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Monday, August 11, 2008

A new business angle: Conserve energy, increase profits

From an article by Kathy Bergstrom in the Business Journal of Milwaukee:

Officials at Quad/Graphics Inc. see efforts to increase energy efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint as an opportunity to be both a better corporate citizen and a better company.

“Being efficient is just being socially responsible, and it’s frankly good business,” said Joe Muehlbach, director of facilities and environmental policy for the Sussex-based commercial printer. “If you’re not conscious of your energy consumption and your emissions, you in fact are probably a struggling business.”

Wisconsin business and environmental leaders said many companies are already taking steps to conserve energy and reduce waste because it makes good business sense. Rising energy prices mean those moves have an even bigger impact on a company’s bottom line.

But some leaders say embracing environmental responsibility at times requires more flexibility when looking at return on investment for an energy or environmental project.

From manufacturers such as Racine-based S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. to retailers such as Kohl’s Department Stores of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin businesses are taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and use less energy.

“The really good thing about climate change and business is that almost all the things that are good to address reducing carbon emissions and global warming emissions are also profit making for businesses,” said Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, an environmental group based in Madison.

Quad/Graphics is one of seven Wisconsin companies listed as participants in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders program, which had 196 total members as of July 2.

Companies agree to complete a corporate-wide inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions, set long-term reduction goals and annually report their progress to the EPA, according to the agency’s Web site.

The program started in 2002, and the other Wisconsin members are Johnson Controls Inc., Glendale; Kohl’s; MillerCoors, Milwaukee; S.C. Johnson; the former Stora Enso, now NewPage Corp.; and Western States Envelope & Label, Butler.

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