Venture: How 'going green' can bring businesses into the black

Going green is more than living an eco-friendly life. By eliminating waste in the workplace, businesses increase efficiency and profit margins.

May 9, 2011

By Katie O'Brien and Erica Hunter

Download Story
(Photo courtesy of World Business Chicago)
Chicago’s City Hall was the first municipal building in the U.S. to feature a green roof.

Retail sales numbers come out on Thursday, and that will provide clues as to how consumers are feeling, especially with high prices at the pump.

Lots of businesses these days are counting on people's desire to protect the environment.

At this weekend's Green Festival at McCormick Place, everything from hemp pet toys to fair trade chocolate will be for sale.

But there's more to protecting the environment than buying certain products... companies have to fundamentally change how they do business.

Hunter Lovins says they can do that and boost profits at the same time. She's a Colorado-based consultant who will talk about that at the festival.

WBEZ's Katie O'Brien spoke with her and first, had to get one question out of the way.

For this week’s Windy Indicator, WBEZ’s Erica Hunter is looking outside the box for hints on the economy.

The start of May is one of those times Chicagoans are surrounded by boxes; moving boxes, that is. Pete Horvath is the owner of Move-tastic Moving Company on Chicago’s North Side and he said his trucks and movers have kept busy this moving season.

“We have been overwhelmed with the amount of business. We turn away the majority of our business towards the end of the month. Nowadays we’re typically booking up two to three weeks in advance.” Horvath said.

But he says his company’s experience may not be typical.

“Not every moving company is doing well right now,” Horvath said. “It’s tough to run a business right now, so I think the people that aren’t adapting to what people want are the ones that are having difficulty.”

And what people want is service Horvath said.  And boy are his guys fast.

Sometimes people are so stressed they don’t even think about tipping, but Horvath remained patient.

“We never bring it up on a move,” he said. “That’s rule number one. You never say, so where’s my tip?”

But on busy May 1st, for instance, he got tipped for every move. Horvath said he’s a schmoozer.

Next week, our Windy Indicator gets formal and takes a peek at proms.