Tony Hall Blog

Technology, environment and getting some things off my chest…

Why Green Business Now Makes Good Commercial Sense

green businessREGARDLESS of the debate about emissions trading or global warming, business will soon have to take significant environmental responsibility for its heavy use of carbon intensive non-renewable electricity and oil.

Ageing infrastructure and an emission trading scheme are set to substantially increase energy costs; some analysts predict prices will double over the next three years. A recent survey by the Australian Industry Group found that only 10 per cent of companies had the knowledge to deal with climate change, yet 80 per cent wanted to do something about it.

Sustainability essentially refers to the balanced integration of social and environmental considerations in business strategy and operations. It is about maintaining economic success and achieving commercial advantage by building reputation and gaining the trust of people that work with or live around the company. In other words, it means satisfying customers’ demands, whilst also managing the expectations of other people, such as employees, suppliers and the surrounding community.

Fortunately, there are a number of points that strongly support the business case for environmental sustainability. The first point to consider is the fact that moving towards environmentally sustainable practices presents few or no risks to business operations. If a business acts now and environmental sustainability continues to become an increasingly important and heavily regulated issue (as it is likely to do), you will have a head start over many of your competitors.

Taking action need not be a threat to our economy or a business bottom line. In fact, a study by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst found that a $US100 billion green investment package would create two million jobs — nearly four times more jobs than spending the same amount of money within the oil industry—and would reduce the US unemployment rate to 4.4 per cent over two years. Besides some initial outlay involved in moving towards environmental sustainability, there are not likely to be any long term negative impacts or expenses incurred.

However, if you fail to act now and environmental sustainability becomes more heavily regulated by governments, there could be significant costs involved. For example, regulators may begin charging businesses based on their negative impact on the environment, leaving you to play catch up and incurring expenses in the process. There may also be incentives schemes introduced that will benefit businesses that operate at better than the minimum standards in relation to environmental sustainability, providing businesses that are sustainable with a clear advantage.

Another key point in the business case for environmental sustainability is the potential to reduce your expenses in the medium to long term. For example, making your business more energy efficient will save you a significant amount on energy costs and help you to improve your bottom line. Performing a cost-benefit analysis will allow you to compare the benefits of environmentally sustainable practices with the total cost of implementation.

Environmentally sustainable businesses may also have a competitive edge when it comes to attracting customers and investors. Modern consumers are aware of social and environmental issues and keep themselves informed about which businesses are acting responsibly in the community. Investors are equally aware of these issues and there is a trend developing towards investing in environmentally sustainable companies.

Most importantly in considering the business case for environmental sustainability is the point that it doesn’t negatively impact on a business’ ability to generate a profit. In fact, in the long term it is considered to actually improve profitability through the reduction of expenses and increased competitiveness.

All of these factors suggest that there is a business case for environmental sustainability. Each point can be capitalised on to generate returns and improve the bottom line in your organisation. As more and more businesses implement environmentally sustainable processes into their operations, you put yourself at risk of being left behind if you don’t actively get involved wherever you can.

As individuals, many of us have implemented energy saving measures at home such as replacing light bulbs and switching off lights, but the business sector is lagging as it waits for clearer government regulation and compelling financial incentives.

The business sector is responsible for more than a third of all emissions yet we are witnessing far more action in the domestic sector with the installation of rainwater tanks, solar panels and roof insulation.

So if your business hasn’t already done something in this space, then where is the best place to start? Should it be with the Board through governance or with management through leadership? It matters not, only that it starts where it has a chance to grow. Business leaders will acknowledge planning and execution is vital to achieving outcomes, yet not everything starts in such an ideal or structured manner. Sustainability is a case in point. Just look around your organisation and you’ll likely notice a number of practices and processes that aren’t documented or officially sanctioned but just exist because it makes sense. That’s the beginnings of sustainability at work.

The development of a sustainability culture evolves from ‘natural instincts’ (those logical undocumented processes that just make sense) to a ‘dependent’ state where rules drive behaviours, through an ‘independent’ state where personal acceptance and commitment occurs, and finally matures to an ‘interdependent’ stable state.

So how does a company lead their team to an ideology of sustainability? The answer is surprisingly simple – through real leadership. Real leadership occurs through behaviour, specifically the behaviour of senior staff in common situations. Take for instance a CEO’s casual walk from the business office to the factory floor. The CEO notices there is a piece of rubbish on the ground just inside the factory entrance. If he picks it up and places it in a bin – the standard has been set for personal responsibility. That action has now become a platform for sustainable leadership simply because it’s the responsible thing to do. (The rubbish could become a safety issue or end up in a storm water drain or water catchment area, or be a poor reflection of general housekeeping standards to staff, contractors and visitors). This is ‘felt’ leadership.

Genuine ‘felt’ leadership has the power to reform organisations by taking a high value, societally important platform (such as sustainability) and allowing it to become the prime driver for improvement and performance. To make the most of any behavioural leadership opportunity – either by your own action, or by the observation of others.

