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Surprising Science

Green Business Is the New Normal

Whereas making business green was once a financial burden, companies today have a unique opportunity to design products that tap into the global urge to reduce carbon emissions.

What’s the Most Recent Development?

“The growing need for energy-efficient products is a real opportunity to innovate while helping client companies save on operating costs,” thinks Tim Watkins, vice president of Huawei Western Europe. Many large companies’ newest innovations concentrate on conservation. Cisco Systems, a fortune 1000 company, markets a regulatory scheme, currently being implemented by Shell, that allows businesses to see how much energy every one of their machines draws from the grid. Governments, too, are innovating. China’s newest five-year plan signals its intentions to invest heavily in clean technologies; Europe wants to boost its own competitiveness through green innovation.

What’s the Big Idea?

It was not long ago that making a green, environmentally conscious company was what a business did if it wished to be seen as ethical. Still, it cost money and stood in the way of increasing a firm’s margins. Not anymore, says Rich Green, Nokia’s chief technology officer: “Green is neither a threat, nor an opportunity. It is an obligation.” Obligation in the sense that if a company wants to grow, it must look toward innovation in the green sector. This comes in two forms: more efficient technologies and more efficient management systems. Shell, for example, now distributes carbon reports to its departments much like financial reports. 


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