Laurel Brunner: Sustainable Business Models

Bankers are not generally thought of as committed tree huggers, but where money is concerned anything is possible. So it is with JPMorgan Chase, a multinational banking monster that is the biggest bank in the USA and the sixth biggest worldwide. It has assets of some US$2.5 trillion including many in property and from a graphics industry perspective it’s a big buyer of print. But what makes JPMorgan Chase more interesting is its approach to energy which appears to put it squarely in the tree hugging camp.

JPMorgan Chase has become the world’s first bank to sign up for a twenty year energy agreement. The deal is with NRG in Houston, Texas and it commits JPMorgan Chase to a fixed price for two decades worth of power generated by a wind farm. Michael Norton, head of property management for JPMorgan Chase has also committed the compamy to retrofitting its 6,000 odd buildings with “all the latest energy saving technology”. He adds that “so far we’ve retrofitted 2,500 buildings and already saved 20-40 percent of our annual utility spend”. The expectation is that JPMorgan Chase will be completely carbon neutral by 2020. This is impressive, but let’s not forget that it’s really about money, an excellent reason for going green. So maybe more megacorps will also sign twenty year agreements for renewable energy.

That’s not really an option for the small to medium sized companies which make up most of the graphics business. However making buildings more energy efficient is definitely possible. Insulation should be a no brainer, as should adding solar panels to rooftops and using tanks and drainage systems for water capture. But there are other ways to improve energy efficiency, such as replacing wheezy kit with modern machines that are likely to use less power. Installing digital presses for short run work instead of using ancient offset machines will cut energy consumption. Digital printers use less energy because data is going direct to press and there are no interim processes using energy or consumables. If offset remains the best option for your clients, update plate processing or even better start using processless plates.

Support your people too, by offering branded bicycles for them to use, or fleeces so that you can turn down the heating a smidge. Or encourage people to make suggestions for improving energy usage and make sure you act on them.

Big businesses can make a big difference to sustainability because they carry such clout. But even if little businesses only make a little difference, it all adds up. Companies such as JPMorgan Chase take energy consumption seriously because efficiencies and renewables save them a lot of money. There is no reason why the rest of us cannot benefit from a similar approach.

Laurel Brunner




This article was produced by the Verdigris project, an industry initiative intended to raise awareness of print’s positive environmental impact. This weekly commentary helps printing companies keep up to date with environmental standards, and how environmentally friendly business management can help improve their bottom lines. Verdigris is supported by the following companies: Agfa Graphics, EFI, Fespa, HP, Kodak, Kornit, Ricoh, Spindrift, Unity Publishing and Xeikon.

Rob van den Braak

Printer’s devil (1964), phototypesetter, offsetprinter, teacher of graphic techniques, salesmanager, productmanager, trade journalist, founder of BlokBoek e-zine (2011). But above all husband, father, friend and lover of life in southern Spain (since 2010).

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