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Fiscal Environmentalism is a hybrid term of two traditional and often conflicting philosophies, environmentalism and fiscal conservatism, created to emphasize the growing understanding of the middle ground between the two, where the goals of each are simultaneously fulfilled. The result is an innovative business practice based upon principles of intelligent environmental design and financial discipline, associated with each.

Contents

Concept

Traditional practices of environmental stewardship (including preservation, elimination of waste, and increased energy efficiency), complement bottom-line-driven economic policy (including increased profitability, reduced waste, and organizational efficiency). As future economic growth will demand both a higher degree of environmental awareness and a stronger utilization of available investment monies, the hallmarks of an efficiently organized and profitable company, organization, government, or household stand to benefit from environmentalism’s holistic approach.

Fiscal Environmentalism is a useful term for individuals who are familiar with either of the philosophies, and is related to very general concepts such as "sustainable business practices" and "socially responsible business practices", and other concepts more specific to traditional fields, such as Ecological Economics, and Environmental Management Systems. Compared to these other terms, Fiscal Environmentalism emphasizes fiscal discipline. It is used in discussions with business leaders who are looking to answer public demand for increased environmental awareness while stillfocusing on bottom-line success.

Ways to Practice Fiscal Environmentalism

There are many ways organizations and individuals can cut costs, increase profits, and still practice environmentalism. The United States Environmental Protection Agency created a guide showing businesses how they can save money through practicing fiscal environmentalism. [1] Examples include:

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Energy-Efficient Equipment

Purchase equipment with power management energy-saving features such as copiers, fax machines, scanners, consumer electronics, exit signs, and heating and cooling equipment. Computer monitors with the ENERGY STAR label can be up to 60 to 80 percent more efficient in sleep mode than monitors without the label. If your computer monitor does not have the ENERGY STAR label, then turn it off when it’s not in use. A typical office could save approximately 50 percent on the energy costs for office equipment by taking advantage of the power management features of ENERGY STAR-labeled equipment.

Smart Lighting and Insulation

Take advantage of the sun to heat, light, and power your work space. If your company is building or retrofitting an office, help make sure that it meets or exceeds the energy and lighting codes. Turn the lights off whenever they are not being used, or use sensor devices to turn lights on and off. Retrofit older lighting fixtures with fluorescent lighting and energy-saving electronic ballasts. Use task lighting (oriented to the task at hand) rather than general,overhead lighting.

Energy-efficient lighting, ventilation, heating, and cooling technologieshave cut many companies’ total energy bills by 30 percent or more. One New Jersey company,Warner-Lambert, replaced more than 100,000 fluorescent and incandescent lamps with more efficient bulbs, in addition to taking other energy efficiency measures, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions from electricity use by 11,000 tons per year.The upgrade alone saved $1,400,000 per year in energy costs and reduced other air emissions, including more than 90 million grams (90 metric tons) of sulfur dioxide and 40 million grams (40 metric tons) of nitrogen oxides annually.

Conduct an Energy Assessment of Industrial Operations

Schedule an energy and waste assessment or use the Climate Wise Tier 1 Action Checklist to develop a comprehensive action plan for reducing emissions and improving productivity in boiler systems, air compressors, and other systems. Even energy-intensive companies are finding opportunities to improve their efficiency and save money. Companies like the DuPont Corporation and Bethlehem Steel are finding that third-party and employee audits can lead to energy efficiency opportunities worth $30 million and more. Small and medium-sized companies also can save.Cosmair’s Clark facility (a division of L’Oreal) has saved more than $2 million from energy efficiency improvements that the company has had underway since 1990.

Take Advantage of Renewable Technologies

Purchasing or investing in renewable energy technologies (wind, solar, biomass, small hydropower, and geothermal) can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide job opportunities for individuals entering this growing field. Some companies install solar photovoltaics on their facilities’ roofs to meet their electricity needs. As these alternative energy sources become more popular, they can meet the environmental and economic concerns of any business entity. Businesses can save 40 to 80 percent on electric or fuel bills by replacing conventional water heaters with a solar water heating system.

Alternatively, companies can take advantage of “green power” offered by certain utilities.Green power is electricity produced by using renewable energy sources. Purchasing green power sometimes means paying a slightly higher price for energy but has the benefit of polluting less and being more environmentally friendly than power generated by fossil fuels.

Better Transportation

Consider encouraging your employees to bike, carpool, or use public transportation. Think about introducing telecommuting either part- or full-time. Evaluate your company’s vehicle fleet for size and purpose and make changes accordingly, such as switching to a cleaner fuel. Each employee who leaves his or her car at home two days a week can reduce CO2 emissions by 1,590 pounds annually. Alternatives also include parking-cash out incentive programs or subsidies for use of public transportation.

Protect Ecosystems

If you have office grounds, landscape them with plants native to the area. Not only will they require less water and help protect valuable habitat, but also plants store (“sequester”) carbon during photosynthesis. An average tree can sequester 50 pounds of carbon in a year.

Paper Products

Use 100 percent recycled paper (avoid chlorine-bleached paper). Reuse paper within the office, including fax paper. Eliminate fax cover sheets whenever possible. Recycle—it takes about one-third less gross energy to make one sheet of recycled paper than it does to make one sheet of virgin paper. Let office supply companies know that you want your products in recycled or recyclable packaging. In 1997 BankAmerica, a WasteWise partner of the year, reduced its paper use by more than 773,000 pounds of paper and saved $570,000 by using 15-pound rather than 20- pound paper ATM envelopes, putting the corporate telephone directory on-line, and revising and eliminating monthly and weekly reporting procedures.

Lead By Example

A number of companies and corporations are highly regarded for their product quality, ethics, or standing in the community. Businesses also can be known for the steps they have taken to reduce their firm’s greenhouse gas emissions through corporate incentives such as financial assistance for employees who use public transportation, carpooling, and telecommuting. Corporate policies on energy reductions that involve employees and the company’s day-to-day operations will have a positive impact on the climate inside and outside the office—and on your company’s bottom line.

Corporate examples

Recent examples of Fiscal Environmentalism include the rise of green-building practices among government and traditional businesses as an attempt to save costs in energy consumption and improve indoor air quality. Even big-box retailer Wal-Mart, which has often been strongly criticized by environmental groups for its environmental practices, has begun to embrace a Fiscal Environmentalist approach, if only to save money. It recently hired a new senior level Environmental Affairs officer. Wal-Mart has also recently made a monumental commitment to promoting energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs.[1]

According to a global Newsweek ranking, which measures how effectively the top 100 companies manage environmental risks and opportunities relative to their industry peers, Royal Bank of Canada is the most environmentally friendly company in the world.[2] Other companies in the top 5 include Lafarge Construction, Grupo Ferrovial SA, Westpac Banking Corp, and Yell Group PLC Advertising.

History

Shawn Westcott of Pittsburgh, Pa, coined the term Fiscal Environmentalism in 2006. While serving as a political consultant to Democrat Shawn Flaherty, a former Pennsylvania State Representative, Westcott, a long-time environmentalist, included the term in a speech he wrote for Flaherty to a conservative business group as a means of explaining the intrinsic relationship between the seemingly unrelated, yet complementary, fields of environmentalism and fiscal conservatism. With help from Environmental Policy expert, Alexander Lackner, the definition evolved to derive more useful business and environmental applicability.

References

  1. ^ Wal-Mart Aims To Sell 100 Million Compact Fluorescents In One Year : TreeHugger
  2. ^ Global-Warming Ready, Newsweek, 8 April 2007, URL accessed 19 July 2007

See also


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