Monday, November 10, 2008

Europe ahead of US in green business practices

European businesses have been leading the way when it comes to green business innovation. That's drawing traditionally U.S. companies into the more profitable European green market.

In October, the Miami Herald reported on Office Depot's expanded European market share. The company, which has suffered losses domestically despite several years of green product development and promotion is experiencing large and profitable gains with European businesses and consumers who are more willing to seek out and pay for environmentally friendly products and services.

In Frankfurt, Germany subway station escalators are equipped with sensors so they run only when someone approaches or is on-board.

By the mid-90's, all new construction through-out Europe had to adhere to mandated levels of energy savings. And many European architects make sustainability a central theme in their work.

So why is the U.S. lagging behind?

Some analysts theorize that the high level of E.U. involvement in environmental issues has pushed green consciousness to a higher level. Others believe the profit-driven corporate power structure behind lobbying efforts in the U.S. has quashed green development as unprofitable and therefore undesirable. Others cite the material abundance which has typically characterized American life in contrast to the relative lack that existed in some parts of Europe only a few decades ago as an explanation for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Whatever the reason, U.S. businesses need to work harder to convince consumers to buy green and live green, especially when cheaper non-green choices abound.

What has your experience been as a business owner, employee or manager? Are American less enamoured with green products than our European cousins? How can we break that trend? I would love to hear your ideas and experiences!