Some simple practices to make a start

There are a lot of things organisations can do to make a start, and many start locally with simple practices or stand-alone initiatives. Organisations can make a strong start in the sustainability space by observing 3 main areas;

  1. Capture all current sustainability initiatives. Formalise a policy. Set performance targets and work out how to measure amp report them. Engage staff by working those targets into their job functions and accountabilities. Integrate sustainability strategies into the business planning processes.
  2. Collaborate like crazy to form alliances that develop sustainable service/product offerings based on measured efficiencies.
  3. Communicate your shared sustainability commitments to all your stakeholders so they can engage with the wider societal purpose of being sustainable amp environmentally responsible.

The single most effective first step for the business sector is to simply switch off. Energy use from lighting, air conditioning and electrical equipment accounts for the major proportion of greenhouse gas emissions and bottom line business expense.

To help get you started on specific tasks, a basic energy saving checklist for businesses large and small includes:

  • Install sensor lighting and turn off all lights and appliances at night, on weekends and over holidays;
  • Reduce heating or cooling by two degrees at the thermostat;
  • Install shades on windows to cut cooling costs;
  • Buy only five-star energy rated appliances;
  • Turn off all non-essential electronic equipment at the power point when not in use as stand-by an use just as much energy as when in use;
  • Stop photocopying and faxing — scan and email instead;
  • Upgrade desktops to laptops (they use half the energy) and dispose of old PCs responsibly;
  • Use low energy flat panel monitors and carefully dispose of old CRTs;
  • Check all appliances with a simple meter to identify power hogging devices;
  • Switch to green power to support the alternative energy sector.

Green business now makes good commercial sense.

Tony Hall is CEO of environmental business certification company, GreenBizCheck, which offers sustainability programs to maximise businesses’ green credentials.  

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July 29, 2013 Posted by | Green Business | 1 Comment

If your are serious about winning new business…

Meet Jeff from Vision Personal Training. He cycles on a busy road with a red wig seven hours a week and attracts two new clients a month for his efforts. This is what it takes to win new business.

It really makes me question if our company does enough to attract new business. If motivated, enthusiastic people are willing to throw modesty aside and endure car exhaust fumes and the occasional beer bottle thrown at them, what are we willing to do to grow OUR business?

Jeff starts work at 5.00am and rarely leaves before 7pm six days a week. Imagine what we could achieve if we worked those hours and implemented high profile marketing strategies at the same time!

Not only has Jeff helped me get fitter and stronger, I am much more productive and happier. For years people told me if you get fit you will feel better and perform better at work. Well it is true. It makes such a difference especially when you spend so many hours at a computer or in meetings.

Thanks Jeff – not only have you helped me be a better business person, you have inspired me to utilize marketing strategies that really help GreenBizCheck to stand out and make a difference to companies that want to save money, attract new business and protect our valuable natural resources.

September 21, 2011 Posted by | Green Business | Leave a comment

Is Green Business The Next Mega Trend?

Let’s face it, besides the release of the next Iphone there is nothing very exciting on the business horizon. Last week I attended the Australian Chambers Conference where all the Chambers Of Commerce and their members got together to discuss business and trends. The speaker line-up was excellent with stand out performances from the Americans – Harvard Professor Michael Porter, Blink author Malcolm Gladwell and everyone’s favorite – Apple co-founder and engineer, Steve Wozniak (pictured below).

Nearly every speaker at the conference mentioned the importance of sustainable business practices and how environmental leadership how the business should take action and not wait for government to regulate or subsidize. Numerous presenters talked not only about our responsibility to protect our planet’s natural resources, they emphasized the commercial benefits of green business – cost savings and new revenue opportunities.

Professor Michael Porter said pollution and business waste is a sign of inefficiency and an opportunity to improve profit and performance. The financial and social benefit of taking environmental action now outweighs the cost.

Moreover, General Electric’s CEO said GE has invested US$5 billion in clean technology research and development and generated US$70 billion in revenues in its first five years of operation. Surely this level of investment could heard a new megatrend – a much needed boost to economically stale world markets.

Meanwhile, GreenBizCheck continues to grow with franchise owners in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. It is heartening that nearly 90% of clients are re-certifying for a second year which tells us the price we charge offers value and most importantly saves companies money, helps them attract new business and most importantly gives them a credible certification to stand out in an increasingly eco-aware marketplace.

Please watch our latest short video on green business benefits:

June 8, 2011 Posted by | Green Business | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Meaning Of Life – its FREE

Please STOP and take a moment to read what I hope is my most profound blog entry ever.

It will only take a minute but could really change the way you look at life and success.

It came to me very early this morning at 430am with the birds chirping and the sun well into the sky. Our Government thinks it is funny not to introduce day light savings.

I always thought that The Meaning Of Life was…there is NO meaning of life – we live, we die and we need to make the most of every precious minute we have.

The team at GreenBizCheck is constantly thinking of new ways to better support our franchise owners and team members and help them grow their business quickly. Every day we send tips, articles, ideas and potential new business opportunities. We communicate regularly, we regularly offer feedback and encouragement. We do everything possible to assist.

The critical success factor in our business is meeting people and presenting our world-leading online environmental certification tool. The system is high-impact, low cost and guaranteed to help companies to save money and rapidly establish meaningful environmental credentials.

Once we are in front of business business decision makers, the product sells itself and the conversion of presentations to clients is only a matter of time.

Back to The Meaning of Life.

