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Green Investing: Corporations Large and Small Use Sustainable Measures to Save Money

Dec. 3, 2012
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Every corporation loves good PR and, these days, one of the more attractive options is environmental initiatives.

So is “green” PR also money savvy, too?  We examined some case studies of large and small companies alike who pursued a variety of sustainability measures to successfully cut back on waste and save money at the same time.

Large Corporations: Energy Efficiency Saves Money and Resources

Some companies simply cut costs with greener technology, others give back to the community, and we’ve featured two such enterprises: Starbucks and Coca Cola, which have saved on electricity and water, respectively. If you’re a business owner, follow their lead and you can save quite a bit of cash as well as build goodwill among your customers.

Starbucks Goes LEED: Build Better Buildings to Save Millions

Last year, Starbucks opened 800 new stores, 75% of them LEED-certified. This certification means that these stores were built for more efficient heating, air conditioning and lighting, among other areas. All these innovations have reduced Starbuck’s carbon footprint as well as its expenses—by millions of dollars, we found, after crunching the numbers.

First we calculated Starbucks’ annual electricity bill at its non-LEED stores: we multiplied the size of a store—2,700 square feet in many of its new buildings—by the amount of electricity needed—about 6.80 kilowatt-hours per square foot—by the cost of electricity—we assume it’s $0.10 per kWh. Every year, at each of its larger, 2,700-square foot stores, Starbucks spends $22,032 without the help of green technology.

50% of that bill is solely for lighting, and we focus on that expense in particular, not on electricity in general, because it’s savings to which you can relate—you don’t have three espresso machines plugged into the wall at any given time. In lighting alone, then, Starbucks spends $11,016 per store every year.

With LEED-certified technology, each store uses 30% less in electricity. And with about 600 of their new stores outfitted with that green technology, that’s $4,626,720 that Starbucks has saved in lighting alone.

If you run a business, big or small, and you’re ready to open another building, clearly it’s prudent to invest in LEED. There is, of course, the sunk cost of installing the technology itself. When you construct a new, LEED-certified building, 2% of the cost is for that green tech, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Over time, though, you save quite a bit more.

Coca Cola Gives Back: Water for Local Communities

One of Coca Cola’s main environmental expenditures is, unsurprisingly, water, the base ingredient of its products. To curb its cost and footprint, Coca Cola has improved its water collection and storage methods. Rather than pocket the money, Coca Cola’s used the extra cash to make up for the company’s enormous impact on the environment.

And so, Coca Cola had decided to replenish local water reserves. For every drop its Denver plant uses, it returns the same amount to the water supply. Each year, that’s about 150 million liters of water, which, according to Coca Cola, is enough to irrigate about 320 acres of cropland for a season.

That’s also a reasonable amount of extra PR. NerdWallet’s taken a look at Denver’s utility rates and crunched the numbers: we multiplied the amount of water Coca Cola will give back to the community—150 million liters—by the cost of water per year—for non-residential buildings, it’s $1.78/1,000 gallons in the winter and $3.57/1,000 gallons in the summer, or an average of $2.68/1,000 gallons/year. In sum, that’s $105,999 that Coca Cola will give back to the community—over $100,000 in extra PR.

Smaller Companies and Startups Achieve Dual Goals Too

You don’t have to be a multinational company to make a big difference, environmentally and financially speaking.  These companies show the wide variety of innovation taking place to both increase economic and environmental efficiencies at the same time.

We spoke with these smaller, regional businesses about practices they enacted to help their bottom line while also doing right by the planet.

Tasty Catering Goes Green: Updating Equipment to Save Big

Tasty Catering is a Chicago area corporate catering and event planning company.  In 2008 Tasty Catering launched a “green” program to help reduce energy use to both help the earth, as well as help the business by saving money.  Three financially successful initiatives have been:

  • To combat raising gas prices, Tasty Catering retired their four oldest vans and invested in four new Ford Transits; the numbers show they will save about $18,000 per year in gas savings.
  • To reduce waste and save on beverage costs, they installed a soda fountain machine to save money and help the environment. All staff get free beverages while working; this amounts to over 55,000 cans and water bottles saved annually – as well as about $6500 saved in beverage costs.
  • Implemented a recycling program that has resulted in over 1,300 cubic yards of refuse and 1,000 pallets saved from the landfill.

-Provided by Kevin Walter, Tasty Catering Co-Founder and Green Team member.

Kona Ice: Reinventing the Food Truck To Break Industry Records

Kona Ice’s quest to develop an all-green food truck also showed the financial benefits of doing so.  The leading mobile supplier of gourmet shaved ice has not only reinvented the ice cream truck, Kona redesigned their food truck to meet the most stringent of local mobile foodservice regulatory standards while maintaining an in iconic image.

While most ice cream trucks employ two motors, an on board generator and a diesel engine, the Kona Ice truck employs a single diesel engine. By employing an all 12-bolt battery, as opposed to a generator, franchisees are able to park and service customers while emitting zero emissions.  By using an all 12-bolt battery rather then a diesel generator all of the franchisees have saved an incredible amount of money on gas.  The vehicles also use all LED lighting and post-consumer cups, napkins and accessories.

-Provided by Tony Lamb, Kona Ice CEO.

RAMP Sports: Pioneering Green Ski Manufacturing

Based in Park City, Utah, RAMP Sports is the most modern and sustainable ski manufacturer in the world.

Their green story is the most comprehensive. RAMP ships in padded bags, saving thousands of boxes. They also buy 300 pounds of carbon offset with every ski and snowboard we sell. They take any old ski or board on a $50 buyback and turn them into something useful like furniture. They use a new resin that is pine by-product based, as opposed to petrochemical based. Instead of traditional ski presses, their factory uses a vacuum molding system similar to what is used to make a composite helicopter blade.  They also use the newest technologies and materials in the production of their state of the art ski equipment.

The bottom line is, by developing a more modern, cleaner new molding process, RAMP Sports reduced tooling costs dramatically. This allows them to invest in more expensive and cleaner products in the skis. By using a new business model where they sell direct (compared to the standard of the industry selling through shops) they have the margin to be able to do this and succeed.

Provided by RAMP Sports.