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The Unintended Results of Doing the Right Thing

by Doug Kramer, President & CEO for Entrepreneur Magazine

Click here to view the article in Entrepreneur Magazine

Typically, a company’s success is commonly measured by financial indicators, such as growth in revenue, market share and profitability. But what happens when you apply a different standard of measurement to the success of your company?

Environmental responsibility is one such standard that some organizations are now striving to achieve. Rather than measure success in financial terms, environmental responsibility assesses whether a company is doing the right thing for the community and environment.

So another question to ask is: Can doing the right thing create potential business opportunities? And can these opportunities – in addition to financial measurements — be another indicator of organizational success?

Companies are often driven by, and toward, financial results. But environmental responsibility is often associated with higher costs.

Because of that, many companies do not view sustainability practices as a measurement of success, which makes it uncommon for companies to do the right thing for the environment. There usually needs to be an expectation that the environmental effort will also benefit the business in some way.

When our team began to consider making environmentally positive changes to its product line, we believed there would be a benefit to our business.

In a previous post, I mentioned that we expected our environmental stewardship to positively influence our bottom line, as we had conducted a lot of research and identified ways to achieve both savings and greater product yield through this innovation.

These assumptions proved to be correct. But what our team did not presume was that there would be additional positive results beyond those directly affecting the environment and our bottom line. We’ve been pleasantly surprised.

First and foremost, environmental stewardship has the power to showcase the organization as a true leader. If you are the first in your industry to uniquely employ sustainability measures, that effort will be recognized by your clients and industry.

Depending on how you are driving that stewardship, you may also showcase innovation of other kinds via technology advancements, efficiencies and new ideas. And you may be able to achieve and drive additional product or service enhancements through your environmental stewardship efforts.

Driving sustainability practices within your company may lead to something else you haven’t even thought of – improved employee morale. When workers know that their company is influencing positive change in the world, they tend to feel good about working for that organization. In essence, they are proud to be part of it. This in turn will likely lead to increased loyalty, good word-of-mouth referrals, PR and even improved performance.

In addition to the positive influence on your company and its team members, you may also be able to forge a path within your industry. This can showcase your organization as the catalyst for positive change industry-wide, garnering improved recognition for the company and even attracting new talent, who want to be part of the movement you’ve started.

When you decide as an organization to employ sustainability measures, it also puts you in the unique position to stay ahead of regulators and to be a model of inspiration to them, rather than a subject that needs to be policed. As such, you become an example of what to do, rather than what not to do, spotlighting the organization as one that is both progressive and responsible.

In 2014, in parallel with our commitment to re-engineer the chemistry of our product line to eliminate ozone depletion potential and reduce global warming impacts, we were invited to participate in the President’s Climate Action Plan Executive Roundtable at the White House alongside both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy and a short list of CEOs from some of the country’s most recognized companies.

The goal of the roundtable was to lead the discussion toward real actions that would “green” American made products in an effort to protect the climate.

Our invitation to participate in this prestigious discussion was a catalyst that allowed us to help drive environmental change in both its industry and the business community at-large, prior to regulations being instated which would force those changes upon us. In essence, we were able to drive positive change, rather than be driven reluctantly by regulations.

We had never expected to have a seat at a discussion of this caliber, and we never would have had we not been the first in our industry sector to drive the environmental stewardship we believed was truly needed. Our product innovations led us to not only being invited to participate in the President’s Climate Action Plan roundtable discussions two years in a row, but it also resulted in the EPA showcasing Lapolla as an environmental leader with both domestic and international business audiences.

For example, in 2015, the EPA and State Department brought a delegation from India to our headquarters to educate them on the company’s innovations and the positive environmental impacts garnered from them.

In short, if you drive sustainability measures and practices in your company and industry, it is not only possible to positively impact your bottom line, but also to garner surprising results.

Whether these include an elevated reputation in the business community, improved employee morale or being showcased by regulators as a model of best practices, you might be surprised what positives await you through environmental stewardship.

gwp carbon dioxide emissions epa footprint

What is GWP (Global Warming Potential)?

Global-warming potential (GWP) is the amount of heat a greenhouse gases maintains in the Earth’s atmosphere. All greenhouse gases have GWP, which then explains the impact greenhouse gases have on global warming. Each gas’ heat-absorbing ability (GWP rate) is usually compared to that of carbon dioxide (CO2).

For example, methane is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect. Methane’s GWP is 21. So methane is about 21 times more heat-absorptive than carbon dioxide and can remain in the atmosphere for 12 years. Nitrous Oxide (N2O) has a GWP of approximately 310. This means one pound of Nitrous Oxide can warm the atmosphere over 300 times more than a pound of Carbon Dioxide. In 2012, Nitrous Oxide accounted for about 6% of all US greenhouse gas emissions from human activities (source: epa.gov).

residential commercial electricity transportation gwp

Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

There are four main greenhouse gases: Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Flourinated Gases and Carbon Dioxide. How do these gases get into the atmosphere? Here’s an visual of the greenhouse gas emissioins just for the United States (epa.gov)

Each type of greenhouse gas has a GWP. The higher the GWP, the higher the impact it has on global warming.

What does GWP have to do with your Carbon Footprint? If you take the total emissions of a given human act, such as driving a car or running your air conditioning, you can estimate a number of total greenhouse gas emissions that occurred over a time period. This total number is your carbon footprint.