You will agree that knowledge is power. However, without applying that knowledge, the knowledge is useless.

So I go to the world’s largest source of knowledge and type in “How to get meetings with decision makers” I am talking about Google Of course.

Google indexes billions of web pages and is by far the largest library in the world, hosted on 450,000 servers. Hopefully they are eco-friendly servers.

Every possible great idea on how to professionally obtain meetings appears in the Google search results.

I was amazed. If ever our team members are stuck and need to generate more clients – just go to Google and type in the problem – its all there. How to get meetings, close sales, organise presentations, build relationships – nearly every possible idea has been posted on the internet.

Just try it – how to save thousands of dollars by making your own tooth whitening paste for only a few dollars or, how to make your own organic insect repellent, how to find hubcaps for your 1985 $2000 BMW…It will change your life. Google could have the answer to The Meaning Of Life if you follow my logic that all the answers for a happy, fulfilled and successful life are readily available on the internet – for FREE.

One of my all time favourite expressions came from an old mate who owned an advertising agency in Sydney –

We Know What To Do, But We Must DO What We Know.

Google will give you any answer you need to achieve happiness and success.

Only YOU can DO something with that knowledge.

Hope this helps you – please humour me with at least one line of feedback or comment.

November 30, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment, Green Business, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Finally an airline realising that environmentally friendly is good for the bottom line

Normally I take the time to write my own stories on this blog. However, today I am up early for a flight and saw this article from one of my favorite websites – it is free to subscribe and provides excellent articles on what is happening in the corporate environmental world. If you stay up to date with real (not just sensationalized) environmental stories, you will start ignoring the hype and skepticism.

Congratulations to Singapore airlines for making an effort to set an example on fuel savings and emissions.

Singapore Airlines paints its jetliners blue and gold, but the carrier went green on a flight between Los Angeles and Singapore.

The airline said a Boeing 747-400 completed one of the more environmentally friendly flights over the Pacific on Tuesday, saving more than 11 tons of fuel and reducing carbon emissions by more than 37 tons.

Flight SQ11 departed Los Angeles International Airport on Jan. 31 and stopped in Tokyo before arriving in Singapore’s Changi Airport early Tuesday. The aircraft used about 6% less fuel than normally required for a similar flight.

The flight was part of the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions, or ASPIRE. The initiative is a partnership among carriers in the region to cut greenhouse gases and become more environmentally friendly, the airline said. SQ11 was ASPIRE’s fifth green flight.

To be more fuel-efficient, the aircraft underwent a number of maintenance measures, such as a detailed engine wash and airframe polish, before the flight. The airline also worked with aviation authorities in the U.S., Japan and Singapore to ensure optimal air traffic conditions.

“The route an aircraft takes, the altitude at which it flies and the weather it encounters all affect the amount of fuel it burns and the carbon dioxide emitted,” said Gerard Yeap, Singapore Airlines’ senior vice president of flight operations. “Managing this effectively and in real time is therefore very important for the operating carrier and the environment.”

When the final numbers came in, about 23,500 pounds of fuel were saved and more than 74,000 pounds of carbon emissions were eliminated, the airliner said. The flight was speedy too, because it came in about 30 minutes earlier than expected.

The passengers on the flight hardly noticed. In fact, most didn’t even know they were part of a test.

February 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Taking A Break

Just in case you are following my blog I have been taking a break. It has been nearly twelve months since I took a week off and did nothing. Right now, the anxiety of not completing many important tasks is almost outweighing the physical and mental need to have rest and do nothing! My compromise is to do simple and creative projects that are fun – such as creating a new logo for our software development company, setting up new bank accounts and reviewing legal documents. Now that I think about it, these are not very relaxing tasks. Time to spend time with my family and get off the computer for one week. You too – stop reading this and go do something fulfilling.
Happy New Year.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Drowning In Email

drowning in emailI am now officially drowning in email and need to stop and write about it before I throw the keyboard against the wall. It is all my fault. As my firm commitment to protecting our planet I insist on everyone communicating with me solely by email. No letters – save the trees. No phone calls – I don’t have time. No fax – are people still seriously using a fax?

When we first started GreenBizCheck we emailed lots of people. We reunited with old contacts and we spread the word that Green Business Is Good Business. Now, finally people are starting to listen. Big companies, universities, industry associations, micro businesses and more are all starting to contact us for more information about how to effectively and efficiently green their business. This is great news as two years of substantial financial and time commitment is starting to pay off. The only downside is that we cannot keep up with communications and must now expand our response times to half a day instead of a few minutes when we first started out.

