Here's the truth: We don't have to choose between the environment and the economy. Being green is profitable. Businesses around the world understand that fact — companies from Toyota to Tesco are flourishing because of it. But the rhetoric around Earth Day continues to ostracize the business community, and with global average temperatures rising dangerously, we can't afford to keep giving business the cold shoulder. Companies have an indisputably bigger environmental impact than everyday citizens, and that's why including them in the fight against climate change is so important. It's time to reclaim Earth Day from the fringes and make it count for activists and capitalists alike.
In 1993, I co-founded the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable buildings and communities. USGBC created a voluntary rating system — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED — which scores buildings based on their sustainable features.
Since its inception, communities and companies have found that investing in LEED brings them energy savings, water savings, cost savings, and a significant return on their investments. In just 15 years, 14+ billion square feet of real estate around the world have been LEED registered and certified, reducing energy use by double digit percentages and avoiding immeasurable environmental toxins and greenhouse gases. Cutting down on energy use is helping companies to increase their profits.