The world’s greenest companies & what we can learn from them

The world's greenest companies & what we can learn from themBeing green is a must for every business today. A couple of years ago, businesses all over the world talked about growth, competition, stock exchange. Whilst these are still every day topics in our ever moving, ever developing economy a whole range of new concerns have appeared on the horizon.

Climate change is happening, governments all over the world have set more or less ambitious targets to ‘win the battle against climate change’, energy resources might become scarce quicker than we believed a decade ago, energy prices continue to rise – and the pressure weighs on the economy, in other words: on companies of every size and every industry.

A couple of years ago, ‘going green’ might have been an exciting business trend –  hip and fancy businesses jumped on the green bandwagon, but today it seems as if it rather was a necessity, the only possibility to survive as a business. Eco-targets have become just as important as sales-targets. Being green might be good for your reputation as a business (a low carbon footprint is equal to a performance based award today). However, it is no coincidence that the most successful businesses in the world also are the greenest ones. Energy efficiency can, after all, take you a long way.

So let’s have a look at 5 of the world’s greenest companies, and what we can learn from them.

1).   Munich Reinsurance Group

It is a well known cliché that efficiency is the most German thing on earth. When it comes to energy efficiency, this is absolutely true. The Munich Reinsurance Group leads the list of the world’s most eco-friendly businesses. Already in 1976 the company started with its very own research on climate change, at that time most companies didn’t even have a clear idea about what climate change actually means. Ever since the company has set high standards and targets and in 2009 all efforts paid off: the German headquarter achieved complete carbon neutrality.

Lesson No 1:  research and proactive thinking will take you a long way when it comes to beating your competitors.

2).   IBM 

The Munich Reinsurance Group has a big competitor in terms of eco-friendliness. Some sources identify IBM as the world’s most eco-friendly company. The listing depends largely on which classification criteria are used. In fact, IBM implemented the first efforts to become more eco-friendly even earlier, back in 1971. Between 1990 and 2000 the company was able to reduce its electricity consumption by 5.1 billion kilowatt hours, which, in other words, is enough electricity for a whole medium sized town.

The amount of business energy used is a key factor for every business and you can profit from two positive effects. You will be more eco-friendly, which is great for your reputation but you can also save a lot of money.

Lesson No 2: Simple and straightforward changes, such as energy saving wherever possible, can make a huge difference in the long run.

3).   IKEA

We all love this Swedish company for so many reasons and we all know that Scandinavia is generally a green, eco-friendly place. Being confronted with harsh criticism in the past, IKEA was quick to react and has been producing furniture in a very sustainable way for many years now. The company went the extra mile, not only focusing on sustainable forestry but also implementing changes in all stores. They only use and sell energy efficient lighting in their well known and popular stores around the world.

Lesson No 3: Even if you are popular you should listen to criticism and make suitable changes. This will further increase your popularity and you can show your customers how much you care.

4).   Yahoo

The internet giant is a source of information in every respect. They have a dedicated green site where they provide their 600 million users with valuable tips on how to lead a more eco-friendly life. The site is extremely popular and many call it even the best resource for environmental tips. However, they are not only educating their users, they also act according to their own advices – which might be obvious but more often than not it is an exception. Their new data centre in New York is a role model for energy efficiency: 95% less water and 40% less energy is used compared to similar buildings.

Lesson No 4: Educating your audience is great, but almost useless if you don’t act as a role model yourself.

5).   Johnson and Johnson

In 2011, Johnson and Johnson announced an extremely ambitious target: Within 4 years they wanted to become the world’s most socially responsible organisation. We still have to wait 2 more years to see if they will succeed or not but in the meantime they are doing an excellent job on the environmental front: Today they already are the second largest user of solar power in the US. More than 50% of all energy they use comes from renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and biomass.

Lesson No 5: Set yourself ambitious goals – but don’t just focus on them alone.

We hope these examples could give you some inspiration and motivation. There are more possibilities to go green than you might have thought. Some businesses even went as far as identifying their own eco-friendly resolutions. With July coming soon, it might be time to check if you have stuck to your energy resolutions.

Editorial Team
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