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Gail Nickel-Kailing, managing director of Business Strategies Etc.

Shades of Green

By Gail Nickel-Kailing

About Gail

A business adviser and problem solver, Gail is managing director of Business Strategies Etc., which provides strategic marketing and business planning services and manages the execution of marketing communications tactics that help companies:
• Define their sustainability strategies,
• Deliver a positive, sustainable image,
• Gain credibility, trust and respect, and
• Measure the results of their green initiatives and actions.

Gail is a nationally recognized speaker on a wide range of subjects and brings enthusiasm and a unique blend of experience to the podium. As an industry analyst and journalist contributing to publications in the United States, Canada, India and Brazil, she has covered a number of beats, particularly sustainability in printing and mailing, print on demand, variable data printing and direct mail.

Implementing Sustainability Goals by the Numbers

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Now that you’re on the path to becoming a truly sustainable printer, here are a few thoughts about how to reach that goal and some metrics that may help you tell when you’ve arrived.

Environmental Leader publishes a quarterly “Environmental & Energy Data Book” full of charts and graphs presenting environmental, sustainability and energy-related data. Download the PDF and use the information and metrics included to support your decision-making.

The following are some data points selected from the report; it includes dozens more.

Green Power

First there’s the top 10 “100% purchasers” of green power. Ranging from Kohl’s Department Stores and Whole Foods Market to The World Bank Group and Dannon Co., These are the companies that are buying only green energy.

Mohawk Fine Papers is #8 on the list; last year it purchased 116 million kilowatt hours of power.  That’s a big number! To give you a relative measure for comparison, using a 60-watt light bulb for one thousand hours consumes 60 kilowatt hours of electricity. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

As you look at your energy use and begin to build a baseline on which improvement can be measured, it is helpful to know the areas where the most energy is used in general commercial buildings. Yes, an office building IS different from a print plant, but consider these general categories:
  • Lighting and heating and cooling the physical space consumer more than half the energy in U.S. commercial buildings.
  • Then you have water heating, electronics, refrigeration and computers.

Have you measured your energy use at this level?

Now that we know lighting is the top energy drain in commercial buildings—more than a quarter of all use—the next step is to evaluate your lighting systems. There are three criteria that are deemed “very important:”
  • Energy consumption
  • Lifetime operating/maintenance costs
  • Suitability of lighting design for the task

Obviously, it is critical to do a complete lifetime ROI analysis before launching a full lighting retrofit, but finding new ways to bring in natural light and upgrading selective areas can reduce the overall cost. Picking the best “bang for the buck” will give you a good return your project without breaking the bank.

Sustainability Policies

Earlier this year, we talked about sustainability policy in the printing industry in “How Green are Your Industry Peers?” The results of that survey parallel the reasons given in the Environmental Leader’s “Data Book.”

For example, printers reported five factors that “somewhat” to “greatly” influence their measurement of sustainability—a concept that we use as a proxy for strategy development:
  • Company image (89%)
  • Strategic positioning (80%)
  • Customer pressure (66%)
  • Regulatory standards (57%)
  • Competition (49%)

The RIT report did not ask if efficiency or cost reduction influenced sustainability strategies.

The “Data Book” reported that brand improvement, risk management, compliance and product differentiation were all strong reasons for developing climate change or sustainability strategies:
  • Brand improvement (73%)
  • Risk Management (73%)
  • Compliance (73%)
  • Product differentiation (60%)

Recycled Materials

Many manufacturing and consumer products companies begin their sustainability efforts with packaging—packages, cartons and containers. Designing for recyclability and using recycled materials are most important when designing packaging. Knowing what’s on your customers’ minds makes it much easier to solve their problems.

According to the “Data Book,” the most important issues when working with packaging are:
  • Design for recyclability or use of recycled content (65%)
  • Weight reduction (57%)
  • Renewable or bio-based materials (41%)
  • Compostable materials (25%)

With more than 45 charts the Environmental Leader’s “Environmental & Energy Data Book” covers a wide range of topics including:
  • Energy
  • Facilities
  • Sustainability & Strategy
  • Management Systems & Reporting
  • Carbon Costs & Markets
  • Marketing & Public Opinion
  • Transportation & Supply Chain
  • Emissions
  • Waste & Recycling

There will be plenty for you to use in your own research and planning.

“Environmental & Energy Data Book,” published by Environmental Leader, is sponsored by Hara, provider of environmental and energy management solutions.

Companies Mentioned:

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