Measures Commitment to Environmental Principles, Operational Impact

Yesterday, CBIA released the results of the 2013 Sustainability and Connecticut Business Survey at Bigelow Tea in Fairfield and at our 2013 Energy and Environment Conference in Waterbury.

Sponsored by UIL Holdings, Inc., the survey gauges Connecticut companies' commitment to environmental principles in their business operations and the impact of those efforts on business performance, stakeholder relations, and communities served.

Key findings this year include:

Nearly two-thirds (66%) of Connecticut businesses surveyed are engaged in sustainability. This is up from less than half (47%) in 2007, when we first surveyed companies: but down from 74% in 2010, when our last survey was conducted.

Among companies engaged in sustainability, the strongest areas of involvement are energy efficiency (90%), waste management (77%), and green purchasing (74%).

Renewable energy is the area of greatest interest among businesses for future activities.

Cost is the main barrier to going green, cited by 65% of respondents.

Though slightly more than half (53%) of the companies surveyed say current economic conditions have not changed their level of commitment to sustainable business practices, 11% have stepped up their efforts, while 9% have made green practices less of a priority. Eighteen percent say green practices are part of their DNA.

In their experience, most businesses (72%) find Connecticut's environmental regulatory climate more restrictive than other states.

Nearly one-third of businesses surveyed (32%) require others in their supply chain: manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and retailers: to adopt green business practices; 28% say that their own customers have requested or stipulated that they incorporate green business practices into their supply chain; and 9% have received similar requests from vendors.

Of those companies that have adopted sustainable initiatives, 81% say going green has been worth the time and investment. Benefits cited include a boost to the bottom line as well as improved employee morale, public image, and client/customer relationships.

Most businesses surveyed (74%) say they would take advantage of state government incentives for going green, such as tax incentives and refunds for capital investments.

"The share of Connecticut companies engaged in sustainability has dipped from nearly three-quarters to slightly more than two-thirds in the last three years," says CBIA economist Peter Gioia. "In spite of this downtrend, most companies we surveyed: 69%: say they plan to make sustainable practices an essential component of their business growth and investment. Only 7% do not plan to do so, and the remaining 24%: operating in an uncertain economic climate: say they'll have to wait and see."

The 2013 Sustainability and Connecticut Business Survey was emailed to 5,035 businesses in late April and early May; 434 businesses took the survey, for a response rate of 9% and a margin of error of +/- 4.8 %.

Most respondents (77%) were small businesses employing fewer than 50 workers. Businesses represented include manufacturers (33%), professional services (23%), retail (9%), nonprofit associations (8%), construction (6%), wholesale (6%), healthcare (5%), finance, insurance, and real estate (5%), and technology firms (4%). Companies engaged in hospitality, tourism, arts, and entertainment accounted for the remainder of respondents.

For more information, contact Pete Gioia at CBIA (860.244.1900, pete.gioia@cbia.com) or download the full report at www.cbia.com/business.