What have we learned? Email is fast and cheap but often sits unread as business people receive hundreds of messages every day. These emails all require some sort of action which has increased our productivity and volume of communication so much it is often paralyzing. Imagine if we sent as many letters as we now send emails? We would need to build bigger mail boxes and put the postmen on weight-training routines. I have now learned that if someone doesn’t reply, not to take it personally because the sheer volume of email is making it hard for us all to keep up and respond in a timely manner. Perhaps the only thing keeping me from toppling onto my keyboard with exhaustion, is that any email response I receive is a compliment that our communications are worth replying to! The final lesson for me is that each email counts and that if every email I write is relevant and important, just maybe recipients will spot my small line among their hundreds of messages and deem me worthy of a response.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Green Business | Leave a comment

Travel The World

create your own visited country map

Occasionally I have some time on weekends to read online, and stumbled across on Ben Groundwater’s excellent travel blog in the Sydney Morning Herald. Ben is a Y generation backpacker who writes really well. His recent blog was about choosing your next travel destination and how it is more exciting to try new destinations rather than places you have already been, although they are proven and you had a great time. So, go to and simply enter in the countries you have visited and the site gives you an excellent map of the ones you have already visited and the countries you still need to conquer. I could not believe how little of this planet I had covered in all my years of traveling. Look at the huge blank spaces in Canada, Eastern Europe, Asia an Africa!

To me, travel is the ultimate educational pastime. There is so much out there to see and experience, I just hope I can do it all in time!

October 10, 2009 Posted by | Best Websites | Leave a comment

Decision Makers Are Just Too Busy

Busy PersonThis week I desperately needed an electrician and a carpet cleaner. I can hear you yawn already, but hear me out.

I did not care how much they cost and had no concern if they did a good job – I just needed them right away. The problem was I could not find time in my day to search and call even one of these tradespeople even though it was urgent.

So here is my point – if extremely busy decision makers don’t have the time to conduct even the most urgent priorities in their everyday lives, how can they possibly have time to assess, question and commit to purchasing the world’s most beneficial products companies are trying to sell them?

The sales process is even harder than we think because we know we have a great product, with strong benefits at a great price, yet it is often painfully slow to generate consistent revenues. I believe the reason for slow sales is not about benefits or price, it is about decision makers literally having the time to say “yes sign me up.”

The solution – for the best results in professional selling, my view is that we must regularly get in front of decision makers, build a strong relationship, conduct a compelling presentation and obtain commitment on the spot. If we don’t close the sale right away – even the best product or service gets quickly lost in the crazy mayhem of everyday life.

October 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

By 2020 Demand For Natural Resources Will Outstrip Supply

rainforest2By 2020, demand for natural resources will outstrip supply, resulting in higher and more volatile pricing in the consumer industry, according to a new research report. The report indicates that these pressures could significantly impact the profitability of consumer industry companies, and makes several recommendations for a sustainable industry.

The report, Sustainability for Tomorrow’s Consumer, published by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, suggests that unless businesses can rapidly redesign their value chains to reduce resource use and decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, their ability to help economies grow, provide consistent shareholder returns and meet the needs of consumers will be threatened.

The report highlights the potential impact that rising prices of resources could have on businesses in the consumer industry. As an example, one company with revenues of $80 billion has 40 percent of its revenue tied up in covering the cost of resource-based inputs and a profit margin of around 10 percent. A ten percent increase in its resource-based inputs cost will result in an 80 percent decline in profits, assuming the company will not be able to transfer the cost increase to the consumer, according to the report.

This is a very sobering prediction which builds a strong case for the corporate sector to take action right now and stop talking about it!

Source: 21 Sep 2009

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Swine Flu – A Monumental Over-reaction?

sick personAfter cynically sounding off about the world’s gross over-reaction to Swine Flu (nothing to do with pigs), I was ironically infected by some house guests last weekend. Thanks to the snotty six year old who let it slip the whole family had been infected. The timing could not have been better as I had an intensive three day business trip booked to Canberra and Sydney with some of the most important meetings GreenBizCheck has yet been invited to. Lucky there was not one of those ridiculous cameras at the airport which reportedly can tell if a passenger has a fever. The swine flu does not necessarily result in a fever, so airports around the world have wasted millions of dollars on equipment for a flu that may end up the mildest on record!

Although I did feel terrible for three days, it was actually far milder than last year’s strain which knocked me about for nearly ten days. Luckily I was not quarantined with a mask like early sufferers or treated like a plague victim and confined to my home. Also ironic, is that earlier this year I had my first ever flu vaccination, mainly because we were herded on a cruise ship with thousands of others. Did the vaccination do anything? Of course not – it only allegedly protects against the previous year’s strain at best.

So, can anyone please tell me why:

1. The Australian Government needs 21 million doses of swine flu vac when the flu season is nearly over?
2. Even the Government admits it is a mild flu so why worry at all?
3. Won’t a new strain be out next year anyhow?
4. It is called swine flu but nothing to do with pigs!!!!

This is 2009’s most ridiculous over-reaction.

Just in from China (a little late I think) :

China races to prepare swine flu vaccinations

By Robert Saiget (AFP) – 1 day ago

BEIJING — China is scrambling to put a swine flu vaccination plan in place, with the number of cases more than tripling in just a few weeks and tens of millions of infections feared as flu season sets in.

The country is at the forefront of international efforts to produce an A(H1N1) influenza vaccine, with at least five companies already receiving government approval, but officials have warned demand will exceed supply.

In mid-August, China had recorded 3,103 cases. As of Wednesday, the number had jumped to 10,221, according to the health ministry.

No deaths have yet been reported. (Just to clarify – not ONE death)

The seasonal flu kills over 250,000 people each year. It is only this year we are worried about it because there is not much other news for the media to stir up hysteria.

Please tell me I am not the only one who thinks this is 2009’s most stupid media-driven craziness?

