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Small businesses focus on sustainability, energy efficiency

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Small business owners must analyze the value of anything they do before putting it into effect. One failed investment can haunt a small firm for months, or possibly put it under for good. However, a successful investment may lift a struggling company up from the doldrums and into the leading position within their industry. It appears the latest small business investment trend is in sustainability initiatives.

According to a recent survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, nearly half of respondents are using sustainability valuation practices when it comes to analyzing how they are benefiting from becoming more energy efficient and their use of renewable energy.

"Corporate sustainability is driven by market forces and puts material business value at stake," said Don Reed, a director in PwC's Sustainable Business Solutions practice. "That's why companies need a valuation framework to effectively quantify and demonstrate its benefits."

In order to help businesses understand how to measure the benefits of their sustainability practices, PwC recently held a webcast titled "Sustainability Valuation: Putting a Dollar Value on Your Initiatives." After taking in the webcast, 36 percent of respondents said their biggest challenge toward sustainability initiatives is prioritizing between what practices they want to use to become more sustainable.  

"The fact that our webcast drew a large number of C-level attendees, including hundreds charged with sustainability, confirms the drive to continue pushing the valuation envelope for sustainability initiatives and give them a voice at the CFO table to make the business case," said Reed.

Energy efficiency in the workplace
Small businesses are making efforts to become more sustainable throughout the country, and now energy companies are doing what they can to help them out. A recent article for the Post Star, a news source serving Glen Falls, New York, outlined an effort from National Grid, which is teaming with small businesses through an incentive program.

The newspaper said businesses with commercial accounts for gas or electricity with the energy utility are eligible for a program that can fund up to 70 percent of the labor and material costs for energy efficiency upgrades.

These upgrades can be made to anything from light fixtures and solar panels to windmills installed onsite. While the National Grid will pay for most of the installation and the hardware, it may not replace broken equipment that may result from the program. Small business owners should be sure to have property insurance policies that cover new installations.

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