What is a green business?

A colleague recently asked me, “What do you mean by “green business,” anyway?” Well! No wonder she was confused; there are so many conflicting and fragmented messages out there, each with its own definition of green business.

So, in order to clear up the question once and for all, here is my official definition of green business:

A green business is ANY business that pays close attention to its relationships – to the natural world (planet, resources), to the communities in which it operates, to individuals within the business and that are served by that business.

It is a business that looks both downstream AND upstream – that measures its impacts and creatively reduces the negative ones while profitably increasing the positive. Finally, green businesses have a vision of themselves as being GOOD in these relationships, not just “less bad.”

With this sense of itself, a green business can and does:

    • Increase profitability by slashing waste;
    • Attract media exposure and serve more people;
    • Super-charge employee attraction and retention; and
    • Build solid customer and brand loyalty.

Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? As I quickly discovered when I began promoting green architecture, the difference between green and non-green is primarily about quality. A shoddy, poorly-designed building will simply not be as efficient, healthy, or appealing as a green-designed building.

And business is the same way! A business that has little or no sense of mission, is haphazardly managed, and lurches from crisis to crisis will not be as profitable or as beloved as a green-mission-driven business. It’s all about awareness, vision, and taking decisive, purposeful action.

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