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Why Service Industries Should Master Sustainability

While service industries don’t have smokestacks and may have less environmental impacts than a manufacturing facility, they too can benefit from sustainable business strategies to mitigate risks and capture new business opportunities.

However, it is not uncommon for service based business owners to falsely believe that their business it too small or too service based to benefit from the rewards of “greening” their business. Common myths include:

• Sustainability does not apply to our business.

• Our company does not offer a green product or service.

• Sustainability concepts end up costing more.

• I do not see the personal benefits of sustainability.

• Business sustainability is for larger, global organizations.

• Only manufacturing operations can benefit from benefit from a sustainable supply chain.

• Sustainability is only about the environment.

• It’s all a passing trend

All misconceptions and the business landscape is changing. The requirements to maintain a sustainable business today are quite different than they were just ten years ago. Companies on the leading edge are evaluating the economic, social and environmental impacts that will ultimately affect profitability. Green business practices are becoming more and more the norm, as companies both large and small realize the value of integrating eco awareness and sustainability concepts into their operations and business strategies.

With the global business environment rapidly changing, companies not only have to react but must become masterful in their response. Recognizing the need for change and taking action can get a business on the right track. In our professional consulting experience, we have determined the key is to identify and implement business sustainability concepts that add value and more importantly stick. Service based businesses that take on and master a few select sustainability concepts are better positioned to capture lasting value from their efforts.

For example, many companies are developing strategies to reduce emissions. These organizations are proactively implementing process improvements and new technologies to add value and reduce risk. By focusing on and applying resources to a broad concept, a company can drill-down to more detailed sustainable actions to address:

• Office Building Energy Consumption – evaluating the average energy use per square foot of office space and implementing best practices to reduce: energy consumption studies, efficiency practices, equipment modifications, etc.

• Operations Efficiency – incorporating energy efficient process into their daily operations, evaluating peak hour consumption, and decreasing off-hour usage.

• Supply Chain Efficiency: creating integrated processes with suppliers to improve communication, ensure common sustainable processes, and increase energy efficiency.

There is no doubt that the landscape of business is changing, and the business sustainability pressures of the past are being replaced with the forces of today. No longer is business stability defined by the difference between cost and revenue. Today’s business sustainability is saddled with an increasing set of expectations.

As business sustainability consultants, we stress the value in creating an overarching business case for sustainability for service based businesses. By determining the criteria that will move your company along the business sustainability continuum, organizations have a clear map toward success.

Article by Julie Urlaub, Founder and Managing Partner at Taiga Company; appearing courtesy 3BL Media.