NO ONE likes to admit it, but most businesses are a little
bit tired of hearing about going green.
It has connotations of being a feel-good initiative rather
than something that will add true business value, and most employees and
managers are terrified of the time and monetary commitments it seems to imply.
I make the distinction that I'm not in the business of
selling green initiatives – I'm using technology to achieve efficiency and
"Ecopreneurship" is not about making money by
selling eco-friendly but ultimately useless systems to begrudging companies.
It's about addressing environmental and operational issues with cost effective
and valuable solutions.
I've learnt long ago that no one wants to buy a product that
does exactly what the old one did (but in a green way).
If products which claim sustainability as a selling point
fail to move beyond the warm fuzzy feelings of simply being a more
environmentally-conscious choice and do not improve on the existing, suitable
(albeit carbon-heavy) solutions that businesses have been using for years, they
are doomed to fail.
Eco-friendliness is simply a byproduct of efficiency and
sustainability. I speak to the heart of what make organisations tick – people
and profit – while meeting their important responsibilities towards protecting
As Lester Brown, puts it: "In nature, one-way linear
flows do not long survive. Nor, by extension, can they long survive in the
human economy that is a part of the earth's ecosystem.
"The challenge is to redesign the materials economy so
that it is compatible with the ecosystem."
I believe putting systems in place that make people more
efficient is crucial. The marketplace that I address, IT operations, is always
short of skills.
By freeing them up and eliminating grunt work, I'm
contributing to the company's bottom line.
Most companies would shrug at the fact that they are
wasting, say, 2 500 tonnes of CO²
by simply leaving their PCs on overnight. But
once you reveal the monetary value of the electricity they are wasting (which
is somewhere to the tune of R2m per annum) they are quick to respond.
Organisations need to know that they can be more efficient
in terms of cost and people management whilst reducing CO² emissions.
Price is not the hurdle in the energy efficiency market.
I've been on the project list (and even in the budgets) of several large
companies for years. The hurdle is that companies have no incentive to reduce
their energy consumption as yet.
If the carbon tax initiative is passed as planned in the
next two years, many organisations are going to be scrambling to reduce their
My question would be: why wait, when you can start saving
money right now? One of the top four banks in South Africa recently implemented
technology that cut their energy consumption for their desktop computers in
They saved over R400 000 in one month alone.
In order to create a more sustainable, efficient economy, we
need to start quantifying the value of doing green business – not from a
marketing or corporate social responsibility perspective, but a financial one
first of all.
*Tim Lames is the owner of sustainableIT and the distributor