Environmentalism isn’t just for hippies anymore, an author and Yale University professor told the Chattanooga Manufacturers Association’s annual meeting Tuesday.
“There is a real benefit to thinking environmentally,” said Daniel Esty, professor of environmental law at Yale University. “If you don’t think about the environment as part of your (business) strategy, you are going to disadvantage yourself in the market going forward.”
Mr. Esty explained the benefits of businesses investing in environmental initiatives to the nearly 700 businessmen and women attending the event at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Tuesday.
Ray Childers, CMA’s president and chief executive, said many executives don’t like to talk about environmental initiatives until someone like Mr. Esty explains how it affects their bottom line.
“I think this is a message whose time has come,” Mr. Childers said. “(Mr. Esty) is the right person with the right message.”
Mr. Esty, who co-authored the book “Green to Gold: How smart companies use environmental strategy to innovate, create value, and build competitive advantage,” said he has never seen a company that couldn’t cut energy costs by at least 15 percent.
He said companies that fail to think environmentally could send environmentally conscious customers elsewhere to do business.
Many companies that invest in environmental initiatives can see a return on their investment within one or two years, he said.
“You don’t have to be a great environmentalist to see the benefit here,” Mr. Esty said. “It is all about savings and the bottom line.”
Jim Frierson, vice chairman of Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield’s Green Committee, praised Mr. Esty’s comments and said the panel is scheduled to release a report Dec. 1 detailing what Chattanooga must do to reduce the city’s carbon footprint 7 percent by 2012.
“We are way ahead of other cities in terms of getting a grip on these metrics,” he said.
At the meeting, the CMA also nominated two new members to three-year terms on the board.
The new members are Paul Loftin, president and chief operating officer for Siskin Steel; and Glen Morris Jr., president and chief executive of M&M Industries.