold, hard cash.
80% Of IT Decision Makers Value Green IT, But Hurdles Remain
Four out of five IT decision makers across government and corporate sectors said implementing green IT solutions in their organizations is important – almost half cited positive reputation as the main benefit.
8. Green Labels Positively Impact Purchase Behavior
What sustainability issues drive green purchasing decisions? Certain labels and certifications that garner higher awareness and understanding, in part driven by their longevity in the marketplace, make the most impact on consumers.
Other popular Consumer Behavior stories:
As Goes Wal-Mart…Retailer Says Green Product Adoption Up In 2007
Wal-Mart has announced an adoption rate increase of 66 percent from last year in its sustainability Live Better Index, which tracks consumers’ decisions to purchase five eco-friendly products.
Cause Marketing Can Result In Sales Lift
Cause-related marketing can exponentially increase sales, in one case as much as 74 percent, resulting in millions of dollars in potential revenue for brands.
‘Greenfluencers’ Are Small But Powerful Group Of Consumers
A small (4%) but powerful group of consumers, or “Greenfluencers,” are driving trends and shaping purchasing decisions in the mass market, according to a study of nearly 12,000 U.S. adults.
Other popular Green Design stories:
Designers: ‘Green’ Fashion Sustainable
At New York’s fashion shows, designers and sponsors say that environmentally friendly clothing designs and fabrics are here to stay.
Nature Provides Recipe For Sustainable Manufacturing
By studying the Earth’s biosphere, managers can learn how to build ecologically friendly products that reduce manufacturing costs.
Software Answers Sustainable Design Questions
Sustainable Minds has released software which it says is the first web-based, early-stage design tool available that defines sustainable design and how companies can make sustainable design work for them.
6. AIA Picks Top Sustainable Building Designs
This year’s top picks for the best green building projects of the year from the American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment are a showcase of sustainable design approaches.
Green Building Could Hit $140 Billion By 2013
The value of green building construction starts was up from $10 billion in 2005 to $36-$49 billion in 2008, and could triple by 2013, reaching $96-$140 billion.
Architects Say 47% Of Clients Adding Green Building Elements
Forty-two percent of architects report clients asking for green building elements on a majority of their projects, with 47 percent of clients actually implementing green building elements on their projects, an increase of 15 percent from 2007.
A Call To Action: Buildings Key to Corporate Sustainability
While it seems that more companies label themselves “green” every day, the fact is, most corporations have only a vague idea of how they can make a demonstrable improvement in environmental performance.
5. How To Keep Sustainability Initiatives Rolling After Earth Day
Companies plaster the Internet with press releases touting Earth Day initiatives – yours is probably one of them. So, how can managers and supervisors increase the probability that sustainable practices will stick in the office – long after any Earth Day momentum fades?
Other popular Strategy & Leadership stories:
Corporations Turn Environmental Activists Into Allies
Environmental stakeholders have changed from pesky activists to big investors – pension funds, state controllers, institutional investors, even their investment bankers – and can no longer be brushed aside.
Should CFOs Take A Seat At The Sustainability Table?
More than half of finance executives believe their companies are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to increase revenue, reduce operating costs, improve investor returns and shareholder value, and improve employee retention through sustainability.
More Companies Give Employees Energy-Saving Incentives
An increasing number of companies are offering their employees incentives for saving energy, like gas cards and telecommuting options.
4. Green Initiatives Could Represent 10% of Obama’s Stimulus Plan
Green-technology advocates estimate that the green component of President-elect Barack Obama’s stimulus plan could be $50 billion or 10 percent of the overall package.
Other popular Policy & Law stories:
Phthalates To Be Banned From Toys
House and Senate lawmakers agreed to permanently ban three types of phthalates from children’s toys and to outlaw three other phthalates from products pending an extensive study.
States Sue EPA Over Emissions Waiver Denial
In the latest round of the legal wrangling between the EPA and California over the emissions waiver request, California and 15 other states are suing the EPA.
House Extends Renewable Energy Tax Credits
Earlier this week, it seemed the tax measure passed by the U.S. House of Representatives may jeopardize the fate of renewable energy tax breaks. But today, after a second attempt, the House voted 263-171 in favor of a $700 billion bailout bill, which includes the extension of credits.
3. Prediction: $1 Trillion U.S. Carbon Market By 2020
The U.S. will be home to a $1 trillion carbon emission market by 2020 if federal and state policymakers continue on their current path towards a cap-and-trade program that is confined to domestic trading only, according to an analysis of bills before the U.S. Congress.
Other popular Carbon Stories:
Carbon Disclosure Project Asks 3000 Companies for Eco-Info
For 2008, The Carbon Disclosure Project has issued a request to over 3,000 of the world’s largest corporations to measure and disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and report their strategy for dealing with climate change.
GAO: EU’s Carbon System, CDM Not Getting Job Done
The GAO said Europe’s cap-and-trade system had created “a functioning market for carbon dioxide allowances, but its effects on emissions, the European economy, and technology investment are less certain.”
CO2 Regulations Could Affect 1 Million U.S. Companies
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging Congress to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. In testimony before the Senate, William Kovacss, U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of environment, technology, and regulatory affairs, warned that CO2 regulations could hit 1 million U.S. firms.
2. Corporations Step Up Recycling Efforts
Consumer electronics accounted for almost 1.5 percent of 250 million tons of trash in 2006 and 15 to 20 percent of electronic waste was recycled – up from 10 to 15 percent in 2003.
Buy Back Programs Offer New Angle On Electronics Recycling
NEW Customer Service will soon roll its ecoNEW electronics buy back program to electronic retailers nationwide. The company is best known for providing extended warranty plans for retailers.
Aluminum Assoc. Sets Ambitious 75% Aluminum Can Recycling Target
The Aluminum Association is working on an industry wide effort to increase the industry’s recycling rate for used aluminum beverage cans to 75% by 2015.
Half of GM’s Manufacturing Plants to be Landfill-Free by 2010
General Motors announced it is planning to make half of its major global manufacturing operations landfill-free by the end of 2010. This means more than 80 of the company’s manufacturing operations will become landfill-free over the next 28 months.
1. Citigroup, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley Unveil ‘Carbon Principles’
Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley have announced new standards that will make it harder for companies to get financing for the construction of coal-fired power plants in the U.S.
Other popular Products & Planning stories:
Sharp And TBS Issue ‘Lights Out Challenge’
Sharp Electronics, in collaboration with Turner Broadcasting Systems, announced the “Lights Out Challenge.” The challenge encourages fans watching Major League Baseball’s Game Four of the American League Championship Series to conserve energy by turning out their lights during the games.
HP Thinks Outside The Box, Sells Notebooks In Messenger Bags
HP has redesigned the packaging of the HP Pavilion dv6929 by replacing conventional shipping materials and boxes with the HP Protect Messenger Bag with fabric made from 100 percent recycled materials.
Ikea To Sell Solar Panels
Ikea plans to invest about $77 million into clean-technology startups over the next five years, with the goal of eventually selling solar panels, smart meters and other technology in its stores.