The Daily Gamecock

Moore School seminar teaches benefits of sustainability

Professionals find profit from environmental practices


Approximately 30 small- and medium-sized businesses gathered on campus yesterday afternoon for a lesson on the potential profits of sustainability for companies.

The seminar, hosted by USC's chapter of Net Impact, featured an array of business professionals and leaders who discussed tactics and reasons for going green, including Darla Moore School of Business Dean Hildy Teegen, Duke Energy Vice President of Sustainability Shawn Heath and Cox and Dinkins Business Development Director Ted Chalgren.

"We invited guest speakers from large local companies to speak about how sustainability can make all businesses more profitable, as well as helping the environment and social sustainability," said Cooper Swanson, Corporate Responsibility Chair of the graduate Net Impact chapter.

Each speaker offered multiple suggestions for practicing sustainability. Director of Sustainable Carolina at USC Michael Koman suggested encouraging employees to get involved in company sustainability by offering prizes for goals met for office recycling and lower water and electricity use.

Duke Energy is supporting the use of less electricity by its customers and offering incentives to corporations that are working to become environmentally friendly, according to Heath. While this seems counterintuitive from a business standpoint, Heath says that it will lower the use of the production costs for Duke Energy while helping the environment.

The project was hosted by students from both the graduate and undergraduate Net Impact USC chapters in correlation with Sustainable Midlands.

Net Impact is a national organization of business students who are interested in promoting and working in the field of sustainability. There are currently 60 undergraduate chapters throughout the country, and approximately 90 percent of the top MBA programs in the U.S. have chapters.

"Everything went off really well, and we've had a great response," said Net Impact undergraduate President Bryan Zingmark. "The plan is to build off of this seminar and create an annual event from it."

Local business owners John Guignard and Nancy Ogburn were impressed and inspired with the options for sustainability in the corporate world.

Guignard, project manager for W.B. Guimarin, is interested in saving his business more money through sustainable and environmentally friendly techniques.

"Being here today has really inspired me to make my business sustainable," Guignard said. "We can save a lot of money for our heating and air company by using the practices taught to us today. This seminar is also a great networking tool."

Ogburn, who created the commercial recycling company Tomato Palms, is concerned with how businesses overlook environmental impacts and was excited to learn that more corporations are becoming aware of the need for sustainable practices.

Corporate recycling is one of the easiest strategies for making an impact on stopping environmental depredations, according to Ogburn. Last year Tomato Palms advised a small corporation in recycling practices and helped to keep one ton of that company's waste out of landfills.

"I think it would be really beneficial if more corporations would come to this type of thing," Ogburn said. "Recycling is off the radar for a lot of companies, and the only way employees are going to be sustainable and implement sustainable systems is if the CEOs and presidents and owners of companies make them understand it's not a tree-hugger type thing. It offers profitability. The only way leaders are going to hear about this is through programs like USC's Sustainable Carolina and Sustainable Midlands."