Update Feb 2010 – six months on and of course it was all panic, fear and media-hype. When will learn not to be so fearful and gullible? The whole panic cost millions of dollars and so much angst. Ironically I caught the swine flu and was mildly sick for four days (losing my voice was inconvenient) but as you can see I am still hear to blog about it.

September 20, 2009 Posted by | What irks me | Leave a comment

Why We Need To Double Our Sales Efforts

salesperson2At GreenBizCheck (Green Business Certification) we often talk about how hard we professionally market our green business certification and yet how long the return on our efforts takes. Our service is low cost, topical, online, simple to purchase, saves thousands of dollars, has many marketing benefits and saves the planet – yet it takes a long time for prospects to sign up and green their business.

Why does it take so long? What is wrong with our product, our pricing, our website? The answer is – absolutely nothing.

After many discussions, we have determined that the issue is our prospects have so many other things to deal with in their business, that we are only one of literally hundreds of decisions they need to make each week. While our product sales are of extremely high priority to us, they are one of many priorities our prospects need to take action on. Furthermore, business leaders are literally bombarded with sales messages, emails, blog feeds, spam, special offers, phone calls and meetings which can take up half the day. Combine this with sick days, public holidays, annual leave and there really is not much time to make a decision on our particular product even if it contributes to saving the planet. No wonder it is hard to get through to decision makers these days. It is not that most people do not want to do the right thing and protect our natural resources by greening their business with our environmental certification program, it is the modern age of information saturation that prevents them from acting as fast as they would like. In many cases they actually become paralyzed from the sheer weight of electronic communication that they do absolutely nothing.

Consequently, our marketing messages must cut through the clutter and shout louder. There is no room for subtlety in such a crowded and competitive market place. Many companies have eased off on marketing efforts to save money, but really we need to do the opposite – double the frequency of our sales communications in a wide variety of advertising mediums and loudly proclaim a credible and compelling call to action. We need to politely follow up on a regular basis as our prospects are very busy and often just need a gentle reminder to sign up. Time to practice what I preach. Back to the real work of talking to customers, and stop wasting time online!

Update 20 July 2010 – just when I thought nobody read my blog, a very nice chap named Brett asked me to clarify if sales are still slow. This is what happens if you don’t keep your blog current. New clients are in fact now growing rapidly as GreenBizCheck has embraced franchising which provides a quality delivery system and an opportunity for our people to run their own salable business. We need more people to get in front of business decision makers to show them how effective and simple it is to certify their office or retail outlet. Most of us dream of being our own boss, spending more time with the family and taking time off when we want, not when some low paying corporation allows us to. A GreenBizCheck franchise offers all this at a relatively low cost and fast return on investment plus the opportunity to work in a field which is actually doing something very good – helping businesses go green in a very practical and cost efficient manner. GreenBizCheck certification is the first of its kind, low cost, high impact and comes with a full money back guarantee that companies will save the cost of certification in the first year. There is no risk and no excuse now for companies not to take action and implement the basics – reduce energy, water and waste and stand out as an environmentally responsible corporate citizen.

September 7, 2009 Posted by | Green Business | Leave a comment

Passion in Presentations

Today I delivered our corporate presentation Green Business Is Good Business to 200 QUT professional staff at the Hyatt Sanctuary Cove. Sorry the video is not very attractive, but I will do better next time!

The feedback was that our passion for the topic really made us stand out. It made me think that passion and enthusiasm could actually be more important than content. Moreover, you could have the best content, but delivered without pep, wont have the same impact!

One of our Melbourne Associates Cliff Patrick commented that it is all about the singer, not the song.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Increased Pressure For Companies To Reduce Emissions

Nuclear PowerCompanies face increased stakeholder pressure and government regulation to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. To address this issue, companies must take action within their supply chains, which account for the vast majority of their energy use and CO2 emissions.

But in a recent IBM survey of more than 400 supply chain executives, 89 percent of the respondents reported that cost reduction was either very important or critically important .

As companies struggle to address both concerns – particularly in the current economic climate – it’s important that they view them as complementary, not conflicting. By executing the right sustainable business strategy, they can successfully improve efficiency, reduce energy use and costs, and lower environmental impact.

Sustainability in the new economic environment

There are three key factors driving sustainable business practices up the corporate agenda:

1. Laws, regulations, and standards — governments worldwide are committing to key environmental targets and introducing climate change legislation, supported by taxation frameworks to drive improvements. For example, emissions “cap and trade” requirements go into effect in the UK next year, and legislation with similar provisions is currently making its way through the U.S. Congress.

2. Stakeholder pressures — increasingly, a company’s “green” credentials are being used as selection criteria by a range of key stakeholders, such as customers, investors, business partners, and potential employees. For example, the Carbon Disclosure Project identifies green-focused investors with assets of more than $41 trillion.

And in our 2009 global survey of c-level executives on green and sustainability issues, half of the respondents said they are being compelled to adopt new CO2 standards by their business partners.

3. Costs — With volatile energy prices and other rising supply chain costs, CO2 emissions reduction and cost containment are increasingly compatible – when you burn less, you pay less and emit less, and the benefits can ripple further. Within our own company’s experience, we estimate a $1 reduction in energy costs can lead to an additional $6-8 in operational savings.

