Environmental Sustainability

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: Building a Healthy and Prosperous Business

What is sustainability?

The New Hampshire Small Business Development Center provides technical assistance to support the creation of sustainable businesses in the state. The idea of “sustainability” encompasses any strategies or business practices that you put in place that are designed to keep your company and the environment healthy and prosperous. For business owners, the definition of sustainable practices is best framed when we ask ourselves “What does a company gain by paying more attention to its impact on the environment and society? Simply put, it enhances its value.” This premise has been laid out in The Iceberg of Value by Bob Willard, an expert on the business value of corporate sustainability strategies.

Generally, experts agree that businesses need to consider three areas of operation to build a sustainable company. These areas, often considered the engines that drive a business’s success, include: financial sustainability, social sustainability and resource or environmental sustainability. The tools provided in Financing Your Business will help you develop your business’s financial sustainability. In our Resource Library you will find articles that may help you think about your social sustainability including information about creating a Safe Work Environment. You will also find links to other NH business organizations and companies such as NH Businesses for Social Responsibility, New Directions Collaborative, and Ceres, which assist in building sustainable businesses.

Here we will focus on the steps you can take to create an environmentally sustainable business in the state of New Hampshire and how you can begin to go beyond the basics required of you by law or regulation. Building a sustainable environmental management program will help your bottom line while reducing the risk of environmental impact and the incursion of costly environmental fines. This environmental sustainability section will primarily focus on the raw materials and feed stocks required for your business, and how you and your company can best minimize and manage the environmental challenges that may arise as you do your work.

USE THE RESOURCES OF NHSBDC TOWARD ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

The Environmental Business Advisor of the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center can help you navigate through environmental regulations and identify and solve compliance issues. Our business advisor can step in at which ever phase of the process you need the most help.

We also work closely with the state’s Department of Environmental Services (DES), which is a repository of the various regulations and compliance issues that may apply to your business. We believe that while being compliant with state environment laws is necessary and reduces risk of costly fines and environmental impact, the real benefit to your business can be realized by going beyond the requirements of just being in compliance. Reducing packaging, eliminating harmful materials, incorporating energy efficiencies, and reducing costly waste disposal bills are just some of the ways your business can impact its bottom line. The State of NH encourages businesses to go beyond mere compliance and has launched a program to assist businesses with this goal. Every business in New Hampshire should consult the details of the DES ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP INITIATIIVE, where two programs are in place. The Green Leaders program and the Aspiring Leaders program recognize businesses that go beyond the basics. The Aspiring Leaders program is often particularly useful to our state’s small businesses. The NHSBDC Environmental Business Advisor can help you take advantage of the Environmental Leadership program.

More resources to take you beyond compliance

NH DES has developed a booklet, “Making Your Business Greener Workbook” to help assess and improve the environmental aspects of your business operations.

In addition to DES, you may wish to consult with the trade organization for your specific industry. That organization may have an environmental professional on staff or an operations manual to assist you.

Next: Eight Steps to Environmental Sustainability