Environmental Protection & Preservation
Research Shows That Most Companies Lack an Energy Strategy
While a majority of senior technology leaders
from around the globe (82 percent) closely monitor the issue of global
warming, most do not have a defined energy strategy to deal with it (65
percent), according to a new global survey released by Hill & Knowlton, Inc.
In fact, more than three quarters of business decision makers surveyed (77
percent) believe there is a need to expand the C-Suite to include a Chief
Energy Officer (CNO) to manage, implement and measure a company's return on
investment in environmental technology, the so-called Return on Environment
The survey, conducted by global communications consultancy Hill &
Knowlton and polling partner Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, examined the
viewpoints of 420 senior business decision makers involved in IT purchases
from the United States, UK, China and Canada to determine how they go about
integrating economics and ethics when it comes to environmental issues. The
results provide invaluable insights for companies as they formulate their own
environmental communications strategies that go beyond traditional marketing
and communications, or corporate reputation techniques.
"Despite the hype, few companies have or are putting in place a
measurable action plan to drive return on environment," said Joe Paluska, head
of Hill & Knowlton's Worldwide Technology Practice. "While the overwhelming
majority looks to the CEO to own the issue, nearly two-thirds of those polled
said no one within their organization is tasked with defining the company's
energy strategy. We expect reputation, risk and return to suffer until
industry as a whole sets the standard for measuring return on environment."
Defining a corporate energy strategy
Of those polled, 77 percent of Chinese respondents said their firms have
not yet defined an energy strategy. The US came in second at 67 percent,
followed by Canada (62 percent) and the UK (51 percent).
When it comes to the question of who is responsible for defining a
company's energy strategy, again, the results echo similar uncertainty.
Sixty-five percent of those polled do not have anyone identified within their
organization tasked with defining an energy strategy. In China, such an
organizational role is almost unheard of, with 82 percent of respondents
indicating that no one in their company is responsible for developing an
energy strategy. The United States fared only slightly better, with 70
percent, and the UK is farthest ahead with more than half of the companies
polled (57 percent) having someone in place to define their energy strategy.
"The research suggests that there is an opportunity to expand the c-suite
to include a Chief Energy Officer," Paluska said. "There's a growing need for
corporate accountability on energy performance as companies grapple with
increasing complexity and expectations of governments, customers, shareholders
and employees. Ultimately, companies will need to quantify the return on the
triple bottom line - people, profits and planet - or their reputation and
valuation will suffer."
"Return on Environment"
When asked how best to measure Return on Environment, more than half of
the survey respondents (52 percent) identified improved corporate reputation
as the most important return on investment for environmental programs. Actual
carbon emission reduction was the most important metric to 38 percent of
respondents globally, and was rated number one in the UK. More traditional
measurements - such as return on equity, total cost of ownership and internal
rate of return - also scored reasonably well. However, it is clear that much
work still remains to be done to accurately determine Return on Environment in
a way in which consumers, investors and policy-makers can universally
While there are no clear winners in the race to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions, the "green arms race," the United States, Japan and Germany were
identified as the top three countries likely to contribute the most to clean
tech breakthroughs in the coming years. Not surprisingly, people believe it is
their own country that is most likely to play the largest role in developing
clean tech solutions. The exception to this nationalist trend was China, where
62 percent of those surveyed see the United States as leading the clean tech
debate rather than their home nation.
Opinions on which industries are most likely to benefit from clean tech
innovations also vary by country. More than half of the Canadian respondents
(55 percent) view the transportation industry as having the most to gain, U.S.
and British respondents view venture capitalists as benefiting, and executives
from China think policy-makers will be the clean tech jackpot winners.
Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates conducted a survey of 420 senior
business decision-makers involved in IT purchases from 19 March - 20 April
2007. The interviews were conducted in the United States, UK, Canada and
China. All respondents worked in companies with revenues of US$100 million and
over (or local country equivalent outside of the US), with half of the
companies defined as Fortune 1000 (or equivalent outside of the US). The
survey was conducted by using telephone, online and face-to-face interviews.
Hill & Knowlton's clean tech survey results are available online at
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