Toronto—I’m not sure if it’s the game or the players that have changed, but when I heard Patrick Coyne brag to a group of peers about voluntarily paying more for energy, I knew the business of doing business has experienced a tectonic shift.
Mr. Coyne, director of sales and marketing with Mississauga, Ont.-based printer Lowe-Martin Group, told audiences at the Carbon Economy Summit yesterday in Toronto his customers approached him to help pay the difference (I’d say that’s a pretty good director of sales and marketing).
And he was only one voice in a chorus of industrialites equating their firms’ carbon footprint with the bottom line.
The Carbon Economy Summit was a one-day forum for business, environmental and government (conspicuous no-shows) leaders looking to improve on environmental, financial and risk-management performance while ushering-in the low-carbon era.
(In the interests of full disclosure, the Carbon Economy Summit is run by The Business Information Group, which also owns us, CanadianManufacturing.com)
The delegates and speakers ran the gamut from very small, family-run businesses to large-cap multinationals such as Cisco and Pepsi Co., and the chit-chat during coffee breaks, networking sessions and trips to the loo all sounded the same:
I saved more money mitigating my carbon footprint than I ever did when I actually tried to save money.
That was the main message from Paul Rak, owner of metal fabricator VeriForm and VeriGreen, an energy consulting firm.
VeriForm fabricates weldments and parts—mainly destined for oil sands equipment—from a newly expanded plant in Cambridge, Ont.
Several years ago Mr. Rak committed to what he expected to be a losing proposition by investing in technology to improve his carbon signature.
He ended up improving his profit margin by 33 per cent and starting a new company (VeriGreen) helping his partners—and even competitors (hey, a buck is a buck, right?)—make similar advancements.
These stories popped up everywhere at the summit. Rick Huijbregts, vice-president of Cisco Canada’s Smart+Connected Communities practice, said the multinational networking technology company used video conferencing to save $1.15 billion in travel costs and reduced its deal cycle time—the duration between an agreement in principle and final sign-off—by 9.7 per cent.
Indeed, the days of the hippie-dippie, take-one-for-the-team enviro-investment appears to be at an end.
These guys are take-no-prisoners businessmen looking to make themselves more money. Just so happens the feel-good enviro stuff is finally starting to come along for the ride.