Going Green on the Frontlines of the Economy
To celebrate Earth Week, we asked members of our exclusive CNBC-YPO (Young Presidents' Organization) Chief Executive Network to tell us how their companies go green and what economic benefit they see from these initiatives.
Since YPO-member companies are on the frontlines of the world economy, the executives who run them have unique perspective and insight into the global marketplace.
Manufacturing is resource intensive, but we strive to run lean enterprises by eliminating waste and maximizing efficiency. It wasn't an ROI-only decision that spurred us to invest in a solar PV electric power system when we renovated one of our plants in 2008. Last year was a banner year; the 48,000 kwhs generated from that solar system totaled 45 percent of the power needed for that building. We enjoy telling our customers that their parts are manufactured with green energy, but the main reason why we invested in solar was to reduce our own energy footprint.
Scott Livingston is the president of Horst Engineering, an East Hartford, Conn.-based contract manufacturer of precision machined components for aerospace and other high technology industries.
SGB is an energy crop company that has developed a new, low-cost and sustainable source for renewable fuels and biochemicals. Through traditional breeding and innovative new genomics technologies, SGB has developed and commercialized the first new crop in more than 100 years. The crop, jatrpoha, produces nonedible plant oil and biomass at a cost that is competitive with petroleum in multiple markets around the world and provides a greenhouse gas emissions reduction of greater than 60 percent. SGB's projects are not only sustainable, they provide an investor internal rate of return of greater than 20 percent.
Kirk Haney is president and CEO of SGB, a San Diego-based energy crop company developing and delivering high performance bioenergy solutions for the renewable fuel, biomass and chemical markets.
Serving Up Savings
At Ridgewells, green initiatives start at the top. CEO Susan Lacz oversees a company that has been so successful in its recycling efforts that Montgomery County, Md., has developed a pilot program for the firm to mentor small businesses. Other green steps include sourcing produce from environmentally responsible local farmers, ensuring that production equipment is recyclable or reusable and having all kitchen production waste separated for composting. In 2012, this resulted in the composting of 133,580 pounds of trash and the recycling of 266,035 pounds of bottles and cans. The company's trash level has been reduced by 23.78 percent while its recycling and composting has increased by 76.22 percent.
Susan Lacz is CEO of Ridgewells Catering, a Bethesda, Md.-based provider of food services for wedding, corporate, social and major sporting events.
Going Green by Dumping the Dishes
Freshii is unique in that they use no dishwashers, hoods, ranges or ovens, reducing the footprint left by their restaurants. To eliminate the need for dishwashers, they have opted for 100 percent biodegradable food-safe mixing bags to create their salads and custom rice/noodle bowls, which in total—including the production and transportation of the bags to Freshii restaurants—use less than five times the electricity of even the most energy efficient dishwashers. They also save an average of $10,000 per store buildout on dishwasher installation costs, and bring in savings of water and chemical waste of $5,000/year per store.
Dan Rowe is CEO of Fransmart, an Alexandria, Va.-based restaurant franchisor whose brands include Freshii, Wolfgang Puck Express and Big Smoke Burger.