May 3, 2007

If anything has emerged from the recent focus on climate change, it is an almost universal recognition that no one can act in the world without having some effect on the environment. There are, however, many shades of "green" business. Some companies are becoming more environmentally sensitive, while others are becoming less so. Which kind of business are you?

To gain buy-in, environmental advocates often suggest that green business is good business; that is, environmentally friendly business practices can actually lead to profitability. However, there is a more compelling reason to pursue green initiatives: It is simply the right thing to do.

As business leaders, it is our job to take the long-term view—setting corporate objectives and then empowering our managers and employees to achieve them. While everyone plays a role in the success of the entire enterprise, it is the responsibility of leadership to get the ball rolling. It's a familiar cycle of vision, intention and execution, followed by thoughtful analysis.

Like many companies, Much Shelist is making a concerted effort to become a greener business. Perhaps our initiatives will help inspire you to move in a more environmentally friendly direction:

  • We have joined the U.S. Green Building Council and Chicago's Sustainable Builders Working Group, which help developers, owners, landlords, tenants and municipalities implement green policies for commercial, residential and manufacturing facilities.
  • We are exploring incentives to encourage the use of public transportation and the purchase of hybrid cars by employees.
  • We are developing policies aimed at energy-efficient lighting; environmentally friendly equipment, technology and supplies; improved recycling and waste management; and greener travel planning.
  • We will also plan and execute internal communications and training to educate attorneys and staff about the firm's green initiatives and how they can help.

These initial efforts will be tested, improved and augmented over time. Although they are merely a beginning, every step counts. I encourage you to implement your own green business initiatives and share your ideas with Much Shelist and others. After all, we live and work—together—on the same planet.

This article contains material of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Under applicable rules of professional conduct, this content may be regarded as attorney advertising.