Green Business and Careers

Businesses that engage in Conscious Capitalism, Green Manufacturing, and Green Marketing can often be found housed in a green building.

Not only is it important to work in a green building, but also it is important to live and work consciously in order to achieve some of the same environmental goals as the green building industry. The green approach is a holistic approach.

Conscious Capitalism

The four principles of conscious capitalism are purpose, stakeholder orientation, conscious leadership, and conscious culture. Conscious businesses focus on their purpose beyond profit. By focusing on its deeper purpose, a conscious business inspires, engages and energizes its stakeholders. Unlike some business that believe they only exist to maximize return on investment for their shareholders, conscious businesses focus on their whole business ecosystem, creating and optimizing value for all of their stakeholders, understanding that strong and engaged stakeholders lead to a healthy, sustainable, resilient business. Conscious leaders focus on “we,” rather than “me.” They inspire, foster transformation, and bring out the best in those around them. Culture is the embodied values, principles, and practices underlying the social fabric of a business, which permeate its actions and connects the stakeholders to each other to the company’s purpose, people, and processes. Together, purpose, stakeholder orientation, conscious leadership, and conscious culture are energizing and unifying forces that truly bring a conscious business to life.

Green Manufacturing

Green manufacturing is a process for making products that reduces resource, water or energy consumption, and/or decreases residual waste. Sustainable manufacturing is not only better for the environment, but also better for a company’s bottom line because of reduced energy, water, waste disposal, and raw materials costs. In some cases, facilities may pay lower regulatory compliance costs because of waste reduction efforts especially in pollution prevention and safety improvement efforts. Facilities that implement sustainable manufacturing also have healthier employees.

Sustainability can also give a company a competitive advantage over their competitors. This can lead to incremental PR for their efforts and may also lead to new environmentally minded customers. Green manufacturing can bring in revenue as well as save on operation costs.


Telecommuting has many known advantages for employers and employees, including savings for both employers and employees, higher productivity levels, energy savings in office buildings, fewer cars on the road emitting less green house gases, and happier employees. Telecommuting is often hailed as “green” because it cuts down on the fossil fuels associated with long, auto-centric commutes. The 5.2 million telecommuters in the United States are already saving 10 million barrels of oil per year.

In addition to saving energy and time, telecommuting can save money for companies. According to the Telework Research Network’s study of 250 telecommuting cases, companies that allow their employees to work from home half of the time can save$10,000 per year. This is because people who work from home have increased productivity, spend more time working and less time commuting, and have more effective time management. The rest of the financial savings come from energy conservation, reduced sick time, office consolidation, less need for furniture, and lower employee turnover. Employees can save $2,000 to $6,800 annually by telecommuting from reduced gas and automobile use, fewer parking fees, lower food costs, and reduced clothing needs.

179d Green Building Tax Deduction

If you own a green architectural or engineering company, you could qualify for tax deductions related to energy efficient buildings. The 179D Federal Tax Deduction applies to companies that design a new construction or renovation for energy efficient buildings for the government. Non-government buildings also qualify for this tax deduction, but the tax break goes to the building owner or tenant – whoever paid for the construction or renovation. These companies or owners can qualify for a deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot. For an energy efficient building to qualify, it must surpass 2001 ASHRAE standards – most current state codes already require this. In reality, the vast majority of new construction and energy efficient renovation will qualify or partially qualify for 179D just by meeting today’s stricter building code requirements.

There are a number of ways that a building can qualify or even partially qualify. The building envelope, the HVAC/hot water systems, and the interior lighting systems are all subsystems that are eligible for this incentive. Also, for a building to qualify for the tax break, the rough rule of thumb is that it must be larger than 50,000 square feet, however buildings for Indian tribes and tax-exempt entities do not qualify for 179D. Also, another benefit of this incentive is that the statute of limitations is 3 years long. This means that an architect, engineer or contractor can look at government buildings in their portfolio that were put in service in the last three years, get an allocation letter from the government, and amend their returns to get the 179D benefits.

Green Marketing

Green Marketing is a process comprised of many interdependent activities designed to communicate a message of environmental sustainability to a general or specific audience for the ultimate purpose of an exchange. Often, a company’s sustainability efforts can give them a competitive edge over their competition that does not engage in green business tactics, but without effective communication of the efforts, proper return on investment cannot be captured. Examples of such an exchange include providing money for environmentally friendly goods or services and contributing time and/or money in order to be involved in a meaningful cause for an emotional feeling, psychological need or perceived benefit. Indeed, the most successful sustainability-focused organizations transcend mere profit-seeking and create multiple types of value including economic, ecological, social, cultural, emotional, ethical and spiritual.

Unfortunately, there are companies that attempt to use green marketing techniques to make a profit, but do not engage in real green business or manufacturing techniques. The act of misleading consumers regarding the practices of a company of the environmental benefits of a product or service is called greenwashing. Companies are relying on false information or vagueness to trick consumers into buying products that give the impression that the product is “green” or “sustainable.” The techniques commonly used in greenwashing include: hidden trade-offs, lack of proof, vagueness, irrelevance, lesser of two evils, and fibbing, false labeling.

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