If you were to ask a room full of corporate executives how they felt about environmental conservation, I think they would all express great concern and a desire to "do the right thing." But as many companies struggle in today's economy to stay afloat, there is a prevailing uncertainty about whether it is possible to "go green" without going into the red.
The irony is that many of the steps we can take to mitigate our environmental impact -- such as cutting energy consumption and reducing waste -- not only benefit the environment but lower costs and boost profitability. It's a total win-win.
At Avnet Inc. (NYSE: AVT), our green initiatives run the gamut from standard recycling, carpooling, and water conservation programs, to more sophisticated installations of solar-reflective roofing, automatic light sensors, energy-efficient HVAC, and ISO14001 environmental management systems. As a result of these and other conservation and sustainability efforts, Avnet's latest carbon footprint analysis shows that we have reduced our corporate greenhouse-gas emissions by 10 percent this past year alone.
Avnet has been selected by IDG's Computerworld as one of the Top Green-IT Vendor Organizations in the US for 2011 and was included in Newsweek's 2011 Green Rankings of US companies. As executive sponsor of environmental activities on behalf of the Avnet executive board, I am proud of these recognitions, but what really excites me are the results that led to these honors.
For example, our IT team reduced datacenter power consumption by 50 Kilowatts (5 percent) this past year while increasing the number of servers and total storage capacity by over 10 percent. Energy savings from this initiative alone have helped Avnet avoid a multimillion dollar power build-out despite significant growth in infrastructure.
Recycling efforts at our two largest office facilities in Arizona have collected 25 tons of paper, cardboard boxes, cans, and plastic bottles, as well as software CDs, batteries, light bulbs, ballasts, and mixed lamps. In addition, a corrugated cardboard box recycling initiative at our two Chandler, Ariz., warehouse and integration centers has yielded 689 tons of cardboard for recycling.
The concern that the return on investment in going green takes too long to realize is often cited by business owners as a factor prohibiting them from pursuing more aggressive environmental conservation programs. This may have been true years ago, but the accessibility of environmentally-friendly products and services today can significantly accelerate payback. In fact, according to the 2011 S&P 500 report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), 59 percent of those surveyed said their emissions reduction activities delivered payback in three years or less.
So, rather than using the economy as an excuse to sideline environmental initiatives, now is the time to ramp them up. When you consider that going green can reduce costs, boost sales, and preserve natural resources, the question is no longer why shouldn't you, but why wouldn't you?