By Jan TenBruggencate of Island Strategy LLC
This month’s column is brought to you by Jan TenBruggencate of Island Strategy LLC, an associate of Fujita & Miura Public Relations, which provides business and environmental strategies and planning.

An environmental approach to business increasingly serves as a selling point, as customers and business associates are more sensitive to green issues, and kids are coming into the workforce from colleges where deep recycling, local supply purchasing, organic food and alternative energy are the rule.

Someone who hasn’t kept up may never know about clients lost because they found another firm’s environmental approach to business preferable, or were turned off by an agency’s obvious lack of commitment to conservation. Whether the owner of a business is environmentally conscious or not, often the employees are (who set up your office’s recycling bins?) and the clients are, too.

A number of techniques and terms have entered the language recently regarding refocusing a company onto a conservation path. Most folks are familiar with the environmental assessment and environmental impact statement, which generally are required by government agencies. But many firms do environmental assessments of various kinds voluntarily, using systems that have names like sustainability accounting, ecological economics, carbon footprinting, and ecological footprinting.

Such assessments can be simple or complex, can take a generalized approach or one tailored to the firm under study, and can end up with anything from mere greenwashing to serious top-to-bottom reshaping of a firm’s relationship with the environment. Greenwashing is a “where’s the beef” kind of environmentalism — claiming a conservation ethic without actually having one.

Environmental consultants can assist in determining where an organization stands with respect to conservation. Their approaches will often involve a wide-ranging review of the current situation, followed by an assessment of what systems and technologies are available to improve things, and finally the creation of a guide for moving a company in a greener direction.

There is no venture—service or manufacturing, a big company or small—that can’t benefit from green consulting. It can reduce your company’s impact on the planet, improve the way in which potential clients and employees view you, and even save money. One example: In a time of amazingly high energy costs—whether at the power meter or the gas pump—a thorough review and refocusing of a firm’s energy situation can cut costs as it also cuts carbon emissions.

In many ways management of your environmental consequences is often simply good business, and it’s definitely good PR.

Jan TenBruggencate, whose firm Island Strategy LLC provides business and environmental planning services, is as an award-winning journalist and author. His work has received awards from the Hawai`i chapter of the American Planning Association, Hawaiian Academy of Science, Society of Professional Journalists, Hawai`i Audubon Society, Hawai`i Book Publishers Association, and the Conservation Council for Hawai`i. His geology book, “Hawai`i, Land of Volcanoes” has been approved as to content for sale at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Jaggar Museum at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. His science blog, raisingislands.com, covers environmental issues and new scientific research statewide. TenBruggencate trains in Shotokan karate and outrigger canoe paddling, and has served as a watch captain aboard the Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Hokule`a. For more information about Island Strategy, contact Jan TenBruggencate at (808) 639-9900 or email him at hawaiiwriter@gmail.com.

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