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Study: Sustainable Businesses Found to Be More Productive

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Small business owners who are beginning to implement green practices in the workplace may not only be benefiting the environment, they also could be improving the productivity levels of their staff, according to recent research conducted at UCLA.

The study, a joint effort between Professor MagaliDelmas, an environmental economist at UCLA, along with SanjaPekovic from the University Paris–Dauphine in France, found employees at firms that have green practices and standards are 16 percent more productive than other businesses.

Delmas noted that going green is not just beneficial for your employees, but can also boost your bottom line. Workers at green companies are consistently more motivated, better trained and enjoy better relationships throughout the office. All these factors help to make them more productive than workers at more traditional companies.

The Environmental Standards and Labor Productivity: Understanding the Mechanisms That Sustain Sustainability measured the productivity of workers at more than 5,000 firms who used green standards, as well as conventional practices. The researchers crafted a logarithm to measure the average value of production per employee.

According to the research, businesses that achieved green certifications were able to create an improved work environment, as well as better levels of productivity. Firms that promote a cleaner environment also commonly have property insurance coverages that protect against liability issues that may arise with energy efficient lighting and sustainable installations.

Delmas said he expected there to be some contrast between green and less-green firms, but definitely did not expect for there to the productivity gap between the two to be so large.

How can small businesses go green?

One of the biggest advantages to employing green practices is that many businesses won't have to alter any major processes to make a huge environmental impact. An article for TreeHugger shared some ideas small business owners can use to become more green.

  • Use energy-saving settings on computers: Businesses can save a lot of money by turning off their computers when they aren't using them and using energy-saving settings when the devices are powered on.
  • Reduce paper use, and recycle when possible: The advent of cloud computing and other collaboration initiatives have reduced the need to print out reports and documents. When files are printed, recycle them when they are no longer needed.

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