How to Prepare Your Business for the New Norm in Extreme Weather

blog-preparing business for extreme weather-10.28.15Weather patterns are changing and severely impacting all businesses – no matter the size. Scientists, including those at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, already suspect there may be a link between global warming and growing storm intensity. What brought that home to me, personally, was the news footage of storm-flooded streets I saw in Columbia, S.C., in early October. It was easy to imagine how business owners were not at work, but at home taking care of their families and houses. Likewise, their employees and consumers were, too.
I was first introduced to South Carolina’s economy in 1987 while I was in Charleston on my first college spring break. After touring an historic mansion, I met Louise Smalls and purchased one of her hand woven baskets made of local plants. I still have that basket on my office bookshelf. During this recent flooding, I thought about Mrs. Smalls a lot. I wondered how she and her family would be able to make baskets with plants that had been most likely flooded, such as sweet grass, rush, palmetto fronds, and pine needles.
basketWith the shutdown of businesses due to the recent historic flooding, it is estimated that the South Carolina economy has lost as much as $200 billion in annual revenue.
It’s not just small businesses who suffer at the hands of Mother Nature. Big businesses have also done their math and are accounting for the significant impact weather interruptions have on their bottom line. The recent pledges of 81 American businesses acknowledge carbon emissions have global environmental, social, and economic implications.
What can small-and medium-sized enterprises learn from big businesses?
Reducing the use of carbon-emitting resources and increasing the use of renewable energy enables businesses to help set standards for sustainable practices. Employees who participate in implementing sustainability programs will learn how to use resources more wisely in the workplace and ideally take those lessons home and share them with their families. Likewise, consumers can participate in getting educated with new products and services while also benefiting from cost savings and new thinking that encourages new values at home. With this comes a new cultural shift.
Why change?
Clean energy and local economic development enable businesses to be prepared and more resilient to unanticipated interruptions in transacting commerce. Given weather trends, this is the new normal. Best Buy is particularly astute at connecting the dots. The company “is committed to positively impacting our planet and our communities by reducing its impact on the environment, broadening consumer access to energy-efficient solutions, and supporting sustainable product life cycle management.”
“Sustainable” is not a dirty word. It simply means that new product development takes into consideration the sources of the supplies to manufacture it, the treatment of employees who produce it, and when it’s at the end of its life, how it’s disposed of in a sustainable fashion. How can that be wrong?
Be the change
With 50% of the American population employed through small- and medium-sized businesses, leaders have a unique opportunity. There is a climate of change at companies and a new ROI to adopt, so why not explore the potential of clean energy? ecoAmerica’s America Knows How program offers a number of resources to help get you there. See “Make an Impact” to learn more.

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