Transportation has been in the spotlight for being one of the main contributors to global pollution. Cars, specifically single-occupancy vehicle cars, have been the poster child for increased carbon emissions, and it's true — not driving a personal vehicle is the biggest change an individual can make to have an impact. But the solution can't be centered around individuals. Major corporations are responsible for more pollution, particularly in relation to air travel, than any single person could be.
You don't have to let these gloomy statistics hang over your office, though. There are changes that many companies are already adopting and you can, too.
The Pollution Haven Hypothesis
Economists have a theory about the correlation between environmental laws and corporations called the Pollution Haven Hypothesis. The story goes that major corporations will flock to set up satellite shops in countries with looser environmental policies — allowing businesses to operate with the most cost-effective solutions as opposed to the greenest and cleanest.
Companies working under tighter environmental regulations have 29% lower domestic emissions but contribute to 43% higher emissions abroad, according to the Harvard Business Review. But, the "tightening of environmental policies in the home country... is associated with about 15% lower global CO2 emissions overall," showing that enforcing stricter environmental policies can have an immediate, positive impact. Imagine what these stats would look like if even more countries were to tighten the reins of environmental practices for businesses.
It does go to show that practicing greener business productions has a positive effect on not just where your office operates, but also around the world. So let's dive into some cleaner tactics companies like Salesforce, Pinterest, and IKEA are using.
Start with some simple steps
Maybe you don't have the resources for solar panels or alternative resources to help cut your energy usage — don't worry. There are things you can do like carbon offsetting which is kind of like equaling out any environmentally negative acts with positive ones. This first got a lot of popularity through companies buying trees! For example, Lyft plants a tree for every ride you order, or contributes to a solar facility to contribute to more renewable energy.
Another cost-effective solution is to commit to the cloud. Going paperless in your office can be a breath of fresh air in more ways than one. Not only will you be doing your part to save some trees, but you'll be offering your employees a faster and cleaner way to file information. There are tons of cloud services out there, and no matter who you choose, you'll be making a more efficient office.
Encourage green commutes
Don't have an employee commuter program? It may be time to reconsider. Some states require companies to offer commuter benefits, but you don't have to wait for the law to get going. Encouraging your employees to travel via public transit is a great way to benefit from tax cuts for you and your workers.
Not only that, but accepting and offering multiple modes of transit for your workers is a great way to appeal to the more progressive and sought-after professionals. People are tired of sitting in their cars for nearly an hour every day, and want to work at companies that adopt modern transportation choices like scooters, bikes, and ridesharing.
But let's not forget about business trips. One flight alone is equivalent to nearly 20% of greenhouse gases a car pollutes in one year. If that's just one flight, for one person, then imagine how much one company contributes to CO2 emissions in a year. This is why many companies are taking a second look at their calendars, considering alternate modes of long distance transit (AKA trains), and prioritizing certain conferences and events.
Go for the gold standard
Many buildings under construction today are being made to meet LEED and EnergyStar standards. You can lower the energy and water usage in your office, while simultaneously creating a cleaner space for you and your employees. If you really want to take home the first-place prize, then try achieving a net zero energy certification. In order to get this certificate you have to be operating solely on alternative energy sources like solar, wind, or earth.
The Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada will be one of the largest U.S. factories anticipated to run completely on solar energy by the end of 2019. The immense site doesn't even have a gas line connected to it! This is meant to further Tesla's green mentality as well as inspire new technology that can transcend manufacturing not just in America, but around the globe.
The talent you want working for you is getting more informed than ever before. People are curious about more than just a company's name, they want to know your values and see that they're not just preached, but also practiced — going green is no exception to this standard.