3 Questions Featured

7:00pm EDT January 26, 2009

Lee Broughton is the director of corporate sustainability for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and has been leading the company’s efforts to better understand and address the business’s global environmental impact since 2003. He designed and manages the strategic concept and operational framework for corporate sustainability and weighs risks and opportunities arising from sustainability, ensuring that it helps drive competitive advantage and new business. The company’s fleet of 1 million cars has recently added 7,000 hybrid vehicles based on his findings.

How can conducting business in a sustainable manner help a company’s bottom line?

Sustainability is about long-term viability of the business and generating new customers. Sustainability helps ensure your presence and appeals to what customers are looking for. If you aren’t running a sustainable business, you’ll soon be left behind. Sustainability is the definition of a company’s triple bottom line. It improves any business’s economic, societal and environmental impact. You can’t concentrate on one of these issues at the expense of the others. Sustainability simply means wasting less while considering all of these factors.

When is the right time for a business to start implementing sustainable practices?

Now — 10 years ago. There are usually topics that queue a company to get started on new initiatives. Conservatively thinking companies are likely already taking some sustainable measures but may want to expand on them. When they’re analyzing their customer service success or looking to improve areas of production or promote their product or services in a new way, sustainability is what they need to incorporate.

Should the recent decrease in gas prices slow businesses’ ambition to look into renewable energy or sustainability for their companies?

No. I don’t know of anyone who is saying energy costs will stay low, and given the fragility of the economy, sustainability will help any business put its arms around and control its own destiny. Hoping energy costs stay low will only put you in a worse situation when the costs spike. Many companies have been looking at sustainability for quite some time, but if a company hasn’t started converging to sustainable methods, now is the time to do it.