Will Corporate Greening Reverse in a Recession?

arrow.jpg How would a recession impact current trends in business sustainability? Would green initiatives be cut if companies suffered from slow growth in a “stagnation” economy? These are the questions that Kevin Klustner, CEO of Verdiem (an energy-efficiency software company) tries to answer in a recent column for GreenBiz.com. He predicts that an economic downturn may tempt some companies to phase out their sustainability initiatives, but doing so may actually aggravate financial losses.

Klustner’s approach towards this topic is refreshing, given his experience in the energy field and his ability to place the current downturn in perspective with other recessions over the past 3 decades. The coming recession, he comments, is similar to others that have been made worse by energy crises.
“It boggles the mind that there still are echoes of the late 1970’s when it comes to energy issues — even after a series of petro-related recessions, consensus about climate change, and a new awareness of the dangers posed by the Middle East. And there lurks an even worse thought: if another recession is imminent, will corporate cost-cutters move in and trim away all the good green initiatives that have recently taken root in companies?” asks Klustner.
Klustner urges managers to continue to pursue energy efficiency initiatives as a way to maintain their green reputation and to add to their bottom line during tough times. Energy efficiency measures is “one of the least expensive, most effective and immediately adoptable action items for dealing with the environmental issues we face,” he writes.
So, what does Klustner recommend? Well, of course, Verdiem’s PC power management software called “Surveyor” is one such application intended to save money and emit less carbon. Surveyor works by reducing energy consumption from large PC networks. Verdiem’s website reports that a “10,000 PC network can save over 2,000,000 kWh of electricity – every year,” which equates to roughly $200,000 in annual savings.
Such implementation of easy, cost-effective means of achieving energy-efficiency should remind managers that it can pay to maintain corporate green initiatives.

Shannon Arvizu, Ph.D., is a clean tech educator and cutting-edge consultant for the auto industry. You can follow her test drives in the cars of the future at www.misselectric.com.

4 responses

  1. One of the main reasons we’re in this mess is because of unsustainable business practices. The dumbest thing a company could do now is to start dropping “green” initiatives.

  2. I disagree. The first thought during a downtime is to cut costs, but the second is to innovate. Recessions are great times for creative thinking because companies have to find a better way. Instead of just collecting cash on previously successful ideas and ventures, the impetus is on finding anything they can hang their hat on that differentiates them from the competition.

  3. Tom – I don’t think Shannon’s promoting this guy’s idea, just reporting on it. But yes, I disagree as well. It’s sorta insane to even speculate this. Tucker hits it right on the head – literally the worst thing a company could do now is start abandoning green practices, especially in the realm of efficiency, but also everywhere else.

  4. To remove green innovations would be a mistake. The fact of the matter is that businesses now more than ever are going to begin to do as much as they can to save energy, thus money. Complete halogen bulbs, solar pannels, etc. I think that this recession is going to lead to a surge in green technology and will lead to a boom in the sustainable energy economy. I think the room the green economy has to grow in is endless with energy crisis at an all time high. I would love to see our economy come out of this recession with its industry centered around green technology….

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