Big Business Gets Into the Energy Race with Sustainability Competitions

Businesses focused on reducing carbon footprint are getting in the game by launching “sustainability competitions” in the workplace. Of course, all corporate initiatives work best when they start at the top and get adopted throughout the company landscape.

Be a leader and launch a competition in which various divisions or teams within the company can reduce energy usage, save on utility bills and feel great about truly helping the helping go green.

At the highest levels, beyond the individual employees, big businesses, from Starbucks to Enterprise Holdings and more, are already taking part in the competition to be the greenest company around. Dell has publicly made it a goal to become the “greenest technology company on the planet.” The computer giant plans to do this by building up green credits, using up to 90 percent recycled material for publishing needs, and by adopting more renewable energy technologies every year.

There are other companies that have outlined admirable goals, as well. When it comes to going green, Coca-Cola is the real thing. The beverage company plans to cut emissions by five percent by 2015. By that same year, it also plans to phase out hydrofluorocarbon-based coolers and to have a quarter of its plastic packaging comprised of renewable material.

One of the interesting by-products of the global corporate sustainability competition is the spirit of collaboration it creates. Competing corporations are joining forces to create mutual goals. For example, Dell works very closely with Hewlett-Packard on recycling standards, conferring daily.

Even car companies are getting in the act. Major manufacturers such as Ford and GM are competing over the development of more fuel efficient vehicles, as well as alternative fuel vehicles. This is in addition to bringing down the CO2 emissions of vehicles and improving the efficiency of manufacturing facilities. GM even holds the annual Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility competition, which looks for new ideas in alternative fuel vehicles. The days of the gas guzzler are clearly far behind us.

As the above examples indicate, many major corporations make public their goals for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, landfill waste output, and water waste. This publicity is often used as a tool to motivate a staff, and can also help to generate public interest in a company. In the spirit of competition, this publicity also helps to motivate other companies.

With Newsweek Green Rankings and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, companies are eager to get in the race. Ranking high on these sustainability lists can land a company’s sustainability executives extra bonuses.

Along with the obvious benefits to the environment, corporate sustainability competitions also help to promote enduring shareholder value. Becoming green is a way for businesses to ensure they will be around for the long haul, which encourages the confidence of investors.

Thus, the benefits of corporate sustainability competitions are wide-ranging. By alternately competing and collaborating, big businesses can help to guide our world into greener pastures.

Originally posted in