How Businesses Are Embracing Green Growth

April 20, 2023

Around the world, businesses are looking for ways to balance economic vitality and environmental responsibility. A task formerly thought impossible, green growth strategies are increasingly becoming how business is done globally. Here are seven ways that companies are embracing sustainable growth strategies. 

Automating Business Processes

Automation comes with a high energy cost, so it might seem strange that sustainable companies adopt it so readily. The reason is that automating business processes allows supply chains to be more efficient, waste to be reduced, and offices to go paperless. Robotics system integration technology and similar advances are helping integrate automation with traditional infrastructure. In other words, robotics will aid in creating the efficiency necessary for sustainable development.

Adopting Green Energy Solutions

The most radical and far-reaching green growth solution is renewable energy. Going carbon-neutral is the primary goal of most sustainability programs. One selling point of renewable energy is its versatility. There are many sources of carbon-free energy, and these can often be scaled according to need. Photovoltaic (solar) panels are an example of this trend. Solar panel efficiency is close to 25% under laboratory conditions, and with mass production of cells underway, businesses can adopt the technology piecemeal. As local, state, and national governments continue incentivizing renewables, their use should grow with time. 

Cutting Waste

Reducing fossil fuel use and cutting energy waste go hand-in-hand when moving toward carbon neutrality. To this end, businesses are finally taking stock of where they can become more efficient in energy usage. Energy audits are a powerful tool for accomplishing this goal. The U.S. Department of Energy operates a digital information clearinghouse on energy audits, including professional and DIY options. The more data available to businesses, the more accurate their sustainability decisions can be. 

Incorporating Biophilic Design

Biophilic design means incorporating nature directly into the design of buildings and devices. An excellent example of biophilia is the positioning of structures to take advantage of natural daylight and shade. Another design option is the incorporation of plant life. A NASA study in 1989 found that certain houseplants, like the spider plant, can remove toxins from the air, albeit slowly. Businesses are finding that getting back to nature can be good for their bottom line and employee well-being. 

Utilizing Biomimetic Architecture

Biomimetics (also called biomimicry) goes a step further than biophilia. Rather than incorporating natural elements directly, biomimetic projects seek to emulate nature in the name of efficiency. For instance, stronger and lighter building materials are being designed by taking inspiration from abalone shells and bamboo. As science learns more about the natural world, humanity will use that knowledge to align industrial processes with natural ones. 

Engaging in Ecological Remediation

Preventing future damage is critical, but the havoc already wrought by industrial processes is considerable. Enter remediation. Ecological remediation is the removal of contamination and restoration of ecosystems. The means to accomplish this vary. Nanoremediation uses nanoparticles to treat polluted groundwater and soil. Bioremediation uses nature itself (often in the form of specialized bacteria) to decontaminate land. These methods share one goal: restoring environments to their natural state. 

Looking to the Future

Authentic green growth will be enabled by technologies that make scarcity and pollution things of the past. These technologies come in a bewildering array. Asteroid sampling missions like Hayabusa are being considered precursors to commercial asteroid mining projects. The use of a 3D printer on the International Space Station in 2014 proved the efficacy of moving industrial processes to orbit. Fusion power has already achieved multiple milestones and might be practical within a few years. These ideas might seem like science fiction in the present, but all of these technologies are well into the design phase and will likely be making a massive impact soon. 

Economic growth and environmental sustainability are not a contradiction. By bringing together new technologies and better techniques, companies make responsible growth all but inevitable. These steps are only the beginning of creating a more prosperous future for the planet. 

Emiy Watson

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