Magazine article The CPA Journal

Sustainability: How CPAs Can Help Save the Earth

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Sustainability: How CPAs Can Help Save the Earth

Article excerpt

Environmental sustainability has taken center stage as the responsible and successful way to operate a business in the 21st century. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony" (http://www.epa.gov/sustainability/ basicinfo.htm). It is essential to ensuring the continued availability of water, materials, and other natural resources needed to safeguard human health, while also balancing the environmental, social equity, and economic demands of present and fiiture generations.

Large corporations, such as Walmart and the Ford Motor Company, have already followed the impetus to "go green." Some achievements cited in Walmart's 2013 Global Responsibility Report include the installation of doors on refrigerated supermarket cases in Brazil and Mexico, as well as a change to higher efficiency motors for walk-in coolers and freezers in the United States and Puerto Rico. Ford reduced the carbon dioxide emissions from its vehicles by 37% from 2000 to 2010, and the company is planning an additional 30% decrease by 2025. Ford also substantially reduced the amount of waste it sent to landfills by sending paint solids from its factories to utility plants for use as a fuel source. Ford's CFO, Robert L. Shanks, has made it clear that the company's sustainability decision is part of a larger strategy to enhance its financial stability and profitability.

The CPA's Role

Sustainability efforts are increasingly becoming the responsibility of those in control of an organization's purse strings, and most financial experts relate to the bottom line-a business can't be sustainable if it isn't profitable. But are sustainability and profitability mutually exclusive? The following ideas (inspired by the Sustainability Initiative) represent some strategies that a business can use to enhance its sustainability efforts while improving its profitability:

* Use automation to control costs. Automation can help businesses work more efficiently, reduce labor costs, and control energy usage.

* Reduce chemical use. This can save money and can represent an appealing marketing aspect for consumers.

* Use energy efficiently. …

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