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Sustainability? Yes Please But We Need Payback

A report by Harris Interactive, commissioned by Schneider Electric find that in a survey of senior execs, the not surprising outcome was that almost 90 percent of senior executives feel morally responsible for making companies energy efficient, but cost savings remain biggest motivator.

The Survey found that Eighty-eight percent of Fortune 1000 senior executives feel business has a moral responsibility, beyond regulatory requirements, to make their companies more energy efficient. At the same time, the vast majority (61 percent) of respondents say that potential cost savings are their biggest motivator to save energy at the enterprise-level, outranking environmental concerns (13 percent) or government regulations (2 percent).

Sixty-one percent of respondents cite potential savings as the key driver in making their organizations more sustainable, stating that their companies would be motivated to use less if there was an energy management solution that could save them money. Cost savings was by far the most widely cited factor among the executives, with the remaining respondents reporting the following:

Environmental benefits: Thirteen percent cited stewardship of the environment to be a main motivator.

CEO mandate: Ten percent said their companies would use less energy if the CEO required it.

Education: Seven percent said if they knew how to reduce consumption, they would change behavior.

Increased cost: Seven percent said that their companies would use less energy if it was a more expensive product.

Government regulation: A mere two percent of respondents said they would only use less if it was required by lawmakers.

None of the above is that surprising is it? As is often the case with these reports however, there is some interesting insight if you read on..

“The findings of the survey reinforce what we’re hearing daily from our customers,” said Christopher Curtis, President and CEO of Schneider Electric in North America. “Business leaders want to be good corporate citizens regarding their energy management, they often just don’t know where to start. At the same time, we’re in the process of emerging from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, requiring cost savings to be a key part of the solution. We are beginning to see energy management services become a strategic asset for companies looking to save money.”

So our great captains of industry ‘Don’t know where to start’?’ Huh?

Maybe we had too many years of lazy economic growth, but to me it seems like this is both a huge challenge and opportunity rolled into one. To be honest I’m getting a bit tired of reading about how businesses are tippy toeing around sustainability when they should have jumped in the pool years ago.

So, once again folks, repeat after me. Sustainability is good business. Energy saving is good business. And pretty soon if your business is not run sustainably then you won’t have a business.

What is evident from this report is that CEOs everywhere need to drive sustainability initiatives across their enterprises. Forget moral obligations and making this planet a more viable place for those who come next, look at the cost benefits. As for where to start? Surely that’s a case of finding out where the biggest savings can be made, prioritizing these areas and using the savings from these ‘low hanging fruit’ projects to finance others?

IT For Sustainability (ITFS) is a great place to start, with PC Power Management projects showing one of the quickest returns for energy saving projects. The Data Center too can be a facility that is often overlooked but could be simply bleeding cash just through under utilized servers and equipment. But wherever you decide to start, just get on with it!

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