Supply Chain Levers

As supply chain executives look at approaching these challenges, there are some common levers for reducing costs and CO2 emissions:

* Transportation and supply — increased local sourcing may well increase the costs of raw materials, but this could be more than offset by reducing the distance travelled. It will also reduce exposure to certain supply chain risks, including volatile fuel prices, long and unreliable lead times, currency exchange risks, etc. The introduction of enhanced vehicle technology and design can also improve fuel efficiency. Such measures can help to reduce both emissions and total supply chain cost.
* Product lifecycle management — How products are designed, assembled, labeled, packaged and recycled can have a profound effect on the carbon efficiency of the supply chain. For manufacturers, there may be product redesign opportunities that reduce energy consumption in manufacturing, distribution, or end use. Every conceivable change is an opportunity — from reducing the weight of the product to making it easier to disassemble. In some cases, innovation or new technologies may make it possible to eliminate some components or sub-components entirely and thereby eliminate discrete portions of the supply chain. Products that are recalled from the market, that must be upgraded or refurbished during their useful life, or must be recycled at the end of their life require some kind of reverse supply chain. By planning for these lifecycle events in the original design phase, it is possible to eliminate or reduce unacceptably high energy costs later and minimize the CO2 emissions of the reverse supply chain.
* Low-emissions manufacturing — there are various opportunities to reduce cost and GHG emissions simultaneously in the manufacturing process. Applying Lean Six Sigma principles to streamline production steps can reduce water, energy and waste. Maximizing asset utilization through predictive maintenance, which can be aided by smart asset monitoring technologies that provide real-time analysis to help predict when an asset is going to fail, can improve efficiency and lower costs. Moreover, as legislation is introduced that taxes pollutants, toxic materials, and harmful emissions, organizations that reduce such issues also will reduce potential punitive costs.
* Shipment — if service-level agreements with suppliers and customers contain unnecessary requirements, waste is the result. When agreements force small, expedited deliveries, energy use goes up dramatically. For example, our company recently worked with a major brewery to help redesign its trade terms with its customers. By incenting pubs and clubs to accept larger, less frequent deliveries, the brewery can increase full truck-loads, saving significant costs and simultaneously reducing GHG emissions. Furthermore, as the trend toward Internet shopping drives an increase in home deliveries, successful first-time deliveries will have a major effect, both on costs and carbon footprint. Organizations that take steps to improve first-time delivery success, will reduce both cost and carbon footprint, while improving the customer experience.
* Packaging — intuitively, reducing the amount of packaging on a product might seem to be the best way to reduce both the cost of a product and its environmental impact. But not if it results in safety, spoilage, damage and return issues. Grocery retailers are constantly under pressure to reduce plastic packaging, but many have pointed out that a significant proportion of packaging is there to protect food safety and prolong shelf life. This reduces waste in the supply chain, which consequently reduces cost and environmental impact. Also, for manufacturing companies, typically up to 25 percent of packaging waste might be generated by returned or damaged shipments . Once a shipment is damaged, it is returned and another product shipped out, doubling the costs of packaging and fuel. A major US computer manufacturer has introduced the use of logistics bars and air bags between pallets to stabilize the loads, thereby reducing the number of damaged shipments to less than 1 percent, while improving customer service and eliminating packaging waste . So the best way to address this issue is increased investment in new packaging designs and technologies that reduce waste and maintain product safety.

Turning green into gold

The real winners in the new economic environment will be those who recognize that developing sustainable business practices is fundamental to saving money now and preparing for the future.

These leaders will seek out cost-effective, sustainable business opportunities to reduce environmental impact and business costs while identifying new opportunities to increase market share. A survey by Aberdeen group showed that the top green supply chain organizations had on average reduced supply chain energy costs by six percent in one year. Other supply chain costs had reduced on average by two percent. At the other end of the scale, laggards saw overall increases in supply chain costs.

In addition, environmentally responsible and energy efficient products are one of the few market sectors currently recording growth. So businesses that focus on process improvement, cost control, product and service innovation and reducing environmental impact will position themselves for leadership now and in the future.

Keith Burgess and Simon Glass are management consultants for IBM Global Business Services. They work with clients across a wide range of industries to identify opportunities to promote sustainable business practices, particularly in supply-chain management, as a fundamental element of core business strategy.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Green Business | Leave a comment

A $28 Burger!

Who would believe a simple burger could cost $28?

This weekend we visited Byron Bay – Australia’s Bali equivalent without the pollution. At dinner time we needed something fast and simple. We recoiled in horror when we noticed our hotel menu proudly displayed “The Byron Burger” for the princely sum of $28!

Normally I avoid meat because of the massive carbon footprint and deforestation associated with cattle production, but in the interest of consumer research I was curious as to how good a $28 burger could taste.

The ingredients boasted swiss cheese, roma tomato, beetroot, lettuce, twice cooked fat chips, homemade tomato sauce and aioli (whatever that is, even the spell-checker is confused). Call me cynical but unless all the ingredients are organic, hand-grown, hand-fed and delivered by three nubile dancing girls – how can a burger possibly cost this much?

