It is 1906, one hundred years ago. You are a businessman (yes, "man") who wants to expand your hotel. You´ll need a larger stable to accommodate the additional horses and buggies your increased business will bring.
A "futurist" comes up to you and tells you that you need to plan for a parking lot for cars. In 1906 cars are still outnumbered by horses and are really only the playthings of the rich. He tells you “cars are the next big thing.” Your decision, plan for the additional purchase of property next door for a parking lot, or ignore the advice altogether and let the property be purchased by someone else.
Fast forward to today at Pop! Tech, a conference on popular technology held in beautiful Camden, Maine, I heard presentations by Tom Friedman and Lester Brown that contained information relevant to those who run their own businesses.
Lester Brown talked about how China already out consumes the U.S. in grain, meat, steel and other commodities. The U.S. still out consumes China when it comes to oil, but if China continues to grow at current rates, then China alone will consume more oil each day than is produced in the entire world.
You may consider environmentalism and global warming to be political ramblings of American liberals. But, from a business perspective, if it´s true that China is going to become more and more of a consumer, what´s that going to do to the price of oil, other products, and commodities? What will those prices mean to you? When you look into the future and make decisions that will impact your business and how well you serve your customers, choose the greener option whenever possible.
Don´t let political philosophy blind you to the business reasons for going green. More and more of your customers will expect it. If you can take steps now to reduce your energy footprint through solar or other alternative energies, you may be better positioned to survive any downturns caused by oil price spikes or interruptions.
Let´s get back to your hotel in 1906. Two years later, Henry Ford will roll out the Model T and the automobile begins to reshape America. Did you plan for a parking lot?
Going green makes good business sense. As Tom Friedman said, "´Green´ is the new "red, white, and blue.´"
PS: I’ll be blogging from Pop! Tech again on Friday and Saturday.