Monday, January 3, 2011

The Cost of Zombies

Sustainability is Good Business

Is sustainability costly? Some think so. Opponents give many reasons not to fund cleantech or renewable energy. Some reasons are little more than mere preferences for something else, but most are based on how cleantech is supposedly uneconomic.

Triple Bottom Line Venn diagram

The evergreen canard that we must always choose between social/environmental objectives and higher economic costs keeps coming back, zombie-like, no matter how many times it's seemingly flattened and left for dead. Good social policies make good business sense, and what's good for the environment turns out to be good for the economy too.

Good social policies and good environmental policies are good economic policies. Sustainability is becoming not something outside of core business concepts, but instead just another part of good business practice, i.e. good dollars-and-cents decision-making. Business is spending more on sustainability initiatives as the benefits become more apparent. Spending on such initiatives is projected to double to $60B by 2014.

The value of funding cleantech, renewable energy, zero waste and other sustainability projects has become so clear that it's no longer necessary to justify them for non-economic reasons. They have clear value in themselves. So clear in fact, that it may be time to do away with the concept of the triple bottom line because doing the right thing is also increasingly doing the profitable thing.

Three quarters of large businesses now have formal sustainability strategies. It's not a frill at odds with the economics.

It's just business.

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