Well, the big test is in the eating. How good did the burger taste? Was it so good that we would have paid $50? $40? or $15? Sadly you will be disappointed to hear that our expectations we very high and maybe $20 was a fairer price – especially since it wasn’t even organic. Don’t you just love how hotels are still charging boom-time prices even though the world economy has contracted by a good 30%! My home insurance company has actually raised its premiums for absolutely no reason, but that is another story…

August 21, 2009 Posted by | What irks me | Leave a comment

Disloyalty Programs

SquashedPassG_468x455I really don’t know why they are called Loyalty Programs.

Airlines, car rental companies, hotels, supermarkets and a few other usual suspects coddle together complex rewards schemes aimed at securing our loyalty but usually end up making us hate the company we didn’t mind supporting in the first place.

Take the airlines as a prime example. Even if you fly every week on the one airline, spending days on end away from your family, it takes about two years to generate enough points for anything more than a half hour flight to some place you do not want to go at a time that is completely inconvenient. It is so thoughtful of the airlines to only offer reward seats on the 6am and 1130pm flights. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess why the worst times are the only options on option. One airline offers reward seats on most of its flights but it would take a lifetime of flying every day of the week to accumulate enough points to ever afford those flights. How does 590,000 points from Sydney to Los Angeles sound to you? I assumed it must have been in their new space ship but no, just their regular flights that are now mostly half full at best. There is nothing more upsetting to a loyal frequent flier who tries to book ahead and is told their are no FF seats on a flight, only to find the plane is empty.

The only reason that a few of us can ever afford a FF flight is that our credit card points can be transferred to a selection of frequent accounts. Maybe that is why the number of points to fly anywhere has doubled over the past few years. It is really the credit card providers that benefit now, not the airlines.

Instead of treating us like valued and loyal customers, the airline reward programs like to charge us as many points as they can, on the the most inconvenient flights and often with partner airlines desperate for customers rather the airline we are allegedly loyal to. How often have you searched for a FF seat six months ahead of time only to find absolutely nothing available or at best a flight via Fiji on one of the world’s oldest aircraft.

If by some miracle you do have enough points to purchase a FF ticket don’t forget to budget for the hundreds of dollars of additional taxes that are not included.

What ever you do don’t try and make a change. This week I had to make a simple date change and was slugged $200 plus a $50 service fee (not specified anywhere in the terms) – $250 for one minute’s worth of button pushing at a cramped call centre in Malaysia. The change fee was almost a quarter of the original airfare and the terms of change are nowhere to be found on the airline’s outsourced rewards program website. Great move – outsource the job of looking after your best customers to another company in another country. That will work. Clearly the airlines only care about cost and not the very customers that fund the airlines ongoing success, or more likely failure. Loyal customers are treated like lepers as airlines clearly don’t want to make it convenient or cheap for their frequent fliers to redeem points.

Rewards programs are such a joke, my best advice it to keep your points on your credit card account until you are ready to fly, then pick the airline that offers the best deal at a the time your want to travel. Surely this defeats the purpose of a loyalty program. One airline got it right in the nineties – buy ten flights and get one free. Simple and motivating. Unfortunately the big guys temporarily dropped their prices to quickly put this well-meaning new comer out of business in a matter of months, then jacked their prices back up soon after.

What a surprise to read that airlines are the number one source of consumer complaints – canceled flights, misleading terms, lost luggage, running late, surly service, bad food and the list goes on. The people running airlines should take a good hard look at themselves and start behaving like a business that actually cares for the people they are trying to attract in the first place. Am I missing something in this business model?

August 8, 2009 Posted by | What irks me | , , | Leave a comment

The Best Sales People Born or Bred?

Sales PersonA recent LinkedIn discussion prompted me to comment: You will probably agree that sales people are the hardest of all to recruit because their CV’s always look good, they speak well and their references are always glowing.

Only when I have hired, then trained them and sit next to them in meetings, do I really know what they are capable of. I need to really understand what will motivate someone to perform, especially in a tough market. The adage, Can Do, Will Do, Will Fit is critical and the recruitment process needs to cover all three areas. Psych testing helps the decision making process, as does behavioral interviewing – but nothing beats seeing them in action!

Another tactic that has helped my hiring success rate is to have current team members interview prospective staff without seeing a CV with any pre-conceived early judgments. In addition, I insist on gaining permission to speak with their immediate superiors at their past three jobs and have them physically demonstrate some of their professional business development skills. Rarely has a competitor’s former sales person worked out, because it is the same person, selling the same product for a different company.

Finally, for what my 2 cents is worth…some of my best hires have been people with great passion and attitude and not necessarily a track record in the industry they are now applying to join. My view is that the best salespeople are bred with the right attitude not simply born with a gift. I am keen to hear your views on this topic, so please comment!!!

August 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who’s Complaining?

purple band

Just in from the USA: The 21 Day no-complaint challenge.

How long can you go without complaining? Recently, the pastor of a Kansas City church told people in his congregation he wanted them to test their limits. “The one thing we can agree on,” said Rev. Will Bowen, “is there’s too much complaining.” His challenge is for us to give up complaining, criticizing, gossiping or using sarcasm for 21 days. People who joined in were issued purple bracelets as a reminder of their pledge. If they caught themselves complaining, they were supposed to take off the bracelet, switch it to the opposite wrist and start counting the days from scratch. Rev. Bowen said it took him three and a half months to put together 21 complaint-free days. Now, about a half a million people around the world have requested free wristbands to rise to the challenge.

