I was asked last week what the impact of a nationwide economic downturn could be on companies prioritizing and funding sustainability initiatives. It's a great question with two answers.
I believe in the not-too-distant future, sustainability will be a fundamental, "table stakes" part of doing business for global enterprises. Reducing the impact companies have on the world around them will soon become non-negotiable, and a requirement for doing business with customers (commercial and consumer) that expect them to act responsibly.
Today, that isn't the case - at least not yet. While several businesses have blazed a trail with significant corporate responsibility and sustainability initiatives, not enough of those efforts had paid off - either in increased sales or decreased operational costs. Unless such initiatives demonstrate a consistent ability to provide value to the organization, they'll be close to the chopping block in leaner times.
That said, technologies are emerging that allow companies to "go green" and save green at the same time. Verdiem's SURVEYOR software, for example, is helping companies save up to 60 percent off their PC energy bill, while cutting associated carbon emissions up to 40 percent. That represents a high, measurable impact on both the environment and the bottom line.
And if this kind of savings is both real and verifiable, it's the kind of thing that will get prioritized higher in lean times.