Sustainability is one of the many keys to success for small businesses. With talk of global warming and economic challenges, it has become important for companies to begin preserving natural resources, relying on clean energy and solidifying a stable future.  

To create a better future for both their companies and the environment, business owners are starting to adapt certain trends in technology and sustainability. Consider implementing these sustainability trends to lower your carbon footprint and grow your small business.

1. Looking at the big picture

Companies are often associated with a short-sited, quarterly-earnings mentality that distracts business leaders from long-term growth strategies. Many companies are beginning to realize that sustainability requires their businesses to have a long view. This involves planning for a whole new world of customers, employees, products and constraints.

Strategic planning establishes a road map businesses can follow and provides an opportunity to set measurable goals. Companies that are able to take their previous plan and compare it with their actual results can identify what needs to change and take action, ultimately future-proofing their company. 

2. Green building renovation

Renewable energy is becoming a more affordable, accessible way to power businesses. According to EcoWatch, large solar companies are actively working to create solar panels that are designed for small- and medium-sized companies, taking both price and panel size into consideration. SolarCity, for example, will finance the upfront cost of panels to offer cheaper contracts to small businesses – about 5-25 percent less than most owners currently pay their utility companies.

It has also become increasingly popular to apply for a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification. Although the application process does require an upfront fee, business owners with green buildings reported that their return on investment improved 9.9 percent on new projects and 19.2 percent on existing projects, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. The USGBC also found in a recent survey that 55 percent of consumers would spend more on products sold by companies that are committed to making a positive environmental impact.

3. Buying local

Many small businesses take advantage of local products to demonstrate their dedication to sustainability. This is one aspect of small businesses that consumers tend to support most – when they buy from small companies, they aren’t supporting large industries like oil, for instance, but local energy businesses. For example, as buying local is generally preferred over purchasing from large industrial companies, if you own a restaurant, consider using local ingredients to make your food.

It’s also important to remember that it’s becoming more common for consumers to choose one company over the other based on the business’ values and how these values relate to theirs. Consumers place such importance on values when making purchasing decisions that this reflects in the success of marketing strategies as well. For example, Psychology Today explained that value-based social media marketing campaigns generally result in a 6 percent increase in shares and interactions over traditional marketing campaigns.