My fingers tremble as I attempt to comment on how badly I would cope with the 21 day challenge. No problem if you live on a farm in Kansas. Talking about my business travel experiences last night alone would doom me to wear the purple band of shame for at least three years. Why would I possible want to complain that the woman next to me on the plane was clearly suffering from Swine Flu, or that only kebab shops were still open by the time I landed in Wellington, NZ last night, or that it was one degree and I only had a business suit to wear, or the hotel was supposed to be 4 star and was really 1 star at best, or the hotel room smelled like a men’s locker room that hadn’t been cleaned for three years, or the bar fridge revved all night like a 747 at take-off, or the heating did not work and I had to huddle under a blanket last used on a sweating horse, or the traffic noise outside that made me think at any moment a truck would drive right into my lumpy, smelly, sloping bed that even a homeless person would reject.

I feel much better now. Imagine if I hadn’t vented all that frustration and held it inside me for the sake of a purple rubber band. Something would have snapped and it wouldn’t be the rubber band. Sorry Rev. Bowen, but unless your congregation live in a Kansas bubble you may be doing their mental health a significant disservice.

July 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog For Your Health

mental healthBlogging is good for your health – your mental health that is. Many of you keep your body in shape with vigorous workouts, running or playing sport. Some of us take the dog for a fast walk every morning and hope that is enough. But what do we do for our mental health? Absolutely nothing. We rush to the doctor when our body plays up, but what about if our minds play up. I just read that by far, depression was the number one health issue for business owners. I can certainly understand why. We work so hard and constantly face pressures and demands from clients, suppliers, staff and financiers. In addition we need to give our families the attention they deserve and somehow fit in some rest and recovery time which is often impossible. In addition, we constantly strive to meet our own unrelenting high standards which push us to work long hours with little or no social or mental rest time. Often it all seems over-whelming and it is only the goal at the end that keeps us going.

One of the best forms of mental exercise is cognitive writing – which just means writing things down to get them out of your head and clear some much needed space. This is why blogging is so good. Get all your frustrations out, tell the world what you think and feel so much lighter knowing that you are not dwelling on major issues that can magically dissapear in a similar way to therapy with a psychologist. In simple terms, just talking about a problem makes it seem less burdonsom.

Blogging also works as it puts you in touch with the global community – connectivity is very important to human survival, especially for those who are working so hard and have little time for social interaction. A welcome call from my good school friend Rory, prompted me to write about this. He miraculously found my well hidden blog and called me up for a good laugh. We humorously recounted all the things that were wrong with the world – builders taking twice as long and charging twice as much for renovations, airline service, call centers in India, people who smoke and talk on their phones while driving and many more… Rory – you must get a blog, it is free and good for your health. I hadn’t had such a good laugh for weeks. It made my day as I am so consumed by globalizing GreenBIzCheck that I had forgotten to laugh. In the early days of civilization, tribes would hunt together, eat together and sit around the fire conversing for hours on end. Their only real stress was where the next meal was coming from. We have so many more demands in our complex, highly evolved lives that mental fitness is more important than ever.

So, what are you waiting for, get blogging now and leave your ideas as a permanent and helpful legacy to the fast moving world around you.

Go to or to get a free blog and tell me your best lessons in life!

July 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Consumers Demand Transparency in Travel-Related Offsets


Consumers Demand Transparency in Travel-Related Offsets
From: Environmental Leader (

This article is critical for airlines and rental car companies which claim to offset but may have low take-up because of the skepticism that our money is going towards meaningful carbon offsets. Recently I wrote to Virgin Blue Airlines asking where my offsets go and how much money is retained for administration – no reply. Even the media cannot convince the airlines to reveal their carbon offset uptake figures.

Here is the article:

Consumers remain skeptical when it comes to travel-related carbon offsets, according to a new ClimatePath survey of professionals in the ecotourism and sustainable travel industry. The survey reveals that cost is not a primary barrier to consumer purchases of carbon offsets but rather the need for standards, greater transparency, and a focus on carbon projects in the communities where travel occurs.

Dave Rochlin, CEO of ClimatePath, said purchasing offsets typically adds only two to three percent to the cost of a airline ticket, but it’s not so easy convincing travelers that they can make a positive impact through offsetting, or that offset projects even work.

The survey also finds that there are few travel operators actually monitoring the impact of their activities, either positive or negative, which is a cause for concern. According to the study, a lack of measurement creates questions about how effective efforts are in preserving local ecosystems and communities.

In addition to poor monitoring practices, issues such as greenwashing and a lack of universally endorsed eco-certifications are other significant concerns that are driving the need for more effective third-party guidelines or an industry-driven code of conduct that protects both travel operators and consumers, according to the survey.

More than 60 percent of respondents felt that greenwashing was a moderate problem in the industry, while roughly 75 percent of respondents say they do not currently certify though most do see value in eco-certifications.

July 23, 2009 Posted by | Green Business | Leave a comment


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