On the first day of the new year, I blogged about my personal goal to flaunt the business case for green real estate. I really do believe there are big opportunities in sustainability, and this week, BusinessWeek is doing the job for me. Sort of. The cover story is "Beyond the Green Corporation: Imagine a world in which eco-friendly and socially responsible practices actually help a company’s bottom line. It’s closer than you think." The article doesn’t have a real estate focus, but real estate is business.
I liked one point the article made: "Companies that talk the most about sustainability aren’t always the best at executing." Take Ford, for example. Ford spent a reported $2 billion renovating their River Rouge facility into a green building, but do we consider sustainability one of Ford’s core competencies? I don’t. Sustainability is ancillary to what it really does, which is to make big trucks. Big F150s. Does it have sustainable practices? Maybe, but sustainability isn’t Ford’s core competency. And Ford’s not alone. Everyone is trying to grapple with the complicated balancing act between quarterly numbers and long-term sustainable practices.
Companies that make sustainability a core competency will be very profitable in the future. But, that’s easier said than done because sustainability will require entirely new ways of doing things. It will take time. It takes my weekend research. You won’t find sustainability taught in most MBA schools yet, either. But this is what competitive advantage is all about, isn’t it?