Green Consulting – Pro-active Approach Towards filling the Gaps

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 880 , Published on 06 April 2015

The world of professional consultancy has gone through a sea change. More and more corporations are turning towards consultants to help them bring their businesses out of the rut or drive the change within the company. With the increasing focus on green planet, businesses often find themselves in a position wherein the existing practices become non-sustainable and non-viable. In such a scenario, incorporation of green technology becomes imperative for firms to exist. This increases the demand for green consultants and makes green consultancy, an attractive business.

Green Consulting popularly known as ‘Ecological Consulting’ or ‘Environmental Consulting’ is a branch of the consulting sphere which focuses to transform the business model or develop solutions which are environment friendly in nature.

Green consulting industry can be sub-divided into air, soil and water management, compliance, auditing, remediation, and sustainability research. The industry is very broad with individual expertise required in functions ranging from clean technology to supply chain management.

Consulting firms are perceived to be external experts who can understand, suggest, and in some cases implement the best strategy, process, or practice for one’s business. Green consultants carry an additional set of responsibility – picking up alternatives which are amiable to the ecological/environmental world.

According to IBIS world, the $18 billion green consultancy industry grew by 4.5% on an annual basis from 2009 to 2014, at a pace greater than global economic growth. It is expected to grow at a rate of 7.7% annually till 2017. The 68,113 businesses till 2013 have employed nearly 128,983 people to serve the ecological problems faced by the firms. These statistics are a clear indication of a structured industry on a growth path.

Need for Green Consulting:

Globalization, urbanization, industrialization coupled with the exponential growth in population has put a tremendous stress on the precious environment and valuable natural resources. The race for development has resulted in the increased carbon footprints and extreme climatic changes, which in common parlance is termed as ‘Global Warming’. The planet has been increasingly witnessing the nature’s fury since the past decade. The magnitude of the impact keeps on rising with each passing calamity. The sovereign state’s administration and private entities have started realizing the importance of green business practices. Public awareness on the issue has increased and people are now more concerned about how they eat, live and breathe. The world has moved on from development to sustainable development. The corporations, thus, not only need solutions to increase their wealth but also health. The Three P’s of business are finding more relevance in the business environment today – People, Planet and Profit.

Gaps filled by Green Consultants:

With an increasing focus on the environmental issues, green living is slowly becoming a norm. The increased numbers of environment related litigations, changing environmental acts and the inclination of masses towards greener world, have been major causes of worry for the Corporations in the recent times. The vast nature of the environment related activities that firms are associated in makes it a necessity to have an expert around to find a solution for sustaining the competitive corporate world along with the greener practices to avoid the legal and administrative tangles. To further explain the issues; let us have a look at the points where business would find themselves at ease with environment consultant by their side:

1. Overcoming the legislative barriers: Firms require all the necessary environment checks done and licenses/permits from the various regulatory and judicial organizations whenever it wants to start a new project or set up a new plant. The existing laws by Government of India for environmental protection include Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) cess Act, 1977; Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; and other acts related to coastal zone regulation, eco-sensitive zone, wildlife protection, noise pollution, ozone layer depletion to name a few. Businesses tend to get stuck in the maze of clearances even before they start. An environment consultant can play a big role to help the businesses overcome these obstacles.

2. Media and Public Communication: People are becoming increasingly conscious of the environmental impacts and are increasingly concerned about the surrounding ecology. Businesses need to clearly communicate the nature and extent of the environmental impacts that is related to them and the steps followed by them to mitigate environmental issues. The tag of being an environment defaulter can be hurting the corporates image. A good example to emphasize this is the famous Public Eye Awards, given out annually to the environmental defaulters. Thus, an environment consultant needs to be updated and prepared for the necessary press statements and image strengthening exercise for the corporate.

3. New Products and Facilities: Recently there has been a spurt in the environmental products by the corporate houses which has resulted in an increased focus on manufacturing new green products like hybrid-cars, electric run cars, alternative fuel technologies, research on utilization of renewable resources. The innovation coupled with the expertise of green consultant’s sustainable approach/solutions can become the key for long term success.

4. Carbon Credits: An additional expectation for the organizations in developing countries to approach green consultancy firms would be to gain advice on the ways to gain carbon credits by reducing carbon emissions from their current operations, which is a formalized system in accordance with the Kyoto Protocol. These carbon credits can then be traded in developed markets at a premium price.

5. Environmental Audit and Consulting: The increased focus on the ecological balance has led to periodic environmental checks on the practices and processes of the company by the authorized personnel. An environmental consultant is the right person to identify the gaps in the business in terms of environmental practices and put in place the necessary protection to safeguard the business. For example, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a certification system, created by the US Green Building Council which ranks the infrastructure based on various sustainability parameters. The LEED grading system judges on indoor quality, water efficiency, materials used to build the infrastructure, air quality, energy consumption, and innovation in the structural design. Based on these sustainable parameters, the green consultants specializing in LEED help to develop and gain the infrastructure the highest rating.

Benefits achieved by green consultancy:

The primary benefit of green consulting is to selflessly achieve an attractive bottom line by proactively meeting the needs without compromising on the future generation’s ability to meet their own. The edge which green consulting can provide in one’s business is gaining a competitive advantage in the market place, attracting competent employees, mitigating risks, engaging stakeholders proactively, promoting a healthy and safe workplace, improving brand image, increasing productivity, attracting new line of consumers.

With the increasing innovation and need of the hour, green consulting business can only grow. However, the business is not short of its issues. The tools and techniques required for the consulting practice is a niche one and requires expensive infrastructure in place. Thus a trade-off between sustainability and initial expenditure to develop the infrastructure becomes the key to success.

This article is authored by Divya Roongta from SIMSREE



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