HOW IS CORPORATE AMERICA REDUCING ITS
CARBON FOOTPRINT AND SEEING A RETURN ON INVESTMENT?
All eyes are on President Barack Obama to help
restore the country. He’s signing legislation and
appointing leaders to build a new green-tech
economy, which will transform the way the United States
produces and uses energy and will create as many as 3. 5
million new jobs within the next two years. These include
engineers, who will develop more efficient batteries and
smart appliances, and technologists, who will install solar
panels and repair wind turbines. Consider California,
which leads the nation in patent registrations for green
technologies. The state reports that its energy-efficiency
policies have created more than 1. 5 million jobs since
1978 and delivered $45 billion in payroll.
One of President Obama’s goals is for utility companies to produce 10 percent of their electricity from
renewable sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025.
To get there, the stimulus plan has earmarked $150
billion to expand renewable-energy sources such as
solar and wind. The plan also provides funding for
energy-efficiency projects such as building LEED-certi-fied housing in underserved communities, lowering the
expenses of those most in need.
The green-tech economy will have a long-term,
positive impact on corporate America as well. “Last
summer’s spike in energy prices made business leaders
realize that they have to factor energy consumption into
their decisions,” says Jonathan Wright, a senior executive at the consulting firm Accenture (No. 38 in The
DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity®). In a
2008 survey of 245 executives from global companies,
Accenture found that 86 percent had launched at least
one green initiative. “The vast majority of organizations,”
says Wright, “are taking steps to become more efficient.”
Why Go Green?
Government is demanding it. At least 24 states and
the District of Columbia have enacted renewable-energy standards.
Funds are available. Nearly every state is offering
tax incentives and investment dollars to fund green-tech research and new business start-ups as well as to
help existing corporations expand their environmental
initiatives. Connecticut, for instance, recently committed $9 million to fund businesses whose products cut
waste, harness alternative energy and reduce the use
of natural resources. Venture capitalists are also getting
involved. In California alone, investors committed $3.3
billion to clean-energy innovation in 2008, up from
$1.8 billion in 2007, according to the 2009 California
Green Innovation Index.