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SPIE Professional October 2009 | Bonus Web Content

Green Is Good Business

MIT and BCG report on the business of sustainability finds that corporate management is being transformed by concerns about sustainability.

A September 2009 survey covering more than 1,500 global business executives finds that concerns about the environmental, political, economic, and societal implications of sustainability are having a material impact on the way businesses think, act, manage, and compete.

Although almost all the executives in the survey said their companies were not acting decisively enough to exploit the opportunities presented by addressing sustainability issues, a small number of companies who are acting aggressively are reaping substantial competitive rewards.

"Once companies begin to act aggressively, they tend to unearth more opportunity, not less, than they expected to find, including tangible bottom-line impacts and new sources of competitive advantage," according to a summary of the report by the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group.

The findings echo the experience of Bruce Cheng, founder of Delta Electronics in Taiwan, who is the subject of the October 2009 SPIE Professional entrepreneur profile.

Bruce ChengCheng, known as the godfather of energy conservation in Taiwan business circles, explains in the SPIE-Member-Only article why going green has been good for his power supply company. The engineer and entrepreneur founded his company nearly 40 years ago to supply TV components for the Taiwanese market. Delta (www.deltaww.com) is now the world's largest provider of switching power supplies and DC brushless fans, and its business includes display solutions, LED lighting products, and solar energy systems.

Cheng has pioneered lead-free manufacturing and mercury-free LCD components in the industry, and his Taiwan and USA offices and production facilities have won praise for their energy-saving designs.

"Our green practices not only help us reduce cost but also give us a competitive advantage in earning more business," Cheng tells SPIE Professional. "For example, Delta is a certified green partner to SONY and has priority over other suppliers in business considerations. Because people are increasingly conscious of energy conservation and environmental protection, customers are inclined to do business with reputable green corporations, and they are also willing to pay a reasonable premium for the benefit they get.

"Delta is able to grow and make a profit from practicing what we preach as a socially responsible green corporation. In addition, our reputation as a "green corporation" has also helped us attract talent to join Delta."

The MIT and BCG report also finds that companies risk failing if they do not develop a better understanding of the implications of sustainability for their business.

Other findings of the report include:

  • The corporate sector will play a key role in solving the long-term global issues related to sustainability.
  • Sustainability is surviving the downturn
  • Companies that are addressing sustainability issues appear to be doing so only so far as meeting regulatory requirements
  • The biggest drivers of corporate sustainability investments are government legislation, consumer concerns, and employee interest in sustainability.

Have a question or comment about this article? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org

DOI: 10.1117/2.4200910.42