Green Innovations – Affecting How and Where We Travel?

“When you travel these days, you’re doing so in a more environmentally friendly fashion than you did a decade ago- and you probably can’t even tell.”

Today, many business industries are changing the way they operate their business by placing more emphasis on environmental sustainability. For example, hotels are using motion sensors, key cards that control lights, fluorescent bulbs and ceiling fans aimed at saving energy. They are installing low-flow shower heads and toilets, while also recycling more and replacing individual shampoo bottles with large dispensers. Although these things may seem small and almost unnoticeable, they truly make a huge difference. “Green buildings use, on average, 26% less energy, emit 33% less carbon dioxide, use 30% less water, and produce 50% to 75% less solid waste, according to the building council.”

Element Hotels- use eco-friendly materials as often as possible and are applying for LEED certification.

When looking at other industries such as the airline and rental car businesses, they too are making a larger effort to surpass the minimum legal requirements and become more sustainable. Since 2000, Airlines have saved more than $33 Billion on fuel and prevented the release of 670 Billion pounds of greenhouse gases.  The Airline industry has adopted new technology and practices to reduce their carbon footprints. For instance, US Airways are replacing gas-powered ground vehicles that transport bags with electronic ones at its Philadelphia hub and adding a new building to house the vehicles at Philadelphia Airport that is made of 20% recycled materials.

Moving on, another industry, the car rental industry is also taking many new steps in order to be more “green.” Today the enterprise has more than 5,000 hybrids and electric vehicles for rent in 70 different locations. Lisa Marini, a spokeswoman says that “we will continue to add hybrids and EV’s to our fleet based on consumer demand and availability from manufacturers.” Furthermore, David Eastes, a director at who tracks the industry, says he has seen an increase in the number of companies dedicated solely to renting out hybrid and electronic vehicles and “that’s never been seen before.”

Moreover, business in these three industries are making the change to be more green not only because they have been forced on the industry by the threat of government action, sheer economics or consumer demands, but some companies say its just good business. Paul Snyder, Vice President of corporate responsibility for IGH proclaims that, “we actually have customers who are asking, ‘What’s the carbon footprint of our meeting.” With so many people today becoming more and more knowledgeable and concerned about sustainability, making every effort to go more green, no matter how small, and even if it goes unnoticed, is extremely important.

In sum, How do you judge companies based on their sustainability efforts? And how do these efforts change your opinion of the company’s reputation? What sustainability efforts have you experienced from hotel, airline, and rental car businesses?


To Green or NOT to Green that is the Question

A corporation’s decisions regarding sustainability impact both their brand and their bottom line.  There are direct and indirect strategic reasons for a corporation to “go green.”

 The global ecosystem has been threatened which makes reducing waste and increasing energy efficiency more and more important.  Corporations can conserve by cutting down on packaging, using energy-efficient lighting, recycling, purchasing energy-efficient office equipment, and adapting to alternative heating and cooling solutions.  Many companies are warming up to the idea of working in LEED Certified buildings.  “LEED is an internationally recognized green building program.  It provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions” (  A 2011 study released by MIT found that sustainability is now a permanent part of 70% of the corporate agenda ( 

 Interbrand released their 2012 annual Best Global Green Brands report, and automotive and technology companies dominated the list.  Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, and Honda were the top three players.  This report “… examines the gap that exists between corporate environmental practices and consumer perception of those practices…” (  Reports like this not only strengthen a brand, but also encourage and challenge corporations to further develop new energy-efficient practices.

 As more and more companies realize the financial benefits of “going green,” they also recognize the positive way that this strategy impact their customers, employees, and overall image.  A positive environmental message attracts superior associates, creating a healthier, safer, more team-oriented work environment.  92% of young professionals would be more inclined to work for environmentally-friendly companies (  Many employers offer team members the option to work remotely which saves in vehicle maintenance, gas, and parking costs and may also relieve external family pressure and stress.  These factors, not only, cut overhead expenses, but also increase employee efficiency and overall morale. 

 A modern family tends to be more environmentally conscious than those from past generations.  Recycling and reducing waste have become commonplace practices.  A focus on sustainability attracts and engages customers and is a brand-strengthening asset.  35% of consumers are willing to spend more for green products as long as the product is comparable or better than the competitor’s product (  “Going green” also tends to attract investors and can create a positive media buzz.  It is important, however, that a corporation does not misuse this asset.  “… A brand’s efforts in this area could serve as an under-utilized asset, or conversely, suffer due to accusations of ‘greenwashing’” (

 It is clear that businesses no longer believe that “going green” is a fad.  Consumers demand green alternatives and illustrate this through their spending patterns.  The focus should always remain on the bottom line, but attention to sustainability has proven to be a way to positively impact these figures.



Save Money. Live Better…and Greener

           The largest retailer in the world, Walmart, has a track record that displays their commitment to sustainability.  It is now aiming to improve this track record and in doing so may be the catalyst that the industry needs to shift towards sustainability as a whole.

As we all know, one of Walmart’s strengths is their supply chain management.  The multinational corporation has 100,000 suppliers and it has enough clout in the industry to pressure them into following their directives and initiatives.  This has been evident and will now be put to the test.  Walmart is beginning to include sustainability in its merchants’ performance reviews, which will be used to determine pay raises and potential promotions.

When put into perspective, these merchants are responsible for multibillion dollar buying decisions and are responsible for what stores have on their shelves.  Therefore, the inclusion of sustainability scores in performance reviews will undoubtedly shift some of the emphasis on price to sustainability when making buying decisions.

An example of this concerns the laptops that are carried at Walmart stores.  An estimated 30% of laptops sold at Walmart have advanced energy saving settings.  Walmart does not find this adequate.  Therefore the company’s laptop buyer set a goal to increase the percentage of laptops sold with advanced power settings from 30% to 100%.  Company research indicates this shift alone will reduce CO2 emissions by hundreds of thousands of metric tons and save the consumers money on electric bills.

Because Walmart’s buyers are now going to put a greater emphasis on sustainability, it will behoove the suppliers, in order to retain Walmart’s business, to do the same. The suppliers in order to meet the stricter criteria must find new methods to reduce waste in their own operations.  This will encourage leaner competition both among competing suppliers and the buyers of other companies as well.

Walmart’s Sustainability director, Jeff Rice, believes that although sustainability will not be all that is looked at when evaluating merchants, it will have enough weight to effect behavior.

It will be interesting to see the effects of this initiative not only on the company but the industry as a whole.  When the industry leader makes a dramatic change in operations it will most likely be emulated by the other players in the industry in order to keep up and compete.

I believe that Walmart must be commended for its efforts.  This is because sustainability is not always the most profitable route to take in the short run.  At times it may not even be economically feasible.  However, taking Walmart’s success in managing its supply chain into consideration, I believe that Walmart will be able to reduce waste and make its supply chain “greener.”

Any thoughts on this? Do you believe that this initiative is risky? If so, is it worth the risk?