Environmental group greens Utah
June 16, 2007
After 25 years, Richard Young is still telling companies to reduce their carbon footprint.
"These issues are not going away," Young said. "Global warming, environmental impacts, they are going to be an integral part of business and municipality and planning and culture for a long time to come."
Up until a few months ago, Young and his business partner, Renee Zollinger, have been conducting contamination assessments and designing pollution controls for other companies.
Three months ago, Young and Zollinger stepped away from their company and formed Environmental Performance Group.
"We were both in senior management in a large national consulting firm and developed a passion for environmental sustainability and environment education," Young said. "We had a chance to get out of our own company and we decided to start a firm, and we are having a ball."
The new company analyzes what businesses can do to reduce energy use and utilize other green practices.
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"It’s vertical," Young said. "Companies of all sizes can benefit from sustainability programs for a variety of reasons."
Young focuses on three main areas when he meets with businesses: "Putting together programs that help them increase revenue, reduce cost and reduce risk. That results in bottom line benefits," he said.
Earth-friendly practices, Young said, will help build all those things.
"It increases employee productivity, there’s all sorts of benefits and it’s hard to go through them all," Young said. "Eco-business, this can be a bottom line-oriented strategy."
When he first meets with a company, he conducts an "environmental impact assessment test" to measure the business’s impact on the environment and the best ways to reduce it. Then he shows the amount of money that can be saved by adopting certain strategies.
"We start with the things that go straight to the bottom line first, so they can go straight to their program and see the benefits," Young said. "We help them in reducing their energy and material costs. Certainly there are waste disposal costs though recycling and reuse."
He then trains staffers how to follow through with a plan and educates them about how to better help the environment with their business.
Young said companies can reduce their expenses and impact on the environment by limiting transportation and shipping costs through local distributors. He said there are big savings opportunities by reducing packaging as "90 percent of all the material in manufacturing doesn’t’ end up with the user."
"There’s a lot of energy and material cost reduction strategies. A third of the solid waste that goes to a landfill in the state is product packaging," Young said. "How many times have you gone and bought something that’s a little item, that’s in another a bag with a big receipt, another bag and plastic covering the product?"
Carbon emissions and global warming are other issues.
"They are major issues with businesses," Young said, "There will (likely) be mandatory carbon reduction in the future. That’s something that all businesses are going to have to deal with."
Population growth demands that people become more aware.
"There’s been a growing public awareness that the human population is grossly over-consuming natural resources," Young said. "We are burning through those resources at a much higher rate than it can sustain itself. We are eating up the earth’s capital when we should be living off of the Earth’s interest."
Young said he doesn’t want his company to be put into the same category as radical "tree huggers." Environmental Performance Group’s goal is to develop environmental programs that will benefit a company’s cash flow.
"If there’s not a business aspect, it won’t happen," Young said.
Companies will fall behind in the market if they are not careful.
"What you don’t know, could hurt you," Young said. "It’s best to know your environmental impacts. Stakeholders are demanding they do this stuff.
"A lot of companies are greening their supply chain. They don’t want to do business with someone who is hurting the environment. You can get bad publicity. Capital markets are demanding it now. Big lenders are looking at environmental impacts, and will start carbon caps in the future."
Young said those that start utilizing eco-business models will set apart themselves from the rest.
"There are also sales opportunities," Young said. "You can differentiate yourself and your products from the competition as an eco-friendly business or product."
With mounting pressure from all sides to become eco-friendly, this may be more about survival as well.
"We think there is a growing market awareness of global warming and the overuse of natural resources," Young said. "The eco-consumer market is just growing and growing.
"We think companies that have good eco-business strategies will be the companies that end up as market leaders, and position themselves to perform the best in the future," he added. "We are really seeing a very big growth in market awareness and feel that in the future, all leading companies will have environmental sustainability programs."
Young said there are only a handful of similar companies in the country, and, he adds, people are receptive, but cautious, about what he has to offer.
"The market is just emerging. It’s really interesting. We knew this going in that there’s not an established market for what we do," Young said. "People aren’t aware of it because it hasn’t been part of the business model for along time."
Due to that fact, many businesses aren’t aware of their impact on the environment.
"We are trying to prevent those types of things from happening," Young said. "We are looking for ways to do more with less and putting (businesses) in a postion where you might reduce huge pollution impacts."
Mainly because of the resorts in Park City, Young said the town is "very receptive" to his company.
"I’ve had a great response from the local resort community in Park City," Young said. "I’m in discussions with several of the resorts and hotels. I’ve been very impressed with how receptive they’ve been."
Any business or organization, no matter the size, can design a similar plan.
"You can do it for the whole city and for individual homes. It’s all going to benefit everybody in the long run," Young said.
"Future generations are going to look back at what we are doing and go, ‘Can you believe they threw all this stuff away? Can you believe they drove cars that drove 10 miles per gallon? The benefits for organizations and businesses are huge."
For more information about Environmental Performance Group, call (801) 485-5551 or log on to http://www.Envperform.com.