Green Business Forecast Shows Strong Growth Ahead

Our most recent green economy survey shows signs of steady growth in corporate environmental initiatives, a level of optimism that outstrips that of the overall recovering economy, according to the semi-annual “Green and the Economy” survey conducted by our GreenBiz Intelligence unit.

The two best pieces of news: Hiring continues to increase and company environmental budgets are growing.

Twice a year, we ask our 3,150-member GreenBiz Intelligence Panel for their views on key green economic indicators. Our most recent survey, conducted in late June and early July, garnered 483 responses, with 43 percent from companies with revenues of more than $1 billion (which we define as “large companies”). With four such surveys under our belts, we can now see clear trends in the green economy since the beginning of 2009.

Perhaps the biggest shift since our previous survey, in late 2009, is that the economic downturn is no longer driving most large companies’ environmental strategy. For companies with over $1 billion in annual revenue, the economic downturn has taken a backseat to growing customer requirements as the principal driver of corporate environmental strategy. For smaller firms, the economy still looms large.

Here’s what our most recent survey found:

The economy is no longer the green driver. A year ago, when we asked what was influencing companies most in terms of environmental issues, the answer was clear: It’s the economy, stupid. Forty-eight percent of all businesses and 40 percent of large businesses cited the economic downturn as having the single biggest impact on their environmental strategy. Today, for large businesses, this is no longer the case: Only 20 percent cite the economy as driving their green agenda, while 35 percent of large companies name customer requirements as having the largest impact and 25 percent identify company leadership as being the main driver. In fact, company leadership has steadily increased in influence: In early 2009, only half as many large companies -- 12 percent -- identified this as the major impact on their environmental strategy.

Smaller firms are still seeing the effects of the economic downturn. Of those with revenues under $1 billion, 47 percent still cite the economic downturn as having the greatest impact on their company in terms of environmental issues. For all companies, the impacts of carbon regulations as well as energy prices are viewed as negligible.

Next Page: The latest trends for spending, hiring freezes, top environmental initiatives and investment.