Sustainability is Good Business!

Hari Srinivas

The concept of 'Triple bottom line' balances economic viability, environmental sustainability, social equity.


Sustainable Business:
Sustainability is Good Business!

B
usinesses are adopting ethical, socially responsible and sustainable practices on the hope that it will ultimately improve the bottom line - meaning more profit for them. Sustainability in business is an idea that is rapidly gaining currency - when businesses choose to reinvest in communities and protect the environment, they also energize our economy.

The now familiar benefits include reduced costs, higher productivity, avoiding or reducing regulatory burdens, lowering liabilities, attracting and retaining the best workers, and includes improving the businesses' public image.

Environmentally sustainable building design, for example, embraces an abundance of natural sunlight, fresh outside air, and efficient energy use. A healthier, more appealing office environment equals more productive workers who call in sick less often, with lower health-care costs, less absenteeism, higher productivity and savings on energy.

Sustainable businesses in principle keep an eye on the "triple bottom line" - not just the return of value to shareholders or owners but also their impact on society and the environment. They rate themselves on social, ecological and economic scales.

This does not just mean being 'green': Reducing waste and pollutants, conserving resources, and using alternative energy sources are important, but so are progressive management practices, attention to employee quality-of-life issues, and volunteerism.

Contribution to the environment by Tokaido Shinkansen (Japan's 'Bullet' Trains).

When you buy a bullet train ticket, it comes in a small envelope. Written on the envelope is a short para on the fact that CO2 emissions from traveling by Shinkansen is about 1/8th that of airplanes, touting itself as an 'environmentally friendly transportation system'. It provides more details: If it takes 100 units of CO2 emissions to move one person for a distance of one kilometer distance using local trains, travel by the Bullet train emits only 81 units in comparison, while air travel emits 653 units.

This is a classic case where more and more business and industry entities are using sustainability and environmental issues to sell their products or services.


Hari Srinivas, GDRC
Return to Sustainable and Green Businesses
Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org